By The Govanhill Gub
On October 10th, 1874, Rangers played their ever first Scottish Cup tie v Oxford. The venue was Queens Park recreational Ground. Rangers won 2-0 and the goals were scored by Moses and a player by the name of Gibb. With no ground of our own as such, our nomads made good use of QP’s hospitality.
Our first home Scottish Cup tie at a venue we could call our own took place at Burnbank a year later on Oct 16th v 1st Lanark RV, when we ran out 7-0 winners. The next tie was away to Third Lanark on the 30th of the same month and we ran out 1-0 winners. However, Thirds protested on the grounds that Rangers had kicked off in both halves. The appeal was upheld and in the replay our opponents ran out winners by two goals to one.
There would be many tales of woe in our competing in the Scottish Cup until we hit pay dirt on Feb, 17th, 1894 when we beat you-know-who 3-1 in the final at second Hampden Park. By my calculations that meant it had taken us from first entering the Scottish Cup to actually winning it somewhere in the region of nineteen years and four months, certainly in that region.
We won the Scottish Cup three times in the 1890s, which of course leads us into the 1900s. Hearts were beaten in a second replay on April 25th, 1903. If you had said to any Rangers fan in the crowd of 35,000 that day that some would never see the club win the SC again and that for the rest, they’d need to wait a full quarter of a century before celebrating victory in the country’s premier cup competition, I’m sure they’d have poured scorn on the notion.
However, wait a full twenty-five years the Rangers support did! Again, the support would at times have been forgiven for thinking the fates were against the club. The 1909 final for instance. Rangers winning 2-1 with a ten minutes to go, the Rangers keeper Rennie, caught the ball and expecting a charge from the Celtic centre, Quinn, swivelled taking the ball towards the line. The referee then ruled that the ball had crossed the line giving Celtic a controversial equaliser.
The 1921 SC final and with Rangers all over their opponents Jimmy Bowie goes off to replace a torn pair of shorts and Thistle steal away and score what would prove to be the only goal of the game.
The following year’s final would be something of a mirror image of what happened the year previously. Alan Morton hit the post within seconds of the kick off. They then went onto control the match, yet Morton, who we had defeated both times in the league stole away to score the only goal of the game.
Incidentally, in those barren twenty-five SC years, you-know-who lifted the trophy on nine occasions. There’s your imbalance in wins right there. However, with me being a, ‘I can see the other fellow’s point of view’ sort of cove, I think it’s only fair to say it was hardly their fault the could pick up the SC something like every second year, whilst we on the other hand, could win everything plus a few kitchens sinks into the bargain but fail in the Scottish!
The Nineteen-Thirties would prove fruitful Scottish Cup wise with the trophy resting at Ibrox on no less than five occasions. The years 1934, 35 and 36 proving significant. These were the first years in the twentieth century that a club had won the SC three times in a row. Nineteen thirty-four and thirty-five being the first time we had won the league and SC double back-to-back.
An unexpected defeat at Dumfries the following season, an inexplicable 4-3 reverse to Kilmarnock in the semis in 1938 and a 4-1 drubbing at Ibrox the next term at the hands of Clyde saw us limp out of the Scottish Cup in the 1930s, after being solely in charge of it at the start of the decade.
History will show that it took Rangers twelve long years to recapture the Scottish Cup. That is 1936 till 1948. But in reality, with WW2 encroaching slightly all over the globe. Reality is, from Tory Gillick collecting a winners medal in 1935 v Hamilton until his next winners medal v Morton in 1948, only six seasons in earnest had taken place. And there is every chance that Tory Gillick earns a place in history here as the only man to win a SC winners medal either side of the war.
We won the cup in 1950 and 53 and then suffered a seven year hiatus, until Jimmy Millar chipped in with a brace in the 1960 SC final. Unbelievably, there is evidence to suggest that Rangers went into that final as underdogs.
The Nineteen-sixties, like the thirties, would prove to be a successful decade for SC victories. Once again the old cup would come back to Ibrox five times. As we have seen, 1960, followed by 62, 63 and 64, the third time in the 20th century Rangers had won the SC three times in succession.
Then there was King Kai’s thunderbolt in 1966. This would yet again lead to another seven year wait for SC success and when that came, it came in spectacular fashion. The Centenary SC final of 1973, which will live long in the mind of all who lived through it. If the 70s, weren’t as spectacular as the 60s, we still garnered the SC four times.
The 3-1 victory over Hearts might just be the showstopper. Apart from that win and Derek Johnstone’s opener coming 78 seconds before the official kick off, it is also widely held by those whose knowledge I value, to be the last 100k+ crowd Scottish football has witnessed. The official crowd was given as 85,250, but with the break-ins anyone who was there that day knew it was an end of an era.
Mediocrity in the late seventies to mid eighties had become the norm and our sole success in that decade came in 1981 and anyone who was there that night will still treasure the memories of who this cup final belonged to. Yes, this was ‘The Cooper Cup final’.
Eleven long years passed and amidst that time we had went through the Souness revolution and although he failed to get his hands on that particular prize as a manager, there was one near miss, steered by Bob Valentine.
By season 1991/92 a different manager’s hand was at the tiller and even being cheated by the man in black in the 1992, SC semi final, we prevailed and even though we made hard work of the SC final against Airdrie somehow we knew we were back on track.
The nineties yielded four SC triumphs. Pride of place going to the 1996 win over Hearts. I don’t think anything else needs to be said. Despite Gordon Durie becoming the first Rangers player to score a hat-trick in a SC final, it will be remembered as the ‘Laudrup final’ forevermore. Just like Baxter in the 63 replay. Just Like Cooper in the 81 replay. The Laudrup final will forever be remembered for the footballing skills on show.
Oh, and let’s not forget two treble topping shows either in 1993 and yes, we sang the Sash in the ‘jungle’ in its last serious game! And of course six years later when we Rod gave us the nod.
I’ve nearly stopped boring you folks. The naughties saw us plunder another four SCs. There was the majesty of the 2000 Oranje Cup final. And I don’t care what anyone says, the ref wasn’t allowing Albert’s pile driver to stand until either Wallace or Dodds bundled the ball over the line. There was Amoruso in 2003.
We all know the reason why 2008 became such a chore. I mean, how can you doubt ‘Sporting Integrity’, as decreed by Liewell and his minions?
The 2009 SC final, and it is our last win to date stands out for a couple of things. Well maybe three. A – we were crap. B – Boyd couldn’t have cared less, and did he come off at h/t due to the heat? And most wonderfully, wee Nacho dispatching a corker into the net minutes after coming on as a sub at h/t.
So, I make it, if we win the SC next season it will be the longest ‘fast’ in winning the trophy since the quarter of a century hoodoo 1903-1928. That will be thirteen long years.
Does the SC mean as much as it did when I was growing up? Probably not.
Do I realise that winning the league was the be all and end all this season? Yes firstly, and no, given how so far in front we have been of everyone else.
What I will never get is Rangers fans shrugging off defeats to dross, as if it doesn’t matter. And that is not a dig at differing opinions to last night’s debacle.
We all know we have gone through hell and back over the last dozen years or so. Surely, we now have a decade of catching up? That being the case, it should have started last night.