Belfast Telegraph

Party time for jubilant Rangers fans as club returns to Scottish Premiership

By Allan Preston

Rangers fans in east Belfast were on cloud nine last night as their team returned to the Scottish Premiership for the first time in four years.

With a 1-0 win over Dumbarton at Ibrox, the Gers won the Scottish Championship and with it promotion back to the top flight.

Around 100 supporters in the Lagan Village Rangers Supporters Club sat on the edge of their seats before cheering ecstatically and singing at the final whistle.

A 50th-minute goal from James Tavernier was enough to claim a nervy win for the Old Firm outfit.

After the match ended, supporters unfurled club banners to pose for victory photographs.

Andy Loughran (26), from east Belfast, said Rangers fans had come through tough years.

"It's been a long time coming for all the supporters," he said.

"It was a brilliant atmosphere in the club. You can hear them singing now and what it means. Four painful years, but we're back where we belong now."

David Hall (63) hugged his friends at the final whistle. Normally he would be working at night, but he decided he could not miss seeing his favourite club winning promotion.

"It's fantastic to be able to celebrate Rangers being back to where we think we belong, at the top of Scottish football," he said.

"It's a fantastic night. I felt ecstatic. I'm a taxi driver and I took the night off because I wanted to celebrate Rangers getting back."

On the single goal victory, he added: "To win 1-0... one goal is as good as 10 as long as the other team doesn't score."

Also enjoying the celebration was Joe Burns (51), who could barely hide his joy.

"It's outstanding, we're back where we belong," he said. "We should never have been put down where we were. It was the biggest own-goal in the history of Scottish football. We knew we'd be back."

Tam Boyd (57) described how it was an emotional moment for many of the lifelong supporters in the room.

"It means everything to me because I'm a Rangers fan through and through," he explained.

"You hear the song, Rangers Till I Die, that's what we are. At the final whistle it was emotional. It's been a long wait, but we're back and they'll never put us down."

For many at the supporters' club there was also a profound sense of vindication.

Rangers were relegated from the Scottish Premier League in 2012 after the team went into liquidation with heavy debts. The demotion was a devastating blow to the country's legion of fans.

Lagan Village club chairman Wesley McCaughey (69) said: "It's an incredible night. We've been at the bottom for four years and everyone has been putting us down, but we have come back.

"We're back where we belong in the Premier league and hopefully next year we'll win it.

"It was always going to happen, but it felt brilliant, and to me we're back in our place where we really belong. We belong in the Premier League, forget about Celtic. They're also-rans - it'll be proved next season."

The club's treasurer Cecil Tomlinson (71) added: "It was brilliant. I thought it was justice for the last four years... the way we've been treated by the Scottish Football Association. With the clubs that we have given money to and made successful, and then they stabbed us in the back, but now it's our turn to get back into the Premiership."

On Sunday week, Rangers face their Old Firm foes Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

Belfast Telegraph


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