It Was Thirty Years Ago Today
A bargain you probably think, but adjusting for inflation that would be close to £300 in today¹s money not the sort of cash that the average (very) schoolboy had in his pocket or Post Office savings account. I had been to all the home ties and was desperate to go to the final but a lack of cash and a reluctance from my parents to let an 18-year-old loose in Spain were major hurdles.
The second hurdle went first as two "old" blokes from my local supporters bus decided they wanted to go too. One was around 40 do people live that long? and the other was an OAP who had never been abroad before. Then big brother came up with the readies. He had given up following the Gers regularly a couple of years before in pursuit of other interests like women and drink, but decided that he would lend me the cash to be repaid out of summer holiday earnings and come on the trip himself. I was sorted.
Hughie the 40-something drove us to what was then called Abbotsinch airport on the morning of the match. I don't remember much about the flight, but we then transferred to our hotel in Lloret de Mar where holidaymakers taking an early break ahead of the school holidays got an unruly wake-up call.
Lunch and bevvy then followed, although Spanish beer turned out to be an acquired taste, and one it was going to take me more than a couple of days to acquire. So vodka and orange it was. The afternoon was relatively quiet although I do have a photograph of me up a tree at one point in the proceedings, and then we set off for Barcelona with a packed meal from the hotel. Included was a chicken leg which would have been useful against the batons of the Spanish polis.
The game could not have started better a cracker from Colin, Colin, Colin Stein and the Bud¹s header. Both of these goals were celebrated with a wee dram from Hughie¹s duty free bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label, and that was emptied early in the second half when the third goal went in. The rest of the game was a bit of a non-event. We "knew" we had won and were waiting for the inevitable final whistle. Of course what came were the inevitable two Russian goals and the nail-biting finish.
Billy McBungle had to fight through throngs of TGFITW to pick up the European Cup in 1967, and at the World Cup Final in 1966 the correct quote from Kenneth Wolstenholme is " Some fans are on the pitch. They think it¹s all over. It is now."
Fans on the field after a big win were common and as long as two opposing sets of fans did not meet there, then no trouble ensued. Now back in 1972 it was difficult enough for Soviet players to get visas to go abroad, far less fans, so there was no chance of a "square go" between the fans.
Enter Spain's finest. Faced with a celebrating crowd they took the only action possible they charged it. Obviously this appears on page 1 of the Spanish Polisman's handbook. Initially the Bears retreated, but then some of the Spaniards unable to catch up threw batons at the fans. Some were picked up and used in self defence.
The net result was that the cup was presented behind closed doors and the mood on our bus back to Lloret was subdued to say the least. It probably wouldn¹t have been much worse if we had lost.
But Thursday was another day. Instead of the usual donkeys as souvenirs some fans were sporting Spanish Police hats and batons. We touched down in Scotland to a typical spring day in Glasgow wet and cold and then straight to Ibrox to see the victory parade round the park.
There was a big track round the pitch in those days and the team drive round the ground standing on the back of what looked like a coal lorry with some ribbons on it no expense spared. But we got to see the trophy.
That was my first trip abroad and it would be 26 years later in Leverkusen before I would see Rangers win on foreign soil again. I don¹t count Leeds as being foreign. I still have the flag from Holiday Enterprises (a sort of 1970s Dixons), I still have the Spanish newspapers from the Thursday morning (unbelievably there were no programmes) and I still have the memories. I was there when we won our first European trophy and I hope to make it again when we win the next one.