Amid the torrents of support that have come pouring in for Brian Rice, the Hamilton manager who confessed to succumbing to his addictive gambling urges earlier in the week, Scott Arfield’s backing was particularly pertinent.

Rice, after all, was a major influence on Arfield during his progress through the Falkirk youth ranks and the 31-year-old Rangers player spoke warmly of their relationship. While Rice has been open and frank in his admissions, Arfield has faced his own ‘personal issues’ this season but continues to deal with them in his own, more private way. Football has offered a comforting sanctuary.

“That period was a wee bit difficult for me,” he confessed. “But everyone goes through problems. It's not something I'll ever open up on for people to read about. Everything is sound. But it never crossed my mind not to come in here to training. I'm a player who loves football.


“Football is my get away from everything. Some players don't really like the game. But training every day and playing on a Saturday is my get out from everything else that can happen.

“So it was never an option for me to stay away. Of course, family is a bigger thing and if they needed me there, of course I'd have been there.

“But this is my kind of get out, I love playing here every day. I feel extremely lucky to be able to do it, I'm privileged.”

Arfield remains an integral part of the Rangers squad in this increasingly nip-and-tuck Ladbrokes Premiership title race. He may have been in and out of the starting XI, but he is very much an advocate of the one for all and all for one mentality.

For a manager, squad rotation and keeping everybody happy can be as perilous an act as spinning brittle china plates while balancing on a high wire in a stiff breeze. In Arfield’s eyes, though, it’s a job Steven Gerrard, the Rangers boss, is doing admirably.


“Through the season you're going to find yourself in and out the team,” said the former Burnley midfielder. “As a player you want to play as much as possible, but it's testament to the ability of this team that you sometimes have to help in different ways and that can mean coming off the bench.

“It's the worst thing ever when you're not involved, to be training all week and having nothing to look forward to. But he (Gerrard) has kept people on the same page, kept them buzzing to come into training and that's the most important thing. It's been like that from the start of pre-season and if it continues to be like that, with no players throwing any strops, it'll stand us in good stead.

The combined effort has Rangers breathing down the necks of their old foes Celtic at the top of the table. It’s a scrap for superiority that Arfield is relishing even if he tries to distance himself for the all-consuming nature of it. “This is one of the most exciting seasons I've been involved in,” he said. “You'd be mad to think otherwise.

“You can't get too ahead of yourself but obviously you feel the excitement building. There's a real positive energy at Rangers now, everyone's on the same page.

“As long as that stays in the air, it'll be an amazing place to be. Because at other places in the UK it's not easy to get that.

“It's different now to be involved in a title race, compared to watching it from afar down south.

“Back then I knew players from both teams and it was a ding-dong battle. But when you're actually in it, you can't see that. You're just focused on the job, nothing else. You don't read any articles, you don't see or take notice of anything except what happens at the training ground or at Ibrox on a Saturday.

“If Celtic are playing before us, I'd maybe look at the result later on. But I've got mates and family who tell you everything so sometimes you can't get away from it.

“A phone used to be something you just made phone calls with. But now, it's probably the worst thing.”