Where Are They Now?

Rangers completed the rise through the leagues but what happened to the players who played in the opening League game of the journey in 2012?

Wednesday, 06 April 2016, 11:00

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Ally McCoist’s Gers drew with Peterhead 2-2 at Balmoor in front of 4.485 fans with a first goal for the club scored by Barrie McKay and a last minute strike by Andy Little.

If Rangers fans thought the Third Division would involve an easy procession to the title, they were made to think again as their team had to come from behind to draw at Peterhead.

This was the day the Light Blues stepped into unchartered territory, playing the very first league match outwith Scottish football’s top flight of their 140-year history.

They were expected to win and really should have done given the number of chances they created but it seems there is some fine tuning to be done yet.

Their hosts in Buchan rolled out the welcome mat and as almost 4,500 fans crammed into Balmoor Stadium, there was a real cup tie feel to this fixture.

For more than an hour it all went according to plan too, thanks to Barrie McKay’s first competitive goal for the club.

But Rory McAllister’s strike restored parity before Scott McLaughlin put his side on the brink of a sensational victory.

In the end, Andy Little made sure that wouldn’t be the case with a late tap in but it won’t have saved him and his team-mates from a stern talking to at full-time from Ally McCoist.

Scroll below to read where all of the players who played in the match are now.
Find out who is playing in Japan and who is playing BDO Darts…

Goals: 2 | 2
Shots: 7 | 23
On Target: 5 | 12
Crosses: 14 | 19
Corners: 8 | 9
Saves: 9 | 6
Free Kicks: 15 | 18
Offside: 4 | 3
Yellow: 3 | 1

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Neil Alexander

Goalkeeper

Goalkeeper Alexander played for the full 2012/13 season, making 43 appearances for the Gers.

He left the club when his contract expired at the end of season 2012/13 season and he joined Crystal Palace for a year before returning north to join his current club Heart of Midlothian for the start of season 2014/15.

Alexander was part of the Hearts team who won promotion from the Championship last season where he is still number one and also acting as goalkeeping coach for the Edinburgh side.

During his time at Rangers, Alexander won the Premiership three times, the Scottish Cup twice and the League Cup three times.

Alexander is best remembered for his run in the Gers team at the end of the 2007/08 season where he played in the run to the UEFA Cup Final in Manchester, where he was in goal for the penalty shoot out win over Fiorentina.

Current Club: Hearts

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Kirk Broadfoot

Defender

Kirk Broadfoot would only go on to play two more games for Rangers following the opening league game of the journey, against East Stirlingshire and Falkirk before leaving the club.

Defender Broadfoot left the club to join Blackpool on a year contract, which was then extended for a second year culminating in 65 appearances for the Seasiders over two seasons.

He then moved to Rotherham for season 20014/15 where he has made over 50 appearances in the last two seasons.

During his time at the Light Blues, he won the Premiership three times, the League Cup once and was in the Gers side that made it to the UEFA Cup Final in 2007/08.

Current Club: Rotherham United

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Dorin Goian

Defender

Dorin Goian played in the opening game against Peterhead and then made one final appearance for the club at Ibrox against East Stirlingshire before leaving the club.

The Romanian defender moved to Italian Serie B club Spezia on a season long loan. He stayed at the club for the whole season despite his spell nearly being ended early due to an altercation with a referee.

Following his season loan in Italy, Goian’s contract with the Rangers expired and he moved to join Greek Super League side Asteras Tripoli. Goian has been at the club since since 2013/14 and is now 35 and captains the side.

Current Club: Asteras Tripoli

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Carlos Bocanegra

Defender

Bocanegra signed for Rangers in August 2011 from St Etienne on the eve of a Champions League qualification tie against Maribor in Slovenia.

Bocanegra will forever be remembered by Rangers fans for continuing at the club during the trials and tribulations in the summer of 2012 when he and fellow American internationals Maurice Edu and Ale Bedoya returned for pre-season training.

Bocanegra captained the Gers for the game against Peterhead and the American central defender played seven games for the Gers in season 2012/13 before leaving with a heavy heart to join Racing Santander on loan for the season.

Speaking to RangersTV when he met up with the Gers in America during preseason 2014/15, he said:

“Playing in front of 50,000 fans at Ibrox every second weekend and experiencing the support we got around the country otherwise was fantastic.

“But my family and I loved the club, the city and the culture too. Everything came together in a really nice mix so when I had to leave it was a very difficult decision.

“I would have liked to stay but there was the issue with my wages and I was trying to keep my national team dream alive ahead of the World Cup but we had dropped down the leagues.

“I guess the only regret I have is I didn’t get the chance to go there earlier but during my time at Rangers, we had a great team.

“The level was high and I got to play in the derby matches. The short time I had there was special and I really cherish it because I know how lucky I was to experience it.

“You always wish you can have everything perfect in life but being able to be part of Rangers for just a short amount of time was awesome.”

Following his time in Spain, the Gers fan favourite left the club for good to join Chivas USA in MLS. Bocanegra played for the side until the end of the 2014 MLS campaign when he retired from the game.

One of the most internationally capped players ever to play the game, Bocanegra hasn’t been lost to football, as he is now serving as Technical Director for Atlanta United FC who will join MLS in 2017.

Current Club: Retired

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Lee Wallace

Defender

Wallace is of course still with Rangers having made the journey up through the divisions first as vice-captain to Lee McCulloch before being awarded the armband on a full time basis under Mark Warburton last summer.

He has now made a remarkable 170 appearances for the club throughout the rise back to the top of Scottish football.

Wallace has won Rangers Player of the Year in 2013/14 and the Players Player of the Year 2012/13 and 2013/14.

He was also named in the Third Division and League One PFA Team of the Year in 2012/13 and 2013/14 and named PFA Player of the Year in those seasons.

Speaking recently to RangersTV, he said: “It was something I never took notice of at the time. It was all about Rangers for me and how I could contribute and play my part in the club’s recovery to get back to the levels where we should be playing our football.

“This is the club that I love and the club that I wanted to go on and do ever so well for. The fact is I came to this club to be a winner and to be successful – and I said that in my first press conference.

“I arrived into a dressing room full of winners, and in five or six years’ time if a new player comes in and says the same, but with me being one of those winners then, of course, I will be over the moon.

“The plan has always been to be successful for the club – and this is a club that traditionally is used to winning top-level silverware, and I’m no different.”

Andy Little

Midfielder

Northern Irish striker Andy Little made 36 appearances for the club throughout season 2012/13 scoring a very impressive twenty five goals along the way, including two hattricks.

Little remained at the club for season 2013/14 and made 26 appearances, scoring five goals. The striker would then leave the club when his contract expired and joined Preston North End where he made 16 appearances in 2014/15, scoring two goals.

Injuries have continued to hold back Little and he has made five appearances on loan for Blackpool during a short term loan contract before joining Accrington Stanley on loan until the end of this season.

Speaking of his time at the club recently, Little said: “It’s hard to beat that feeling of having been a Rangers player and having been accepted by the Rangers fans. That’s something I cherish and I will always go back there.

“It looks like that was the best spell of my career. I scored a goal against Celtic in an Old Firm match and I’ve got a photo of that which I will keep for ever.

“Nobody will ever be able to take that away from me. It’s something I am pretty proud of.”

Current Club: Accrington Stanley (loan)

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Ian Black

Midfielder

Ian Black signed for the club in July 2012 and made his debut for the club in the game against Brechin in the Challenge Cup at the end of July in season 2012/13.

Black would go on to play 115 times for the club, scoring eight goals before left at the end of season 2014/15 when his contract expired. Whilst at the club, he was part of the team that clinched both the Scottish Third Division and League One titles.

Following his time at the Gers, Black went on trial at both Berwick Rangers and Raith Rovers before signing for Shrewsbury town in September 2015 where he is still playing his football.

Black recently played for Shrewsbury in the FA Cup against Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United.

Current Club: Shrewsbury Town

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Lewis Macleod

Midfielder

Lewis Macleod made his first debut for the club in the Challenge Cup tie against Brechin at the start of season 2012/13 just shortly after his eighteenth birthday.

The young midfielder made quite the impression with the Ibrox support in his 76 appearances for the club, playing both through the middle and on the left hand side.

Following his breakthrough he was awarded a five year contract at the club and he went on to win the Third Division title and Young Player of the Year in 2012/13.

After an impressive start to the 2013/14 campaign, the midfielder was sold to Brentford by Derek Llambias amidst much anger from the Gers support in the January transfer window.

Since joining Brentford on a three and a half year contract, the youngster has been hampered by injury and has to date only played one game for the London club.

Current Club: Brentford FC

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Barrie McKay

Attacker

Barrie McKay scored the first league goal of the campaign to rise through the leagues against Peterhead in this match after making his debut in the Brechin match as a seventeen year old.

McKay has gone on to make 86 appearances for the club since that game, scoring 12 goals including seven this season.

Following an impressive start to life as a Ger during season 2012/13 where he made 41 appearances, McKay fell out of the starting eleven and had to go out on loan to Greenock Morton and Raith Rovers for first team experience.

A return to the club under Mark Warburton breathed new life into his Gers career and he has been crucial for the Gers this season, earning a call up to the Scotland under-21 squad and a nomination for Young Player Of The Year.

Lee McCulloch

Midfielder

Lee McCulloch was appointed captain of the club when Bocanegra moved on loan to Racing Santander at the start of September 2012 and he signed a contract extension until the end of 2014/15.

Jig would go on to make 123 appearances for the club scoring 46 goals before leaving at the end of the campaign last season. He led the club to the Third Division and League One titles in addition to his three Premier Divisions, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups.

He also won Rangers Player of the Year in 2013 and was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame in 2014.

Since leaving the Gers, McCulloch joined Kimarnock as a player and coach in 2015. Following the departure of  Gary Locke, McCulloch was put in temporary charge of Killie where he managed three games, two against Rangers in the Scottish Cup and another, a victory, against his other former club Motherwell.

He is now assistant manager at Kilmarnock under new boss Lee Clark.

Dean Shiels

Midfielder

Northern Irish midfielder Dean Shiels had just joined the club on a four year contract when he played in the match against Peterhead.

Shiels has now played in 117 games of the journey back to the top division, scoring 30 goals including some memorable ones along the way.


Speaking to the club website when he joined the club, he said: "Once I knew they were interested, it was a decision that I was happy to make,"

"I'm just delighted to be here. I know we are in the Third Division, but hopefully not for long.

"No matter what division Rangers are in, they want to win it. So this year will be no different to any other year in that regard."

Kevin Kyle

Striker

Former Sunderland, Coventry City, Kilmarnock and Hearts striker Kevin Kyle joined the club on a trial basis at first following spells training with Dunfermline and St Johnstone ahead of season 2012/13.

The big striker signed a one year deal with the club and made thirteen appearances for the club, scoring three goals before leaving by mutual consent in March 2013.

Following his time with Rangers, Kyle would spend season 2013/14 with Ayr United where he made 29 appearances, scoring five goals.

He retired from football at the end of that season and has recently played in the BDO Scottish Open darts tournament, where he reached the last 256, beating Richard Veenstra who was ninth seed in the tournament along the way.

Current Club: Retired

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Fran Sandaza

Striker

Former Dundee United, Brighton and Hove Albion and St Johnstone striker Francisco Sandaza signed for the club on a three year contract in August 2012.

Early in his Gers career the striker suffered a bad injury to his cheekbone in a clash of heads with Motherwell’s Shuan Hutchison in the League Cup.

The striker made 18 appearances for the Light Blues, scoring two goals before his contract was terminated by mutual agreement.

Upon leaving the Gers, Sandaza went on trial at Petrolul pioiesti in Romania, but wasn’t offered a contract. He then returned to Spain where he signed a deal with CD Lugo where he scored five goals in 27 games for the club.

He then signed for Girona in July 2014 on a one year contract where he made 38 appearances, scoring 16 goals. At the start of season 2015/16, Sandaza moved to Japan to join FC Tokyo.

Current Club: FC Tokyo

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Barrie McKay celebrates scoring the opening goal of the journey.