I’ve memories I replay in my mind fairly regularly and the older I get the more important memories become, especially the good ones. I was 15 when it was announced that Graeme Souness was joining Rangers as player manager. I was skinny, full of energy and Rangers daft. I’m still one of those things, however I was surprised at how much of that time I’ve misremembered, my replays are not as accurate as I’d thought. That is why Martyn Ramsay’s new book, ‘Revolution, Rangers - 1986 - 92’ is such a welcome addition to the Rangers canon, because, as Ramsay explains, this was arguably the most important period in post war football history.

“Events, dear boy, events” a quote often attributed to politics could be the subtitle of Ramsay’s book. How a series of unrelated events conspired to change Rangers, Scottish football and eventually European football is woven into a compelling tale of opportunity, risk and serendipity set against a backdrop of huge social and cultural change.

The boardroom machinations that finally led to Lawrence Malborough seizing control of Rangers and the vital part played by Jack Gillespie, a Lenzie garage owner, are well explained. That Rangers were being run in a similar fashion to your local bowling club prior to this is evident so it is not hyperbole to describe what followed as a revolution. Finally, a book gives David Holmes the credit and recognition he deserves, a man who who for too long has played Robespierre to his successor's Napoleon. That successor, Sir David Murray, is treated fairly. The bombast, his distaste for our support and the lack of corporate governance, almost from day one, is laid bare, but balanced by the decisive way he dealt with the departure of Souness, the support he give Walter Smith and his understanding of how European football could evolve.

Like most authors Ramsay uses previous books and media of the time for reference, unusually he also uses fanzines as source material. For me this gives the book an authenticity and insight that’s often overlooked. While the great decisions are taken in boardrooms and private jets, the reality is football was then, and remains today, the people’s game and when money and fashion move on, it’s us that’ll be left to write the history. Depending on your point of view you’ll come away from this book with an enhanced opinion of John Brown and Terry Butcher or, perhaps the opposite and like me, a rekindling of respect for Stuart Munro and Mark Walters.

The signing and impact of Maurice Johnson is recounted in great detail. The moment when David Holmes decided that Jock Wallace’s tenure had come to end is similarly symbolic. This book doesn’t shy away from our history.

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As for my own reconstructed memories I found myself regularly being corrected and reminded. I’d completely forgotten that Walter Smith managed the club for the final games of the 1985/86 season, or how patchy our form was in the first half of the following season. I was reminded that the popular narrative of Souness and Rangers as having bought success is entirely false. Souness and Smith took a Rangers side that had struggled to finish fifth in the league to convincing Champions within a season, with only three main signings plus Souness himself. The bulk of that first title winning team of the 80s was inherited. This was a title won by Dave McPherson, Bobby Fleck, Davie Cooper, Ian Durrant and Ally McCoist more than the celebrated trio of Butcher, Woods and Roberts.

One of the things I’ve grown to love about Rangers is how little is really known about our origins. We’ve a year, (which was mistakenly remembered for a long time), we’ve the ‘4 Lads story’ but there’s a lot missing. It’s fascinating to realise that is also the case regarding more recent seismic events. When Souness was first approached about the job is unclear and when Walter Smith knew of it is equally opaque. His reported conversation with Alex Ferguson about the two of them taking over at Arsenal was also news to me and is a ‘sliding doors’ moment for so many clubs.

There are lessons for us today that Ramsay astutely highlights. “The circle will turn again” is a phrase attributed to John Greig who was a radio pundit when the club was at one of its lowest on-field ebbs in March 1986. As the author points out many of us take refuge in the belief that football is cyclical by nature and that our chance will come around again, we just need patience. He makes a compelling argument as to why that’s not the case. Likewise the importance of our support to the club, and of who is ultimately making decisions at boardroom level should never be taken for granted or dismissed if things are going well on the pitch.

Ramsay’s previous book, the wonderful ‘The 50 Greatest Rangers Games’, was an emotionally charged nostalgia trip that left me smiling and dreaming after every chapter. This book is different, it’s more analytical in style and serious in content but it’s a more important book on Rangers for that. If you arrived at Rangers after these events took place then this book is an essential guide as to why football is the way it is today. If, like me, you lived through these times then read this book to have your recollections confirmed, or corrected, either way you won’t regret the time you spend reading it.

Revolution Rangers

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