Bill Struth portrait (right) in the Ibrox Trophy Room
|Full name||William Struth|
|Date of birth||16 June 1875|
|Place of birth||Leith, Midlothian, Scotland|
|Date of death||21 September 1956(aged 81)|
|Place of death||Glasgow, Scotland|
William "Bill" Struth (16 June 1875 – 21 September 1956) was the second manager of Rangers Football Club, leading the club for 34 years between 1920 and 1954, as well as being the holder of a number of other positions, including director. Struth is one of the most successful managers in Scottish and British football history, winning 30 major trophies in his career; a record 18 Scottish league championships, 10 Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups.
Struth was born in Leith, Edinburgh, the eldest child of William Struth senior, a stonemason, and Isabella Cunningham. Struth grew up in Edinburgh and Milnathort (his father's birthplace) in Kinross-shire. Struth worked as a stonemason, but he also competed as a professional runner until he was in his 30s. In the early 1900s he began helping to train the players at his local football club, Heart of Midlothian F.C., and in 1908 he moved to Glasgow to become the trainer at Clyde.
Struth moved to Rangers in 1914 to take up the position of assistant manager. At the age of 45, in 1920, he took over as manager after his predecessor William Wilton was killed in a boating accident off Gourock.
Struth went on to win the league title 18 times as manager, winning 14 titles in 19 years before the Second World War. This included winning five titles in a row between 1927 and 1931. Struth's tenure as manager spanned the club's first league and cup double in 1928, when Rangers lifted the Scottish Cup and ended a 25-year 'hoodoo', and its first treble in 1949, Struth becoming the first Scottish manager to achieve this honour. If wartime and local competitions (7 wartime league championships, 19 Glasgow Cups, 17 Glasgow Merchant Charity Cups and other wartime cups) are included, Struth won a total of 73 trophies during his career, making him the most decorated manager in British football history.
Struth was renowned as a disciplinarian, insisting that the team wore a collar and tie when turning up for training; bowler hats were obligatory for Rangers players. Adam Little was signed by Struth and this interview gives an insight into his methods.
In 1947, Struth became a Rangers director and was then appointed vice-chairman after retiring in 1954. In 1952 he had part of a leg amputated as a result of gangrene. He died on 21 September 1956, aged 81, at his home in Dumbreck and is buried in Craigton Cemetery, overlooking Ibrox Park. His wife, Catherine Forbes, predeceased him.
In 2005, Rangers' chairman Sir David Murray unveiled a bronze bust of Bill Struth, located in the Main Stand at Ibrox, now known as the "Bill Struth Main Stand" in honour of his contribution to Rangers Football Club.
When being presented with the portrait that now hangs in the Ibrox trophy room, Bill Struth said:
I have been lucky — lucky in those who were around me from the boardroom to the dressing-room. In time of stress, their unstinted support, unbroken devotion to our club and calmness in adversity eased the task of making Rangers FC the premier club in this country.
To be a Ranger is to sense the sacred trust of upholding all that such a name means in this shrine of football. They must be true in their conception of what the Ibrox tradition seeks from them. No true Ranger has ever failed in the tradition set him."
Our very success, gained you will agree by skill, will draw more people than ever to see it. And that will benefit many more clubs than Rangers. Let the others come after us. We welcome the chase. It is healthy for us. We will never hide from it. Never fear, inevitably we shall have our years of failure, and when they arrive, we must reveal tolerance and sanity. No matter the days of anxiety that come our way, we shall emerge stronger because of the trials to be overcome. That has been the philosophy of the Rangers since the days of the gallant pioneers.
- Scottish League (18): 1920-21, 1922–23, 1923–24, 1924–25, 1926–27, 1927–28, 1928–29, 1929–30, 1930–31, 1932–33, 1933–34, 1934–35, 1936–37, 1938–39, 1946–47, 1948–49, 1949–50, 1952–53
- Scottish Cup (10): 1927-28, 1929–30, 1931–32, 1933–34, 1934–35, 1935–36, 1947–48, 1949–50, 1952–53
- Scottish League Cup (2): 1946-47, 1948–49
- David Mason and Ian Stewart, "Mr Struth: The Boss" (Headline, 2013), p. 18.
- David Mason and Ian Stewart, "Mr Struth: The Boss" (Headline, 2013), p. 25.
- (Bob Crampsey 1990, p. 50)
- Hackett, Robin (3 May 2012). "Right-hand men who became top dogs". www.espn.co.uk. ESPN. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
- Forsyth, Roddy (31 October 2013). "Rangers fans find cold comfort in tales of legend Bill Struth". Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group). Retrieved 29 August 2015.
- "Rangers fans in bid to restore Bill Struth's grave". The Scotsman. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
- "The whole Struth". Sunday Herald (Herald & Times Group). 23 September 2006.
- Mason, David., Stewart, Ian. Mr Struth: The Boss (2013).