STORIES charting the rise and fall of Rangers Football Club have been well documented in recent years, however, lesser known facts about the origins of the world-famous institution and its links to Rhu, Rosneath and Garelochhead only came to light just 10 years ago, when journalist Gary Ralston penned his book Rangers 1872: The Gallant Pioneers.


RANGERS are one of sport’s great institutions.

The team’s blue crest is recognised throughout the world and over 50,000 fans turn up to Ibrox Stadium to watch their side play nearly every week.

None of this would have been possible without four spirited teenagers with strong Rhu and Garelochhead connections - Moses and Peter McNeil, Peter Campbell and Tom Vallance.

Yet the story behind the founding fathers of the Ibrox club in 1872 and their bond to the local area remained a mystery. But sports journalist Gary Ralston has now managed to reveal the secret and tragic story of the young men, with a passion for the early phenomena that was football, who would go on to create a sporting legend of their own.

Rangers 1872: The Gallant Pioneers, which is published by Breedon Books, reveals the story behind the teenagers who discussed the idea of forming a football team in West End Park, later renamed Kelvingrove, in their adopted city of Glasgow.

The two McNeil brothers came from Rhu and their father was a gardener at Belmore House. Moses became a famous winger for the Gers and was the club’s first internationalist.

Fellow founder Peter Campbell, from Garelochhead, lived in a villa called Craigellan which still stands to this day. His father, John, was a renowned shipping entrepreneur in the Argyll and Bute area and Peter would play for Rangers until 1879.

And William McBeath - the only founder not born in the Helensburgh area - was a close friend of the McNeil brothers.

READ MORE: Rangers FC founder's grave discovered in Rosneath in 2004

Although he wasn’t present at the club’s birth, Tom Vallance played a major role in the formation of Rangers. Vallance was raised in Shandon and would become the team’s first captain.

The McNeil brothers along with McBeath and Campbell would make history by playing in Rangers’ first match on Glasgow Green 137 years ago.

Rangers’ rise was meteoric. They became one of the UK’s most established teams and, within five years of its birth, were competing for Scottish football’s top honours.

According to the book, the club had a number of friends in high places to thank for their early success.

Gary said: “One of the first patrons of the club was Marquis of Lorne who went on to become the Duke of Argyll. He had also married Princess Louise who was Queen Victoria’s daughter.

“Also Peter Campbell’s uncle, Sir James Jenkins, was the Queen’s honorary surgeon so there was certainly a strong royal connection to Rangers even in the early days.

“They did have men of influence who could help the club in the earliest years.”

Despite the early success, the club’s creators were hit by tragedy.

Campbell drowned when his ship, the Saint Columba, went down in the Bay of Biscay during a storm as it shipped coal from south Wales to Bombay in 1883.

Peter McNeil died in 1901 at Hawkhead Asylum near Paisley as a result of insanity due to business worries.

McBeath died penniless in 1917 and is buried in a pauper’s grave in Lincoln.

Before his death he was classed an imbecile and lived in a poor house for the last seven years of his life.

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Moses and Tom Vallance were the only founders to see the club flourish out of football’s formative years.

Tom died in 1935 while Moses lived his last years in Rosneath and passed away in 1938. He’s buried in the cemetery at St Modan’s Church.

Gary, who lives in Stirling, said the local community were an invaluable source of information during his three-year research into the book.

He added: “I was given a huge help from the whole local community. There’s still a lot of interest in the people who formed the club even today.

“For example, Moses McNeil died in Dumbarton in 1938. But some residents in Rosneath still remember him after all these years.

“But there were individuals who made the book possible from Helensburgh and the Clyde Peninsula. One of them was Mike Davis at Helensburgh Library. He and his staff helped with a lot of research and information.

“Rosneath Councillor Robert McIntyre was also a huge help. Richard Reeve from Kilgreggan and Alistair McIntyre from Garelochhead gathered a lot of research for the book. If it hadn’t been for their research then the book wouldn’t have been as rich with detail.”