Rangers Change

Rangers Sean Graham

As the new season has just started and the live matches have now been picked for Sky Sports and BT Sport, I thought that I would share my memories for this article, from way back in 1981, so I hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane.

If I am going to be honest, I can take no credit for the idea for this article, the credit goes to my good friend Andy Main who just happened to mention on leaving the Louden Tavern after another visit with Mr Adam Nisbet, that he is going to the Airdrie v Rangers match this Friday, the match which is live on BT Sport.

Now this got me thinking, why not do something that connects my Airdrie fan friends ( Keith, Craig and Paul) with my Rangers fan friends ( loads ! but Andy, Adam, Tommy, Crawford, Alan to name but a few !)

My first reaction was to write this story on the match my Dad took me to all those years ago and one I still remember to this very day, the programme is here to prove it! (see image top right)

Back then, our usual routine was get the paper in the morning to plan which match that we would go to in the afternoon and then tell Mum which game we were off to and what time we would meet her at in the Berni Inn.
With this being a Scottish Cup weekend, we knew we could be struggling for a game as we looked at the fixtures Berwick Rangers v Celtic, Raith Rovers v Aberdeen, these were both just a little bit out of our range!

The other stand out fixtures were Partick Thistle v Clyde...(the other Glasgow Derby)...maybe or game of the day Airdrie v Rangers? We opted for the game of the day and headed for Broomfield, home of Airdrieonians for what promised to be a cracker of a game between Airdrie and Rangers.

Back then, loads of fans had traveled through to the matches by train and our train was full, packed with hoards of Rangers fans, all singing and dancing. Well maybe not and some drinking but generally on good behaviour and looking forward to this match. I remember as we got to the stadium and then as we got inside, just how crowded it was, the atmosphere was fantastic! We headed for a place where I could see all the action properly, now remember, I was just a wee boy and big crowds like this were just a little bit scary but it was exciting being there and being part of this fantastic atmosphere.

Broomfield was a special, unique little ground, with a distinctive little pavilion where the players went in and out of, it reminded me of a little house and I was always quite fascinated by it any time I went there. The atmosphere was building up nicely as the players came onto the pitch and over 16,000 fans gave the players from both sides a fantastic reception, this was built up as the match of the day and it was certainly shaping up that way. This was interesting for me as I had already seen Airdrie and Rangers share a 0-0 draw at Ibrox and I wondered how Airdrie would do against Rangers on their home turf.

John Greig had added Jim Bett and Colin McAdam to the squad that season, a squad that already featured Davie Cooper, Sandy Jardine, John MacDonald, Bobby Russell and Derek Johnstone. The season before they had famously lost the Scottish Cup final to Celtic 1-0, a game that would not be remembered for George McCluskey's winning goal but what happened afterwards.
Rangers wanted to start this Scottish Cup campaign with a bang and that they did! Airdrie did not know what hit them as Rangers blew them away as the Ibrox men romped to a 5-0 victory that day with goals from Derek Johnstone (2), Gregor Stevens, Ian Redford and Jim Bett among the goals as Rangers ran riot that day.

That day was so unreal compared to today's matches, fantastic atmosphere, affordable prices, we were able to walk up on the day of the match to get a ticket and we saw a great game of football and it wouldn't be the last time I would be at Broomfield either as Airdrie would get their own back on some of the big boys on more than one occasion! On the way home, I remember being lucky enough to get a seat and I had loads of Rangers fans round me and Dad as I listened to the Scottish Cup draw on my wee radio. As the draw came out I would recite it out to my Dad...that's Celtic got Stirling Albion.....never mind them one of the bears said ! Aberdeen got Morton...who cares another bear said...St.Johnstone play Rangers...a cheer then a song when up...

It would not be the last time the Rangers fans would be singing either!
After a 3-3 draw in Perth, Rangers beat the Saints 3-1 in the replay at Ibrox before beating Hibs in the quarter finals 3-1 and Morton 2-1 in the semi-final to set up a meeting with Dundee United in the final.

The final was not exactly a memorable one but perhaps the one bit of excitement came when Hamish McAlpine saved a last minute penalty from Rangers Ian Redford and the match ended goalless meaning both sides would have to return to Hampden for the replay and Rangers manager John Greig rang the changes that night, much to the relief of the young Rangers striker, John MacDonald who lived out every young schoolboy's dream that night of not only playing in a Scottish Cup final but scoring also.

"Myself and Coop were on the bench and Greigy fell out with Derek Johnstone at training on the Monday, I don’t know why he fell out with big DJ but he was left out on the Saturday also, big Derek said he had an argument in training with him and he just left him out, but he brought Derek back in as well, so three of us came back in for the replay and it was brilliant, it was a brilliant game winning 4-1 and scoring two goals as well was great, my only Scottish Cup winners medal, the other three were runners up! "

"It was fantastic! Coop scored the first one, Bobby Russell put us two up, they pulled one back and then I made a great run and Coop found me with a great pass and I just guided it past McAlpine into the net and the second one I didn’t know much about, Redford had played a long ball, I got to it before Narey and I have just toe poked it passed the keeper through his legs and it went in….I had a couple of shandies that night! "

Let's hope that on Friday night we see another great match between Airdrie and Rangers and I hope you enjoy it Andy, just remember and grab a programme if you get the chance for my collection, you never know, they may still be talking about the match in 20 years’ time if it's a classic , just enjoy your night mate you deserve it!

Sean Graham

Follow on Twitter @FeaturesSean

"I am just a guy who has over 40 years of memories of watching various clubs and matches since my Dad took me round the grounds in Glasgow each week before we went to meet my Mum after work and we always went to the Berni Inn where I had scampi and chips !

From watching Aberdeen, Celtic, Rangers, Partick Thistle, Maryhill juniors and Scotland as well as watching Everton and Manchester United, I have plenty of memories to share for fans to hopefully enjoy and remember."


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