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Ally McCoist – from boyhood idol to real life hero


A few years ago as part of my university studies the tutor announced we were to begin a project entitled ‘Heroes’.  Having arrived at University in my late twenties and being a typical hairy chested Scotsman I immediately squirmed in my chair.  The thought of participating in some dramatic personal divulgence with a group of teenagers (yes I was very much the elder of the group) seemed preposterous to me. 

For a start I was far too old for heroes…It had been many years since my bubble had been burst with the news that Superman and Michael Knight with his talking car were indeed fictional.

Secondly I was a grown ass man! Grown men shouldn’t have heroes should they?

The tutor went from person to person and with each answer my grunts of disgust became louder.

Did someone really just say Jessie J? 

As I mumbled profanities under my breath I suddenly heard my name…taken aback for a second my mind went blank but then I smiled and I replied,

“Ally McCoist”.

It was, however, said slightly off the cuff as he was for me a footballing hero…a boyhood idol.   A hero in the true sense is generally perceived as someone who has shown courage or performs an extreme act of bravery...I couldn’t in all honesty deem scoring goals for Rangers as being a feat of heroism.

I was lucky enough to grow up watching McCoist representing Rangers and Scotland as only he could…a goal scoring machine that broke records for fun.  Goals that brought multiple league titles to Ibrox during his time as a player.

 I was lucky to watch as he scored against Leeds in ‘The Battle of Britain’ – to watch him score that overhead kick Vs. Hibs in the cup final and that long range drive Vs. Switzerland at Euro ’96.

Super Ally’s contribution to Rangers and Scotland as a player was truly remarkable; he represented the club with a smile and certainly his playing feats alone will never be forgotten – his place in The Scottish Football Hall of Fame is a testament to that.

After making ‘A Question of Sport’ watchable for a few years and after successful stints as a football pundit (we won’t mention the movie career) McCoist made his way back to Rangers working under the wing of Walter Smith. Not long after he took the reins from The Gaffer and I for one could not have been happier.

His reign began with disappointments, we were unaware of what was truly happening behind the scenes with Craig Whyte as we watched as he failed to sign target after target in his first transfer window. Poor results in Europe followed but despite receiving strong criticism - domestically his Rangers team started the season very well.  When the inevitable injuries came along, in particular the loss of Steven Naismith, the small squad struggled to stay consistent and this led to further criticism.

Then the proverbial merde hit the fan…

Rangers were in administration, the clubs owner decided it was time for him to go home to Monaco and he left McCoist alone to try to hold the club together.

When the true details of Whyte’s misdemeanours became public it was widely reported in the media that McCoist would pack his bags and leave Ibrox.  This lead to McCoist coining a phrase that will reverberate with Rangers fans for years to come – much like the famous speech of another Rangers legend Bill Struth.

“We don’t do walking away.”

Five words that so perfectly embodied the spirit of every true Ranger.

Five words that McCoist has gone on to prove to be true - time and time again over these past few months.

I’ve watched the drama unfold like every other Rangers fan with both bewilderment and anger – but through it all the one glimmer of light has been Ally McCoist.

The smile may have faded at times but his dedication has never wavered, he has carried the fears and the anxieties of the Rangers support firmly on his back and never once buckled.

Bill Struth was no Nostradamus, but you could be forgiven for thinking as such for Struth’s famous speech decades later could easily be used as a checklist for McCoist and his reign as the manager of Rangers.

Times of stress

Unstinted support

Unbroken devotion to our club

Calmness in adversity

True in their conception

Never hide

Never fear

Tolerance and sanity

Trials to overcome

Ally McCoist has shown us, and perhaps reminded some of us, exactly what it is to be a modern day True Ranger.

Recently, thinking back about that day in University I realised that if asked again who my hero was the answer would be the same but the sentiment behind the answer would have changed.

I would no longer say it as an off the cuff statement and there would be no sign of jest on my face.

My boyhood footballing idol has turned into a real life inspiration.

He has shown the courage and bravery required to be truly deemed a hero.

When the dust has finally settled in this Rangers saga I feel we will all look back and realise that the true saviour of the club we all hold so dear wasn’t those who paid millions of pounds to control it - but it was actually the man that held it together when it was in the most fragile state in its history.

No man is bigger than the club but Ally McCoist embodies everything the club stands for. 

His dedication and sacrifices should never be forgotten and I doubt very much they ever will be.

I hope that whatever happens in the coming weeks that Ally remains the manager of our club, with the trials overcome it is my belief he will go from strength to strength and he will lead Rangers back to the top of the mountain where they belong.

He is a hero in every sense of the word.

You can follow Scott on Twitter @st2oh