In February 1872, brothers and avid rowers Moses and Peter McNeil met with fellow rowers Peter Campbell and William McBeath at Flesher’s Haugh (now part of Glasgow Green), on the northern bank of the River Clyde. It was not rowing that monopolised their attention that morning, but the spectacle of a group of men playing football on the green. Their imaginations were captured and they decided that they would turn their energies to organising their own football team.
Since 1868, Charles Alcock, founding member of the Football Association in England, had been publishing the The Football Annual. While reading the latest Annual, Moses McNeil came across the name Swindon Rangers, an English rugby club. It is from this club that McNeil drew inspiration for his new club’s name. In May, Rangers played their first-ever match, resulting in a 0-0 draw against Callander FC (1872-74).
In these early years, prior to the founding of the Scottish Football League in 1890, Rangers showed themselves to be fierce competitors. Over the next 122 seasons, the club secured the Scottish championship 54 times, more top tier championships than any other football club in the world (as of the end of the 2018/19 season, Celtic, who are on pace for a record-tying nine league championships in-a-row, have amassed 50).
The recent hardships faced by Rangers are no secret in Scottish culture. In 2012, the club entered into administration and was eventually liquidated, with the assets of the club transferred to a new company. Although this reformed Rangers club was unable to regain its place in the top tier, they were accepted into what was then the Scottish Football League (now the Scottish Professional Football League) and began a campaign of securing two consecutive division championships, before stalling in the second tier until the end of the 2015/16 season, when Rangers won the second tier (the Scottish Championship), gaining automatic promotion to the top tier, where they have competed ever since.
Rangers did not incorporate a badge on their kit until 1968. When they did this, they chose a design featuring intertwined club initials. The earliest use of this design was featured in the 1881/82 season ticket. (Another design, which has never featured on a kit, includes a lion rampant and the club motto, ‘READY’. The earliest version of this design was used in 1959.) In 2003, following their fiftieth top tier championship, Rangers added five stars (one for each ten championships) to their badge.
I found this redesign especially difficult as I consider the ‘RFC’ monogram badge to be an outstanding design. But this personal project of rebranding Scottish football clubs has never been about abandoning the old. Instead, it’s an exploration of history and a personal challenge to try new things.
For the rebrand, I designed a typeface inspired by late-nineteenth century aesthetics. I opted to make all five stars the same size, to include the lion rampant as well as the year of Rangers’ founding. It’s nothing too frilly, but clean, simple and traditional.
The home strip is inspired by several Rangers home strips from the 1980s. The away strip is inspired by historical Rangers away strips from the middle of the twentieth century, especially those used between 1949 and 1952.
As ever, I am indebted to Dave at Historical Football Kits for some of the historical information used above.