During the darkest days of the recent past there were occasions when Ian Durrant admits he feared deeply for the future of Rangers Football Club.
As the club teetered on the edge of the abyss, amidst the turmoil and agony of administration, redundancies, a long battle with HMRC and subsequent demotion from the top flight to the bottom tier of Scottish football, Durrant acknowledges times were tough.
But he says in Ally McCoist, Rangers had a man at the helm, perhaps the only man, who could have steered the club through those most choppiest of waters, away from the rocks of liquidation and back towards normality.
Now he hopes his best pal of 30-years will be remembered for the sacrifices and devotion he made to the Gers to keep the club alive.
“The truer fans will remember what Ally went through and what he did for the club,” says Durrant passionately.
“It is a special club to Ally and nobody should underestimate what he did to ensure the survival of Rangers Football Club.
“There were more than a few times when we worried seriously for the future of the club. When HMRC come in and redundancies are taking peoples jobs, wage cuts are being handed out and the full spectre was going on – they were very dark days.
“But we had a special man at the helm in that time in Ally McCoist and he absolutley held the club together. He was a rock and he wasn’t allowed to do all the things he wanted to do in terms of the management side of things and he had to deal with so much outside of football.
“He kept it all together and I hope people remember in years to come all that he did in keeping Rangers together, and surviving.”
Durrant was speaking to the Stornoway Gazette this week as the latest star guest lured across the Minch by the Lewis and Harris Rangers Supporters Club. It had been scheduled to be an evening with Andy Gray but when the ex-Rangers, Scotland – and famously Back FC – striker was forced to withdraw at the last minute, Durrant was only to pleased to step in.
“I had been speaking to the guys for a while about coming back up so rather than disappoint a lot of people I volunteered to come up as I was free,” he explained.
“It is a privilege to be here in Lewis and Harris and they treat us former players like royalty. The guys here are bending over backwards for us and the hospitality has been second to none.”
‘He’s blue, he’s white, he’s *ahem dynamite, Ian Durrant, Ian Durrant’ was the chorus from the Ibrox terraces when the midfielder was catapulted onto the first team scene in the mid ‘80’s.
He was a fearless talent and one which both Jock Wallace, the manager who handed him his début, and Graeme Souness, who kicked off the charge to nine-in-a-row, both hailed him as a man destined for the top.
Souness claimed that Rangers would have been unable to keep a hold of him had he not suffered his injury with one of the top clubs in Italy or Germany likely to take him abroad.
In the end it was all hypothetical as Durrant was forced out of the game for two years following a career-threatening knee injury when he was tackled by Aberdeen’s Neil Simpson in a match at Pittodrie in October 1988.
“At the time, pre injury I was fearless, enjoying football and playing at a stage and a level of football alongside guys like Graeme Souness, Davie Cooper and Terry Butcher,” continued Durrant.
“Unfortunately the injury happened and I had to take a long road back.”
He goes on: “Mobility was the biggest difference and I lost a yard. My game had been getting away from people so following my injury I had to change my game. I became a more sitting player. I had a bit of pace but I was more just a passing player rather than being dynamic and going beyond players. The severity of the injury curtailed that.
“It was frustrating. If I was asked a million times what I could have achieved …. no-one knows and nobody can say.”
When ‘Dynamite’ Durranty made his return in a reserve match after two-long years scrapping to save his career a massive 35,000 supporters packed out Ibrox which shows how highly they thought of him.
Under Walter Smith he re-established himself in the first-team, playing almost 300 times as Rangers won nine-in-a-row.
“There are a culmination of things you look back on as key moments: your senior debut, your first medal, first Scotland cap, the elation of playing again after my injury but the culmination was nine-in-a-row,” he beamed.
“The fans were baying for it and if we had let them down we’d have been remember as the team which could have been or should have been.
“It was a shame we ran out of legs before 10-in-a-row. All we needed was a couple of players and we should have kept Marco Negri off the squash courts.”
“Old Firm games too,” he smiles, “you remember.”
“They are a blur but you never forget the ones you win. The atmosphere in the games was brilliant. It is a poisonous game but one everybody loves as two sets of fans which don’t like each other and two sets of players who will do anything to win the game for their team. One day four times a year Glasgow is divided to see who comes out on top.
“I still go all the time to Ibrox and the family all have our season tickets. Things are going ok but bringing in 11 players was always going to require a transitional period. There is a lot of building to be done but I hope people keep the faith with the team for the hard work ahead.
“The expectation levels are always there at Rangers and they should compete but give them time.”
it is now 31-years since he first pulled on the light blue of Rangers for his top-team debut and it was in the same season he first visited Stornoway – neither event feels like they occurred three decades ago.
“No it doesn’t feel so long ago,” he says.
“I was here in in Stornoway in 1985 and I was reminiscing earlier today with some of the guys here in the supporters club. It doesn’t feel like so long ago. The islands are a special place to come and considering this club is the biggest supporters club in the world it is an honour to come up and sample the atmosphere.”
Durrant left Rangers last summer as the club shuffled their coaching deck, ending a more than 25-year association – in two spells. He had been working with the development squad and having seen the talent coming through on the Ibrox conveyor belt he remains hugely optimistic other teen talents can follow in his own stud marks as teen prospects to first-team heroes.
“I’m enjoying life but to be honest I’m champing at the bit to get back working again but I have to wait for an opening. I would like to get back into coaching, preferably youth, as I feel that’s where I’m better suited to,” he admits.
“here are very good prospects there but players have to work hard, double hard now to get into the team if they want it and if they have that desire. A lack of desire is the only thing that will stop them from making it. But players like Ryan Hardie, Liam Burt, Ross and Robby McCrorie – great young players have the ability and hopefully they will get their chance.”