1873 Rangers document reveals founding fathers almost chose different club name


A document relating to the formation of Rangers as a club in 1872, which remained unknown for 76 years, indicates that the club was to be called Glasgow Rovers.

Rangers historian David Mason has written a book for the 150th anniversary of the club’s existence and notes that the revelation was discovered in an autobiographical memoir written by former player James Hill, the brother of the first Ranger icon. Ibrox and former Scottish international David.

James Hill is a key figure in the history of the Light Blues, as he was present at Glasgow Green where the founding fathers of… gathered to play their first matches as a football club.

Mason also says that the first colors worn by the club were indeed light blue following the constitution of Rangers in 1873.

Addressing the MessengerMason said: “There have been various accounts of the formation of Rangers over the years.

“(But) nothing ever came from someone who was actually there when Rangers were formed. That’s the beauty of Hill’s story. It’s the story of someone who was an integral part of the formation of the Rangers This is not anecdotal information.

“Nobody until now has ever shown the association of cricket in the formation of the club. It corresponds to what was happening in football at that time. It also shows that they played in light blue. There had a debate about whether they played light blue or royal blue.

“It also shows that they considered the Rovers name. They played in different guises at the start. They operated under the Western name for a while, they were also called Argyle.

“But in 1873, when they were formed, they finally decided to call themselves Rangers. Various suggestions were made. Rovers was one of them, but they opted for Rangers.

In the original document, Hill writes that Rangers were founded on close ties to association cricket, giving up the small white ball at the end for the bigger bouncing ball.

In the original transcript, Hill wrote: ‘He (David) excelled at cricket, was a good bowler and was a leader of the Argyle Cricket Club, which played Saturday afternoons on Glasgow Green with other boys who frequented the St James Parish School. It would be around 1870 to 1873.

“Around this time Rangers started. Some young people from Gareloch used to meet and play football on Saturday afternoons. It wasn’t long before the boys of Argyle CC took an interest and gave up cricket and joined football.

“They used to pick sides and play good games. It ended with them merging into one club and calling it Rangers, with light blue sweaters and white pants (breeches).

“If I remember correctly, there were other names proposed. I think Rovers was the other name, but Rangers wore and they were certainly a big club in Scotland, playing association football.

Hill goes on to write, “They were playing Glasgow Green and there was quite a competition to get the playing field near the shrubbery on Fleshers Haugh.

“As I was going to school and had holidays on Saturdays, I would sometimes get the Rangers goal posts into position on that pitch. As I got older I started playing if a man was missing and over time I was a recognized player in the 2nd XI. I occasionally filled a spot in the 1st XI but my arrival in Canada put an end to my football career.

“Davie played with the 1st XI from their start and although he was the youngest player in the team he did so well. He was chosen by the Football Association to play against England in 1882. They did well that year beating England 6-2, if I remember correctly, in the Oval, London, he also played against Wales and Ireland.

“He usually gets credit for being behind the passing game. In association football, like most players at that time (were) prone to hanging on to the ball until they lost it.

Mason concluded, “Hill’s story is really important information. Her granddaughter died. But I contacted the family and received permission to use the memoirs.

“His great-granddaughter Sonya Savage emailed me saying she had no objections and congratulating Rangers on reaching ‘the great milestone of 150 years’.”


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