HELICOPTER Sunday hero Marvin Andrews today urged Rangers fans not to give up hope – despite escalating on-and-off-field problems at Ibrox.
Things are looking increasingly ominous for the struggling Glasgow giants in their bid to land a fourth straight Scottish title.
A disappointing 1-1 draw with Aberdeen at home last Saturday saw them fall four points behind Celtic in the SPL.
It was just the latest in a long line of unacceptable results for Ally McCoist’s men in the league in recent weeks.
Defeats to Kilmarnock, St Mirren and Celtic, and a draw with St Johnstone, have seen the Gers squander a 15-point lead.
Elsewhere, the ongoing dispute with HMRC – and the prospect of being hit with a massive £49million tax bill – continues to loom large.
Despite injuries and suspensions piling up, McCoist has not been able to strengthen his squad significantly in the January transfer window.
And it looks highly likely Nikica Jelavic, the country’s leading goalscorer, will be sold to a top English club at some point during the month.
Given all that, it is no surprise that even the most optimistic Light Blues supporter thinks the club doesn’t have a prayer.
But Andrews, the devoutly religious player who became a huge fans’ favourite in his two seasons at Rangers, disagrees.
The centre-half famously coined the phrase “Keep Believing” after the Gers fell five points behind the Hoops with just four games remaining in the 2004/05 season.
Most people – including many of his own team-mates – thought the Trinidad and Tobago internationalist had a screw loose.
Yet Alex McLeish’s side snatched the SPL trophy from the grasp of Martin Neill’s team on a final day of unprecedented drama.
Marvin is urging his old club’s followers – some of whom have been in touch with him in the hope of getting some divine intervention – to stand firm behind their team, no matter what.
Andrews said: “A fan sent me a message on Twitter last week,” said Andrews. “He wrote: ‘Marv, do you think God will help the Rangers with the tax case?’
“I sent him an answer back straight away. I said: ‘God will answer any person with a sincere heart who calls upon him’. He seemed very happy with that and replied: ‘Marv, God will see us through this tax case’.
“Once everybody involves God, there is no reason why God cannot help you. Remember, it is in the tough times that miracles happen.
“Rangers were going through a tough time back in 2005. We were behind in the league and all hope seemed lost. But we ended up winning on the final day in what was one of the finest moments in the club’s history.
“It should be a lesson for many people. No matter how hard things are, if you keep believing then anything can happen.
“Many other clubs are going through financial problems just now, not just Rangers. Things can change, can change drastically. If you put your faith in God, anything can be achieved.”
He added: “Four points is nothing. It is not as if the league is going to end tomorrow. In 2005, Celtic were five points clear with four games to go and were playing at the top of their game. And we still ended up winning.
“There are a lot of games to go in the league this season. There will be a lot of twists and turns. As long as there is a will there is a way.”
Rangers fans still remember Andrews – who ignored the medical experts telling him to have a major knee operation in order to play in that unforgettable title run-in seven years ago – with huge affection.
And their love is reciprocated by the burly defender from Trinidad who always brings the house down whenever he returns to Ibrox on match days.
He said: “I always look to see how Rangers do on a Saturday. I am still friends with Allan McGregor. Jordan McMillan was also one of the young boys who was at the club when I was there. I still get invited back to games at Ibrox. When I go back there the fans tell me they want me to come back every week because I light the place up.
“They say I am always happy and always smiling. I go out at half-time and do the raffle draw. Everybody goes crazy when I say: ‘Keep believing.’
“The most emotional time was when I went back with Hamilton. I was on the bench that day, but, when I got up to warm up, the Rangers fans got to their feet and sang my name for five minutes.”
Andrews continued: “I didn’t play for the money, I played for the shirt, for the club. I put my career on the line.
“Doctors told me I wouldn’t last a week if I didn’t have surgery. Former players who had suffered cruciate-ligament injuries, called me mad.
“They told me not to believe in God, urged me to put my faith in science instead. I was like the werewolf of Scottish football at that time. But I didn’t budge. I kept believing. If you do that, anything is possible. That is what Rangers must do now.
“I don’t know who is in the Rangers dressing room just now and who has the faith I have. I don’t know who has that belief in God.
“But with the support that Rangers have, the love, and togetherness and unity that they show whenever I go back to Ibrox, they always have hope even when the odds seem stacked against them.”