Rangers can justifiably lay claim to being the most successful club in the world having won 54 domestic league titles, more than any other team. They have also won 33 Scottish Cups and 27 Scottish League Cups and one major European trophy, the Cup Winners Cup in 1972, probably the club's finest hour.
They have come close to further European glory three times, as runner-up in the Cup Winners Cup in 1961 and 1967, plus runners-up in the 2008 UEFA Cup. Such is the support for the club that an estimated 130,000 Rangers fans made the journey to Manchester for the UEFA Cup final, even though most of them did not have tickets for the match.
Rangers were formed in 1873 and in 1890-91 were one of the first 10 founder members of the Scottish Football League. At the end of the first season a tie-break between them and Dumbarton was held to establish the winners. The match finished 2-2, however, and for the only time ever the title was shared. Nevertheless it counted as the first league win of many.
In 1898-99 Rangers won all 18 games in the league season, and in the subsequent years began to exert their dominance over Scottish football. They won the championship seven times between 1900 and 1918 before Bill Struth was appointed manager in 1920-21. Struth set in motion another period of dominance, during which the club won 14 titles before the outbreak of World War Two.
Their success continued after the war and after Bill Struth collected two more domestic doubles in 1950 and 1953, Scot Symon was appointed as Rangers third manager in June 1954. Symon continued Struth's success winning six league championships, five Scottish Cups and four League Cups. He also became the second manager to win the domestic treble in season 1963–64. Under him, Rangers also undertook their first European adventure, in 1956-57 in the European Cup, but it ended quickly with defeat to Nice.
They were forced to play second fiddle to Jock Stein's Celtic, while their arch rivals notched up nine titles in a row beginning in the late Sixties, but on January 2, 1971 at the end of an Old Firm game, disaster was to strike Ibrox. After 89 minutes of scoreless football Celtic took a 0–1 lead and some Rangers supporters started to leave the stadium. However, in the final moments of the match, Colin Stein scored an equaliser for Rangers. As thousands of spectators were leaving the ground by stairway 13, it appears that someone fell, causing a massive chain-reaction pile-up of people. The tragedy resulted in the loss of 66 lives, including many children.
The following year, in 1972, Rangers defeated FC Dynamo Moscow to win the Cup Winner's Cup, their first and only European trophy to date.
Domestically, Rangers most dominant period was from the 1988-89 season until 1996-97 season, when they won the league title nine times in a row, equalling Celtic's record under Jock Stein. The first three of these seasons the club was managed by Graeme Souness, the latter six under the stewardship of Walter Smith. Smith left in 1998, only to return in 2007 to oversee three more league wins in 2009, 2010 and 2011.