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Rangers Sean Graham

Sandy Jardine a tribute

Sometimes the word legend is used to freely in the modern game but last night we lost a true legend, when the news of Sandy Jardine’s passing reached the football world.

It was with great sadness that I heard the news that Rangers legend Sandy Jardine passed away.

He was not only one of the most gifted footballers to grace the Scottish game but he was a true gentleman in every sense of the word.


Sandy will be remembered by everyone who came in contact with through his playing career or even by his behind the scenes work at Ibrox when he was only too happy to show off the fantastic facilities at Murray Park to fans and ex-players who had been allowed to see it.

My sister in law broke the news to me and left me numb and lost for words as I had just been talking about Sandy with two former work colleges at a junior match the previous night.

She remembered being shown around Murray Park by Sandy and she remembered Sandy as a lovely man and a gentleman and anyone who had the pleasure of meeting him or chatting to him on the phone would tell you the same.

Sandy made his debut for Rangers aged eighteen, a week after the club was knocked out the Scottish Cup by Berwick Rangers on 4 February 1967.

Sandy started the 5–1 league win at home to his boy-hood heroes Hearts at centre-back. He scored his first Rangers goal on 18 March 1967 in a league match against Ayr United, that same season; he started the 1967 European Cup Winners Cup Final.

He played in various defensive positions as he became a regular under manager Davie White, even as a centre-forward, before finally settling as a right full-back at the start of the 1970-71 season. His first major trophy was at this position in the 1970 Scottish League Cup Final. The position was where he made the bulk of his 674 appearances for the club.

He also was right full-back in the famous team which won the 1972 European Cup Winners Cup Final, playing in all eight matches en route to the final and scoring the first goal of a 2–0 win over Bayern Munich in the semi-final.

He was capped 38 times by Scotland, making his debut as a substitute for Davie Hay on 11 November 1970 against Denmark.

Sandy’s first start was in October 1971 in a European Championship qualifier win over Portugal. He played in all three group matches during the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany where he and Celtic's Danny McGrain would be voted the best pair of fullbacks in the competition. He also played made one appearances, against Iran during the 1978 World Cup finals.

Sandy captained his country on nine occasions scoring his only goal for Scotland against Wales in 1974.

For both club and country, Sandy Jardine was a football legend but his work and loyalty to Rangers when the club had almost been on its knees, shows the kind of commitment that he has and what this club means to not only Sandy but millions of Rangers fans all over the world.

Sandy has stood up to be counted when it mattered and I am sure that Ally McCoist loved having a legend like Sandy at the club in their hour of need and to just have him around the place would indeed be special.

He has gone from the boy who came in to clean the boots, to club legend and almost shop steward all rolled into one!

Sandy was loved and respected by everyone but perhaps one of Sandy’s biggest fans was Robert Marshall.

On many a match-day, I often have a chat with Robert who is the owner of the Greatest Rangers pub in the world, the Louden Tavern.

On this particular day, I remember going over to buy the latest issue of WATP and the big man was so proud that he had a two part interview with Sandy in the magazine; Sandy was not only his hero but his pal too.

I stood and listened to Robert but as I did, I watched the pride in his face as he started to tell me about the article and the interview in depth and why he thought Sandy could play in any team in the world, this was how good Sandy was, and as usual the big man was right!

Robert was the first person I thought of after Sandy's family, as I knew just what this news would mean to him and the Rangers family.

You could see what Sandy meant to Robert and the Rangers family all around the world and speaking to him myself, I could hear first-hand what an honest, humble human being he was, it was no wonder guys like Robert and I felt good after speaking to such a down to earth guy.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Sandy to do an interview and it was nothing but an honour to sit and listen to everything he had to say about his career, the highs of signing for Rangers, winning the Cup Winners Cup in 1972, to the lows of the Ibrox disaster.

The memory of that chat will live with me forever and today, in tribute to Sandy, I would like to share that interview with you.

Going to a club like Rangers was a big step for you in your career what was that like as a youngster to be signing for one of the biggest clubs around?

“It was one of those ones, you never expected it but it was a fantastic opportunity for me and it was brilliant.”

You made your debut as an 18 year old after the club famously lost in the Scottish Cup to Berwick Rangers, how did you handle coming into the team at such a difficult time for the club?

“What happened was, when I went to Rangers at 15, I was on the ground staff and I trained there but also cleaned the boots for a year and still played with a juvenile team until the age of 16 and then I got called up and started to play with the third team. After Berwick, it was the biggest shock defeat that we had in our history but after that I was lucky to make my debut for the club and that started me off in the first team.”

You played in various positions for the club even as a centre forward before Willie Waddell converted you into a full back and the rest as they say is history but was playing in defence always your favoured position?

“Believe it or not, when I first started to play organised football for my school, I was outside right, a dashing right winger and then when I went to Secondary School, I became an inside forward, a kind of striker role.

I went to Rangers as a forward and believe it or not when I first started to play for Rangers in the third team, I played double centre-half and then I progressed to mid-field when I started with the Reserves, I got into the first team as a mid-field player and then in the early years I played quite a few positions, sweeper, midfield, forward and then I moved to full back and basically stayed at full back until the latter stage of my career when I moved back to double centre half.”

“Come to think of it, yes I did play in goals for Hearts also when Henry Smith got injured in one game I played for about an hour so you can say that I have played in most positions on a football field.”

 

In the same season as the loss at Berwick you played in a European Final v Bayern Munich, how was that experience?

“To be honest, I was very lucky that when I came into the Rangers team, they were already playing very well and they had got to the quarter finals of the Cup Winners Cup.

My first European game was against Zaragoza and we beat them and progressed to the semi-final where we played Slavia Prague and again we beat them.

We got to the final against Bayern Munich and it was like a dream for me but I was too young to really appreciate it, I was only 18 and didn’t really know the importance of it what so ever, I was just happy to play.”

Losing must have been a bitter pill to swallow but did it make matters worse that your great rivals had won the European Cup in the same year?

“To be honest, I watched a DVD of the match recently and we pulverised Bayern but just couldn’t get a goal and they scored in extra-time. The game was in Nuremburg which is only 50 miles away from Munich so it was like a home game for them but we were by far the better team but just couldn’t get a goal but it was still a fantastic experience.”

“Those early days were the golden days of Scottish football. My first five I played in two European finals, a semi-final of the old Fairs Cup and a quarter final of the Cup Winners Cup and a quarter final of a European Cup.”

“It wasn’t just Rangers doing well, Celtic had been doing well, Kilmarnock, Dundee and Dunfermline also did well, and you could say that Scottish football was on a high at that moment in time.”

In 1972, Glasgow Rangers went on a European run that would eventually end in the greatest moment in the club’s history when they lifted the trophy in Barcelona but on route to lifting the trophy you would gain some revenge on Bayern Munich beating them in the Cup Winners Cup semi-final with you scoring a crucial goal in a win over the Germans, what can you remember about that night at Ibrox?

“By then Bayern Munich were not just a good team they were a fantastic team and most of their team when we beat them went on to win the World Cup with Germany and Bayern actually went on to win three European Cups.

With regards to the game over there, well you know the statement, we never got out of our own half, well we were under so much pressure in the first half that we never got out of our own 18 yard box, never mind our own half!

Going to one European Final was amazing but going to your second European final must have been fantastic?

“At Rangers and Celtic, you are always measured against each other and with Celtic already having won a European trophy, they always had a kind of one up man ship, so for our part it was great, not just for the club but for the supporters too and it even it up a bit and to achieve it was a great experience and a wonderful achievement for everybody.”

Did you learn any lessons from your previous experience in Nuremberg?

“People say that we learned lessons from it but I think we were really unfortunate to lose the final against Bayern in 67, so it wasn’t a case of lessons learned, we dominated the game but couldn’t get a goal.

I think we realised after the game that Cup Winners Cup finals don’t come around every day and for myself, Davie Smith, Willie Johnston and John Greig we knew how important this was to the club and you might never get this chance again so we had to take it.

When you see the teams that we had beaten on our run to the final, every one of them had real quality, as I said before we knew what it would mean to everyone to win the trophy, any team who wins a European trophy gets iconic status, we had a determined team in 72 that wanted to do well and bring European success to everyone at Rangers Football Club.

On the final whistle, did you think it was a mixture of joy and relief which brought the fans on to the pitch?

“We didn’t see the problems but it was really heavy handed by the police when the supporters came on the park. It was a joyous occasion winning a European trophy just as it was in 67 when Celtic won the European Cup.”

“Unfortunately we had very heavy handed police who started to draw batons and started to hit people and it just developed into a fight to be honest and by then we were down the tunnel and didn’t see anything, it was only later that they had come in and told us there was a kind of riot and so we got presented with the trophy inside the stadium, in fact it wasn’t us who got it, John Greig had to go along to the board room to accept it and came back along to the dressing room with it, which was disappointing.”

Did this spoil the achievement of the players actually winning the trophy?

“Yes! I would have to say to be honest and say it did! When you win anything in Glasgow or in Scotland, you are allowed to parade the cup, even if it is only a quick wave and then you go off the park. It would have been nice to have been able to run round the park and take a bow and also salute our supporters.”

“It was not just achievement for the players and management, this was the end of a journey for the supporters and the team and we wanted to share it with them and we never got the chance to do that but at the end of the day it was still a fantastic achievement.”

This was one of the greatest days in the history of Rangers football club but only a year earlier the club faced one of its darkest days on 2nd January 1971 when 66 fans died on stairway 13 after the traditional New Year derby with Celtic, can you tell me what that was like and how did everyone cope after such a tragic event?

The game itself was quite a scrappy Old Firm game, although it was still quite competitive as you would expect, Celtic scored with about a minute to go and we centred the ball and booted it up the park and then we equalised and then the referee blew for full-time and the game was over.”

We came off the park and went straight into the dressing room, now in Old Firm games; if you haven’t lost the game you are normally reasonably happy.”

“We were sitting in the dressing room while a police man came in and said the players had to get changed as quickly as possible as they needed the dressing room.”

“We didn’t know what was happening so we started to get ready and I was one of the last ones out. The police said that there had been an accident and could the players move quickly and by the time I was tying my laces, they started to bring bodies in to the dressing room.”

“Before I left, I went down to the pitch and a mist started to descend but I could see lots of bodies on the pitch and lots of ambulances and then you knew it was going to be bad but you didn’t know just how bad it was going to be until the next day when the full consequences of what had happened materialised.”

“What people didn’t understand was as a football club we closed down for about a fortnight and Willie Waddell was fantastic as manager of the club at the time and to have to deal with something like this also.”

“He organised the players into groups and we went to every funeral (I think I attended about 12 of them) which was more or less the same as the rest of the players who also went to see people who were injured, there was about 4 or 5 hundred people in hospital also, so it was quite a traumatic time for everyone at the club, the supporters, the players, the management and obviously the people who had lost loved ones in the tragedy”

“No one will ever forget those who died that day and obviously John (Greig) and I go to leave a tribute at the statue every 1st of January”

“Celtic as a club were fantastic! Rangers and Celtic got together and we had a select team who played against Scotland and I think that we got a crowd of 67,000 to help raise funds for the families and Celtic as a club were very supportive of us during that time but not just the club, the Celtic supporters as well and I think that brought the clubs that bit closer together because of that.”

Both sides of the Old Firm have idiots but the vast majority of the supporters are good supporters- As the old saying goes, “There for the grace of God go I”

How did you feel leaving Rangers as a player?

“I have to be honest and say there was a wee lump in my throat!”

“I had gone to Ibrox and played for 18 years since I was a boy when I was 15, so it was a huge part of my life, it was the only thing that I had ever known.”

“Being there for that length of time you become very emotional and very attached to the club and that is why I said I had a lump in my throat when I left but it was a good thing in a way because I was going to play for the team that I supported since I was a boy.”

“It was always an big ambition of mine to play for Hearts but at that time it was my first step into management as I went there as player-assistant manager, so even though I was sad at leaving Rangers, I was looking to the future and hopeful that I could help try to lift the fortunes of Hearts and looking forward to having a new career with Alex MacDonald.”

“Alex and I basically thought that when we joined that we would give it our best shot.

Hearts were in the old First Division and eventually we got better and better.

“In the six seasons that I was there we qualified for Europe 4 times and got the club to first or second in the league so it was great progress and because it was successful it was very, very enjoyable as well.”

You joined Hearts in 1982 and were part of an exciting Hearts side which almost won the League and Cup double back in 1986 but missed out on the last day of the season losing the league to Celtic and then losing the Scottish Cup to Aberdeen, do you think the players could not lift themselves after losing the League so dramatically the week before and that had an effect on the mentally of the players as they went into the Cup Final?

“It did! We were very, very unfortunate in many ways losing the league the way in which we did but in saying that, you have to recognise that Celtic put in a fantastic push at the end of the season and they probably went 12 or 13 games undefeated and won every game.

We went into the last game and wee bits of luck didn’t go our way with players coming down with flu on the day of the game.”

Four players went down with a viral flu on the day of the match, big Craig Levein couldn't play, Kenny Black, Brian Whittaker, Ian Jardine so the team got disrupted and we should have got a penalty in the very first minute when the Referee (Abercrombie, who was an Edinburgh Referee), went the other way but he admitted later on that he had made a mistake, all these wee things went against us.

The big thing for me is, when you are in football or are involved in football, you can't win everything but what was sad for me was at Rangers and Celtic, you are expected to win things and you will win things but with all due respect, when you are at a club like Hearts you might never get in that position again to almost lift the league championship and that was how it transpired.

A lot of these players at that time with the club never got a medal. If you look at John Robertson, Gary MacKay and Craig Levein, I don't think they won a medal and that was such a golden opportunity for what they put in and never managed to achieve winning something, I felt very sad for them because of that.

But that is life! You take the good with the bad and you have just got to move on but it is one of the worst feelings that I have ever experienced as a footballer to lose it like that and not just the league but to lose the cup also.

We played Aberdeen the following week in the Scottish Cup and things went against us and on that day we got beat 3-0 as well, it was a hard week to take I'll tell you!

How does playing in and Old Firm derby compare with playing in an Edinburgh derby?

They don't! I am not being disrespectful to an Edinburgh derby but nothing compares to Rangers and Celtic game, nothing and I mean nothing!

I have seen many derbies all over the world but nothing comes close!

I haven't seen South American derbies so far and they say that they are something special but nothing comes close to a Rangers v Celtic derby!

As a result of your fantastic club form at Rangers, you also represented your country and where recently voted in the Greatest Ever Scotland team, these achievements must have made you proud and how did it feel to represent your country at the World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978?

I was proud! When you see the quality of the players that were not included and then you see the players who are included, I think there were 24, so to achieve that it makes you feel very, very proud indeed.

I went to Germany and I went to Argentina for two World Cups.

The most enjoyable was beating Czechoslovakia at Hampden and going to the 74 World Cup and we had a really, really good team but again we ran out of luck in the sense that we were undefeated, I think we only lost out on goal difference maybe only one we went out by but I am sure if we qualified, we would have got better as the tournament went on, not saying we would have won it by any means but I think we would have done quite well and we would have grown into the tournament as they say.

Looking back on your fantastic career Sandy, what have been the highlights for you?

I have been very fortunate, I have been very lucky in my playing career and to be honest, I left football and went to Scottish Brewers for seven years and what I did was, I became the commercial manager, they were great years and they helped me immensely on the business sense and but I ran a McEwan’s Lager sponsorship for six years and then I came back to the commercial side to Rangers and it's been fantastic, couldn't ask for better.

When you walked back through those doors to work for Rangers, how did that feel?

You always do, you never take that for granted, one of the things that I do in my job is look after the club's archives and trophy room and things like that so you fully understand how important it is to a lot of people and how big a deal it is.

So many of our supporters have never been through that front door and it is such a thrill to walk in and see the marble staircase and look up and see the Hall of Fame and the trophy room and things like that, we are very fortunate that I think we have one of the most unique stadiums in the world in the sense that we marry the tradition and you go inside and its state of the art, there are a lot of fantastic stadium's but none of them have got the mix that we have got.

There has always been talk about a museum but a lot of it is maybe naive as museums don't make an awful lot of money for a big capital investment, what people tend to forget is in many ways Ibrox Stadium is a museum because what it is the Main Stand at Ibrox is a listed building and what we have got there is the Blue room, the manager's room, the trophy room, Ibrox in itself is a museum.

Sandy may have been a boyhood Hearts fan and joined the club after his time at Rangers and even won the Scottish Player of the Year award at the age of 37 due to his high standard of performances for the Tynecastle club, but once he walked through those doors at Ibrox and walked up the marble staircase as a kid to sign for Rangers, he became a Ranger and the saying once a Ranger, always a Ranger was so true in the case of Sandy Jardine.


He stayed loyal to the club and the cause through everything, even when the chips were down and the club went through their darkest days in recent seasons, the march to Hampden was living proof that he had this club's best interests at heart and along with thousands of Rangers supporters took to the streets in protest at the sanctions the powers that be at Hampden laid down on their club, they may not have won that particular fight but the club went to the Third Division, took their punishment and have started the climb back to the top.

The fans will never forget the role that Sandy played both on and off the field at Rangers.

Tomorrow should have been a day of celebration for the Rangers family, the presentation of another title but instead, it will be a place full of emotion as the Rangers family and Scottish football have lost one of the best full backs this county and indeed the world has ever seen, not only that Sandy was a true gentleman and humble man in every sense of the word and a fantastic human being, he will be a huge loss to his family and to all who knew him.

Perhaps Ibrox will rise as one tomorrow in the second minute to pay tribute

To a true legend and one of the finest players to wear the Rangers jersey, a man who played football in the way it should be played, attacking, entertaining and enjoyable.

There may well be a tear or two in the Blue sea of Ibrox tomorrow

Thoughts and prayers go out to Sandy’s family, friends and former team-mates, may God be with you all at this sad time.

God Bless you Sandy, a legend till the end


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."

 

2 Comments

excellent, had a tear in my eye reading it. keep up the good work.

– Andy Main, April 29 2014 at 11:09

Thank you Andy for that comment, very much appreciated. It was difficult to write as Sandy was such a gem of a guy and a legend in Scottish football and will be sadly missed.

– Sean Graham, May 5 2014 at 19:40

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