Davie Cooper - In The Tradition of the Rangers wingmen

Last updated : 23 March 2015 By STEVIETRUEBLUE

It would appear to be perfectly fitting that in the week which encompasses the anniversary of the sad and untimely passing of the one and only Davie Cooper, the Rangers support were introduced to another exciting and skill full winger in the shape of young Chris Burke.  Without making any wild predictions I would hope that the young man who scored against Kilmarnock on his Rangers debut will be yet another product of the conveyor belt of wingers who have graced our Club throughout the years and who have become heroes to the Ibrox crowd.  How poetic it would be if Chris Burke's career took off as the Rangers support yet again reminisced over Davie Cooper and there would be none happier than Coop himself as he watched from On High.

As a Club, Rangers have always had an affinity with wingers.  As Rangers supporters we have been blessed in that we have been able to have watched some of the greatest players ever to have graced the Scottish game and that they have done so in the Royal Blue of Rangers.

Comparisons and debate about who was the best are inevitable, but just shows the quality of the players themselves that there is no outstanding candidate for best ever Rangers winger.  Rangers fans from different generations will always have their own ideas about who WAS 'Simply the Best,' but here are a few all though by no means is this an exhaustive listing..........

Alec Smith was one of the greatest and longstanding players our great Club has ever had.  A left winger whose Rangers career lasted from 1894 - 1915 who is described in one very distinguished publication as 'a quite exceptionally talented footballer.'  Thus began the love affair the Rangers crowd have had with wingers throughout the years which was to move on to Sandy Archibald and Alan Morton.

Archibald and Morton formed a quite magnificent wing pairing.  Archibald’s powerful, speedy, goalscoring wing play on the right was complimented perfectly by the mesmerising dribbling of Alan Morton on the left.  Alan Morton is one of the names that Bears from EVERY generation knows and it is fitting that he is immortalised inside Ibrox Stadium in that magnificent oil painting.  A further source of pride to Rangers supporters is that he also played in the 5-1 destruction of England at Wembley in 1928 and was accorded the nickname 'The Wee Blue Devil' by an exasperated English journalist of the time who had watched Morton produce a phenomenal display of wing wizardry. Truly two Rangers greats, and it should be mentioned that early Rangers supporters in fact rated Alec Smith as being a better player than Alan Morton.

Moving on through time we arrive at Willie Waddell.  Here we had a very powerful and quick right winger who is yet another who will be regarded as a legend forever by the Ibrox crowd.  His partnership with Willie Thornton in the centre half position provided Rangers with countless goals and they are fondly remembered by Rangers supporters of the day.

Into the 1960s and we have Alex Scott - another who has sadly recently passed - and Willie Henderson, who was so talented that, at the mere age of 17, he took Scott's place in right hand side of the team and played a big part in the brilliant Rangers team of the early 1960s.  Along with the free-scoring Davie Wilson on the left this was yet another pairing of wingers who have their place in Ibrox folklore.

As the 60s progressed, the use of wingers became less and less widespread and to some extent in some quarters were no longer viewed as an essential part of the team.  However, the Rangers supporters still had the likes of Willie 'Bud' Johnstone to worship, none more so than on that magical night in Barcelona in May 1972 he helped Rangers win the European Cup Winner's Cup by scoring two goals.

The 70s also saw the introduction into the Rangers team of Tommy McLean, Bobby McKean (RIP), and Quinton 'Cutty' Young.  The 70s also gave us one of the best, if not THE best player of his generation:  Davie Cooper.

Davie Cooper was a quite magical talent and I consider myself a very privileged Bluenose to have witnessed him at his peak.  A left winger whose talent was unequalled anywhere in Britain, it is perhaps sad that he played in one of the worst Rangers teams ever and was to the supporters then, a shining ray of hope in what seemed to be eternal darkness and despair as he to some extent had to carry the team on his own.  

Thankfully, the arrival of Graeme Souness saw Davie surrounded by better players and then did his genius truly come into its own.  Ironically enough, whenever I'm asked the inevitable question, 'What's the best performance you've ever seen from a Rangers player?' my answer doesn't involve a Rangers game, but the Scotland - Brazil game at Hampden Park in 1987 when, without the use of hyperbole, it looked as if Scotland had adopted a Brazilian for the night such was the sheer, exquisite footballing magnificence exhibited by Davie Cooper that night.  And he was on Rangers' books at the time.

On his testimonial night against Bordeaux, Davie was replaced on the park by Mark Walters who was rapidly adopted by the Rangers crowd as one of their favourite sons.  A two-footed player with bewildering skill - notably his double shuffle which left many an opponent floundering helplessly on the floor - he played more than his part in helping Rangers to trophies in the late 80s and early 90s.  Another winger nonetheless who was adored by the Bears in the stands during his time at Ibrox.

 Football has a habit of throwing up ironies and perhaps one is that in the same season that Brian Laudrup signed for Rangers, Davie Cooper sadly passed away at a tragically early age.  Not long after one who was to become a Rangers great arrived, one departed.

Brian Laudrup was quite simply one of the best ever players to have graced the field at Ibrox Park.  A phenomenally talented player who was worshipped by all who saw him and those of us who did see him count ourselves fortunate that we witnessed a truly world-class player in a Rangers jersey.  Unbelievably skilful, blessed with ferocious speed, he was the perfect athlete.  For a winger, he was incredibly consistent and is assured of a place in the Rangers hall of legends.

As already mentioned, this isn't meant to be an exhaustive list.  Eddie Rutherford, Johnny Hubbard, Orjan Persson, and countless others have all played their part on the wing in making our Club the great and successful institution that it is, and to return to the opening paragraph, we may, just may, have witnessed the introduction of another who's name will be spoken about in the same terms of the great men that have been mentioned in this rambling look back in time at the Greatest Football Club the World has ever seen.  I give you The Rangers.