Rangers and the Scottish Cup 1933/34 to 1935/36
Feature by Ayrshire Billy Boy
Updated Saturday, 21st April 2007
The first three-in-a-row (part 2)
Season 1934/35 was progressing nicely for Rangers when the Scottish Cup began in January. They were on course for another title - and hence another Double - and Jimmy Bowie had been appointed Chairman at the beginning of the year. Sadly, though, two days before the defence of the Cup got underway on 26th January 1935 two giants of Rangers' past in Jacky Robertson and Jock Drummond both passed away, severing a link Rangers of the 1930s had with the very early days. However, Rangers went on and welcomed Cowdenbeath to Ibrox for round one. Debutising for Rangers was a Welshman by the name of Sammy Roberts who had arrived at Ibrox via Newry Town, surely being unique in the respect that he was a non-native of Ulster or Ireland when he moved to Rangers.
Cowdenbeath, in front of 16,000 fans, gave Rangers several anxious moments in the first half until Torry Gillick, in the 27th minute, trapped a centre by the Welsh debutant and quickly shot home. One minute later Bobby Main half-volleyed another Roberts cross into the goal. The interval came and went with no further goals; then in the 72nd minute, the Fifers pulled one back. Sixty seconds, however, was all Rangers needed to restore their two-goal advantage as Gillick scored from yet another Roberts cross. The 3-1 lead was enough to see Rangers progress into round two. As a matter of interest, other ties in round one such as East Fife v Clyde and St Johnstone v Arbroath both pulled in more fans than the 5,000 that turned up at Parkhead for Celtic's win over Montrose.
Rangers were given a Glasgow derby in round two, the second division leaders Third Lanark making the trip across the city. Thirds were confident in their ability to spring a surprise and attracted a healthy attendance of 25,000 on Saturday February 9th. A methodical performance by Rangers, however, saw them comfortably into the next round. In the 16th minute Jimmy Smith appeared 'from nowhere' and swept the ball into the goal as the goalkeeper was in the process of picking it up. In the 53rd minute Smith secured Rangers' passage with a penalty after Roberts had been tripped. Rangers were then given another home game against a team from close by, St Mirren being sent to Ibrox.
The following Saturday Rangers lost another colossal figure of their history, Thomas Vallance dying at the age of 78 and leaving Moses McNeil as the sole surviving member of Rangers' founders. There was also talk in the press of Rangers undertaking a tour of Russia in order to boost the football scene there but the trip never materialised.
St Mirren, though, made their own journey to Ibrox on Saturday February 23rd. 42,000 watched a very scrappy game that took only one goal to decide it, Torry Gillick racing away from the defence in the 44th minute to score. While St Mirren battled gamely in the second half Rangers were never really put under any real pressure and saw the game out to triumph by that single goal. Their reward for doing so was a highly intriguing and potentially very tough game away to Motherwell. Three days before the main event, Motherwell's Second XI had triumphed over their Rangers counterparts in the Second XI trophy while the press were mentioning Rangers' apparent inability to score goals while, paradoxically, still being able to win games. Therefore, there were many who were expecting a home win when Rangers visited Fir Park on Saturday March 9th.
Despite the predictions beforehand of a Motherwell win, the 29,700 present watched a phenomenal Rangers performance with Davie Meiklejohn in particular in magnificent form. Rangers got off to a perfect early start with a goal on 11 minutes, Jimmy Smith heading in a Bobby Main cross. An image of the moment is included below.
Motherwell restored parity on 17 minutes; however, 60 seconds later Smith scored again for Rangers, winning possession in the box and finding a yard of space for himself to restore Rangers' advantage. The score remained the same until the interval.
Rangers went on the offensive immediately after the restart and took the game to their hosts, who in turn responded with some very fluent football of their own ensuring a captivating game. Rangers, though, eased further ahead on 75 minutes as Smith broke the offside trap and ran onto a long diagonal ball to race towards goal and scored with a powerful shot giving Rangers a 3-1 lead and himself a hat-trick into the bargain. Two minutes later the same player scored the game's last goal as he, while facing away from goal, cleverly hooked a Bobby Main cross over his shoulder and into the goal. With a 4-1 win at a team of the calibre of Motherwell, Rangers were confident of retaining the Cup but were given a strenuous task if they were to do so, being drawn to play Hearts in the semi-final at Hampden, Aberdeen facing Hamilton Academical at Parkhead in the other game.
The Rangers - Hearts game had captured the imagination of the public, with tickets worth a guinea being sold for £4 on the black market. In the event, a massive 102,661 assembled on Hampden's famous slopes to witness a titanic footballing encounter. Jerry Dawson in particular in the Rangers goal was in exceptional form as he kept the Hearts forwards at bay in a game that developed into a straightforward battle between Hearts' forwards and Rangers' defence. Rangers, however, mounted a breakaway on 41 minutes with Torry Gillick accepting a pass from Bobby Main and driving further forward before shooting home and giving Rangers a 1-0 interval lead. Hearts, though, deservedly equalised on 55 minutes and the game then developed into a classic encounter right up until the final whistle.
With the teams being unable to separate themselves a replay was in order to determine who would met Hamilton in the Final, they having disposed of Aberdeen by a 2-1 scoreline in front of 31,924. Separating the two Rangers - Hearts tussles was the Scotland - England encounter at Hampden on April 6th. Three Rangers players, Bob McPhail, George Brown and Jimmy Simpson helped their country to a 2-0 win over England then turned their attention to Club matters, the replay taking place on Wednesday 10th April.
Despite the midweek scheduling of the fixture and a 4-45pm kick-off time, a remarkable crowd of 90,428 were at Hampden to see yet another marvellous encounter between two exceptional teams. The sides were still level on 0-0 at half-time; but remained so for just six minutes of the second period. Bob McPhail scored on 51 minutes with a 25 yard free-kick while Dawson in the Rangers goal was again performing heroics to defy the Hearts attack.
Rangers made the decisive contribution in a game that was described as one of the best Scottish Cup semi-finals ever in the 73rd minute as a determined Rangers attack unsettled the Hearts defence allowing Bobby Main the opportunity to score from close range. Rangers held out for the remaining part of the game and savoured their eventual triumph although that was tempered slightly by the sight of a limping Meiklejohn who had been forced to leave the pitch on 65 minutes, then returned but was unable to contribute much to his team's endeavours. However, Rangers, three days later at Pittodrie, ensured celebrations at Ibrox by clinching the League by virtue of a 3-1 win.
The chance to do a successive Double for the first time in Rangers' history presented itself on Saturday April 20th 1935. 87,286 were at Hampden for the final and the Rangers fans present would have seen their team minus the figure of the injured David Meiklejohn, Bob McPhail debutising as Captain. Rangers were very much on top right from the beginning but spurned a chance to take an early lead when Bob McPhail saw his penalty saved after a foul on Alec Venters in the penalty area. The breakthrough, though, occurred on 37 minutes, Jimmy Smith redirecting a goalkeeping clearance back towards goal and over the line despite frantic efforts on behalf of the Hamilton team to clear. That remained the game's only goal until Hamilton produced an equaliser on 49 minutes. However, Rangers regained the lead on 61 minutes, Jimmy Smith heading in a Torry Gillick corner. From that moment, Rangers worked hard in defence and attack and thus secured the Club's first defence of the Scottish Cup for almost 40 years. The players and management are pictured below, James Bowie in possession of the trophy.