Rangers clinch League One title as Lee McCulloch scores hat-trick against Airdrie

Celebrations at Ibrox as 41,343 see club promoted to within a division of the top-flight

Skipper Lee McCulloch thanked the Rangers fans for their continual support after his first-half hat-trick in the 3-0 win over Airdrie at Ibrox clinched the Scottish League One title.

The 35-year-old defender scored a brace from the penalty spot before netting a third from open play as the Light Blues strode 26 points ahead of second-placed Dunfermline with eight games remaining.

The Govan club's ascent back to the top has been backed to the hilt by the rank and file of the club's support base with the official crowd of 41,343 seeing a comfortable win for Ally McCoist's side.

Rangers, who started at the bottom of Scottish league football after lapsing into administration and then liquidation in 2012, will play in the Championship next season, one title win away from the Scottish Premiership, and the former Motherwell and Wigan player spoke for all of the Light Blues squad when recognising the help of the supporters.

"From the dressing room's point of view, I would like to thank all the fans," he said.

"It is important to let the fans know their support has been appreciated this season.

"They have had to put up with a lot as well and so it is good to give them something to shout about.

"I am delighted to have done it with eight games to go.

"It is 28 games, drawn two and won 26, that's a fantastic record and we want to keep it going."

McCulloch was also pleased for McCoist who came in for heavy criticism after Rangers drew 1-1 with Albion Rovers in their William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final clash at Ibrox on Sunday.

He said: "It is great win for the manager, to repay the faith he has shown in some of the boys, by getting his second league title.

"He has had to deal with things that some managers have never dealt with, even those who have been in their jobs for 20-25 years."

The jokes were flying in the media room afterwards as manager Ally McCoist lavished praise on McCulloch.

The former Rangers striker said: "I actually scored a quicker hat-trick in Vladikavkaz in a Champions League match than the time Lee scored in tonight.

"But I wasn't playing centre-half to be fair. I think the last person to do it here was Paul Gascoigne on the day we won the title against Aberdeen - although I draw the line at saying they were similar players.

"But it's an unbelievable achievement.

"McCulloch epitomises the spirit that has been required within the club at the beginning of the journey back.

"I'm absolutely thrilled for him. For a captain to score a hat-trick from centre-half on a title-winning day is real Roy or the Rovers stuff."

PA

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?