FOUR young men shared a dream – to start a football club. They had no money, no kit – not even a ball.

Yet from such humble beginnings emerged the most famous of all Scottish football clubs – Rangers FC.

None of those four men could have foreseen what was to happen when they met in 1872.

They cared only for having their own team, never daring to think that more than a century later their club would have won so many glittering prizes and would be followed by millions throughout the world.

All those championships and cups would never have found their way into the Ibrox Trophy Room but for that encounter between Peter McNeil, his brother Moses, Peter Campbell and William McBeath.

Their first match was an unlikely affair against Callander FC at Flesher’s Haugh on Glasgow Green.

The pitch was open to all-comers, so to claim it for your game you had to make sure you were there first. The home team played in street clothes, with the exception of four “guests” who, as they were members of other clubs, already had their own strips. The ball was second-hand.

The result was 0-0, but that didn’t matter. Rangers had been born.

The name Rangers was adopted from an English rugby club. By their second fixture – the only other they played that first year – they had donned the light blue. It must have done the trick – Rangers beat Clyde 11-0.

Despite this promising start, as every fan knows the official founding of the club did not take place until the following year.

The date of 1873 is recognised because that was the year when the club had their first annual meeting and officers were elected. Rangers were becoming businesslike.

The players had formal training sessions and a fixture list was drawn up.

The fixtures during that first full season were friendlies. Rangers had left it too late to apply for membership of the Scottish Football Association and were not eligible to play in the inaugural Scottish Cup, won by Queen’s Park.

The team was very much a family affair. The McNeils were joined by a third brother, Hugh and there were two more Campbell brothers and two Vallances.

By 1876 Rangers had their first international, Moses McNeil one of the four founders, who made his Scotland debut in a 4-0 victory over Wales.

The following year Rangers made the breakthrough reaching their first Scottish Cup Final. It took three matches to find a winner, and sadly it was their opponents Vale of Leven. After two drawn games, 0-0 and 1-1, Rangers finally succumbed 3-2 in the second replay.

Two years later in 1879 they were back in the Final with a chance of revenge, for they were facing the same opponents. The match ended 1-1, but Rangers were so incensed by a disallowed goal that they refused to turn up for the replay and Vale of Leven were awarded the Cup.

Rangers were to wait a decade before they could celebrate their first senior honours, though they came pretty close to winning the FA Cup – yes, the ENGLISH FA Cup. In 1887 they reached the semi-final of that competition only to lose to eventual Cup winners Aston Villa.

The series of fixtures that were to become known as the Old Firm games began the next year. Rangers met Celtic in a friendly in May 1888 – and lost 5-2.

Season 1890-91 saw the start of the Scottish League Championship. By then Rangers had arrived at Ibrox, via Burnbank and Kinning Park.

What a season it was. Rangers first League game was played on August 16 1890 and resulted in a 5-2 victory over Hearts. By the end of that first season, Rangers had played 18 games, winning 13, drawing three and losing just two. There had been crushing victories (8-2 and 7-3 over St Mirren and 6-2 over Cambuslang).

But one of their defeats had been against Celtic (2-1 away) and the other was at Dumbarton (5-1) with whom they shared top place with 29 points each.

A play-off took place at Cathkin to decide the title. Rangers took a 2-0 lead, but allowed Dumbarton back into the game. It was 2-2 as the final whistle went and the Championship was shared for the only time in its history.

In those early days, Rangers were becoming the nearly men, finishing runners-up in the League in 1892-93, 1895-96 and 1896-97.

But at least they had made it third time lucky in the Scottish Cup Final in 1894. And how sweet a victory it was – a 3-1 defeat of Celtic.

Two more Cup Final triumphs followed, Rangers hammering Dumbarton 5-1 in 1897 and retaining the trophy by beating Kilmarnock 2-0 the next year.

Rangers were on their way to pre-eminence in Scottish football.