The Rangers Road to Glory in 1972
Feature by farley1968
Updated Tuesday, 3rd April 2007
Build up to the Final
In the days following the semi-final win, there was a relentless search for seats in cars, planes, coaches and trains or anything available to get the Light Blues legions to Barcelona. Rangers supporters made the trip in their thousands. By late afternoon on matchday local customs authorities announced they had cleared 110 charter flights and 203 busloads of fans through various border checkpoints. This accounted for 17,000 supporters but train and car travellers pushed the figure to close to 26,000.. Seasoned football people from all over Europe were astonished by this show of passion and loyalty. They agreed that never before had any club taken so many fans onto foreign soil.
Video: Fans depart for Barcelona
The Official Rangers party flew to Spain on the Sunday before the match. Wives and mothers were also invited and they stayed in a luxury hotel in the holiday resort of Stiges. The players, officials and press entourage stayed at the Gran Hotel Rey Don Jaime in the town of Castelldefells, fifteen miles down the coast from Barcelona. The hotel was on a hill overlooking the town as opposed to the hotel where Moscow Dynamo stayed, which was in the town centre. The Russians were disturbed by noise and disruption close to their hotel. Rangers had none of these distractions and the players were benefiting from Willie Waddell's advance preparations.
Rangers' preparations were not without problems though. Waddell wanted to see Dynamo in action before the final. For weeks, he had tried to get a travel visa but his path was blocked by red tape. Finally only eight days before the final he made it to Moscow to see Dynamo draw 1-1 with Kairat in a First Division match.
He identified their danger men as the outside right Estrokhov, outside left Evriuzhikin, full backs Basalaev and Dolomatov and the ageing but outstanding Josef Sabo who was at the heart of midfield.
Dynamo's Technical Director was Lev Yashin, the great Russian goalkeeper, who had succeeded "Tiger" Khomich as first choice goalkeeper and had spent his entire career playing for the Moscow club.
Moscow Dynamo had played Dinamo Berlin at the Semi-Final stage. Both games were drawn 1-1, with the Moscow team progressing to the Final by a penalty shoot-out. They were the first Russian team to play in a major European Final.
In Spain, shortly after arriving at their hotel, on the Sunday afternoon, Waddell held a press conference. He announced the John Greig had damaged his ankle again in training, a few days before, when he went over on it during a kick-about. Greig was to be given until kick off time to recover and prove his fitness.
The players did not train on Sunday and a sun-bathing ban was imposed for fear of sunburn. All players had to wear the royal blue tracksuits when at the poolside. Waddell had also made sure the club brought all their own food. He was not taking any chances.
On Monday, both finalists trained at Espanol's ground. Training at the Nou Camp had been banned by the authorities until Tuesday as the European Union Youth Tournament Final was being played there.
That Monday was a public holiday in Spain and down at the Russian's HQ in the town, holidaymakers, tourists and fans were everywhere causing massive disruption to the Russian' teams rest after the morning's training.
On Tuesday, the day before the game, Rangers trained at the Nou Camp. Colin Jackson was unlucky enough to injure himself in training and had to withdraw from the squad. It was heartbreaking for Colin particularly after marking Gerd Muller out of the semi-final. He joined Ronnie McKinnon on the sidelines, who had been brought along as he recovered from his broken leg sustained against Sporting in Portugal. On a positive side, John Greig was passed fit to play. Waddell announced at his daily press conference that the team was picked except for one position and that Andy Penman, Alfie Conn and Derek Parlane were all being considered for that position.
Late on Wednesday afternoon, the players and officials left on the luxury coach for the Nou Camp. Before the coach left, Waddell announced that Alfie Conn would fill the midfield position between Alex MacDonald and John Greig.