SUPERCUPNI: Rangers make a return to youth tournament

Rangers will make a return to the SuperCupNI this year
Rangers will make a return to the SuperCupNI this year

Scottish giants Rangers will be returning to the SuperCupNI this summer.

The Ibrox club will compete for the Junior title at the showpiece football tournament, which runs from July 23-27.

The Teddy Bears have always proved a major draw at the event, with huge numbers of fans regularly turning out to watch the club's youngsters in action.

Rangers were inaugural Junior winners way back in 1985 when John Spencer's squad defeated local favourites Craigavon in the final at the Coleraine Showgrounds.

The club’s other two successes at the tournament came in the Premier Section,

They earned a big victory over holders and fellow Scottish side Motherwell in 1984, and on the 10th anniversary Milk Cup in 1992 when Charlie Miller scored twice in the decider against Nottingham Forest.

The following year they were beaten Premier finalists when Cherry Orhcard emerged with the title.

They returned to Northern Ireland in 2014 to play in the SuperCupNI, their first appearance in 21 years.

The following year former Northern Ireland international Andy Kirk was the man behind Rangers’ search for success at the event.

The ex-Glentoran, Hearts and Dunfermline winger coached in the club’s youth academy.

Kirk, who won 14 international caps, was part of the Northern Ireland squad which first lifted the Elite title back in 1997 but had previously played in the competition

Rangers also competed in the 2016 SuperCupNI when they sent an Under 15 squad to the tournament, and last year their Under 16 side eventually lost to GPS Bayern in the semi-finals.

Some notable players who have gone on to make a name for themselves in professional football include 1992 hero Charlie Miller, and eventual Ibrox captain Barry Ferguson who played in the Junior competition the same year.

Former Rangers players and Northern Ireland internationals Andy Little, Dean Shiels and Scot Whiteside have also competed at the tournament and recall their involvement with great affection.