THERE were a mixture of emotions for me, and I am sure a lot of people, on Tuesday night as Rangers beat Dumbarton to clinch the title and win promotion back to the Premiership.

Like a lot of supporters, I was thinking of the die-hard Rangers fans who have passed away over the last four years and never got the chance to see their club back in the top flight.

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I also remembered my former team-mates like Sandy Jardine and Colin Jackson, two men who did so much for the club and are sadly no longer with us.

Rangers Football Club meant the world to people like that and unfortunately they never got the chance to see them complete The Journey.

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It was great to see Rangers winning the title on Tuesday, but it means more than just the Championship trophy and a medal to me, as it will to so many other fans.

I sat and reflected and have thought about so many people and just what the club has been through.

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Kenny McDowall’s dad, Andrew, was 83 and was sadly buried on his birthday on Thursday morning. Andy Bain spent nearly nine decades supporting Rangers and you could count on two hands the number of games he missed during that time.

Both of them never got the chance to see the Gers back in the top flight and I was saddened to hear that Douglas Odam has passed away as well.

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Then you have Sandy, who worked tirelessly to keep Rangers going and was one of three or four who did so much during those dark days. And I thought about Colin, who was a terrific servant as a player and then gave so much to Rangers in later years.

Every fan will have had similar thoughts over the last couple of days, they will be remembering people whose lives revolved around Rangers and it is sad that they never got the chance to see their team back where they belong.

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There will be people all over the world to whom Rangers meant so much and it will be emotional for their loved ones at this time, as it is for the fans who have been on the road with Rangers since that opening fixture of the campaign at Brechin in 2012.

It has been a very long, tough four years, and you have to feel for the people that have been through it all inside Rangers. There have been some good times, but there have been plenty of bad ones on and off the park.

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Over the years, there have been players that probably weren’t good enough to play for Rangers. But, at some stage, they have played their part.

It was more relief on Tuesday night than anything else. As soon as the referee blew the whistle, the fans knew that four years of pain could be put behind them.

They have travelled up and down the country to watch their team and everybody has got a turn out of Rangers and the fans in the last four seasons.

You have to give credit to Mark Warburton and the players for the job that they have done this season. We didn’t know too much about him or his players before a ball was kicked but they have done very well and they have played some really good stuff this season.

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Most importantly, they have got us back to the big time. It was a great moment for the fans as the players went round the pitch but there is still so much work to do this season as we look ahead to the Petrofac Cup final and then the Old Firm game.

We have got to where we wanted to, and needed to, get this season and now we have to keep moving forward.

After the game, all the fans stayed behind to enjoy the moment and celebrate with the players.

It wasn’t the greatest game in the world, but we got what was needed, got the three points and the fans were there to say ‘well done, thanks for getting us back to the big time’.

We can’t stop here, though, and the manager will know that. This team could hold its own in the Premiership, but if we have got five or six better players then there is no doubt that we can be competing at the top end.

That is where Rangers have to be. Anyone that says it should be two or three years before we can look to win the league doesn’t know Rangers Football Club.

That is not what Rangers is about. We are in it to win it, it is as simple as that.

The fans have to be realistic and we know the board are not going to spend millions and millions of pounds at once.

It will take investment over a period of time but we know that better players have to be brought in this summer. The planning for next season won’t have started in the aftermath of Tuesday night, it will have been going on for months.

Mark and David Weir will have sat down with the scouting department and they will have a list of players they want to target for next season.

You have to plan ahead because everyone knows that Rangers need better players if they are to challenge at the top of the table next season.

What Rangers have done over the last few years is get themselves into a situation where they can win the top league again. Now we have to get back to winning the Premiership again and completing the recovery.

We are back in the big time, we have a chance to win the Premiership and now we have to get back to where we should be.

And that is at the top of Scottish football, winning championships, winning cups and playing in Europe.