SINCE they shared the first League Championship with Dumbarton in 1890-91, Rangers had never finished lower than fifth in the table. Now they stood on the threshold of greatness.
For not only were they to win their first Championship outright. They were also to achieve a feat which has been beyond every other club side in the world.
Rangers, under the watchful eye of their match secretary William Wilton, uniquely won every single League game in the 1898-99 season.
Eighteen games, eighteen victories, a maximum 36 points. They scored 79 goals at an average of more than four a game, conceding just 18.
Runners-up Hearts were 10 points adrift in the days when a victory was worth only two.
Rangers began with a 6-2 annihilation of Partick Thistle. The captain Robert Hamilton, who still holds the club record for Old Firm matches with 32 goals against Celtic, scored a hat-trick.
Hamilton, a schoolmaster, was to find the net a further 18 times that season.
With 10 straight victories under their belt, Rangers’ away game at Hibernian was the crunch. Hibs were being touted as the only serious rivals for the title and looked like it when they took a 2-0 lead.
Rangers squared the game in the second-half then conceded another goal. As the match see-sawed, Hamilton came to the rescue to make it 3-3.
With just seconds to go, Rangers were awarded a penalty. Up stepped Neil to ram the ball home. They had won with the last kick of the match.
Rangers inflicted some devastating scorelines on their opponents. Clyde were beaten 8-0 and the Championship was wrapped up with a 7-0 humiliation of Dundee.
With four games left, the only question was could Rangers continue to be invincible? Next up were Hibernian at Ibrox on Christmas Eve.
There were to be no Christmas gifts from Rangers. Hibs, the team who had been spoken of as title rivals and who had run them so close at Easter Road, were demolished 10-0, still their record defeat.
In the end, everything hung on the last match away to Clyde in January. Conditions were icy, but Rangers won 3-0 to achieve an incredible perfect League season.
However Celtic, who finished third and had been polished off with 4-0 and 4-1 defeats, were to thwart Rangers’ dreams of the Cup.
In the Scottish Cup Final, Rangers had an early goal disallowed for offside and Celtic took the trophy 2-0. Rangers would have to wait 29 years to do the League and Cup Double.
Wilton was rewarded with his appointment as the Club’s first Manager as Rangers formally became a business company. Rangers Football Club Limited was established in March 1899 and appointed its first board of directors under the chairmanship of James Henderson.
Later that year they moved to New Ibrox – site of the present stadium – just up the road from the old ground where they had played since 1887.
This increasingly professional approach by the club paid handsome dividends. Rangers retained the title for the next three seasons making it Four-In-A-Row.
These momentous times were marred, though, by the first of Ibrox’s tragedies. A section of the western terracing collapsed during a Scotland v England match in 1902. Twenty five people died and 500 were injured.