Rangers 1963-64 – a final flourish for the 60s

THE mid-1960s through to the 1970s was Celtic’s time in Scotland, Jock Stein’s side winning almost everything on offer. Before the tide turned in Glasgow, Rangers completed a memorable treble in 1963-64. Ibrox Park regulars would have found it hard to believe if anyone had told them, in 1964, that the Gers would not be crowned Scottish champions again for 11 long years.

The Rangers team of that time had some outstanding players that are now considered to be legendary figures: John Greig, Willie Henderson, Ron McKinnon and, of course, Jim Baxter.

The city of Glasgow had belonged to Rangers since the mid-1950s. From 1955-56 to 1963-64, they won six of nine Scottish championships, while Celtic never finished above third place. When Rangers didn’t win the title, Hearts or Dundee finished top.

Rangers had discovered fresh impetus under manager Scot Symon, who was appointed in 1955 following Bill Struth, who had been in charge for an astonishing 34 years. Symon, whose full name was James Scotland Symon, played for Rangers either side of the second world war and was capped once by Scotland. He managed Preston North End – including Tommy Docherty and Tom Finney – and led them to the FA Cup final in 1954.

Symon also took Rangers to two European Cup Winners’ Cup finals, including 1961 when they became the first British team to reach that stage of a European competition. Rangers lost both times, to Fiorentina in 1961 and six years later to an emerging Bayern Munich team that included luminaries such as Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller.

Rangers won the Scottish “double” in 1962-63, finishing nine points ahead of Kilmarnock in the league and, satisfyingly, trouncing Celtic 3-0 at Hampden Park in the Scottish Cup final in front of 120,000 people.

In 1963-64, Rangers fielded a very young side on a number of occasions. The regular team included Grieg (20), McKinnon (22), Davie Provan (22), Willie Henderson (19), George McLean (20), Jim Forrest (18) and Baxter (23). When Rangers met Real Madrid in the European Cup, the average age of the team was under 23 years. Almost every member of Rangers’ first choice XI was capped by Scotland at some stage of their career, such was the club’s importance to the national team.

Rangers started the season well, beating Celtic 2-1, and went unbeaten until their 14th game on November 30, losing at home to Hearts. Surprisingly, given the passion and size of their crowd, of Rangers four league defeats, three were at Ibrox Park. They also lost to St. Johnstone (home and away) and at home to St.Mirren.

Rangers’ Ralph Brand (l) douses his teammates with a bucketful of water as captain Bobby Shearer holds on to the Cup following Rangers’ 1964 Scottish Cup Final win, which completed the domestic treble: (l-r) Ralph Brand, Billy Ritchie, Davie Provan, Bobby Shearer (holding cup), Ron McKinnon, George McLean, Jimmy Millar, John Greig, Jim Baxter, Willie Henderson (front, seated), Davie Wilson (front, wearing hat).

Rangers were boosted by young striker Jim Forrest, who kept the more experienced Jimmy Millar out of the team for a long period. Forrest would score 21 goals in 24 league games and in all competitions, 39 in 39. He netted four goals in the Scottish League Cup final as Rangers beat Morton 5-0. Another 19 league goals came from Ralph Brand, who would go on to play for Manchester City.

Creativity and virtuosity came from Jim Baxter, “Slim Jim” to the Rangers faithful. The 1963-64 season was his last full campaign as he broke a leg in December 1964. Baxter was something of a free spirit, but his vision, passing ability and trickery made him one of Scotland’s most exciting players of the era. When he was injured in 1964, he  struggled to regain fitness and started drinking and after pleading with the club to let him move to England, was sold to Sunderland in 1965 for £ 72,500. Like many flawed heroes, Baxter’s legend has lasted longer than his career. His part in Scotland’s 3-2 win at Wembley in 1967 has never been forgotten by the Tartan Army, but there are many fans who believe he never quite fulfilled his immense promise.

Other players from the 1963-64 team lasted longer at Ibrox. John Greig, for example, was a youngster when Rangers won the title, but he played almost 800 games for the Gers and 28 times for his country. Originally a forward, and then a midfielder, he settled at left back, captained the club and has been named the greatest-ever Rangers player. Centre half Ron McKinnon played almost 500 games for the club and was an often under-rated by supporters. Glasgow born, he won 28 caps for Scotland but his career was cut short by injury.

Willie Henderson was just 19 but missed only four league games in 1963-64. A speedy winger, 5ft 4 inch Henderson was known as “Wee Willie” and was capped at 18 by Scotland, the first of 29 appearances.

Rangers blend of youngsters and established players rarely took their eye off the ball in 1963-64. When they were beaten by St.Mirren on February 8, Kilmarnock went top of the table, but a week later, Rangers were back in the lead, albeit on goal average. On March 14, goals from George McLean and Davie Wilson were enough to beat Kilmarnock 2-0. Rangers eventually shook off the challenge of Kilmarnock and Celtic in the closing weeks and they finished six and eight points ahead of them respectively. On April 25, Rangers clinched the double when they beat Dundee 3-1 in the Scottish Cup final.

It had been a glorious season, but the green half of Glasgow was stirring and when Jock Stein became manager in 1965, the balance of power shifted quite dramatically. Scot Symon stayed with Rangers until 1967 – things were never the same after Berwick Rangers beat them in the Cup in one of Scottish football’s biggest shocks – when he was somewhat controversially sacked to make way for a younger man – David White.

Rangers were very much cast into the shadows by Celtic’s era of near-total dominance. They won just six major trophies in 10 years, compared to 21 picked up by their “Old Firm” rivals in that same period. Not that Rangers were lacking in talent – in 1967-68, even though they finished runners-up in the league, they lost just one game. Celtic and Stein were exceptional, but back in 1964, Rangers under Symon were certainly Scotland’s top side.

@GameofthePeople

Photos: PA

 

Rangers 1963-64 – a final flourish for the 60s

THE mid-1960s through to the 1970s was Celtic’s time in Scotland, Jock Stein’s side winning almost everything on offer. Before the tide turned in Glasgow, Rangers completed a memorable treble in 1963-64. Ibrox Park regulars would have found it hard to believe if anyone had told them, in 1964, that the Gers would not be crowned Scottish champions again for 11 long years.

The Rangers team of that time had some outstanding players that are now considered to be legendary figures: John Greig, Willie Henderson, Ron McKinnon and, of course, Jim Baxter.

The city of Glasgow had belonged to Rangers since the mid-1950s. From 1955-56 to 1963-64, they won six of nine Scottish championships, while Celtic never finished above third place. When Rangers didn’t win the title, Hearts or Dundee finished top.

Rangers had discovered fresh impetus under manager Scot Symon, who was appointed in 1955 following Bill Struth, who had been in charge for an astonishing 34 years. Symon, whose full name was James Scotland Symon, played for Rangers either side of the second world war and was capped once by Scotland. He managed Preston North End – including Tommy Docherty and Tom Finney – and led them to the FA Cup final in 1954.

Symon also took Rangers to two European Cup Winners’ Cup finals, including 1961 when they became the first British team to reach that stage of a European competition. Rangers lost both times, to Fiorentina in 1961 and six years later to an emerging Bayern Munich team that included luminaries such as Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller.

Rangers won the Scottish “double” in 1962-63, finishing nine points ahead of Kilmarnock in the league and, satisfyingly, trouncing Celtic 3-0 at Hampden Park in the Scottish Cup final in front of 120,000 people.

In 1963-64, Rangers fielded a very young side on a number of occasions. The regular team included Grieg (20), McKinnon (22), Davie Provan (22), Willie Henderson (19), George McLean (20), Jim Forrest (18) and Baxter (23). When Rangers met Real Madrid in the European Cup, the average age of the team was under 23 years. Almost every member of Rangers’ first choice XI was capped by Scotland at some stage of their career, such was the club’s importance to the national team.

Rangers started the season well, beating Celtic 2-1, and went unbeaten until their 14th game on November 30, losing at home to Hearts. Surprisingly, given the passion and size of their crowd, of Rangers four league defeats, three were at Ibrox Park. They also lost to St. Johnstone (home and away) and at home to St.Mirren.

Rangers’ Ralph Brand (l) douses his teammates with a bucketful of water as captain Bobby Shearer holds on to the Cup following Rangers’ 1964 Scottish Cup Final win, which completed the domestic treble: (l-r) Ralph Brand, Billy Ritchie, Davie Provan, Bobby Shearer (holding cup), Ron McKinnon, George McLean, Jimmy Millar, John Greig, Jim Baxter, Willie Henderson (front, seated), Davie Wilson (front, wearing hat).

Rangers were boosted by young striker Jim Forrest, who kept the more experienced Jimmy Millar out of the team for a long period. Forrest would score 21 goals in 24 league games and in all competitions, 39 in 39. He netted four goals in the Scottish League Cup final as Rangers beat Morton 5-0. Another 19 league goals came from Ralph Brand, who would go on to play for Manchester City.

Creativity and virtuosity came from Jim Baxter, “Slim Jim” to the Rangers faithful. The 1963-64 season was his last full campaign as he broke a leg in December 1964. Baxter was something of a free spirit, but his vision, passing ability and trickery made him one of Scotland’s most exciting players of the era. When he was injured in 1964, he  struggled to regain fitness and started drinking and after pleading with the club to let him move to England, was sold to Sunderland in 1965 for £ 72,500. Like many flawed heroes, Baxter’s legend has lasted longer than his career. His part in Scotland’s 3-2 win at Wembley in 1967 has never been forgotten by the Tartan Army, but there are many fans who believe he never quite fulfilled his immense promise.

Other players from the 1963-64 team lasted longer at Ibrox. John Greig, for example, was a youngster when Rangers won the title, but he played almost 800 games for the Gers and 28 times for his country. Originally a forward, and then a midfielder, he settled at left back, captained the club and has been named the greatest-ever Rangers player. Centre half Ron McKinnon played almost 500 games for the club and was an often under-rated by supporters. Glasgow born, he won 28 caps for Scotland but his career was cut short by injury.

Willie Henderson was just 19 but missed only four league games in 1963-64. A speedy winger, 5ft 4 inch Henderson was known as “Wee Willie” and was capped at 18 by Scotland, the first of 29 appearances.

Rangers blend of youngsters and established players rarely took their eye off the ball in 1963-64. When they were beaten by St.Mirren on February 8, Kilmarnock went top of the table, but a week later, Rangers were back in the lead, albeit on goal average. On March 14, goals from George McLean and Davie Wilson were enough to beat Kilmarnock 2-0. Rangers eventually shook off the challenge of Kilmarnock and Celtic in the closing weeks and they finished six and eight points ahead of them respectively. On April 25, Rangers clinched the double when they beat Dundee 3-1 in the Scottish Cup final.

It had been a glorious season, but the green half of Glasgow was stirring and when Jock Stein became manager in 1965, the balance of power shifted quite dramatically. Scot Symon stayed with Rangers until 1967 – things were never the same after Berwick Rangers beat them in the Cup in one of Scottish football’s biggest shocks – when he was somewhat controversially sacked to make way for a younger man – David White.

Rangers were very much cast into the shadows by Celtic’s era of near-total dominance. They won just six major trophies in 10 years, compared to 21 picked up by their “Old Firm” rivals in that same period. Not that Rangers were lacking in talent – in 1967-68, even though they finished runners-up in the league, they lost just one game. Celtic and Stein were exceptional, but back in 1964, Rangers under Symon were certainly Scotland’s top side.

@GameofthePeople

Photos: PA

 

Great Reputations: Dunfermline Athletic 1967-69 – heroes from Fife

Dunfermline manager George Farm celebrates the 1968 Scottish Cup triumph. Photo: PA

THEN, AS NOW, Celtic ruled the roost in Scotland, winning everything that came before them at home and, in the 1960s, abroad. Rangers, who had a decent team in the late 1960s were in their shadows and the rest of Scottish football could only look on and admire.

Celtic were Scottish Champions with a two-point margin over Rangers in 1967-68 with Hibernian in third place and Dunfermline fourth, some 24 points behind Celtic. In 1966-67, Dunfermline were eighth, just 20 points shy of the top spot – Celtic’s superiority was growing.

The Pars from Fife were a good team in the mid-to-late 1960s, managed by George Farm, who took over a club that had been managed by Jock Stein between 1960 and 1964. Stein’s record at East End Park was impressive, winning the 1961 Scottish Park by beating his future employer, Celtic, at Hampden Park. It was Dunfermline’s first piece of silverware. A year later, they reached the last eight of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup and finished fourth in the league. Stein, having weaved some magic with the club, was lured away to Celtic in 1964 and Dunfermline appointed Willie Cunningham, a member of the 1961 team, as manager. He led the club to another Scottish Cup Final, but Celtic, now under the Pars’ old boss, won 3-2 with a team that would form the bulk of the famous “Lisbon Lions”.

Dunfermline had been ahead by 2-1, but match reports suggested they had been “unrealistically casual” and Celtic came back to win thanks to a goal from skipper Billy McNeill. Dunfermline almost returned to the final in 1966, losing once more to Celtic at the semi-final stage. Another good European run saw them go as far as the quarter-finals in the inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

Cunningham left in 1967 and Dunfermline hired George Farm, a former Scottish international goalkeeper, but most well known for being a member of the Blackpool team that won the FA Cup in 1953 in the famous “Matthews Final”.

Farm had experienced success with Raith Rovers and Queen of the South, taking both clubs to a promotion. Farm was something of a quirky character, but was also a canny operator, observing everything that Stein was doing at Celtic and trying to replicate that approach.

After joining in 1967, Farm’s first league game, ironically, was against Raith Rovers and the Pars won 2-1. It wasn’t until the back end of 1967 and into January 1968 that the team clicked into gear, and at the end of January they beat Celtic 2-0 in the first round of the Scottish Cup, inflicting on the Glasgow giants their first defeat at that stage of the competition since 1952. The goals were scored by Hughie Robertson and Pat Gardner.

With Celtic out of the way, Dunfermline met Aberdeen in round two and won 2-1, thanks to an 85th minute winner by midfielder Alex Edwards. It was another late goal, scored by Bert Paton, that secured the third round win against Patrick Thistle to put Dunfermline into the semi-final where they would meet St. Johnstone at Hearts’ Tynecastle.

It took two games for Farm’s men to overcome the Saints, a 1-1 draw being followed by a 2-1 victory. They were losing in the replay until Paton levelled and then in extra time, Ian Lister netted an 118th minute winner. Their opponents in the final would be Hearts.

Dunfermline’s team had been constructed over a few seasons. In goal, Dane Bent Martin had arrived in December 1966 from Celtic, while right back Willie Callaghan had been with the club since 1961. John Lunn, on the left side, had been picked-up from a colliery team in 1963. Lunn, sadly, died at just 26 years of age.

The skipper of the team was Roy Barry, an ex-Hearts player who would eventually try his luck in England. Also in defence was John McGarty, who would make his third first team appearance in the cup final.

One of Dunfermline’s star men was Tommy Callaghan, an elegant midfielder who could go on long, incisive runs from deep. He would later leave the club for Celtic where he struggled to be accepted.

Winger Ian Lister joined Dunfermline from Raith Rovers in mid-season but proved to be a man for the big occasion. Hughie Robertson had arrived in 1965 from Dundee, costing £13,000. He had played in the 1962 World Cup for Scotland. Midfielder Alex Edwards had been earmarked for stardom when Jock Stein was manager and as a teenager he had featured in Dunfermline’s 6-2 win against Valencia in the Fairs’ Cup in 1962. Inside forward Pat Gardner was another former Raith player who arrived at the club in 1967 for a “sizeable fee” which has been reported as being £ 17,000.  Bert Paton, who had been with the club since 1961 after leaving Leeds United, had a keen eye for goal.

The final, played before just 56,000 people, came alive in the second half. Hearts had enjoyed much of the play in the first period, but Dunfermline’s swift and accurate passing movements eventually paid off. They went ahead on 56 minutes when Lister’s Free kick caused problems in the Hearts defence and there was a mix-up as keeper Jim Cruickshank knocked the ball out to Gardner who hooked it home with his left-foot into the net. Four minutes later, it was 2-0 as Lister scored from the penalty spot after Cruickshank had sent Paton flying in the area.

Hearts were given a lifeline by an own goal from Lunn, but then Gardner scored another goal from close range to wrap things up at 3-1. Strangely, there was some ill-feeling in the celebrations when Dunfermline were not allowed to show the cup to their fans.

The good times didn’t end there, however, for in Europe in 1968-69, Dunfermline reached the semi-finals of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup, beating Apoel of Cyprus, Olympiacos of Greece and English FA Cup winners West Bromwich Albion. They eventually went out to Slovan Bratislava 2-1 on aggregate.  In the league, they finished third that season but in 1972 they were relegated. Life has never been as good for the Pars, but the heroes of 1968 will never be forgotten at East End Park.