Coalville: Glasgow Rangers' village supporters club still flying the flag in Thringstone after more than half a century

  Posted: 07.09.21 at 23:29 by Graham Hill

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There is a village near Coalville that will be forever Glasgow Rangers.

Talk in North West Leicestershire of 'winning the title' usually means Leicester City's 2016 success.

But not here.

In Thringstone - and in particular at the Members' Club - it is Rangers' triumph last March that takes pride of place in any conversation about football, especially as it denied rivals Celtic a tenth successive title.

This branch of the Rangers Supporters Club is unique across the world - as it is the only one based in a village.

That does not mean they have been forgotten about - far from it.

The Thringstone Members' Club - otherwise known as the Rangers Club

They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2018 with a visit from ex-Ibrox player Alex Rae.

Andy Goram has also dropped in - and when Scotsman Jock Wallace was Leicester manager four decades ago, he knew all about the Thringstone fans.

So why is there a little part of Ibrox in this part of the country - 300 miles away from Glasgow.

It is easy enough to work out.

In the late 1960s, coal miners from Scotland moved south and into housing near the pits.

A look back to the 70s and members of the supporters club face the camera. Historical photos supplied by Chick Robertson

Many of them were Rangers fans, and they kept the link going for half a century.

Now the Thringstone branch has four season tickets which are shared out among the members.

But they have also travelled all over Europe to watch their team - some saw their 1972 European Cup Winners' Cup Final win over Dynamo Moscow in Barcelona - as well as the lower league grounds when Rangers were controversially demoted to the Third Division after going into administration.

Ironically, their celebrations when they won last season's Premiership were muted due to Covid.

But now the feeling is the club is on the up with manager Steven Gerrard.

A ticket for the Thringstone club's 1971 dinner dance priced at £1.50

There is only one founder member left of the original group who formed the Thringstone club in 1968.

Chick Robertson, who arrived in the area in 1964, was there at the start and told Coalville Nub News what it was like then - and how the branch has maintained its support.

He said: "There were 12 of us who came down from Scotland and we founded the Thringstone branch of the Rangers Supporters Club in 1968.

"We put half a crown each in, and that's how we financed it.

"First, we were based at The Fox pub - the Celtic fans went to the Bull's Head.

Rangers fans in the Members Club watching the Old Firm game

"Then, in 1973, we had £2,000 in the bank and we approached Scottish & Newcastle brewery and the council, to build the premises we have now.

"But the council helped us tremendously even though some were against it as they though there'd be rivalry between us and the Celtic fans.

"I told them some of my best mates were Celtic fans - and we got it built. And at one time, we had 1,000 members, it was very busy. You couldn't get a seat after 7pm.

"It's called Thringstone Members' Club now - but you'll never hear me call it that. I'll always tell people to 'Come to the Rangers Club'."

The fact that it was going to be a new club in the late 60s - among an area with plenty of similar bars - meant that the Rangers fans of the time were told it would never work.

A newspaper cutting records Thringstone marked the Ibrox disaster in 1971

But Chick added: "We still pursued it, even though there were similar places in Coalville and Whitwick.

"After that, the council swung the vote. Since then we've had parties for children and OAPs - there's even a bowls club at the back.

"The place became a focal point for people."

The club also hit hard times during the 1984 miners' strike.

And Chick recalled: "Tommy Hoyes was the 'pop' man from Loughborough and we always gave him a good order.

A letter to Chick Robertson from ex-Leicester City manager Jock Wallace

"But during the strike, he always said 'Don't worry about the bills. you'll catch up with us afterwards'."

When Chick arrived, the estate at Thringstone had yet to be built.

He added: "They put us in a caravan site in Ellistown, some went over to Newhall near Swadlincote.

"Many of those people are gone, I'm the Rangers Club's only founder member now."

Chick admitted it was not just the Scots who came to the club.

Supporters' club paperwork from the early 1970s

He said: "A lot of the Geordies were here too. They came down to the mines as well.

"There was a branch in Shepshed as well, but that fell away.

"It was just a shame we couldn't celebrate the title here because of Covid - that was the one that stopped Celtic making it 10 in a row."

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