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A-Z of West Midlands Football

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 08, 2013

By Tony Matthews

  • Mark Rankine

  • Ray Ranson

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JACK RANDLE scored once in 116 first-class appearances for Birmingham whom he served as a left-back from November 1927 until April 1933 when he was transferred to Southend United.

Born in Bedworth, Warwickshire in August 1902, Jack was a coalminer before spending five years with Coventry City from August 1922 until his switch to St Andrew's. Not the fastest of defenders but solid and competent nevertheless, he moved onto Bournemouth from Southend and ended his career with Guildford City.

Retiring in 1936 with a knee injury, Jack returned to the Midlands to become groundsman at Newdegate Colliery in Nuneaton. He was 88 when he died.

RANGERS (Glasgow) were defeated 3-1 by Aston Villa in the 1887 FA Cup semi-final at Crewe. A crowd of 10,000 saw Archie Hunter score twice for Villa against the team he supported as a lad!

Six years earlier Villa had been thrashed 7-1 in a friendly by Rangers in Glasgow but soon afterwards Villa gained revenge with a 5-1 win at Perry Barr.

Rioting Rangers supporters caused the abandonment of the friendly at Villa Park in October 1976.

Wolves were knocked out of the 1960-61 European Cup-winner's Cup competition in the semi-final by Rangers who won 3-1 on aggregate (1-1 at Molineux, 2-0 in front of 79,000 fans at Ibrox Park).

West Bromwich Albion defeated Rangers 2-0 at Ibrox Park in the final of the Tennent-Caledonian Cup in August 1977, with 'Player of the Tournament' Laurie Cunningham scoring both goals.

Post World War II players who have served with Rangers and our Midland clubs include:

Villa – Neale Cooper, Scottish international Andy Gray (also played for Albion and Wolves), Paul Rideout and Mark Walters (who also played for Wolves).

Birmingham City – Kevin Drinkell, Trevor Francis (also Blues manager), Roger Hynd (also Walsall), Andy Kennedy, Ted McMinn and goalkeeper Thomas Myhre.

Walsall – forward Willie Penman.

WBA – Goalkeepers Andy Dibble and Andy Goram, Willie Johnston (also Birmingham City), Derek McInnes, Max Murray, Jimmy Nicholl, Graham Roberts and strikers Colin West and Bobby Williamson.

Wolves – Scotland star Kenny Miller and Steve Wright.

Goalkeeper Jock Wallace played for Albion and managed Rangers (1970s); Archie Macaulay played for Rangers and managed Albion; George Ramsay was a junior with Rangers before becoming secretary-manager of Aston Villa (1884-1926)

BRUCE RANKIN was an easy-moving, graceful left-winger, clever on the ball with a strong shot (when he chose to deliver).

Born in Glasgow in July 1880, he moved to Merseyside with his family as a youngster and played his early football with White Star Wanderers, Kirkdale FC and Tranmere Rovers before joining Everton as a professional in December 1901.

He represented The North v The South in 1903 and in February 1906 he signed for West Bromwich Albion for £500. He remained a 'Baggie' for just twelve months, in which time he scored six goals in 31 appearances.

After an argument with certain Albion officials, Bruce was disciplined, suspended and placed on the transfer list and he duly left The Hawthorns for Manchester City in February 1907, with the fee again touching £500.

His next League club was Luton Town (season 1907-08) and after spells with Egremont Social and Wirral FC he ended his career at Wrexham, gaining a Welsh Cup winner's medal in 1909 before retiring three years later. He went to work in the Liverpool docks and died in the city in 1946.

MARK RANKINE who could play in the right-back and right-half (wide midfield) positions, scored once in 167 first-class appearances for Wolves whom he served from January 1992 to September 1996.

Born in Doncaster in September 1969, he represented his school team and Doncaster Boys, and was a junior with Manchester United before spending seven years with his home town club, Doncaster Rovers, having in excess of 200 outings.

He moved to Molineux for £70,000 and when he left for Preston North End, the fee was £100,000 – a nice £30,000 profit for Wolves.

He helped North End win promotion from the Second Division in 1999 and then reached the First Division play-offs when the Lilywhites lost to rivals Bolton Wanderers. Whilst at Deepdale, Mark was loaned out to Sheffield United, whom he later joined permanently before ending his career with Tranmere Rovers. He retired in 2006 having made 618 League appearances, and two years later became a football players' agent.

RAY RANSON is now a millionaire! As a player, he performed exceedingly well at right-back, serving in turn, Manchester City (1976-84), Birmingham City (signed for £15,000, transferred to Newcastle United for £175,000 in December 1988), Manchester City again (on loan) and finally Reading, retiring in May 1994 through injury.

Born in St Helens in June 1960, he represented England at schoolboy, youth and U21 levels, gaining 11 caps in the latter category and in 1981 won the FA Cup with Manchester City.

He made 158 appearances for Blues – after leaving Maine Road following a disagreement with the management team. Ray subsequently invested heavily in Benfield Gregg, an insurance company owned by the Chelsea director Matthew Harding and eventually sold his stake in 2002 for several million pounds. He then started a venture funding football transfers on a sale and leaseback basis, including several deals with then Leeds United chairman, Peter Ridsdale.

In recent years, Ranson has twice headed a consortium in unsuccessful attempts to purchase Aston Villa (for £45m) and in April 2007, put in an offer of what is believed to have been £90m to buy Manchester City, pulling out of the proposed takeover after failing to come to an agreement with the then board.

In October 2007, he attempted to take over Southampton on behalf of hedge fund company SISU before completing a deal to take over Coventry City in December 2007, just 30 minutes before the club was set to go into administration.

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