Rangers and the Scottish Cup: The Hoodoo

By Ayrshire Billy Boy
Last updated : 07 April 2007
When this limited study of Rangers and the Scottish Cup left off at the end of the first instalment of the Hoodoo Years, the cup itself was left, metaphorically speaking, somewhere in limbo land. With the trophy not being presented in 1909 due to the events that followed the final, the tournament of 1909/10 presented Rangers something of an opportunity to perhaps start anew with a trophy that was proving to be ever more elusive. Sadly, their attempts to lift the cup proved to be increasingly forlorn.

Be that as it may, the draw for the opening round of the cup of 1909/10 gave a Rangers a potential trip to the Highlands to play Inverness Thistle. However, in an age where common sense was more prevalent than today, the hosts were permitted the option of transferring the game to Glasgow for a financial compensation, rather than being forced to play it in a ludicrous setting like Dundee, as was the case for another Inverness team for a tie against Rangers in 1996.

Therefore, on Saturday 22nd January 1910, 7,000 turned up at Ibrox (including a fair number who had travelled south in the hope of seeing a shock) to watch Rangers eventually triumph 3-1. The visitors actually held Rangers at bay and acquitted themselves with honour for fully 30 minutes before Tommy Gilchrist opened the scoring. John May added a second just before half-time and Willie Reid put the game beyond all doubt in the second half. The Highlanders were far from disgraced, however, and netted a well deserved consolation just before the end. Rangers, though, thought they were off and running; but with it being the Scottish Cup, the campaign was over just as it had begun.

The draw produced a Glasgow derby, sending Rangers to face Clyde at Shawfield with the game taking place on Saturday February 5th. The importance Rangers placed on this game was evident with the team preparing for the game in a base at Troon. William Wilton, unusually for the time, said in the press that Clyde could not be taken lightly, although perhaps in a display of over-confidence, Herbert Lock predicted beforehand that Rangers would get at least a draw. A picture of the players relaxing in the build-up to the game are shown below.

Despite Wilton's caution and Lock's confidence, Rangers faltered in their efforts to progress. 30,000 watched in a torrential downpour as Rangers slumped to a 2-0 defeat. It was a game Rangers appear just not to have competed in, despite going in on equal terms at the interval. Clyde, however, appear to have always had the upper hand in the game and could afford the luxury of a missed 15th minute penalty. Goals in the 58th and 68th minute, though, extended Rangers' run of not winning the trophy to 7 seasons.

As the world moved closer and closer to war in 1910, Rangers, it seemed, moved further and further away from lifting the Scottish Cup. Confidence was high at Ibrox during the season of 1910/11, however, as Rangers secured the league title. The cup, sadly, was another matter.

A nonetheless healthy attendance of 40,000 paid in at Ibrox on Saturday January 28th 1911 to witness, according to contemporary reports, a disappointing game. As far as Rangers were concerned, though, the 2-1 win over Kilmarnock mattered more than anything else.

Billy Hogg opened the scoring on 6 minutes with, again using the descriptions of contemporary sportswriters, a beautiful goal. Kilmarnock ensured parity at the break with an equaliser on the half-hour mark. Rangers' progress, though, was ensured on 59 minutes with Alec Bennett scoring, according to Lock, the Rangers goalkeeper, the best of the three. It is interesting to note that without actually referring to a jinx, those with Rangers at heart were beginning to exhibit some anxiety at their inability to go all the way in the Cup with several of Herbert Lock's articles of the time expressing something of a determination to exorcise their cup demons.

Lock himself said that the draw for the next round which sent Rangers to Cappielow to face Morton held no fears for his team-mates; and such was the grip the Cup had on those with an Ibrox persuasion that John Ure Primrose publicly expressed a hope that Rangers won the trophy.

In a curious advert of the times, Morton announced plans to dispense with the boys' gate for the game; then promptly surrendered home advantage to Rangers, claiming an inability to cope with the expected crowd. Therefore, 40,000, including an estimated 18,000 from Greenock, assembled on the slopes of Ibrox on Saturday February 11th 1911 and watched Rangers progress easily to the tune of a 3-0 win.

The legendary Jimmy Bowie headed in the opener on 8 minutes and Willie Reid doubled the advantage on 44 minutes. Reid completed the scoring 6 minutes before the end after being set up by Bowie. Rangers' triumph, though, was slightly marred by the ordering to the pavilion of Jimmy Galt on 87 minutes.

With progress thus secured and confidence growing, a very impressive travelling support of over 2,000 followed Rangers to Dens Park on February 25th for the quarter-final boosting the crowd to 30,000. Again, sadly, they undertook the long journey home having seen their team defeated in the Scottish Cup.

It had been noted by several that Rangers' second half performances of the season had produced results more often than not. Perhaps rather misguidedly, on account of this, the Captain George Chapman elected to start the game playing up the slope and against a stiff breeze. This tactic, though, did appear to be paying dividends on 19 minutes after Willie Hogg took the goalkeeper by surprise with a long rage effort that bounced over him. It was a short-lived and ultimately fruitless advantage, sadly, as the hosts equalised on 34 minutes and three minutes later scored what proved to be the winner, ending Rangers' Scottish Cup dreams for yet another season.

As the Cup's absence from Ibrox rapidly approached a decade, Rangers ironically were doing well in the league. 1911/12 was another example of a title-winning Rangers team being unable to transplant that form into the Cup. Indeed, doubts were evident of their chances to win the trophy after the first game of that season against Stenhousemuir at Ibrox on Saturday January 27th.

A rather small crowd of 7,500 were present and watched Rangers toil from the outset. A shock was even more on the cards as the visitors took a first half lead and forced Herbert Lock into a string of excellent saves. James Peterson, though, calmed some nerves on the 60 minutes mark with an equaliser. Sadly, descriptions of Rangers' second and third goals have thus far proven to be elusive, save to say that Paterson was credited with a second and Willie Reid with the third to ensure progress by virtue of a 3-1 win.

Another Glasgow derby awaited Rangers in the next round with another trip to Shawfield beckoning. Almost incomprehensibly to the modern mind, Clyde's ground had been equipped to host a crowd of 60,000 for this game. In the event, a 'mere' 52,000 attended on Saturday February 10th and witnessed what must be described as a day that was not one of Rangers' finest on or off the park.

Events that are less than palatable to a supporter of a team must, nonetheless, be examined and noted if an accurate account is to be portrayed, even in an account such as this one which would not even be considered at amateur level. Therefore, the only conclusion the observer can arrive at is that on the park, the team performed dreadfully to go down 2-0 after 30 minutes; and off it the contemporary supporters did themselves little favours with what was obviously a blatant attempt to have the game abandoned with a pitch invasion after 76 minutes. Having little option, the Rangers board waived the right to a replay unanimously.

While no excuse is being offered for the reasons for the game being abandoned, it is worth noting that the concept of 'Wan Guay' is not a particularly new one among the Celtic minded. The letters that poured into the Daily Record all came from people who seemed to have been in every possible corner of Glasgow and who each heard gangs of Rangers fans plotting to invade the park if things were not going to plan. The fact that so many letter writers each heard identical things in various parts of the city cannot help but lead the reader to the conclusion that, to be blunt, the Yahoos were as full of crap then as they are now and that very little has changed in the best part of the last century. Be that as it may, Rangers' attempts to lift the trophy were consigned to history for another season.

In season 1912/13, we reach what was probably the deepest point of the hoodoo. Rangers were displaying an inability to even reach a semi-final with this season proving to be little different.

Their opening tie of this competition sent them to Lanarkshire to face Hamilton Academical in front of 12,000 on Saturday February 8th. Willie Reid scored the opener on 18 minutes, a classic striker's goal of awareness and touch. Rangers then lost Jimmy Bowie who had dislocated his shoulder. The hosts equalised before half time and had the better of the second half although Rangers' defence held firm to ensure a replay at Ibrox which took place the following week.

37,000, a lot of whom could not see because of fog, were at Ibrox on February 15th. Jack Goodwin scored just before half time and Robert Parker sealed things with a penalty on 70 minutes. Rangers would then face another home tie, this time against Falkirk.

It has to be said there were many predictions that the least Falkirk would get at Ibrox would be a draw. That in itself proved to be pessimistic from the visitors' point of view, as, in front of an astonished crowd of 48,000, Falkirk stormed into an amazing 3-0 lead before the interval. With goals on the 15, 30 and 43 minutes marks, the tie was as good as over. Robert Parker's goal midway through the second half meant very little and Falkirk marched on as Rangers' length of time without the Scottish Cup reached into double figures of years.

The last Scottish Cup before the outbreak of World War One began as far as Rangers were concerned on Saturday February 7th 1914 at home to Alloa. 8,000 watched the Glasgow club take a 1-0 half time advantage thanks to a goal from Stewart and second half goals from A. Brown, Jimmy Bowie and a brace from Stwart to give himself a hat-trick ensure an eventless progress. The next tie sent Rangers to Easter Road a fortnight later.

The Leith ground hosted a 35,000 gate, including one Hibs supporter who had promised the princely sum of £1 to each Hibs player who scored. In the event he would have been £2 out of pocket as a Willie Reid goal on 15 minutes was cancelled out just before half time and deemed meaningless with the hosts' winner just after.

Therefore 11 seasons had elapsed since Rangers last got their hands on the Scottish Cup. Thoughts of these were put to the back, however, as the inevitable war that engulfed the world after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June of 1914 broke out. As the lights went out all over Europe, it is perhaps fitting our humble look at Rangers in the Scottish Cup fades away as well.

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