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Arnold Peralta - Thank You

The tragic death of Arnold Peralta at just 26 has only reaffirmed my much maligned belief that every player who has contributed to our journey back to the top since 2012 should be lauded as much as any other former Rangers player.

People seem to have forgotten just how close to wipe out we came. We can’t airbrush these players out of our history and we should be very proud of them. These players, admittedly many with a skill level that would otherwise have got them nowhere near a Rangers jersey, are as much a part of our remarkable history as the thousands of loyal fans who turned up at Ibrox throughout the journey.

Arnold Peralta played 21 times for Rangers, scoring once at Ibrox against Stranraer and once in a friendly against Dundee. It was an absolute peach it was as well: a 22-yard free kick into the top right-hand corner of the net. He was by no means the greatest player ever to grace Ibrox and to be frank I’d almost forgotten about him until the news came through last night.

There are a number of players from the past few years that many fans would happily forget: Kevin Kyle, Francisco Sandaza and Ian Black amongst them. But there are others like Andy Little who will be remembered for the goal he scored against Celtic and who was top scorer with 22 goals in the Third Division. I’d argue those goals were far more important in the history of our club than the one he scored against them.

I would also argue we have treated one of our truly inspirational figures very badly: Lee McCulloch. Three SPL winners medals, one Scottish League One medal, one Scottish Third Division medal, two Scottish Cups and three League Cups is not a bad haul and would qualify him for legend status at many lesser clubs.

Lee stuck by Rangers (yes, I get he was on a magnificent contract but what footballer isn’t?) when others took the earliest opportunity to leave the sinking ship and some even stuck the boot in on leaving as well. He is on record as saying the 2014/15 season was his worst in football and that’s a sentiment shared by many fans. Yes, he was not the Lee we all enjoyed in previous seasons but some of the abuse he got was terrible. He deserved and deserves better.

On the journey back Rangers were a mess, a criminal mess. Ally McCoist, one of the greatest goal scorers we have seen, clearly was not managerial material. Sadly that had been all too evident when he managed the team in the League Cup during Walter Smith’s second spell as manager. His ability to manage was compromised by difficult conditions (softened by a massive pay packet) which he must have found frustrating. Playing for McCoist must have been equally frustrating.

His tactics and coaching were from the days of stubbing your fag out in your beer can and kicking off. Still, the players became a dab hand at pool and darts. His judgement of a player made Ronnie Delia seem like Pep Guardiola. Stella, Cribari, Faure and Argyrio are names we’d rather forget but all should be welcomed at Ibrox anytime. As for McCoist, I’m not going to pass judgement on the status that should be afforded to him until I hear who the Crown Prosecution calls as a witness in the upcoming trials. Let’s hope it’s his greatest performance on behalf of Rangers.

Jon Daly, Bilel Moshni, Steve Simonsen and Arnold Peralta joined in 2013. That team went undefeated but it really was dire football at times. On the other hand, I bet it was one of the highlights of Arnold Peralta’s career.

People have forgotten how close we came to losing something that plays such an important part in our life. Something that we can share with our children and grandchildren: Rangers Football Club. Arnold Peralta was part of that, he should be remembered and thanked. I trust you will want to thank everyone who helped maintain what you nearly lost.

I would urge the current board of Rangers Football Club, when we get promoted, to ensure they get in touch with every single player that helped us return to the top. They should be invited to Ibrox on a match day so that we, the Rangers support, can thank them properly, regardless of character traits or ability, for assisting our club in its hour of need.

Graham Campbell is 48 and sadly greying. He was one of the founders of Rangers First and can be followed on Twitter @gazborangers