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
Thursday 13 March 2014
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."
Latest in Sport
Mats Hummels transfer latest: Manchester United to revive interest as Liverpool's Tiago Ilori could hold the key to move
Arturo Vidal to Manchester United: Midfielder set to force through move to Louis van Gaal's Red Devils - reports
Manchester United transfer news: United given new hope in race for Juan Cuadrado as Barcelona talks stall
Liverpool transfer news: Brendan Rodgers plans more Anfield signings this summer
Chelsea transfer news: Jose Mourinho confirms Fernando Torres is staying at Stamford Bridge
- 1 Scientists create transparent mouse complete with see-through organs
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 Amazonian Indian tribe filmed making contact with Brazil village in rare video footage
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc