The historic Rangers rescue that almost never happened as crushing defeat sparked ‘I can’t do this anymore’ confession


I have got there in the end.

When Paul Murray, Dave King and John Gilligan stormed into the Ibrox boardroom in March 2015 it was not just a landmark triumph for the club’s long-suffering fans. It was a victory for one man’s perseverance.

But vindication would have to wait.

It’s now deep into 2012. Having come within a few hours of buying the club out of administration along with Brian Kennedy, Murray looks on in disbelief as Charles Green’s big Yorkshire hands are creating chaos where his football club used to be.

Rangers may be playing in the lowest tier of Scotland’s professional league but this is big business for Green and his accomplices. Millions upon millions of pounds are coming and going through the doors.

A legalized heist which began when Craig Whyte tossed a pound coin onto Sir David Murray’s office desk peaks in December when Green raises more than £20million by floating the club on the stock exchange. Having bought the assets from Duff & Phelps for a knock-down £5.5m.

“I need to be mindful of how I word this but it did feel around that time as if it had taken a more serious twist,” Murray notes. “It felt as if things were becoming more and more heavy, more and more sinister.

“If truth be told, I was physically and emotionally drained. I became completely detached from the whole thing. But, to coin a phrase from The Godfather, it wasn’t long before they pulled me back in.”

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As Green’s board ripped itself to shreds, another Murray was being caught up in the crossfire. Malcolm Murray this time.

Having been hand-picked as chairman to lend Green’s regime some authenticity, Murray had outlived his usefulness. Phone footage emerged of Murray looking considerably worse for wear after a boozy night out.

The Record revealed the clip had been filmed by Green’s financial director, Brian Stockbridge.

It was around this time Paul Murray felt duty call again, linking up with tycoon Jim McColl in another ill-fated attempt to gain control – this time after receiving a personal call to arms from Walter Smith, who had taken over as chairman.

“Walter reached out and asked me to try again,” adds Murray. “Malcolm was worried too. There were huge concerns about where the club was heading so I had to do something. But Jim McColl called a general meeting and we lost the vote 65-35 in December 2013.

“That was probably the lowest point. I remember thinking, ‘That’s it. It’s gone now. I can’t do this any more’.”

Six months later, Murray returned for one last push.

He smiles: “In the summer of 2014 George Letham started putting together a group to make real change. Douglas Park joined him, George Taylor. Dave King got involved too.

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Paul Murray and Dave King

“Having learned our lessons from last time we had a far more effective plan. This time it was systematic and clinical. The other thing that really helped us was the unity of the fans, led by people like Craig Houston.

“The season-ticket boycott and the fans’ support for myself, Dave and John was pivotal in winning the shareholder vote. We knew we had won before it even went to the vote in March 2015 even though we didn’t expect to win 85-15.”

He’s smiling again. It’s been quite a journey. Murray goes on: “I’ll remember that day forever, March 5, 2015. Myself and John Gilligan walked into the stadium and were given a standing ovation. It was just a great feeling.

“I was installed as chairman for three months. You think about your family and your grandfather and what this would mean to them.

“Whatever happens in the rest of my life I will always be able to say I was the chairman of Glasgow Rangers. Anyway, the final numbers were being calculated as we sat inside the office. They had to be declared to the stock exchange before 3pm – and there was a crowd growing outside in the car park.

“When the button was finally pressed to declare the result within about 30 seconds there was this massive roar outside.

“By the end of the day – after all the adrenaline – I was exhausted. I drove back to Edinburgh to watch my son’s school play. I was almost falling asleep at the wheel.

“So I stopped off at Harthill services on the M8 to grab a cup of coffee but when I sat down I suddenly felt this presence over my shoulder. I turned around to see this guy in his mid 70s, maybe even older. He just said, ‘Mr Murray, thank you very much!’ Then he leaned over and gave me a massive bear hug.

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“You just think to yourself, ‘This is what it means to people. They’ve got their Rangers back!’

“The reality came the next day when we turned up for our first game in charge – a 0-0 draw away to Cowdenbeath with crisp packets blowing around, muddy puddles in the car park and stock cars driving into the stadium half an hour after the final whistle.”

The final leg of the journey had finally begun.

Murray lasted three more years, outstaying umpteen managers and caretakers along the way before stepping down just days before Steven Gerrard was named boss. He says: “I don’t regret my decision to leave because I was exhausted. It was three hard years from 2015 to 2018, trying to rebuild the club from ground zero while Celtic were in such a strong position on and off the pitch.

“Yes, we made mistakes and suffered some painful defeats along the way. It took a toll.

“You feel responsible for millions of people and you’re hurting inside as a fan at the same time. But I like to think people recognize I made a contribution and I’m proud of that.”

● Paul Murray has not been paid for this article. The Daily Record have agreed to make a donation to the Rangers Charity Foundation in his name.




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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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