Rangers fans have claimed that watching their side gave them a sense of purpose during a pandemic-ridden 18-months which eventually saw the Gers crowned champions for the 55th time.
After the decade that Rangers fans have endured, even a global pandemic wasn’t going to stop them enjoying a season in which they claimed their first title since 2011.
Celtic’s 0-0 draw at Dundee United, following the 3-0 victory for Steven Gerrard’s side over St Mirren at Ibrox back in March, meant Rangers won the league with six matches to spare.
An achievement that many Rangers supporters regard as the most significant in their history as it not only halted Celtic’s attempt to win a 10th championship in a row, but it also heralded Rangers’ incredible recovery from their financial meltdown almost a decade ago.
“Last season was unreal, it was unique being in the middle of a pandemic, but what we produced on the pitch will go down as one of our greatest ever,” Kyle from This Is Ibrox tells FansBet.
“Especially seeing as where we came from, what we achieved, it’s been a long 10 years but we got there in the end.”
The 2020/21 campaign will live long in the memory of Gers fans who had to follow their team from afar during one of the greatest seasons in decades.
Covid-19 regulations meant that no supporters were able to attend games at Ibrox or anywhere else in Scotland as Steven Gerard’s team swept all before them.
But even though they couldn’t be there in person, just watching their team gave them a purpose during one of the most trying periods anyone can remember.
“Last year was really difficult for so many people around the UK and it gave us something to look forward to; watching Rangers play and play so well,” explains Craig.
“Given the previous season, I’m not sure many of us would say we expected it to happen but we were definitely hopeful of getting that 55th title.
“It was a really important season in Glasgow for both sides of the Old Firm and us coming out on top and being able to celebrate it was something truly special.”
🙌 “It will go down as one of our greatest ever seasons, especially where we’d come from.”
🏆 “It was a really important season in Glasgow for both sides and us coming out on top was truly special.”
— FansBet (@FansBet) September 9, 2021
Rangers endured financial difficulties during the late 2000s with the football club ultimately entering administration in February 2012.
As a result of liquidation in October of 2012, they were placed in Scottish football’s lowest professional tier, essentially having to start from scratch, working their way back up the leagues before eventually being promoted back to the top-flight in 2016.
To make matters worse, all the while their arch enemy dominated Scotland’s top-tier as they looked to achieve something that no side has done before by winning 10 titles on the spin.
“From outside looking in, a lot of people would say it’s been amazing how quickly we’ve come back to the top of Scottish football,” says Kyle.
“But that’s probably what has kept a lot of the supporters going, that belief that we would be back then, year-on-year, seeing gradual improvement.
“Off the park it was horrendous, but on the park, it was quite fun going to all these random away grounds we’ve never been to before.
“It really galvanized the fans and it shows you just how great the Rangers support is when it comes to backing the team.
“We had the highest attendance in the lowest league possible, so that shows you everything you need to know.
“People might have been surprised at how big the outpouring of emotion was, but that shows you just how much the fans had been through and just how much pent-up frustration needed to be let out.”
As for the club’s title defence, it’s been something of a mixed bag so far this campaign though and, after the extraordinary highs of the previous nine months, it was always going to be a hard act to follow.
Following a convincing 3-0 win over Livingston on the opening day, Gerrard’s men suffered their first league defeat in 41 games with a 1-0 loss at Dundee United.
That was compounded by a Champions League exit in the qualifying stages after going down to Swedish side Malmo – meaning it will be Europa League football once again at Ibrox this year.
But that disappointment was soon forgotten thanks to a 1-0 victory over Celtic in the first Glasgow derby of the season, a win which already puts some daylight between themselves and The Hoops in the title race.
“The campaign domestically has been okay,” says Craig.
“Going the whole of last season unbeaten, there was always going to be a defeat somewhere along the line.
“The fact that it came so early is actually a positive as Celtic are going to be our main rivals for the title this season and they’d already lost to Hearts.
“The real disappointment for me has been the European games. We went into the Malmo game in the Champions League qualifier with such high expectations.
“I didn’t think they were a great team but we created our own downfall with two five-minute periods across the two legs. We didn’t really turn up in that game.
“But winning the Old Firm game really put us back on the right track and we’re ready to push on from there after the international break.”
Rangers fans, though, will be wary of a Celtic side determined to come back stronger following such a poor showing last term.
The Hoops, who lost five games last season, eventually finishing 25 points behind Rangers, are getting used to life under new boss Ange Postecoglou who arrived at Parkhead in June.
A number of new faces have also come through the door as the club looks to prevent what could be a period of sustained dominance by Steven Gerrard’s team.
“They’ve brought in 11 or 12 new players, they’ve got a new manager, a new Chief Executive, there have been a lot of changes at the club,” explains Kyle.
“But it’s a big ask to have 11 or 12 new players playing and gelling together.
“We’ve seen it multiple times and we’ve struggled to get five or six players introduced into the club, so it will be interesting to see how it pans out.
“In terms of that Old Firm game, it was clear to see they have certainly improved on last year, but we seem to have that steel and grit at the moment that you can’t put a price on, and long may it continue.”
However, despite the additions made by their rivals and the added pressure that comes with being defending champions, few will be backing against Rangers making their own advances as they chase more silverware.
Despite their league success, they haven’t tasted domestic cup glory since their 2011 League Cup win over Celtic with their last Scottish Cup victory coming two years before that.
And with the club missing out on Champions League football at the first hurdle, fans will be keen to see their team go one step further this time around and build on the success which has been so long in coming.
“My hope is that we win the league again and ultimately get the Champions League windfall that comes with it,” says Craig.
“That’s vital for us when it comes to being able to keep our best players for as long as possible.
“That cash injection makes such a difference; we’ve seen some of our bids rejected this summer and I wonder how long that can go on for?
“We need to bring in new talent in order to keep pushing for league titles and keep pushing forward in Europe.”
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