David Templeton: Living the dream?

28/10/2012 § Leave a comment

David Templeton applauds the Ibrox faithful after his man-of-the match debut against Elgin City

On the final day of the August 2012 transfer window, one of Scotland’s hottest football prospects, 23-year-old David Templeton, signed for Division Three club Rangers from Premier League side Heart of Midlothian. The pacy winger, beating the midnight signing deadline by a mere matter of seconds, had arguably just completed the most controversial and dramatic, domestic Scottish football transfer this millennium.

By completing his move, Templeton had prompted to merge into the next stage of his young and exciting career, but at the same time had also chosen to drop down to the bottom tier of football in his native country from the summit. To add to the irony and state of shock, two nights prior to signing for Rangers, Templeton was playing and scoring in Europe, with a wonder goal for Hearts in a Europa League tie with giants Liverpool at Anfield– with a little bit of help from Pepe Reina nevertheless.

The player was born and grew up in Glasgow. His father Henry was actually an avid Rangers supporter and named his son after former Gers wing king Davie Cooper. For those of you wondering of the link, Templeton’s middle name is “Cooper.”

Much like his namesake, Templeton also plays on the left side of midfield, and has a tenacity to run at defenders whenever possible. An amazing  solo goal, beginning on the halfway line, in the Edinburgh derby against Hibs at Easter Road springs to mind. That goal, a couple years back, put Hearts on their way to a 2-0 victory and if he hadn’t done so already, the young Glaswegian had certainly made his mark as a rising star in Scottish football.

Templeton signing for Rangers at the Murray Park training ground in Auchenhowie

He began his senior career back in 2005 with Stenhousemuir, and after 36 appearances and 11 goals, was snapped up by Hearts two years later. After a brief loan spell at Raith Rovers, the player ending up turning out for the Tynecastle club 81 times, once again scoring 11 goals. Templeton’s full Hearts debut actually came at Parkhead against boyhood heroes Celtic. He was nominated for PFA Young Player of the Year back in the 2010/11 season and was voted Hearts Fans Player of the Year the same season. He has already appeared for Scotland at under 19 and under 21 level.

So, with so much talent, so much prosperity and so much natural ability, why would this young man want to take the next stage of his development from the Scottish Premier League into the Scottish Football League‘s Third Division? SFL Three mainly consists of part time teams, as well as players that have to take up a second job as painters or builders as examples, in order to pay their bills.

By leaving the SPL, Templeton has left an exciting, fast paced league where youngsters with potential are regularly snapped up by big Premier League or Championship teams in England. By dropping down three divisions, the player has seemingly also diminished his chances of a full international call up anytime soon.

Templeton celebrates with his Hearts team mates after scoring in the Europa League at Anfield

Well, SFL Division Three is no longer what it always has been. Nowadays it contains arguably the biggest club in the country and one of the giants of world football- Glasgow Rangers. The Govan outfit, founded in 1872, has a proud history, winning more domestic honours than any other football club worldwide, including Spanish giants Real Madrid and English force Manchester United.

54 Scottish league championships, 33 Scottish cups, 27 Scottish league cups and a UEFA Cup Winners Cup triumph back in 1972. The Ibrox club is an institution, with a vast and diverse support base expanding across the globe. At a recent home game with Third Division rivals Queen’s Park, a capacity crowd of 49,463 loyal and passionate fans packed into Ibrox to see Rangers turn out victorious by a score of 2-0 in the original Glasgow derby. The remarkable attendance that day not only showed the tremendous loyalty and backing of the Ibrox faithful, but it was an attendance that ousted the grand total of every other professional game attendances in Scotland combined that same weekend. It also set a new record for an SFL Division Three match comprehensively.

Templeton celebrates with former Hearts colleague Ian Black after scoring on debut

However, after the disastrous misdemeanour’s of former owner Craig Whyte, Rangers now finds itself struggling at the wrong end of Scottish football and faces a long but inevitable road back to the top. Yet still, this past summer, despite a mass exodus of the squad that had brought so much glory under legendary boss Walter Smith, current manager and fellow legend Ally McCoist was still able to bring in experienced players like Francisco Sandaza, Kevin Kyle, Ian Black and Emilson Cribari, proving the Ibrox club still retains its massive appeal. Templeton saw this, and was duly delighted to put pen to paper, and become a part of McCoist’s rebuilding process.

Upon doing so, Templeton became the victim of a backlash of angered Hearts fans questioning his ambition and desire in the game. The player had been accused of a lack of loyalty and honesty, with those down Gorgie Way seemingly expecting more in return, after giving the youngster his first real chance to become a prominent figure in football.

Ibrox gates

But who else can really blame him? Templeton is now turning out in front of a minimum of 45,000 fans every other week and plying his trade at one of the biggest arenas in Europe, not to mention the world class training facilities that remain on offer at Rangers’ Murray Park training ground. At Hearts the player was appearing in front of an average 12,00 despite the fact they are a Premier League club.

New Rangers chief Charles Green recently said that Rangers will be back playing European football before English Premier League side Norwich City are, and who would bet against him on that front? Iconic Gers boss from years gone by, Bill Struth once said, “To be a Ranger is to sense the sacred trust of upholding all that such a name means in this shrine of football,” mimicked here by McCoist.

Templeton has already begun to write his own name into Rangers folk law, by scoring two goals on debut against Elgin City in a comprehensive 5-1 win at Ibrox. The player, like every football-loving youngster in Scotland, would have spent his childhood days dreaming of turning out for either side of the Old Firm. His father, like many others, will certainly be happy that happens to be the blue side of Glasgow.

Templeton is now part of a huge club, and one that I have no doubts will return to its regular place at the top of the Scottish game sooner rather than later. The player is living a dream, and at Rangers, the world is his oyster, with the perfect opportunity to step up and play.

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