With a record 52 domestic league triumphs, Rangers can rightly lay claim to being the world's most successful club. Add to that, 33 Scottish FA cups, 25 Scottish League Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners Cup, and it's easy to see why the Glasgow outfit are not just a soccer team but a worldwide institution.
Formed in 1873, Rangers were one of the ten founder members of the Scottish FA and participated in the first league campaign of 1890-91. They played their first match against Heart of Midlothian on August 16, 1890 and finished the season joint top with Dumbarton. A play-off finished in a draw and the title was shared for the only time in the competition's history.
In 1898-99 Rangers won all 18 games in the league season, and in the following years began to exert their dominance over soccer. They won the championship seven times between 1900 and 1918 before Bill Struth was appointed manager in 1920-21. Struth set in motion another period of dominance, during which the club won 14 titles before the outbreak of the second world war.
After the war Rangers made their first foray into Europe, entering the European Cup in the 1956-57 season, but losing early on to the French side Nice. They reached the semi-final of the same competition in 1960, before becoming the first team to go all the way to a European cup final in 1961. The competition was the European Cup Winners Cup, but the Gers lost 4-1 on aggregate to Fiorentina.
For a while, Rangers were overshadowed by Jock Stein's all-conquering Celtic side, and then in 1971 tragedy stuck. On January 2, immediately after an Old Firm match that had seen two goals in the final minutes, barriers gave way on Stairway 13, leading to a crush in which 66 people died. It led to a massive redevelopment of Ibrox.
The following year Rangers won their first and to date only European trophy when they defeated Dynamo Moscow to win the Cup Winners' Cup. Jock Wallace then took the reins as manager and swiftly ended Celtic's nine-year winning streak in the league, capturing the title in 1974-75. He led the side to their fourth domestic treble in 1977-78, before a sudden and unexplained departure.
In the subsequent years, Aberdeen and Dundee United sprang to prominence, becoming a real threat to the established order of Celtic and Rangers. All this changed with the appointment of Graeme Souness as player-manager for the 1986-87 season. Souness brought in Walter Smith from Dundee United as his assistant and a raft of top players from English clubs unable to offer European soccer thanks to the ban following the Heysel disaster.
Terry Butcher, Chris Woods, Trevor Francis and Ray Wilkins all arrived at Ibrox, and the title came back to the blue half of Glasgow for the first time in eight years. After a one-year blip, the Gers won the title nine years in a row from 1988-89 until the 1996-97 season. Souness relinquished the reins after the third, leaving Walter Smith to continue Rangers' incredible run.
Smith finally gave way to Dick Advocaat's Dutch revolution on June 1, 1998, becoming the first non-Scot to manage the club. After two highly successful years starring the likes of Gio van Bronckhorst and Arthur Numan, Advocaat's powers began to wane, leading to his eventual departure.
Walter Smith has now returned to the fold, and last year he broke Celtic's run of four successive titles, picking up the Scottish FA Cup for good measure too, thanks to a solitary goal from Nacho Novo.
An exciting season of Champions League soccer is in store, as the world's most successful soccer club continue their insatiable desire for more trophies.