THE season of 1919-20 was a golden one for Rangers. The previous term they had been pipped for the title by just one point by Celtic. Now they were ready to reassert themselves.
They won 31 of their 42 League games, drawing nine and losing just two. But it was the manner of those victories that impressed. Rangers scored 106 goals and conceded just 25.
A vital factor had been the emergence of a man who had joined the club in 1914 as trainer. His name was William Struth.
Together, manager William Wilton and right-hand man Struth began a period of Rangers domination that was to last until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
Sadly, Wilton was not to enjoy this extraordinary success which saw Rangers take the title 15 times in 21 seasons.
With the Championship back at Ibrox, Wilton – the club’s first manager – died the day after the last game of the season in May 1920, drowning in a boating accident.
Struth, who was appointed his successor, lived to become a legend. He managed the club for 34 years, winning a glittering array of trophies – 18 League Championships, 10 Scottish Cups and two League Cups.
And one player in his squad created a curious record. James Gordon, who was with Rangers from 1910 until 1930, became the only player ever in British football to appear for his club in all positions from goalkeeper to the old-fashioned outside left.
By the time the 1927-28 season came round, Rangers had already won the title five times during the seven seasons that Struth had been in the hot seat. And this was to be their best yet. The year they won their first Double.
Rangers, the current Champions, showed their mettle from the start, winning their first six League games. Some victories were sweeter than others. Rangers shared the spoils with Celtic – each team winning at home 1-0 – but their 7-2 triumph at Airdrie was their first success there in six years.
Rangers set themselves a new League goals record, finishing with 109 as they won 28 of their 36 games, drawing eight and losing four.
Meanwhile, Rangers were making confident progress in the Cup which they hadn’t won since 1903.
They cruised through the first round, winning 6-0 at East Stirling. Home victories followed over Cowdenbeath (4-2) and King’s Park (3-1). Then a 1-0 defeat of Albion Rovers away put them into the semi-finals against Hibernian.
The match, played at Tynecastle, was a comfortable 3-0 victory for Rangers with goals from Archibald and Fleming plus an own goal by Hibernian’s Wiseman.
A record crowd of 118,115 packed into Hampden for the Final against Celtic and a goalless first-half gave no clue to the drama that was to come.
Early in the second-half a Rangers shot was punched off the line by Celtic defender Willie McStay. Penalty!
Skipper Davie Meiklejohn – not a normal penalty taker – stepped up and made it 1-0. Bob McPhail scored the second and Sandy Archibald made it three with a blistering long-range shot.
With five minutes to go, Archibald drove the final nail into Celtic’s coffin. Rangers’ arch-rivals had been vanquished 4-0 and the Scottish Cup was back at Ibrox for the first time in a quarter of a century.
There was no rest for the heroic boys in blue. Within three days they were facing Kilmarnock in the League. It was a walkover. The score was 5-1, the title was theirs. Rangers had achieved the Double at last.
It didn’t stop there. Rangers retained the Championship for the next three seasons making it Five-In-A-Row and won four more titles (1932-33, 1933-34, 1936-37 and 1938-39) before the outbreak of war.
By now Rangers were making up for lost time in the Cup. Having gone so long without leaving much of an impression, they were to lift it six times in nine years.
There were further Final victories in 1930 (Partick 2-1 after a 0-0 draw), 1932 (Kilmarnock 3-0 after a 1-1 draw), 1934 (a 5-0 thrashing of St Mirren), 1935 (Hamilton 2-1) and 1936 (Third Lanark 1-0).
Even the Double, which had eluded them for so long, was becoming easy for Rangers with the victorious teams of 1930 and 1934 making it three in seven years.
There were a few disappointments, perhaps the strangest being in the 1931-32 season when Rangers scored their record number of League goals – 118 in 38 matches – yet finished runners-up in the Championship to Motherwell.
Soon they were to score 118 in a season again – but this time it was in that Double year of 1933-34.
The Thirties provided an almost unbroken period of fabulous success for Rangers, highlighted by yet another record in the last Old Firm League match at Ibrox before the war.
On January 2nd 1939, the biggest crowd ever to watch a League football match in the British Isles turned out for the traditional holiday fixture with Celtic.Ibrox was bursting at the seams as 118,567 fans crammed in to watch Dave Kinnear and Alex Venters give Rangers a 2-1 win.
Within months, however, players and fans would be uniting to face a common enemy, fighting against Hitler’s Germany. The Scottish Championship was suspended, though clubs continued to play in regional leagues.
Rangers won all their wartime competitions in the Southern Regional League – including one match in which they gave Celtic an 8-1 beating.
When Scottish League football returned in the winter of 1946, William Struth would still be in command at Ibrox and Rangers would maintain their winning ways.