Rangers Legends: Ally McCoist.
It’s not difficult for me to describe my feelings for Ally McCoist. The man quite simply is a living legend in my eyes; no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. I struggle to comprehend the criticism McCoist receives on our boards, indeed I am looking forward to feedback from this thread. If anyone can justify the apparent hate some appear to have for McCoist I will be astonished, for me it’s impossible to hate the man.
Growing up I only ever wanted to be one person, from the grass pitches to the concrete 5-a sides, I had to be ‘Super Ally’. As a 26 year old, McCoist wearing the no 9 at Ibrox was all I ever knew growing up as I began my love affair with the Rangers. Indeed, my first ever game way back in May 1992 on the terracing at Hampden as Rangers beat Airdrie 2-1 to lift the Scottish Cup; McCoist was the man yet again. ‘’Super Ally does it again’’ was a term coined by one commentator (of whom we will not mention) and it was so very true, McCoist could always be relied on, he was always there and he always done the business. I remember one night as a youngster nervously watching Teletext for the score to come through from Firhill, it was almost 10pm this midweek and the game had to be over. I began to question my belief. I really should have known better as Teletext suddenly showed, Partick 1 Rangers 2 McCoist 90. It was typical McCoist, he was the master at finding the net, especially at times when all hope appeared to be lost and a key reason why Rangers dominated the late 80’s and the 90’s in the quest for 9 in a Row.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for McCoist. After arriving from Sunderland in June 1983 McCoist already faced the Ibrox doubters before he even made it on the field, due largely to having turned down the club on the two previous occasions they courted his signature. His first two years were extremely difficult in a Rangers shirt as he sought to overcome the Ibrox support. A cup final hat-trick against Celtic in his early days went a long way to winning over the support, it was through Ally’s sheer determination that he kept working away to blast so many goal scoring records aside on his claim to be Rangers greatest ever striker, no mean feat at all. From winning over the crowd McCoist also was about to face his next biggest challenge to his Rangers career in Graeme Souness. Souness wasn’t his biggest fan it’s fair to be said, his bubbly character rubbed Souness up the wrong way and Ally found himself on the bench most of the time where he earned the nickname ‘The Judge’. But he kept going as he went on to establish himself and Souness left paving the way for the arrival of Walter Smith at the Ibrox helm.
It was under Smith that McCoist fired his way to Two Golden boots in seasons 1991/92 and 1992/93 with an impressive total of 34 goals in both years. Stopped only at his peak by a broken leg while on international duty. McCoist has faced testing times during his Rangers career but has shown durability to keep on bouncing back and keep on producing the goods. He returned from injury in the fashion we all knew he was capable of, scoring the winner in the league cup final against Hibs with a sensational over head kick, it was vintage McCoist. In 1996 he set a new Post war Scottish goal scoring record surpassing Gordon Wallace’s long standing record, I was lucky enough to be in the Ibrox crowd as I witnessed the celebration and elation of McCoist after scoring that day vs. Hibs, anyone who doubts McCoist's passions for this club should look back at his celebrations if conformation is ever required.
What will always live with me was McCoist’s drive to get Rangers over the line in the quest for 9 in a row. A very difficult 7 in a row campaign which was severely hampered by injury led most to believe McCoist was finished, we couldn’t have been more wrong. The arrival of Paul Gascoigne rejuvenated Rangers and McCoist as he fired 18 league goals to help the club clinch the title, including a fantastic header in the league cup at the newly refurbished Parkhead. McCoist was turning back the clock, looking his old self once again and proving the doubters wrong all over again. For some, It wasn’t always fashionable to have Ally as the club no 9, Rangers signed many big money high profile strikers during his stint, from Duncan Ferguson to Oleg Salenko, McCoist seen them all off to keep doing what he done best – scoring goals.
1996/97 season brought Rangers 9 in a row and Ally’s 10th and final league championship medal, the one the club really wanted. McCoist played a vital role as his goals kept the club on track including another 2 in the league cup final, taking his tally to 54 goals in the competition which remains a record today. Even during the failed bid for 10 McCoist always kept going. Having lost his no 9 shirt to the Italian Marco Negri, McCoist gained the no 8 after the departure of Paul Gascoigne and carried the club towards a tenth title. In the end it wasn’t to be and the club came up short. Indeed it was McCoist who got the teams final goal in the cup final defeat that year, it was a goal to mark the end of an era and for me it was fitting McCoist got it.
Ally McCoist scored the first ever Old Firm goal I have ever seen in live terms, his last of his 27 goals vs. Celtic. McCoist stooped to score a diving header and send 20,000 Rangers fans into bedlam. I still remember that goal vividly and I still remember his first clearly in my mind, way back in 1992 as I mentioned before. McCoist will always play a big part in my affection with Rangers so when he returned as Assistant manager in January 2007 I was naturally delighted.
McCoist has helped the club to 5 cup finals during his tenure, including the memorable run to Manchester for the clubs first European Final in over 25 years. Indeed while thinking back to that night in the City of Manchester stadium, one memory I find hard not to shake is the sight of McCoist on the pitch at the end of that game. As the players trudged around the stadium, Super Ally conducted the Rangers support superbly and held a Rangers scarf aloft in pride and defiance; it’s an image that will live with me forever. It’s hard for me to comprehend that having failed to deliver the league title that achievement was deemed by most as insignificant. But the truth is that if the unthinkable happens in the next few weeks McCoist will yet again find himself facing that very same adversity he faced way back at the start of his Rangers career. A lot hinges on these next few weeks for McCoist; in fact the next few weeks are massive for him. Failure and as a club the Rangers we know and love may never be the same again. Victory may just land him the top job and the seat in the manager’s office all to himself.
Saturday’s fantastic victory over our greatest rivals gives Rangers the momentum in the title race; it is clearly now ours to throw away. 5 months ago we were dead and buried. It was over, the majority on FF deemed it was over, it was time for change we all thought – indeed some still do. But it is somewhat vintage McCoist that just when all hope indeed seems lost he inspires Rangers back from the dead. Now I’m not saying it’s all down to the one man, but it’s hard not to think that his passion and love for the club to succeed was not a major reason in this comeback. We are almost home, the league flag is within our grasp. Failure now is somewhat unthinkable, McCoist now more than ever, will need to install that steely nerve and determination in the players that he produced week in and week out as Rangers most famous no 9. We will learn a lot from our team this Wednesday as we approach Easter Road for another tough away game against Hibs. It simply is massive; victory sets us up nicely in the run in and also sets up McCoist to grab the position of top dog at Ibrox which with every passing day becomes a realistic opportunity.
Super Ally as Rangers manager? After all his achievements, which includes 18 years as service to our club, as a support are we really being fair if we question his right to having a crack at the top position? I’m not so sure we are. I often remind everyone that McCoist gave up almost everything to return to our club, his reputation amongst our support was untouchable before his return. He returned and has helped to install the club back to where it should be, competing at the heights of Europe (this season disaster aside!) and on the brink of another championship.
As the next few weeks unfold, one thing for sure is it’s almost unthinkable for me for McCoist not to succeed. Who in their right mind would bet against Super Ally?