|view Ranger's match-by-match record|
Originally on the Town’s radar in 2008, controversial striker Ranger was offered terms by David Byrne after a trial spell, having been released by Southampton for his misdemeanours - but former Town boss Dennis Wise stepped in to take the forward to Newcastle. Five years later, after a series of scrapes with the law and disciplinary issues saw him leave St. James’ Park, Swindon moved to sign Ranger on a one-year contract with the option of a year’s extension - a controversial and risky move, stealing in ahead of a number of Championship suitors, who were waiting for the outcome of a court case in which Ranger was charged with rape. Upon signing, Ranger vowed to clean up his act - stating that he was looking forward to getting his career back on track.
On the pitch, Ranger was exactly what the Town needed - having looked toothless up front in their opening games playing in a 4-5-1 formation with Andy Williams as the lone front man, Ranger’s strength and hold-up play was ideal for the role. Lacking in match fitness, Ranger made his debut as a second half substitute in a 2-0 defeat at Shrewsbury in August 2013, making his first start seven days later in a 2-2 draw with Gillingham. Three days after that, he netted his first goal in Town colours, a strike that helped Swindon to a shock 2-0 win over Queens Park Rangers in the Capital One Cup.
After scoring three goals in his first six starts, Ranger quickly became an integral part of a Town side pushing in the top half of the table - until a groin injury forced him off at half-time of a Capital One Cup tie against Premier League giants Chelsea. Originally expected to be out for four weeks, Ranger returned just two weeks later - and after a short barren spell in front of goal, he netted in a 2-0 win over Notts County in mid-October, a win that took the Town into the play-off places, and the first of a run of three goals in four games for the striker.
Over the course of the month though, Ranger’s disciplinary issues resurfaced - and having missed a number of training sessions over a period of weeks, he was dropped from the squad having skipped two sessions in three days after an FA Cup defeat at Macclesfield in early November. A club statement soon followed, stating that Ranger had been granted leave to “address his legal situation”, ahead of the rape case that was due to begin in January - also claiming that Ranger was a “hard-working and respectful member of the squad”, that had “given 100% every time he had stepped onto the pitch in the colours of STFC.”
After missing three weeks of training, Ranger returned at the end of the month - coming on as a second half substitute in a 3-1 win over Carlisle - but he was then dropped again, after continually turning up late for training. When asked why he had been left out, manager Mark Cooper stated that “he doesn’t behave like the rest of the players and until he does, and shows the rest of the players some respect, he won’t feature.” Three weeks later, after an unblemished week of training, Ranger was selected again for the visit of Coventry - Although Cooper was uncertain of his selection until late in the week, commenting that “we’re just trying to get him to behave like a normal human being and get the best out of him.”
After helping the Town to a 2-1 win over the Sky Blues, Ranger appeared at Brentford on Boxing Day, just 24 hours after writing off his car in an accident - the following day though, he missed training yet again, and though Cooper described him as “a tremendous talent”, it appeared that Ranger’s days at the County Ground were numbered. Over the New Year period, chairman Lee Power confirmed that he would be meeting with Ranger’s representatives to discuss termination of his contract - stating that Ranger had “had more lives than a cattery”, and though they had tried to nurture his obvious talent, he had to do what was best for the club, and “unfortunately, what’s best for the club is to sit down with Nile and talk about parting ways.”
It was somewhat of a surprise therefore when Ranger was selected again in mid-January, and he netted the Town’s opening goal in a 2-1 victory over Peterborough - after the game, it was confirmed that Ranger had apologised to the squad for his antics - boss Cooper confirming that the players had been consulted on whether they wanted to give him another chance - and though they told Ranger that they felt let down by him, they decided they were a better team with him in it. Cooper himself seemed sceptical, commenting that “words are cheap, and I’ve heard it before from Nile”, also confirming that he had taken advice from Premier League managers before deciding not to terminate his contract. Bizarrely, Ranger’s inclusion in the side also prompted the club to ban the Swindon Advertiser from reporting on games - after fan Daniel Hunt tweeted a picture of Ranger’s shirt in the dressing room while on a pre-match tour of the ground, Adver reporter Sam Morshead announced his return 45 minutes before the team sheets were handed in - the club deciding to place an embargo on the newspaper as a result, despite Ranger also announcing his return on social media platform Instagram.
As it was, Ranger went on his longest run in the squad - his off-field antics a direct contrast to his on-field play, where he had an immaculate record - not picking up a single booking during his time at the County Ground. Though illness prevented him from starting against Shrewsbury at the end of the month, he came off the bench to net an 89th minute goal to put the Town ahead in an eventual 3-1 win, which he soon followed up with back-to-back goals against Peterborough and Port Vale in early February.
Just a week later though, Ranger was arrested for a breach of his bail conditions - having been caught at a nightclub in Newcastle in the early hours of the morning, three days before the Town were due to play Colchester. The club soon released a statement, stating that Ranger had been given time off to consult with his legal counsel, and that he had not been found to be in breach of the conditions of his bail, making him available for the Colchester game - but though he started the game, he hobbled off just before half time, a scan later revealing that he had sustained a grade three hamstring tear, which would take between eight and twelve weeks to heal, likely keeping him out for the rest of the season.
Soon after, Ranger’s rape trial began - after seven days of evidence, the jury took one hour to acquit him - but within the week, it was revealed that talks were planned to discuss Ranger’s future at the County Ground, with Cooper suggesting that exercising the option to extend his stay may not be in the club’s best interests, considering the disruption he had caused, despite describing him as “the best striker in the league.” Days later, Cooper’s point was proven further when Ranger was again arrested, this time on a drink-drive charge, after being caught asleep in his car on the M4 motorway - a charge that he was eventually cleared of - but before the month was out, he was in trouble with the law yet again, for criminal damage to a taxi in Liverpool, after he claimed the driver called him a rapist. Ranger was fined £1000, and ordered to pay compensation to the taxi driver.
The final straw came in late April, when CCTV footage emerged in the Sunday Mirror of Ranger kicking down the communal front door to his block of flats in Swindon - the video also appearing to show him striking a woman who was with him three times. Though he faced no charges for the assault as no complaint was made, he was charged with causing criminal damage worth £2000, for which he was eventually fined, despite pleading not guilty. After 68% of respondents to an online poll in the Swindon Advertiser called for Ranger to be sacked, it was announced in early May that Ranger’s contract had been terminated with immediate effect - with Ranger commenting that he had enjoyed his time at STFC on social media, writing “not one bad thing to say about Swindon Football Club… bent over backwards for me… good club!!! Thanks!”, and later claiming that his off-field issues were now sorted, and that there would have been more to come from him had he stayed.
date of birth