#18 Bill Struth
It’s terribly hard comparing managers and players from different timelines, but Bill Struth’s inclusion can’t be in much doubt when you cast a glance over his managerial record. The Scotsman might not have won trophies on the European Level, but it’s not his fault that the tournament only started in the 1950’s, which came too late for him to test his magnificent Rangers team on the continental level.
The fact is, Bill Struth is one of the pioneers in the management of the game and brought the Rangers Football Club a level of unprecedented success that reverberated the world over.
Struth was born in Edinburgh in 1875 and was a professional athlete as well as a stonemason before he got his first training job at Clyde and Hearts. Later assistant to William Wilton, the first ever manager of Rangers Football Club, Bill Struth was appointed in shocking circumstances after Wilton drowned in a boating accident in 1920.
Struth would go on to lead Rangers to a staggering era of success, winning 18 League titles, 10 Scottish Cups and 2 League Cups in a 34-year tenure that included the period of the Second World War. Including wartime tournaments, Struth won a total of 73 trophies in his career, making him the most decorated manager in British football history.
Bill Struth was a disciplinarian, a far departure from some of the coddling managers today. Those were different times of course, and Struth would demand that his team wore a collar and tie when they turned up for training. He was ahead of his time in many ways, a ‘wizard’ in psychology, and always aware of how exactly to talk to each individual player.
He was an expert in man management, but also careful to lay down the gauntlet and set strict rules. Anybody who disobeyed was cast aside or transferred. There was no room for manoeuvre.
Struth always laid an emphasis on the fact that his players had to be dressed impeccably; he felt this would be reflective of their persona and their drive to take themselves seriously.
According to the testimonial on Ranger’s official website, the rumour also was at the time that the manager would watch from the window of his apartment near the stadium as the players streamed into Ibrox. Any player who walked down the street casually with his hands in his pockets would later discover that Struth had seen him walking lackadaisically, and called up the ground to make the player walk down the street again with his hands by his sides.
Struth’s most famous lines are reflective of his personality and forever lasting influence on the Rangers football club,
“I have been lucky – lucky in those who were around me from the boardroom to the dressing-room. In time of stress, their unstinted support, unbroken devotion to our club and calmness in adversity eased the task of making Rangers FC the premier club in this country.
“To be a Ranger is to sense the sacred trust of upholding all that such a name means in this shrine of football. They must be true in their conception of what the Ibrox tradition seeks from them. No true Ranger has ever failed in the tradition set him.
“Our very success, gained you will agree by skill, will draw more people than ever to see it. And that will benefit many more clubs than Rangers. Let the others come after us. We welcome the chase. It is healthy for us. We will never hide from it. Never fear, inevitably we shall have our years of failure, and when they arrive, we must reveal tolerance and sanity.
“No matter the days of anxiety that come our way, we shall emerge stronger because of the trials to be overcome. That has been the philosophy of the Rangers since the days of the gallant pioneers.”