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Montrose 0 Rangers 0 – match report: Ally McCoist"s men crowned Irn-Bru Scottish Third Division champions

Montrose 0 Rangers 0: McCoist's men crowned champions despite goalless draw

By
Lisa Gray, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

15:22 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

02:00 GMT, 31 March 2013

Rangers clinched the Irn-Bru Third Division title on Saturday to complete stage one of their journey back to the top of Scottish Football.

The Light Blues were held to a goalless draw at Montrose in a noon kick-off but were confirmed as champions three hours later when a Stuart Leslie penalty secured victory for Elgin over Queen's Park.

The result at Hampden means nearest rivals Queen's cannot catch the Ibrox outfit in the title race, as Ally McCoist secured his first piece of silverware as Rangers manager.

Get the party started: Rangers players pose after winning the Third Division

Get the party started: Rangers players pose after winning the Third Division

Goaless: Rangers' Kane Hemmings tussles for the ball with Cammy MacDonald

Goaless: Rangers' Kane Hemmings tussles for the ball with Cammy MacDonald

His side have looked unconvincing at
times this term but have done enough to force themselves over the
finishing line with several games to spare, following their demotion to
the bottom tier of Scottish football after being consigned to
liquidation in the summer and losing their top-flight status.

Rangers made two changes following last week's drab stalemate against Stirling at Ibrox for the clash at Montrose.

David Templeton and Ian Black returned
from injury and suspension respectively to start, with Barrie McKay and
Fraser Aird dropping to the bench.

Rangers were handed a tough match the last time they visited Links Park in December, leaving with a hard-fought 4-2 win.

Chalked off: Montrose's Martin Boyle has finds the net only to have his goal ruled out

Chalked off: Montrose's Martin Boyle finds the net only to have his goal ruled out

This time around, they started sharply
with efforts from Robbie Crawford and Lee McCulloch blocked in quick
succession, before Kyle Hutton eventually rifled wide.

Templeton tested the goalkeeper when
he collected a Kane Hemmings header before unleashing an impressive half
volley that stung the palms of John Gibson.

The winger was threatening again when
he cut inside from the left before having another crack at goal but
Stephen McNally blocked for a corner.

Templeton then turned provider for Lee
Wallace and his effort was touched onto the bar by the keeper, as
Rangers kept up the pressure.

At the other end, a Paul Watson strike from distance took a massive deflection and spun just past the upright.

Champions elect Ally McCoist side could still become champions if Queens Park slip up against Elgin City

A matter of time: Ally McCoist side could still become champions if Queens Park slip up against Elgin City

Bolstered by the chance, the home side carved out another couple of decent opportunities.

David Gray – who has netted home and
away against Gers this season – forced a save from Neil Alexander,
before Alan Campbell glanced a header inches wide.

Montrose should have taken the lead
through Martin Boyle but his back post header was off target when he
should have had the net bulging.

The home side picked up where they
left off in the second half when Gray pounced on a poor clearance from
Emilson Cribari and lashed narrowly over the crossbar a minute after the
restart.

Crunch: Ian Black takes a tough challenge from Montrose's Terry Masson

Crunch: Ian Black takes a tough challenge from Montrose's Terry Masson

Rangers had a good chance of their own when Wallace's cut-back found Hemmings and his shot forced a decent save from Gibson.

Montrose thought they had taken the lead when they had the ball in the net after 65 minutes.

Alexander fumbled an awkward cross
that fell for Terry Masson. His shot was saved but the keeper could not
hold that ball, which was turned into the empty net by Boyle.

But the goal was disallowed by referee Kevin Clancy for a foul on Alexander.

It looked to be a controversial
decision and a let off for Rangers, whose celebrations came later in the
day as they made the trip back to Ibrox and took a major step in their
road to recovery.

Jock Stein remembered by those who were at Ninian Park when Wales met Scotland

We still weren't sure what had happened. It fell silent as Fergie came in. He said 'Jock's dead'

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UPDATED:

19:42 GMT, 10 October 2012

Pressure cooker: Jock Stein (centre) and Alex Ferguson (right) on the bench in Cardiff

Pressure cooker: Jock Stein (centre) and Alex Ferguson (right) on the bench in Cardiff

The 39,500 who poured into Ninian Park were expecting a game of football they would never forget. As it turned out, September 10, 1985, would be remembered as one of the saddest days in Scotland’s football history.

Wales were playing Scotland for the right to face Australia in a World Cup qualifying play-off. Mike England’s Wales needed to win, a draw was enough for the visitors to Cardiff.

Mark Hughes’s early strike had looked to be enough for Wales until Davie Cooper’s 81st-minute penalty sparked a Scottish party. It didn’t last long as Scotland manager Jock Stein, a man who wrote his name into British football history when he led Celtic to European Cup glory in 1967, collapsed at the final whistle and died of a heart attack.

As the sides meet in a competitive fixture for the first time since that tragic night, the memories are still fresh for those who witnessed Stein’s death.

Kevin Ratcliffe
Wales captain

It had been a strange evening. Scotland keeper Jim Leighton lost his contact lenses and didn’t have a spare set, so Jock sent on Alan Rough in his place at half-time.

It wasn’t until about 30 minutes after the game that we realised something was seriously wrong with Jock. I had friends playing for Scotland: Graeme Sharp, Andy Gray, David Speedie, Graeme Souness and Davie Cooper.

Looking at the faces of those Scotland lads, it was almost as if they had lost a member of the family. They were silent. We kept ourselves to ourselves. What could we say A lot of the Scotland boys were visibly shaken by it all.

In shock: Scotland substitute and goalscorer Davie Cooper is comforted by Mo Johnston after receiving the news of Stein's death

In shock: Scotland substitute and goalscorer Davie Cooper is comforted by Mo Johnston after receiving the news of Stein's death

Graeme Sharp
Scotland striker

It is difficult to describe what Jock was to Scottish football. I will always be grateful to him. He gave me my first cap, an away trip in Iceland, and therein lies a tale that sums him up.

We met in a hotel for a meal ahead of the game. Andy Gray was the big star and he was asked by a waitress what he fancied to eat. ‘Prawn cocktail,’ came the reply. A voice boomed down the table: ‘Will you listen to him You wouldn’t have a clue where prawns come from, Gray. You’ll have soup like the rest of us.’ Andy had the soup.

That night in 1985, I knew from the moment our masseur Jimmy Steel came into the dressing room that Jock had gone. That pair went way back to their Celtic days. I saw Jimmy’s eyes brimful of tears and understood what had happened.

Jock was a big, powerful man. People said afterwards that he looked unwell. Perhaps. He was under enormous pressure to qualify, as we all were. The aftermath was eerie. I had planned an evening out with Andy (Gray) in Birmingham but we didn’t bother.

Far from celebrate the achievement, all we wanted to do was grieve. Scottish football had lost a great man in tragic circumstances. I’m not sure we’ll see his like again.

Mentor: Stein and Ferguson, pictured in Seville in 1985

Mentor: Stein and Ferguson, pictured in Seville in 1985

Alex McLeish
Scotland defender

We could see there had been an incident in the dug-out. We thought a fan had got in there and there was some bother.

Then we were told Jock had had a heart attack but we didn’t know for sure until Fergie came into the dressing room. It fell silent. He said: ‘Jock’s dead.’ There was silence. Normally after a result like that you would be full of the joys but if anything needed to be said, we spoke in whispers.

We flew to Glasgow and I hadn’t shed a tear. Then, on the drive back to Aberdeen, I pulled over into a lay-by and broke down.

Pain: Wales goalscorer Mark Hughes (left) tussles with Scotland's Richard Gough

Pain: Wales goalscorer Mark Hughes (left) tussles with Scotland's Richard Gough

Sir Alex Ferguson
Scotland assistant manager

When Davie’s penalty went in, Jock didn’t say a word. Shortly afterwards the big man rose to move towards Mike England. But as he did so, he stumbled. I grabbed for him as he started to fall. The medics came out of the tunnel. I held him until he was helped inside.

When I left to speak to the press I saw Graeme Souness and he was crying. ‘I think he’s gone,’ Graeme said. I couldn’t believe it.

When we filed on to the bus there were thousands standing outside and the quiet sadness of the atmosphere was unforgettable. The abiding memory is of a solemn silence. It was as if the king had died.

In football terms, the king had died.

Matthew Bates offered pay-as-you-play Middlesbrough deal

Boro captain Bates offered pay-as-you-play deal amid injury concerns

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 30 April 2012

Middlesbrough captain Matthew Bates will be offered a pay-as-you play deal if he can prove his fitness next season.

Bates is recovering from his fifth cruciate injury but is out of contract. Nine other players, including Justin Hoyte, Tony McMahon, Bart Ogbeche and Malaury Martin have been told they can leave.

Injury plagued: Matthew Bates has been offered a new deal at Boro

Injury plagued: Matthew Bates has been offered a new deal at Boro

Meanwhile, Peterborough have transfer listed eight players including Nicky Ajose, George Boyd, Mark Little, Paul Taylor, Grant McCann, David Ball, Scott Griffiths and Matthew Breeze.

Barnsley have released David Cotterill, Andy Gray, Jay McEveley, Alastair Taylor, Nathan Doyle and David Preece.

Jamie Carragher has pop at Andy Burton: CHARLES SALE

Liverpool defender Carragher has final pop over Sky row

The Andy Gray-Richard Keys sexism controversy that sent Sky Sports into meltdown a year ago was reignited by Jamie Carragher after Sunday’s Carling Cup final.

Liverpool’s veteran defender told Sky’s touchline reporter Andy Burton that he was ‘lucky’ still to be employed by the TV network in an exchange on the pitch after substitute Carragher had picked up his winners’ medal.

Carragher, who had been taking pictures as he soaked up the atmosphere, objected to Burton asking him, ‘Is this the start of a farewell’ Before walking off, the Liverpool star replied, ‘I don’t think so. Are you the manager You were lucky to keep your job at Sky, weren’t you, after that Wolves stuff.’

Up for the cup: Liverpool's Jamie Carragher

Up for the cup: Liverpool's Jamie Carragher

That was a reference to Burton’s part in the chain of events that led to Keys and Gray departing Sky following derogatory comments off-air about referee’s assistant Sian Massey.

Before Liverpool’s Premier League game at Wolves in January 2011, Burton had said to Gray, also off-camera: ‘Apparently a female lino today, bit of a looker, according to Steve the cameraman. He says she’s all right. Now I don’t know if I shall trust his judgment on that.’

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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Carragher, who has appeared on the Keys and Gray radio show on talkSport this season, is known to be supportive of the pair. Burton was surprisingly kept on by Sky, although he had the lowest of profiles for months afterwards.

Sky say it is an old issue that was dealt with at the time and there was no animosity in Burton’s short interview with Carragher.

Money matters

All evidence points to Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy extracting every pound of flesh from the FA in return for losing manager Harry Redknapp and his support staff to England.

A sign of Levy’s ruthless dealings where finances are involved was evident in the recent axing of Spurs commercial director Charlie Wijeratna after less than a year at White Hart Lane.

The sacking of the former London 2012 executive, whose exit to join Spurs from LOCOG during the sponsorship programme annoyed his department bosses, followed Levy’s angst that Premier League rivals Aston Villa and Liverpool had beaten Tottenham to commercial deals — and Wijeratna not winning any fresh contracts.

Picking up the tab

FIFA’s fat cats contributed to the cost of staging the rules-governing International Football Association Board meeting of the Home Nations at five-star Celtic Manor in Wales last year because there were extra guests to celebrate IFAB’s 125th anniversary.

Big iwgs: FIFA will be at the luxury Pennyhill Park, in Surrey this weekend

Big iwgs: FIFA will be at the luxury Pennyhill Park, in Surrey this weekend

But there is no way they will pick up any of the tab for this weekend’s FA-organised rules summit at the luxury Pennyhill Park, in Surrey, especially after the brave solo stand against the unopposed re-election of FIFA president Sepp Blatter by FA chairman David Bernstein.

Pain in the neck

The British Olympic Association are looking to sell one million of their Team GB-supporting designer scarves, unveiled last night after being first revealed by Sports Agenda.

On initial viewing, however, the BOA’s ‘iconic items’ — priced at 10 and 5 — don’t look like they will resonate with the public anything like the Vancouver Winter Games red mittens, which shifted four million pairs in Canada’s smaller market place. And no agreement has yet been reached for the scarves to be sold in London 2012 outlets.

West Ham waiting game

West Ham putting in a bid for the Olympic Stadium is now dependent on the funding the Olympic Park Legacy Company and Newham Council commit to making the venue fit for purpose for football.

Almost ready: The London 2012 Olympic Stadium

Almost ready: The London 2012 Olympic Stadium

Improvements include a new roof, hospitality boxes and covered retractable seating, which could cost the landlords up to 120million. The OPLC hope the new 10m BOA museum in the park will create extra interest in the stadium-bidding process, although proposed title sponsorship of the location will further crowd the naming rights market for Games venues.

Take note

The BOA gave the media a sneak video look at their programme to inspire and inform members of Team GB. A clip of Aussie swimmer Ian Thorpe advising competitors not to read the newspapers, however, was a crass choice of footage to showcase to the press.