Rangers secure Scottish League One title with Lee McCulloch hat-trick

• 3-0 win at Ibrox secures title with eight games remaining
• Captain Lee McCulloch pays tribute to Rangers fans

Captain Lee McCulloch thanked the Rangers fans for their loyalty after his first-half hat-trick in the 3-0 win over Airdrie at Ibrox clinched the Scottish League One title.

The 35-year-old defender scored two from the penalty spot before netting a third from open play as his side moved 26 points ahead of second-placed Dunfermline with eight games remaining.

The Govan club's ascent back to the top has been backed to the hilt by the club's supporters, with the official crowd of 41,343 seeing a comfortable win for Ally McCoist's side.

Rangers, who started at the bottom of Scottish league football after falling into administration in 2012, will play in the Championship next season, one title win away from the Scottish Premiership.

"From the dressing room's point of view, I would like to thank all the fans," McCulloch said. "It is important to let the fans know their support has been appreciated this season. They have had to put up with a lot as well and so it is good to give them something to shout about.

"I am delighted to have done it with eight games to go. It is 28 games, drawn two and won 26, that's a fantastic record and we want to keep it going."

McCulloch was also pleased for McCoist who came in for heavy criticism after Rangers drew 1-1 with Albion Rovers in their Scottish Cup quarter-final clash at Ibrox on Sunday.

He said: "It is great win for the manager, to repay the faith he has shown in some of the boys, by getting his second league title. He has had to deal with things that some managers have never dealt with, even those who have been in their jobs for 20-25 years."

McCoist was full of praise for McCulloch, saying: "I actually scored a quicker hat-trick in Vladikavkaz in a Champions League match than the time Lee scored in tonight. But I wasn't playing centre-half to be fair.

"I think the last person to do it here was Paul Gascoigne on the day we won the title against Aberdeen – although I draw the line at saying they were similar players. But it's an unbelievable achievement.

"McCulloch epitomises the spirit that has been required within the club at the beginning of the journey back. I'm absolutely thrilled for him. For a captain to score a hat-trick from centre-half on a title-winning day is real Roy of the Rovers stuff." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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