Rangers fans would have to turn up to Ibrox to see their teams take on teams such as Elgin, East Stirling and Montrose. Forget the Old Firm derby. The closest league derby this season will be four league derbies in Glasgow with Queens Park.
It does sound surreal saying phrases like “I’m away to Ibrox this Saturday to see us face East Stirling” or “We were favourites for the Ramsdens Cup”.
At first like many other Rangers fans I couldn’t believe it had finally happened.
The winners of 54 league titles as well as winning the European Cup Winners Cup in 1972 were now to play in the lowest tier of Scottish football.
It would be like Manchester United or Liverpool playing in League 2 in England; it just doesn’t sound right.
But as the dust settled, I found myself getting excited for the journey back to the top. Whilst I obviously loved winning titles, the formula of the SPL had become stale. The opposition was going to be weaker in Division 3, but this was something new. A chance to visit new grounds with real throwback atmospheres.
A chance to support the SFL, which rather remarkably is by far and away the best ran organisation in Scottish football. After all the bidding wars to take over Rangers and liquidation and that so-called ‘sporting integrity’, I was looking forward to Rangers in Division Three.
And forgive me for thinking like everyone else interested in Scottish football that Rangers would walk the Third Division. And that was before SPL players started to sign up.
I had thought that Division Three would be an opportunity to breed some youngsters from Murray Park.
The emergence of players such as Barrie McKay and Lewis MacLeod has been very pleasing to see. The fact they play with very little fear and constantly drive at the opposition is exactly what Rangers need in Division Three.
However, these youngsters are being helped on their journey by some of last season’s top SPL performers. The fact that players such as David Templeton, Ian Black, Dean Shiels and Fran Sandaza have dropped down to the lowest tier of Scottish football shows just how big a draw Rangers still are for any player.
The show of defiance from the clubs fans has been utterly remarkable. In fact, as one of those fans I have felt the supporters are as united as they ever have been.
Rangers is now our sole focus. Don’t get me wrong, I have lived and breathed Rangers since I was a young lad like countless other supporters have done so.
However, I always had one eye on what Celtic and others were doing. Now with Rangers surely going to coast the Third Division once everything settles down I can enjoy football for the first time in a long time.
And as for those people questioning the likes of Templeton’s ambitions by dropping from the SPL to Division Three, I have a few pointers.
Why wouldn’t any player want to play in front of huge 40,000+ crowds each week at Ibrox? The likes of Sandaza and Shiels in particular would have been playing in front of crowds that would be 7,000 at best and that’s being extremely generous.
Does the SPL really offer a great platform for these players to showcase their talents? Despite Celtic slipping up a couple of times in the opening weeks of the season, there can be no doubting they will win the SPL at a canter.
And the name Rangers itself. No matter what league they are in, the Rangers name will always be recognised around the world. Just look at deadline day when the deal for Templeton was being concluded. People were glued to Sky Sports News and Twitter in the run up to midnight all to see if Rangers had managed to sign a player.
But of course what matters at the end of the day are the performances. And these have been mixed to put it mildly.
The home form has been excellent on the whole. East Fife were dispatched in the League Cup 4-0 which was followed up with a 3-0 win over Falkirk. With the only blip coming in the Ramsden’s Cup quarter-final against Queen of the South.
The away performances simply haven’t been good enough to put it mildly.
The extra-time win over Brechin in the Ramsdens Cup to start the season was borderline acceptable since Rangers hadn’t had a pre-season due to the chaos surrounding where the club would actually be playing football. The league performances away to Peterhead and Berwick have been utterly shambolic though.
Basics such as quick passing and staying goalside of strikers have been replaced with long balls and lax movement at the back. Just because we’re playing in Division 3 doesn’t mean we have to suddenly start forgetting how to play the game.
Against Berwick, there was a worrying lack of motivation from the players. That is something they and the management will need to put right immediately.
If they do, then Rangers will be easily promoted and can perhaps think about signing even more SPL standard players, when the transfer embargo is lifted.
The journey has only just had its first few pages written. There’s going to be a lot of twists and turns to keep fans enthralled over the next few years.