The Grand Slam of 1929/30
Feature by Ayrshire Billy Boy
Updated Friday, 6th April 2007
Rangers then extended their lead at the top of the table in a Wednesday fixture at Tannadice. 8,000 saw the game decided by virtue of a Jimmy Fleming goal. Rangers also learned that day they would be at home to St Johnstone in the next round of the Scottish Cup. This was Rangers' 11th successive League win and helped establish a 6 point lead over Aberdeen at the top of the table.
This run came to an end at Ibrox the next Saturday as Rangers slumped to a 3-1 defeat to Hearts in front of a 10,000 crowd. However, given that six Rangers players were involved in Scotland's 3-1 win over Ireland in the international at Parkhead then that is maybe not so surprising. Bob McPhail netted Rangers' only goal. Aberdeen narrowed the gap at the top to four points with a 1-0 home win over St Johnstone.
The first day of March brought about more Scottish Cup action. Bill Struth was on record as saying he expected Montrose to give Rangers a stern task. With a 0-0 half-time score in front of 12,000 his words were correct with Montrose not allowing Rangers to settle into a rhythm at all. Alan Morton, though, broke the deadlock on 50 minutes shooting quickly following a free kick award. George Brown made it 2-0 on 70 minutes, shooting first time from a McPhail pass and Alan Morton rounded things off with a late penalty. Rangers' league ambitions were also helped with Aberdeen collapsing to a majorly surprising 5-1 loss at Ayr United. Rangers' Alliance team won 2-0 at Hearts leaving them 9 points clear of Aberdeen having played 25 out of 30 games, one more than their closest challengers.
Rangers made another trip to Hampden the following Tuesday, this time on League business to fulfil a fixture against Queens Park. 13,000 were in attendance as a Jimmy Fleming goal early on was quickly equalised by the hosts before Bob McPhail put Rangers back in front just before half-time. Doc Marshall sealed the win on 80 minutes leaving Rangers 6 points clear with two games in hand. The draw for the Scottish Cup semi-finals were made, Rangers to face Hearts at Hampden with Hamilton Academical meeting Partick Thistle at Parkhead in the other game.
Cowdenbeath were visitors to Ibrox on March 8th. Rangers turned in a far higher quality of performance from the last time the Fifers made the trip west. Doc Marshall and Bob McPhail scored before half time. McPhail again and a late double from Jimmy Fleming gave Rangers an easy 5-0 win before 12,000 fans leaving Rangers needing seven points from their remaining eight games. Aberdeen kept up what pressure they could by winning 4-3 at home to Kilmarnock and their Alliance XI delayed Rangers' celebrations in that respect by winning 3-1 at Hearts. Rangers were inactive in the league, instead progressing in the Second XI Cup by virtue of a 3-2 win at St Johnstone.
The next Saturday Rangers made the trip to Lanarkshire to face Hamilton Academical. A stunning early goal from Bob McPhail was countered by a late penalty ensuring a 1-1 draw, watched by 17,000. Aberdeen saw this as a faint glimmer of hope, cutting the gap by a point with a 1-0 win at Cowdenbeath. In the Alliance fixture at Ibrox against Hamilton, Rangers won 1-0 leaving them a tantalising two points from four games for the title.
At Hampden the Saturday following the trip to Hamilton, Rangers cruised into the Scottish Cup Final. A 4-1 beating of Hearts did not reflect Rangers' absolute superiority in every department. A huge crowd of 92,048 watched the rout begin on 21 minutes as Jimmy Fleming hit home a Doc Marshall pass. Bob McPhail, seven minutes later, made it 2-0 as he shot first time from a Sandy Archibald pass. Hearts interrupted the procession to the final briefly on 30 minutes but Fleming restored the two goal advantage on 33 minutes after beating the offside trap. The scoring was complete as early as the 35th minute when Fleming rounded off his hat-trick after his shot was fumbled into the goal by the keeper. The second half was a formality that produced no more goals. Jimmy Fleming is pictured in an attack on the Hearts goal.
Rangers then found out they would face Partick Thistle in the final due to their 3-1 win over Hamilton in front of 37,500. Rangers' game attracted the biggest attendance out of the four semi finals that took place in Scotland and England that day: 47,549 watched Arsenal and Hull draw 2-2 at Elland Road and 69,292 were at Old Trafford for Sheffield Wednesday's 1-0 win over Huddersfield.
There was happy news on the league front to accompany the march into the Cup Final. Aberdeen had drawn 3-3 at home to St Mirren. Rangers were on 52 points from 31 games, Aberdeen in second were on 48 from 34 and with games rapidly running out for them. The Alliance XI captured their title with a 4-1 success at Nithsdale Wanderers ensuring the arrival of the second trophy at Ibrox that season.
A midweek trip to Ayr brought Rangers a step closer to the First XI title. 10,000 watched as Doc Marshall scored his first ever penalty to give the visitors an early lead. Two more from Fleming and Brown close to half time ensured a comfortable 3-0 win leaving Rangers six points clear. There was also good news for a number of Rangers players with regard to the forthcoming England - Scotland game at Wembley. Dougie Gray, Davie Meiklejohn (Captain), Tully Craig and Alan Morton were all selected with Jock Buchanan, Sandy Archibald and Jimmy Fleming listed as reserves, the latter two listed to travel. Rangers were also given permission by the SFA to tour Canada and the USA at the season's end.
On Saturday 29th March 1930 in front of a surprisingly low crowd of 10,000, Rangers secured their 18th League Title. A Tommy Muirhead acrobatic effort on 5 minutes was all the first half produced. After the break Doc Marshall headed in a Muirhead lob and a minute before the end Marshall netted a penalty after he had been brought down. The crowd acclaimed the team as Champions despite not knowing the outcome of the fixture that was central to Rangers' ambition. However, when news arrived that Aberdeen had only drawn 2-2 at home to Dundee United then the celebrations began in earnest. This success also moved Rangers ahead of Celtic on League successes, a statistic that happily remains with us to the present day. With regard to the Scottish Cup, Partick Thistle attained an early success by winning the coin toss for choice of strip.
The next Saturday, two Rangers made history. Davie Meiklejohn became the first Rangers player to Captain Scotland at Wembley while Jimmy Fleming wrote himself into history by becoming the first Rangers player to score there. Both, however, would not want reminded of the final 5-2 winning margin for their - to use the language of the time - Saxon hosts in a game that was described as "Scotland's new Flodden" that was witnessed by a dejected travelling support of upwards of 30,000. Fleming's goal came at the end of a thoroughly miserable first half and reduced the deficit to 4-1. While it mattered little in the grand scheme of things it was an important event with regard to Rangers players representing their country and for that reason a picture of the event is presented below, the player wheeling away after netting.
In the Second XI Cup Rangers travelled to Pittodrie the same day as the Wembley fixture for a semi-final that was watched by an impressive figure of 10,750, a record for a reserve fixture in Aberdeen. A 2-2 draw ensured a replay at Ibrox that took place the following Wednesday in front of another big attendance, 11,000 this time, who watched Rangers progress to the final by virtue of an 82nd minute Jimmy Smith header. The final would be a two-legged affair against Kilmarnock.
In the main competition, Rangers took to the field against Partick Thistle on Saturday April 12th. A colossal crowd of 107,745, however, were left disappointed with the fare on offer, both sides playing a nervous, cagey game ensuring the game finished goal-less. The replay the following Wednesday again attracted a six-figure crowd, 103,688 paying in. Rangers turned in a much improved performance to secure their sixth Scottish Cup win.
Rangers were on top from the very beginning although it took them until the 41st minute to take the lead, Doc Marshall shooting home powerfully from a rebound. Thistle threatened briefly to upset things when they equalised on 71 minutes. Rangers, however, netted an 85th minute winner through a superb 25 yard volley from Tully Craig. This secured Rangers' second Double and added the Cup to the two League trophies and Glasgow Cup that were currently in residence at Ibrox. The Charity Cup and Second XI Cup were all that stood in between a total clean sweep. Celtic had won the League and 3 cups in 1908, something Rangers were keen to emulate; but nobody had ever won them and the reserve titles in the same season. Rangers were on the brink of history. A rather special photo exists of the Cup win, the Rangers Captain Davie Meiklejohn flanked by the scorers Tully Craig on his right and Doc Marshall on his left.
With the title secured, Rangers' 1-0 defeat at Airdrie on April 19th in front of 4,000 was of little consequence. The Rangers support were more interested in the Second XI Cup, the first leg of which took place at Ibrox on the same day in front of a remarkable 21,000. Goals from Nicholson and McMillan gave Rangers a welcome - albeit narrow - 2-1 lead to take into the return leg at Rugby Park.
A hectic end to the League season brought Rangers a 3-0 win at home to Morton on Monday April 21st in front of a 10,000 crowd, Brown Marshall and Fleming netting. The Wednesday after meant a trip to Dens Park and a 3-1 win in front of 8,000. Jimmy Smith's first ever league goal separated a Bob McPhail double prior to a late home consolation and the next Saturday a trip to Cowdenbeath in front of 2,500 saw a Bob McPhail double count for little in a 3-2 defeat. The Second XI, though, captured their own particular double at Rugby Park with a 2-1 win and a 4-2 overall success. Two Jimmy Smith goals secured the win. The game, incidentally, so captured the imagination of the Rangers support that special trains were run to Kilmarnock from Glasgow. The win was the second occasion in the past seven years that Rangers had secured the Cup three years in a row.
The Alliance XI began to wind down their own league campaign on the following Monday with a 0-0 draw at Hampden against Queen's Park Strollers and with a 3-1 home win against St Mirren 24 hours later, a game in which Jimmy Smith grabbed a hat-trick. Their record in the League therefore stood at: P30 W 24 D4 L2 F95 A28 Pts52 and placed them nine points above second placed Aberdeen. 24 hours after that, the First XI ended their season with a 2-1 defeat at Brockville in front of 5,000, George Brown netting Rangers' goal.
All that stood between Rangers and a Grand Slam was the Charity Cup which began as far as Rangers were concerned with a trip to Firhill on Saturday 3rd May. A respectable crowd of 23,617 watched a full-blooded affair that saw its first goal arrive on 25 minutes, Doc Marshall stabbing home a free kick. The same player got Rangers' second on 51 minutes, netting from a punched goalkeeping clearance. Six minutes later the hosts pulled one back and ensured Rangers' defence had to be at their best for the remainder of the game which eventually finished 2-1 to Rangers.
The semi-final was a home tie with Third Lanark in a game Rangers won with ease on Wednesday 7th May. 5,000 watched on as Bob McPhail and George Brown gave Rangers a 2-0 interval lead. A Jimmy Smith double extended the lead and a Willie Nicholson effort near the end arrived after a Thirds consolation. With Celtic beating Clyde 1-0 in the other game, a meeting of the big two would decide if Rangers would go off on their North American tour having won every trophy available to them.
35,647 were at Hampden to witness the occasion. In a foreteller of things to come, Rangers won the toss at the start of the game then proceeded to take a 12th minute lead, Doc Marshall shooting home from a Sandy Archibald cross. Celtic equalised 11 minutes before the break. Rangers on 65 minutes went ahead again with Bob McPhail's strong work providing the opportunity for Jimmy Fleming to score. It was a lead Rangers held right up until the 89th minute when Celtic grabbed an equaliser. With the teams level on 4 corners each and a replay out of the question due to Rangers leaving to cross the Atlantic right after the game a toss of the coin was settled as being the method with which the game would be decided. Nobody would claim this was a perfect way of settling things but it was the rules of the game and the same for both teams. Nobody supporting or playing for Rangers, therefore, complained when they were awarded the Cup after Celtic's Captain called wrongly when the coin was in the air.
So ended a quite magnificent season in Rangers long and distinguished past. No team had ever ended the season with a 100% record in terms of trophies won. Tribute is therefore accorded to the men who made this happen for Rangers. This particular analysis of the season draws, therefore to a close with a team photo of the legends responsible and a statistical analysis provided by a journalist of the time. In the third image it is felt it is appropriate to leave the last word to the conquering heroes as they embarked on their tour to the USA and Canada. A reading of the text shows our Club anthem was a feature all those years ago and being sung by the Rangers players as they began their journey, not just to the land of the free and the home of the brave, but into the record books and hearts and minds of every Rangers fan before, then, and since. We salute them and remember them and thank them for their efforts in making Rangers the greatest club the game of football has ever known.