Back in 2015 Rangers were in a pretty dark place and any Rangers fan will shudder when we recall the goings on surrounding our club.
Annual General Meetings held in tents amid angry protests and the club being run in a general state of neglect. That was just the tip of things in terms of the shambles that was the running of the club. Rangers were in a state of disrepair, a cash cow for those that had no love for it at all. It needed Rangers men and it needed some major tendor loving care.
It was John Gilligan who told us just last week that when they took over Ibrox was filthy and even windows hadn’t been washed in years. It’s sad and it hurts to look back on the events of those times. That’s why news that Dave King was spearheading a takeover gave the fans hope and excitement once more.
The rest as we know is history. Dave King was backed by the Parks, flanked by John Gilligan and Paul Murray, and managed to oust the board on those fateful days back in 2015. Sure, it hasn’t all been rosey and it has been a climb to get where we are now, but five wins from the title there is a lot to be excited about.
Dave King wasn’t alone and without George Letham, Douglas Park, John Bennett, Barry Scott and everyone in between, we couldn’t be where we are now, that should never be dismissed, it was a team effort. As Chairman it was Dave who took the reigns both publicly and behind the scenes as he took on Ashley and seeked to rid the club of those onerous contracts that strangled the lifeblood of our club.
This week I had the pleasure of speaking to Dave King and Laura Fawkes of club 1872. Away from business it was nice to ask both of them just how exciting the current situation was for Rangers.
‘From a supporter point of view, and in some ways it is difficult for me to separate the pure supporter from what has happened over the last number of years, but in terms of watching it just as a fan, I still have that nervous anticipation’ said King.
‘And there is a concern when we are hanging on for 1-0 wins. I certainly haven’t got to a level yet where I am comfortable enough to think it is over so I still have this nervousness about watching the team every time I watch them. That is really the fans. Intellectually I look at where Rangers are and it is clear that we are the number one club in Scotland over the course of the season’
‘But until we actually win the title I am not willing to relax’.
A view undoubtedly shared by most of the fan base even if an unbalanced reaction has set in from Sunday’s draw at Hamilton.
This is the first time Club1872 have been in operation and Rangers have been challenging for a title and Laura spoke of her excitement as a fan.
‘On a personal level it’s very exciting and I remember going to Hampden years ago with my nephew and wondering just when this would all end’
‘It feels like it has been everything we have campaigned for and fought for now coming round’
I asked Dave how satisfying it was as a fan and also an investor for the club to now be back challenging for the title.
‘It is very satisfying in the sense that this was always the year. And I say that because from the inside and bringing Steven in, one of the things that was very clear in the discussions with Steven from the club’s point of view and from his point of view, was that he needed what we thought at the time would be three or four transfer windows’.
‘It was always understood at that time that it was unlikely we would win the league the next season but we really felt that if we had three or four transfer windows… and that is the zone that we are in at the moment. It is really nice in the sense that it is coming together within that timing and from my personal perspective it becomes the end of that project’.
Going back to when we started after regime change, the whole thing and the mantra was about we have to get Rangers back to competing in Europe and getting back to being the number one club in Scotland. I think the competing in Europa probably came a little bit earlier and a little bit ahead of the effectiveness in Scotland because we have done well in Europe and boxed above our weight for a couple of seasons.
The title has not yet been delivered and we must stress that but there is no doubt that over the course of the season we are the number one team in Scotland and from that point of view it gives me great satisfaction to see that the project is pretty much complete now’
What about Steven Gerrard though? What exactly is he like and what was Dave Kings thoughts on him?
‘As a person, he is a man that exudes confidence and self control but he doesn’t do it in a showy way. He is doing it within himself, he is quietly confident in how he goes about his business but does have that certain aura. I think importantly, Steven throughout his life has been a winner. Winners don’t always win, of course, but he has that winning mentality that we felt we could bring him in and give him enough time’.
‘It was very important that he got enough time to build the squad and we felt that winning mentality… He is a quick learner. He was learning how to go away and play games in strange places and on strange pitches and over the course of that time that winning mentality comes through. He is absorbing it, he is adjusting and he is learning until the point that we are today. I don’t believe that we would be in the position that we are today if we hadn’t have brought Steven in at that time and given him the time and resources to get on with his job’
A huge thanks to Dave King and Laura Fawkes of club 1872 who spoke with myself on my fans corner show on Rangers connection podcasts. Both also spoke with Mark Hateley and Alex Rae about the upcoming share issue and the 2015 takeover amongst other things. Feel free to check it out on the link above.