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The harrowing and heartbreaking stories behind the founding fathers of Rangers are sympathetically revealed and told for the first time. This is the first in-depth study of the club's early years' history for almost a century. Rangers are one of the most famous teams in world football, but the scale of their success is astonishing set against the backdrop of their formation in 1872. Back then, four young men gathered in a park in the west end of Glasgow and decided to set up a team that would do justice to the new craze of association football.

Amazingly, William McBeath and Peter Campbell were just 15-years-old, Moses McNeil was only 16 and his brother Peter the elder statesman at 17. Soon they were joined by Tom Vallance, another 16-year-old who quickly rose to become captain of the famed club. None of those gallant pioneers was a native of Glasgow and yet within five years they were Scottish Cup finalists, set up in their spiritual home on the south side of the burgeoning industrial city and attracting a working class audience they have never since lost. But what became of the men who formed a club that's loved and cherished by so many?

Rangers may have scaled great heights, but the personal lives of almost all the founding fathers were touched with terrible tragedy. Journalist Gary Ralston has used fresh research and uncovered hitherto unseen documents, records and transcripts to sympathetically recount the heartbreaking stories behind the men who created a great institution. He reveals the torrid tales of death through insanity, a drowning that denied a birthright as a steamship entrepreneur and the sad passing of a pioneer who lies buried in a pauper's grave in the forgotten fringes of an English cemetery, cast as a certified imbecile, tried as a fraudster and left to live out his life in the poorhouse.

This fascinating insight into the earliest years of Rangers, the first in-depth analysis for almost a century, also tells of happier times, the links with royalty and football aristocracy such as Sir Stanley Matthews and the club's relationship with the city in which it was born and grew in the tumultuous Victorian era. It also traces the only two known surviving grandchildren of the founders and tells how they knew nothing about their grandfather's most famous achievement. "Rangers 1872: The Gallant Pioneers" tells one of football's most romantic tales - and also one of its saddest.

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