Football clubs value their history, and Rangers intend to make a celebration of their own.

There were times during last summer when people at Ibrox feared for the team's future, so the very act of planning events to commemorate the 140th anniversary of Rangers' formation must feel like an achievement in itself. "It's about surviving and celebrating," said Sandy Jardine.

The former full-back, who works for the club, was among a number of past and present Rangers players at yesterday's launch of the celebrations, which had been scheduled for May but will now take place on Saturday December 8, when Stirling Albion visit Ibrox. With Walter Smith considering an offer to return to the club as a non-executive director, the new owners are seeking to preserve links with the past. Old habits also die hard.

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"I noticed Celtic are celebrating 125 years," said Jardine. "They are a fantastic club but – maybe I'm biased – they don't come anywhere near what we've done in 140 years when you look back through our history. So it's only right we should recognise our history and celebrate it, [particularly] now the club is on its way to getting back on its feet."

The remark was made in the context of the Old Firm rivalry, although Celtic supporters would point to being the first British club to win the European Cup in 1967 in the same way that Rangers fans would point to their club having won a world record 54 league titles. The competitive instincts are relentless, even while the Ibrox side are in the Third Division.

Fans argue about the history, even though Charles Green's consortium bought the business and assets of the club from The Rangers Football Club plc in administration, and were then, eventually, granted SFA membership. In truth, marking the 140th anniversary is also a reminder that, despite the insolvency event, the football club remains in existence.

"It's important that we celebrate our 140 years because six months ago we might not have had a club," said Jardine. "We've come through a difficult period and we've a long way to go. But we have started on a journey of rebuilding. We are the same club, with the same strips, the same stadium and the same ethos. We can't change what's happened, but we can make sure Rangers get back to the level we once were at."

Charlie Miller can recall meeting old friends outside Ibrox during the early days of administration when tears were streaming down their faces because they feared for the existence of their club. The contrast was stark for a player who was part of the nine-in-a-row era and left the club when Dick Advocaat began stockpiling expensive signings to try to make an impact on Europe. Those days eventually led to Rangers' financial crisis, since the debt burden was one of the circumstances that allowed Craig Whyte to buy the club for £1 from Sir David Murray.

Miller broke into the Rangers first team as a 17-year-old, so can empathise with the youngsters now trying to establish themselves in the starting line-up. He urged them to make the most of their opportunity, but also to make their own mark on the club's history, since the journey back from the third division will always be a significant time for Rangers.

"If you are a young boy at Rangers now, you must grasp this with both hands," said Miller. "I don't understand the lad Rhys McCabe, who went to Sheffield Wednesday. He could have been a legend here and part of a legacy which will last through 20 years.

"I had a great time breaking through. I looked at some of the boys I was lucky to play with, but thought I would try to be as good as those guys. Kids these days can sometimes think it will come, but you need to fight for it. Opponents are not going to let you go out there and take the p**s. But it is a great chance for the youngsters to become a Rangers hero and make a name for themselves."