RANGERS' decision to produce a documentary about a period even manager Ally McCoist described as among the worst he has ever known seems at first glance to be a curious one.
Three possible answers come to mind. Firstly, it shows there are no topics off limits these days when it comes to raising a few extra quid for the coffers. Secondly, it serves as a chronicle of the journey taken over the past 12 months, from the dark days of uncertainty under Craig Whyte to a more optimistic present, albeit one where the only immediate prospect of silverware is the Irn-Bru Third Division title. Thirdly, it provides what the psychologists call closure, to confront the demons of a traumatic year one final time, and then try to move on.
Kenny McDowall hopes it is the latter. The Rangers assistant manager was at Murray Park yesterday to promote tonight's screening of 'The Rising: Rangers One Year On From Administration' on Rangers TV and briefly considered whether it had been the worst year of his working life. He gave up barely seconds later.
"I can't remember many worse than this," he said. "It's not even worth thinking about – there's not one. I'm not sure we've drawn a line under it all yet. But hopefully this [programme] is people saying it was terrible what happened, it was a horrendous year, and let's look at what's happened at the place since. We are on a journey at the moment and all we can do is take each league as it comes."
Coaching in the third division was surely not what McDowall would have envisaged when he agreed to become McCoist's assistant in the summer of 2011 but there were spells last year when he began to wonder if the pair would be coaching anywhere at all. Going into administration a year ago today would be the start of a series of problems, one that concluded with Rangers approaching their first ever season in the bottom tier of Scottish football with the slimmest of playing squads.
"There were a few points when I wondered 'how can this continue? When is it going to end?'" he said. "From administration onwards it was hurdle after hurdle. We didn't know what league we would be allowed to play in and there was the carry on with players leaving. It was horrific. You were left standing in a job that wasn't really there because you don't have a team and don't know who or if you are going to play. When you turn up to find six players, you know you're in trouble."
Training sessions soon became a sanctuary, a place where McCoist, in particular, could temporarily escape from all the other problems engulfing the club. "Ally could get outside for an hour and we could actually talk about the team. That was as big a comfort as he got because we'd go back inside and the PR folk would say to him, 'you've got to deal with this'. The training ground was probably the only place I remember Ally smiling."
Rangers' form in McCoist's maiden managerial campaign almost became of secondary importance, the manager filling the role of counsellor, spokesperson and leader, with McDowall as loyal consigliere. "I was like a sounding board for him as he was having to do a lot of stuff upstairs [in the offices at Murray Park] as well.
"He was being moved from pillar to post at that time, and having to juggle a lot of balls. If you give out medals for that kind of stuff he should get one. I don't think there's anybody who's had to do what he's done. There was nobody else. Ally was running the whole place."
McDowall left a coaching job at Celtic to join Rangers but has never looked back and wondered what might have been. "I've won three titles here and a couple of Scottish Cups – why would I ever regret that?" he said. "It was a step up for me at the time and I'm at the best club in the world."