Today starts the first of a 9 part series.
We as Rangers supporters are all aware of the stalwarts and heroes of the 9 in a row era, the Gough’s, McCoist’s, Goram’s and Durrant’s of this world.
However in this series, I’d like to pick out a player from each of the 9 in a row seasons whose contribution I feel at some stages has gone overlooked or under the radar, but without it our great achievement would not have been possible.
With my youthful age of 33 (cough cough), and with the fact that the 4 in a row season of 92/93 was my first as a regular at Ibrox, I have relied heavily on family members and friends for opinions in the first 3 articles.
Season 88/89: This saw Rangers regain the Premier League title , after the previous campaign was lost to our friends across the city. Due in large part it must be said, down to Terry Butcher breaking his leg. That had a devastating effect on the light blues’ rear guard splitting, the partnership he and Richard Gough were firmly establishing.
APPEARANCES – 47 (in all comp)
GOALS – 19 (11 league goals)
Kevin Drinkell had arrived from Norwich the season before. Arriving for a fee around £600,00. He had developed a reputation as a striker, whose main strength was in the air whilst in England.
At Norwich his goal ratio of around 1 in 3, had helped the Canaries first clinch the old Second Division, and then to finish a very respectable 5th place.
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The English market was one Gers boss Souness knew very well, and in the summer of 1988 he made his move for the forward.
At the time due to English clubs being banned from Europe after the Heysel disaster, Drinkell was twice denied the opportunity to showcase his talents on the European stage. This proved to be a huge deciding factor in Drinkell’s move to Ibrox, with the player turning down both Manchester United in 1987, and Tottenham Hotspur that summer to sign for the Ibrox side.
Drinkell’s goal haul of 11 league goals and 19 in all competitions may not be headline grabbing or Golden Boot worthy, it is rather the important nature of his strikes.
Drinkell’s first league goal came in the legendary 5-1 mauling of Celtic at Ibrox, with the striker opening the scoring a week later for the visit of Motherwell. Drinkell then continued to live up to his billing of a goal in 3 throughout the season. It is however his strike rate in important games, down the stretch that he features on this list.
Rangers’ first championship of 9 in a row came in large part to the form at the business end of the season, losing only 1 of the last 13 matches, and nobody played a bigger part than Drinkell.
In March Drinkell scored the only goal in a home victory over Hibs, then a week later Rangers’ first in a 2-1 Old Firm win. 3 games later and Drinkell hit the back of the net twice in a 4-0 win against Hearts, in the next game opening the scoring for his last league goal of the season in a 2-0 win over a strong Dundee Utd side.
After the title was secured, Drinkell was to lose his form and place in large part due to a certain ex-Celtic striker signing shortly after, and in all honesty never hit the heights again, but his importance in securing that first title should not be overlooked or forgotten.
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