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Lighthouse sheds light on Rangers’ Allan McGregor’s keeper battle

© Craig Williamson - SNS GroupAllan McGregor in action for Rangers
Allan McGregor in action for Rangers

Allan McGregor has been cooling his heels during the international break as he waits for a chance to get back playing.

Jon McLaughlin joined the Scotland squad as Rangers No. 1 keeper.
He was brought into Steven Gerrard’s team when McGregor suffered a knee injury after the first league game of the season.

The 32-year-old has since kept five clean sheets in five matches as the Light Blues set a new club record by not conceding in the first six games of a league campaign.

It’s the sort of defensive solidity that will be vital if the Ibrox men are to stop Celtic making it 10-in-row.

Former Ibrox goalie Peter McCloy knows how McGregor must be feeling.

There was only one season during his 22-year career when he didn’t play a single first team game – and that was in 1974-75 when Rangers won the championship and brought Celtic’s run of titles to a halt at nine.

Stewart Kennedy got his chance in goal two years after being signed from Stenhousemuir for £10,000.

McCloy recalled: “An injury led to me having a cartilage removed, and in those days you were out for a lot longer than you would be now.

“By the time I was fit to play again, the team was on a winning run – just like they are right now – with Stewart in goal.

“They went on to win the league for the first time in nine years, and I didn’t play a single game that season.

“Jock Wallace never put you in the team to see if you were good enough to play ahead of the other guy.

“If you were in the team and doing well, you stayed there.

“When Stewart later went out injured and I got my chance, Jock kept me in the team.

“It’s quite hard to take when you’re out and desperate to be playing.

“Allan McGregor is fit again, and although McLaughlin hasn’t been overworked, what he has had to do, he’s done well.”

Not only was Stewart Kennedy an ever-present for Rangers as they won the title for the first time in 11 years, he picked up five Scotland caps on the back of that success.

Unfortunately, he was between the posts for the 5-1 hammering by England at Wembley in 1975.

That ended his international career, and saw Peter McCloy reinstated in the Rangers side.

He said: “We toured Australia in the summer after Stewart played at Wembley, and I was in for all of the games apart from the last one.

“That meant Stewart was back in – until I got a phone call one morning saying he’d injured his back turning to reach for a newspaper in the house.

“I came back, and was in until the end of a Treble-winning season.”

McCloy played a total of 533 games between the sticks for Rangers, racking up 214 shut-outs.

In comparison, Kennedy made 131 appearances, 45 without conceding a goal.
McCloy – signed from Motherwell and who became known as “The Girvan Lighthouse” in recognition of his birthplace – believes McGregor will be ready to step in if a mishap presents him with the chance to play.

He said: “He’s done really well for Rangers over the last couple of seasons, and he’s obviously got a great appetite for the game.

“He might be 38 now, but there’s been no sign of his performances deteriorating and he should have a couple of seasons left in him.”

We’re now in an era where some managers pick a goalie because of his ability to pass the ball.

One of McCloy’s trademark long kicks set-up a goal for Willie Johnston when Rangers beat Moscow Dynamo 3-2 to win the Cup-Winners’ Cup in Barcelona.

He said: “When the pass-back rule first came in, defenders would send it to the keeper and then turn their backs expecting the ball to be sent forward.

“Now full-backs are springing out to the side for a return pass, and looking to build for the back.

“That’s fine – but there’s nothing wrong with the big kick now and then!”