THE imposing figure of Bill Struth was to cast a long shadow over Rangers Football Club. During his 34 years as manager, his influence was such that it shaped the club’s future for many generations to come.

Struth laid down the foundations for greatness. He installed the traditions and made it “special” to be a Rangers player.

And when he had gone, the torch he had passed on was picked up by men like Scot Symon and Willie Waddell who had played under Struth and were to succeed him as manager.

Symon and Waddell were to provide their own styles of leadership, but much of what they had learned had been inherited from Struth.

Indeed, it is still Struth’s portrait which hangs in the Trophy Room at Ibrox among the Championship pennants as a symbol of continuity at the club.

Struth, born in Edinburgh, had been a stonemason by trade and was also a professional athlete. He had worked as a trainer at Clyde and at Hearts before coming to Rangers in 1914 as assistant to William Wilton.

His appointment as Rangers’ second manager came, however, in tragic circumstances when Wilton sadly drowned in a boating accident in 1920.

But in taking on the mantle Struth, by then 45, embarked on a period of unprecedented success in which Rangers would dominate Scottish football until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

Struth’s record of achievements was extraordinary. He won the League Championship 18 times, including a dazzling spell of 14 in 19 years before the war. Those titles included a run of Five-In-A-Row between 1926-27 and 1930-31, a¬†standard unsurpassed at the club until the 1990s.

Not only was he to bring the first Cup and League Double to the club in 1927-28, he was still at the helm when they completed the first Cup, League and League Cup Treble in 1948-49.

The line of great players under his guidance seemed endless – stretching from David Meiklejohn and Alan Morton, through Bob McPhail and Willie Thornton to, among others, Jock Shaw, George Young and Willie Woodburn.

And none of them was in any doubt as to who the boss was. Struth was a strict disciplinarian, a man who believed firmly in respect for authority.

There were privileges for the players. Struth insisted that his teams always travelled first class. But in turn they had to accept their responsibilities. These included wearing a collar and tie for training and maintaining standards of dress and behaviour at all times.

Any player who fell short of what Struth expected felt the chill of being told that his presence was required up the marble staircase in the manager’s office.

Part of the Struth legend has it that the manager would watch from the window of his flat overlooking the Copland Road as the players arrived at Ibrox. Anyone who had dared to walk down the street with his hands in his pockets would find that Struth had seen him and telephoned the ground to insist that he walk down the street again, this time with his hands by his sides.

Another of Struth’s habits was to play the piano, which still stands in the Blue Room, after every match to unwind. He was also a sharp dresser and kept up to half a dozen double-breasted suits in his office, sometimes changing what he was wearing three times a day.

Struth became a director of the club in 1947 and was appointed vice-chairman on his retirement as manager in the Summer of 1954. He died two years later aged 81.

It was not, however, the end of an era. For his work lived on through the lessons he had instilled in others.

One of the greatest managers in the history of football, Struth is buried in Craigton Cemetery, near to the club he had fashioned in his own incomparable image.

His most famous quote goes like this: “I have been lucky – lucky in those who were around me from the boardroom to the dressing-room. In time of stress, their unstinted support, unbroken devotion to our club and calmness in adversity eased the task of making Rangers FC the premier club in this country.

“To be a Ranger is to sense the sacred trust of upholding all that such a name means in this shrine of football. They must be true in their conception of what the Ibrox tradition seeks from them. No true Ranger has ever failed in the tradition set him.

“Our very success, gained you will agree by skill, will draw more people than ever to see it. And that will benefit many more clubs than Rangers. Let the others come after us. We welcome the chase. It is healthy for us. We will never hide from it. Never fear, inevitably we shall have our years of failure, and when they arrive, we must reveal tolerance and sanity.

“No matter the days of anxiety that come our way, we shall emerge stronger because of the trials to be overcome. That has been the philosophy of the Rangers since the days of the gallant pioneers.”

Rangers renamed the famous Main Stand at Ibrox The Bill Struth Main Stand in 2005 and unveiled a bust of the great man which sits on the first landing of the marble staircase.