A tale of tragedy, triumph, a football club and its home city

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The Independent Travel

Our world-class football is a key attraction for foreign visitors, according to a recent Visit Britain survey.

But a footie tourism success story in Scotland shows that it has an equally strong pull among domestic tourists and local residents.

When Rangers FC fan Iain McColl, and two fellow devotees, dreamed up the idea of the Founders Trail (thegallant pioneers.co.uk) – a tour of Glasgow focusing on the early history of the club and the four young men who founded it – they had no idea it would become such a hit. But this independent trail has been picked up by the national tourist board, which now displays the leaflets in its George Square office and has listed it on its website (visitscotland.com).

Born out of Iain's exhaustive research into the formation of Rangers FC as a boys' club in 1872, and the inspiring story of the four young men who kicked it all off, the project has developed from a simple trail map into a fully organised trip on an open-top bus. It takes in the key Glasgow locations of this tale, ending at Ibrox stadium for a two-hour tour.

"People can expect a journey of discovery," says Iain, "a tale of tragedy yet triumph – played out on the streets of Glasgow."

And this is a Scottish football tale that doesn't pander to perceived sectarianism. "We focus on the period before Celtic was formed in 1888, so we don't touch on that. Glasgow has a rich, colourful history and the Rangers story is an integral part of it – the city and the club grew together," says Iain.

"Glasgow is one of Scotland's most vibrant and diverse cities," agrees Jenna Ciancia from Visit Scotland. "It is always encouraging to find new attractions that visitors and locals alike can enjoy – and the Founders Trail is one of these."

Since March, Iain and his colleagues have welcomed almost 1,000 people onto their tour bus. And not just local footie fans, tourists from across the world are now carrying Rangers' story as far as Australia and Azerbaijan.