RANGERS became the first and to date only British football club to enjoy a “perfect season” and win all of their league matches after being awarded a “dodgy penalty” at the end of a thrilling encounter with Hibernian.

And the SFA took action to prevent referees being intimidated immediately after the “Invincibles” achieved their epic feat – by giving them their own dressing room for the first time so they no longer had to change with the players.  

The Ibrox club triumphed in all 18 of their Division One games in the 1898/99 season – but they came very close to dropping points in a match against Hibs in November. 

William Wilton’s team fell two goals in the first-half and their winning streak looked set to come to an end in their 11th outing.

However, second-half strikes from James Miller and Alex Smith levelled proceedings before a late Robert Hamilton effort and an injury-time Bobby Neil penalty ensured they prevailed 4-3.

“They were very lucky,” said author Jeff Holmes who is writing a book about The Invincibles that will be published next year to mark the 150th anniversary of Rangers’ formation.

“They got a dodgy penalty late on. Penalties were in their infancy at that time. There was a lot of dubiety about what constituted a penalty and what didn’t.

“But Rangers beat Hibs 10-0 at Ibrox in the rematch the following month? I am not sure how they could go from scraping a result to beating them so emphatically.”

He continued: “An important aspect of that era was that referees didn’t have a room to change in. They were the guest of the home committee and they would sometimes get changed in the home dressing room. They were very easily influenced.

“There were some really tough characters playing at that time. Weaker referees could be influenced. It wasn’t uncommon for referees to get chased along the street to the train station after a game.

“Port Glasgow were a senior team at the time. They were notorious for chasing referees to the train station after games and throwing bricks at them. Not the fans either, the players.

“After that season the SFA looked seriously at clubs having a separate room for the referees because they realised they were becoming heavily influenced by the home executive.”

However, Holmes feels that Rangers never-say-die spirit, not favours from match officials, was the reason they made history in the 1898/99 season.

He has seen the same attitude in Steven Gerrard’s team this term and reckons that is why they are on the verge of emulating their predecessors’ accomplishment this week.

“Look at Rangers and look at how they have come through games,” he said. “The one that sticks out for me is the Motherwell match at Ibrox in December. They were 1-0 down with 15 and came back and won 3-1.

“They have obviously bee told to keep playing the same way and it will come. That is a hallmark of the 1898/99 side. Every single match report I have read mentions that they refused to panic and stuck to their football philosophy.

“It is almost as if Steven Gerrard read all the matches reports from 1898/99 and thought: ‘We’ll go out and do the same thing’. When you consider how long ago it was, the similarities are quite frightening.”