MARK WALTERS knew he couldn’t walk off. He was determined to not walk away.

His time at Rangers will be remembered, both by him and the Ibrox fans who took him to their hearts, for a mixture of reasons.

The highs – three Premier Division titles and two League Cups – showed the winger at his best. His presence in Scotland brought out the worst in some, though.

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His debut at Parkhead saw him subjected to some of the most appalling scenes of racist abuse ever seen in our game. A fortnight later at Tynecastle, the shameful acts were repeated.

Monkey chants greeted Walters when he touched the ball and bananas were thrown from the stands but the Englishman somehow rose above the mindless and the moronic in green and maroon.

In the three decades that have elapsed, the racist minority has become even smaller and less vocal as the positive messages have offered strength and hope for the future.

“Bananas, darts, golf balls - I even remember a pig’s foot,” Walters said as he returned to Ibrox for a Show Racism the Red Card event yesterday. “I don’t know where that one came from.

“I had all manner of things thrown at me, but that was 30 years ago and it’s against the law to do it now.

“It wasn’t nice but my drive was so high nothing would have stopped me from playing anyway, whatever they would have done I would have kept playing.

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“It crossed my mind when you’re seeing darts a metre from your feet and golf balls you think: Is my health worth this, just for a game of football? Of course it crosses your mind.

“I didn’t want to be blinded but the club assured me they would do something about it and they did and I’m forever grateful to them for that.”

The battle against racism in society, and not just football, is being won but the fight will continue to be fought by the likes of Walters and former team-mate Mark Hateley.

Incidents in Scotland are thankfully few and far between but nothing is being taken for granted by those who seek to educate and inform the next generation.

It is three decades since Walters was abused as he took his first steps in a successful Light Blues career. His mentality helped him get through it and now he has seen attitudes change.

“They were the ones most documented, yes,” he said of those dark days at Parkhead and Tynecastle. “At the time I was so single minded and the way I’ve been brought up - not only did I have to play as well as anyone else, but I had to play twice as well as anyone else because that’s the way things were, if you succumbed to it.

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“Sulley Muntari walked off the field recently in Italy. Had I done that 30 years ago I would have been told I had a chip on my shoulder or didn’t have enough bottle to handle it.

“Things have come on tremendously well since my time. It’s not a nice thing to be abused - I don’t care who you are or how hardened you are - but hopefully now all the stuff that goes on, people know it’s illegal and they can’t do it anymore.

“Football is a reflection of society and if you say to me will that not happen in society in 10 years’ time? If the answer is yes it won’t be happening in football.”

Walters would leave Ibrox in the summer in 1991 for Liverpool and he went on to play for Southampton, Swindon and Bristol Rovers. His legacy off the pitch is just as important as that on it, though.

He was joined by Hateley, Richard Gough, Gary McSwegan and Derek Ferguson yesterday at a Show Racisim the Red Card workshop at Ibrox. Football may provide a platform for abuse but it also offers an avenue to a more tolerant and equal society.

“I came 30 years ago and we are still talking about it now,” Walters said.

“Rangers have always been at the forefront of making children aware of racism.

“It is disappointing I am still having to come here and do it but it has improved a lot since I was playing.

“The way forward is education with. I think football reflects society and society rather than football is the problem.

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“People think it is ok to shout racist and homophobic abuse and we have to make them realise it is unacceptable.

“My problems were well documented but the club were fantastic and helped me get through it.

“I never had any problems in the street. It was just at stadiums when I first came here.

“When the club got on to the authorities I didn’t have any more problems with it.”

The event at Ibrox was another positive stride forward in the fight against racism but it was at the same venue a couple of weeks ago where a step back was sadly taken.

Two Rangers fans were captured on film making monkey gestures at Celtic star Scott Sinclair during the Old Firm clash as they embarrassed themselves and tarnished their club.

Once again, the minority did the damage. The majority are fondly remembered by Walters, though.

“It was very disappointing, I’m not going to lie,” Walters said. “Rangers fans treated me fantastically.

"I’ve found out the boy who was singled out on television making those gestures wasn’t even supposed to be at the game - he borrowed a ticket, so who knows what his background is?

“Rangers were fantastic with me, not only in terms of helping me have a good career here but my family enjoyed the experience of coming here.

“At Aston villa I didn’t let my family go to some of the games because I knew in certain matches I was going to be abused so I’m forever grateful to Rangers for making my life here a lot easier than it could have been.”