Rangers falter in their border skirmish

Annan Athletic 0 Rangers 0: Life on the Third Division road continues to be rocky for Ally McCoist's side as tiny Annan treat the game as their 'Cup final'


Rangers continue to find the Third Division a chastening experience. They have yet to win a match away from home, and more frustration was accumulated at Galabank. The surroundings were unassuming, and the visitors performed as though keen to fit in. Every journey this season is proving to be a reminder of the extent of the club's fall from grace.

The interest in the plight of Rangers is relentless. Annan Athletic had to make arrangements to accommodate television crews from France and Germany yesterday. The novelty of that kind of coverage is uplifting for a club of such a modest background. It was only in 2008 that Annan were admitted to the Scottish Football League, and their facilities are only marginally upgraded from those of junior or non-League clubs.

Improvements are made at an affordable pace. A £750,000 artificial pitch was laid during the summer, which allows the stadium to be of greater use to the local community. The main stand still only seats 500 people, and this was the closest the club have come to the entire stadium being sold out. Apart from the vote to admit them four years ago – after Gretna, another club from the Scottish Borders, went out of business – Scottish football has essentially paid little attention to Annan.

The arrival of Rangers in the Third Division has disrupted the old routine. No aspect of life is untouched, and Harry Cariney, the Annan manager, was reminded all week by his pupils of the impending visit of Rangers. He is a full-time physics teacher at a Glasgow secondary school. Mostly, the children he teaches would pay little heed of events in Scottish football's bottom flight, even if their teacher is a central character.

Rangers have been cast adrift from their usual competitive environment, but old rivalries persist. Two of the Annan players – the striker Michael Daly and the defender Michael McGowan – have been sponsored by a Celtic supporters' website, while a third – Greig Thorburn, another defender – has been sponsored by an Aberdeen supporters' group.

Fans will always find the means to express their resentments, even if most SPL supporters act as though the absence of Rangers is a welcome development. The boon, though, is for the Third Division clubs, who receive a financial windfall from every visit. Rangers fans consider it an adventure, and tickets are seldom available. One Ibrox supporter, who lives in Dumfries, bought a season ticket for Galabank just to ensure that he would be able to attend the ground on both of Rangers' visits this season. That kind of commitment has been vital to Rangers' sense of esteem. The surroundings at most of the away grounds are cramped – Galabank has one of the tightest pitches in Scotland and many of the facilities were housed in Portakabins – and the games have been a trial. The opponents are part-time, but the visit of Rangers raises the level of performance beyond the usual grind. Anybody can be disconcerted, and when David Templeton, the Rangers winger, left the field injured after just eight minutes, the stadium announcer described him as an Annan player. "And you're a bluenose too," chided one of the local stewards.

The surroundings are so intimate that every moment is shared. After Neil Alexander, the Rangers goalkeeper, had to tidy up some careless defending, some away fans behind the goal began to gripe about his team-mates. Alexander could only nod grimly and say, "Would any of you like a game?"

Fans were generally irked because the game lacked any kind of drama and the home side were mainly content with restricting their opponents. The effort wasn't as taxing as it might have been, since Rangers were unable to overwhelm their hosts.

Moments of accomplishment were still required, though, and Alex Mitchell, the Annan goalkeeper, who is training to be a PE teacher, had to hurl himself to the right to tip a Lee McCulloch shot over the bar just before the final whistle.

"We're having a problem with away games," said Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager. "We're not matching the opponents' enthusiasm or pace."

Annan Athletic: Alex Mitchell; Blake, Peter Watson, Swinglehurst, McGowan, Steele (McKechnie, 87), Jardine, Chaplain, Ramage (Sloan, 78), Murray, Daly (McGachie, 68).

Rangers: Alexander; Faure, Perry, Emilson Cribari, Wallace, Templeton (Sandaza, 10), Black, McKay, Macleod, Shiels (Crawford 78), McCulloch.

The Great Divide

Annan Athletic

Founded: 1942

Capacity of Galabank Stadium: 3,000 (500 seated)

Pitch size: 110yards x 71 yards

Previous record attendance: 1,343 v Dumbarton, 9 May 9 2009

Top honour: South of Scotland League champions: 2

European honours: */a

Record transfer fee: */a


Founded: 1872

Capacity of Ibrox: 51,082

Pitch size: 115 yards x 75 yards

Record attendance: 118,567 v Celtic, 2 January 1939

Top honour: Scottish League champions: 54

European honours: Cup-Winners' Cup champions: 1

Record transfer fee: £12m, Tore Andre Flo, Chelsea, November 2000

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine