Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Ally toasts Rangers' title win

By Lisa Gray

Rangers players, coaches and management celebrate becoming Third Division Champions at Murray Park, Glasgow

Ally McCoist has hailed Rangers' Irn-Bru Third Division title success as a stunning triumph over adversity.

The achievement marks the completion of stage one in the rebuilding process after liquidation resulted in the Ibrox club losing their SPL status and being demoted to Scotland's basement division in the summer.

Rangers were held to a goalless draw at Montrose in the lunchtime kick off but Elgin City's win over second placed Queen's Park later in the day saw them crowned champions, with their nearest challengers no longer able to catch the Light Blues.

McCoist hailed his title-winning troops and claimed: "Nobody knows what we've been through."

Players hugged on the team bus as news broke of their triumph halfway back down the A9.

And in a staunch defence of their struggles the Gers boss said: "I understand the argument of people saying it's a title without honour because of who we are. But the bottom line is nobody knows what sort of achievement this is for us.

"Nothing like Rangers being in the bottom division has ever happened before. It's a unique situation. So no one knows if I've done a good job getting us there or not.

"What I can say is that when the final whistle went at Hampden I felt joy and excitement – but certainly relief as well.

"It was 'job done' and I'm very proud of that.

"My argument is that if the club with the most money won the title every year Manchester City would win the Premiership forever.

"The other point is people who say that didn't see us when the season started, when we had six signed players, when the club was full of trialists and we had to cancel pre-season games.

"The preparation we had was shambolic. It's also disrespectful to the league to say that sort of thing."

Northern Ireland international Andy Little said the players should be proud of their title-winning heroics.

Little used his Twitter account to say: "Anybody else feel really strange?!

"Disappointing again today but I suppose we've achieved what we set out to do – may aswel enjoy it!

"Shows the expectations at the club that we all feel like this!

"Not good enough but at the end of the day, it was good enough. #ChampionsRFC."

Lee McCulloch has hailed Rangers' title success as his favourite championship win yet. The skipper already boasted a trio of winners' medals from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League but says Saturday's triumph tops the lot.

McCulloch said: "There was obvious disappointment after the game, it didn't flow and we didn't play as well as we can.

"But to hear on the bus that we were champions was the best feeling in the world.

"I've been lucky enough to win three titles before but I think this is my favourite one.

"I've been lucky enough to be captain for this one and it means the world to me and my family. We can only play against the teams we've been told to play against but, at the end of it, if you are giving me a winner's medal I am taking it.

"It really is a dream come true to captain the team and hopefully we can kick on now.

"This will definitely stay with me for the rest of my life – to captain a Rangers team to win a league means the world to me."

The goalless stalemate at Links Park was one of a number of disappointing results this season, as Rangers at times found the Third Division a tough league to negotiate.

But 34-year-old McCulloch believes the experience can only be good for the youngsters who have been thrust into the top team this term.

He added: "I think it's a good thing that they take a bit of criticism.

"I think the low points this season, the hard times, have made the boys stronger for next season, that's the way I look at it anyway.

"We're just happy to be where we are with five games left and the number of points we are ahead.

"You could say it's been easy but it's been far from that.

"The boys are just a delight and the coaching staff are as well."

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