THE red carpet should really have been rolled out for David Holmes whenever he wanted to watch a Rangers game at Ibrox in the years after he departed given everything he achieved during his time as chairman.

The man who appointed Graeme Souness manager and then helped the Liverpool great to turn the Glasgow club into the dominant force in Scottish football once again after a prolonged period in the doldrums, though, was never once asked back.

The way he was forced out after Sir David Murray bought the major shareholding in the Glasgow giants from Lawrence Marlborough and the fact he was then snubbed by subsequent regimes clearly pain him to this day.

However, Holmes finally returned to the Govan ground for the first time since leaving in 1989 yesterday to launch One Voice, the book he has written about his remarkable spell on the Rangers board, and relished the experience. 

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“It is a bit nostalgic to be back,” he said after being welcomed with open arms by the current custodians. “I have not been here for 34 years. I was never invited. When I came in here I wasn’t the most popular person on the board. They knew what was going to happen.

“When I came in I had a specific job to do. I didn’t come in here as a paid employee, I came in here as a member of the John Lawrence Group (the housebuilding firm Marlborough owned). I came in here to make Rangers an asset, not a liability. It was a liability.

“When Lawrence put the money in here it was because he loved Rangers. He asked me as his go-to man to come in an get this place sorted out. There was only one way I knew how to do that – and that was to clear it out and start again. I make no excuses for that.

The Herald: “And when I left here I wasn’t the most popular because they knew what had happened. They made it very, very nasty for me before I left and I was quite pleased to move away at the time. That is the bit that hurt. Anyway, that has passed.”

But Holmes, whose account of a truly fascinating era in Scottish football will be required reading for followers of Rangers as well as anyone with an interest in the history of the game in this country, revealed that fans of the Ibrox club remain grateful for everything that he did for them to this day.

“My affection towards the supporters and the supporters’ affection towards me?” he said. “Nobody will ever break that. The connection between myself and supporters has never faded. I was at a function on Saturday to launch the book. The affection that was shown to me was absolutely unbelievable. That was important. They never forgot.”

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How could they? Rangers had gone eight years without winning the Scottish title and were languishing in fifth place in the Premier Division table when Marlborough asked Holmes to try and turn things around in 1986. He immediately offered Scotland midfielder Souness, who was starring for Sampdoria in Italy at that time, the job of player-manager. The rest is history.

“I had a shortlist of one,” he said. “Graeme didn’t know that, but I did. When I introduced my plan for Rangers, Lawrence said we needed to have a five-year plan. I said, ‘No we’ve got to win the league in the first year, win one of the cups and play at least two rounds in Europe’.

“He thought it was ambitious - and so did the bank manager. But I felt that to tell Rangers fans we were going to sort it out in five years was what they’d been hearing for years. So we spent the money and we got the players we wanted.

“But to get the ones we wanted we needed a manager who could bring them here. I told Lawrence I’d get a world-class player and a new manager and he asked how I’d get two of them. I said, ‘No, there’s only one. Graeme Souness will be the player-manager’. He asked if I knew Graeme and I said I’d never met him, but he was the only one on the shortlist.”

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Holmes continued: “I rang him and offered him the job and there was a pregnant pause. I thought he’d hung up on me. But he hadn’t. I told him he had all the attributes I needed there. He was a winner, he was a world-class player, he had a reputation. Rangers were getting someone from Scotland who had those attributes.

“When he walked in the door of the Blue Room and I introduced him, I don’t think there was single Rangers supporter who didn’t have the hairs on the backs of their necks sticking up. He made it all happen. But the supporters came back and if that hadn’t happened it would never have taken off.”

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Holmes, who is now a very sprightly 88-year-old, has turned down numerous offers to write books about his time at Rangers over the years. He has, though, been happy to put on record exactly what transpired during a period which became known as The Souness Revolution.

He has to take a great deal of the credit for the transformation – which changed Scottish and indeed English football forever – that took place. But he credits the supporters who flooded back through the turnstiles in their droves for the success which the Ibrox club enjoyed on and off the park. 

“When I came here the revolution was about getting the Rangers supporters back to Ibrox,” he said. “It was about getting the team ready to bring the crowds back to Ibrox. 

“Before I came back, Rangers were playing for fourth and fifth in the league and there were average crowds of less than 13,000. Lawrence asked me to come back in and help and bring the crowds back. That is what he wanted and that is what I did. 

“The revolution that took place would never have happened if we didn’t have 40,000 people in the stadium. That is what gave us the finance. That is what made the whole thing happen. As far as I am concerned, this is all about the Rangers supporters.”

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One Voice: The Inside Story of the Rangers Revolution by David Holmes with Stephen Halliday is available to buy now from