Rangers: at the Double.

Last updated : 29 May 2009 By The Govanhill Gub
This Saturday sees Rangers try to attain another League and Scottish Cup double. Although we might take this achievement somewhat for granted these days, that hasn’t always been the case and in fact the club was 56 years in existence before the first one came about.

Honourable mentions when it comes to heroic failure in the years beforehand would be the side of 1898/99. The 100% league record side would reach the final of the other three major cups on offer that season and it was, ‘you know who' baulked us of that first double.

In Bill Struth’s first full season in charge (1920/21) the league was won in a canter and Rangers were firmly expected to beat Thistle in the Scottish Cup final. But despite throwing everything at Thistle plus the kitchen sink it was not to be.

However, all good things come to those who wait.

1 – 1927/28 – Rangers were still in the grip of the Scottish Cup hoodoo, and both the OF clubs were going even stevens in both the league and Scottish Cup.

Something had to give and it was Celtic on the Easter weekend. Whilst Rangers won their two games against Hamilton and Dunfermline, Celtic lost their two games against Motherwell and Airdrie.

The rest as they say is history and on April 18th, 1928 the hoodoo was smashed to smithereens/laid to rest as it were, when a rampant Rangers side ran all over the top of Celtic. The following week saw Rangers beat Kilmarnock 5-1 and the club’s first L+SC double had been achieved.

Incidentally, the last team to beat Rangers in a Scottish Cup tie during the hoodoo years was, ahem, Falkirk.

2 – 1929/30
– If Rangers fans thought the events of two years previous were splendid then this was even better. The title had been won and it was Thistle again as opponents.

This final tie would go to a replay and it was a speculative lob by Tully Craig with not long to go that won the match and Rangers second ‘double’. They would complete the Grand Slam that season.

3 - 1933/34
– Another Grand Slam season and St Mirren were thrashed 5-0. The league was also collected a few days later. Happy days for ‘bunneted’ bears everywhere. Incidentally, this Scottish Cup win would signal the first Scottish Cup 3-in-a-row of the 20th century.

4 – 1934/35
– Rangers fans didn’t have long to wait for another tilt at double glory. The title had already been clinched when Rangers met Hamilton Accies at Hampden. Thing is there were over 200,000 at the semi final and replay ties against Hearts, yet only just under 88,000 attended the final.

5 – 1948/49
- Obviously a transition period at last had to hit Rangers and combined with WW2 it meant Rangers and the fans would have to wait 14 long years before the ‘double’ was achieved again.

Although, this double would actually be part of a ‘Treble’. With the addition of the League Cup a major domestic ‘Triple Crown’ was now there to be won. This season would be the first time it had been achieved in Scotland.

When Rangers defeated Clyde 4-1 on 23/4/49, the title was still out of their hands. But two wins against Morton and Albion Rovers would still not be enough if Dundee won at Falkirk. They crashed 4-1 and that meant more history making for Bill Struth.

6 – 1949/50
– Again like the previous season the Scottish Cup was won before the title had been clinched. East Fife it was who were breezed aside this time with the aid of Willie (big banana) Findlay’s goal, which remains the fastest in Scottish Cup final history. Willie Thornton scored the other two and had another ruled off.

The following week Hibs were kept at bay in the league before a 100,000+ attendance and the following week a draw at Third Lanark meant we had pipped the men from Easter Rd by a point. The East Fife Scottish win meant Bill Struth’s Rangers had won the SC three times in a row for the second time. A double, treble, as it were.

7 – 1952/53 – Yet again the Scottish Cup final was played, replayed and won before the title was back where it should belong. Aberdeen were put to the sword by Billy Simpson in the replay.

The final itself will always be remembered for Rangers playing a large chunk of the match with 10 men. George Young going into goals after a nasty head wound to goalkeeper George Niven.

Three days after the replay, Dundee were defeated and a Willie Waddell goal at QotS meant Rangers had pipped Hibs once more, this time on goal average. It didn’t get much tighter than this.

Incidentally, I make it that in this season we saw Billy Simpson create a wee bit of Rangers history. I might be wrong but I think he may be the only man to score the outright winner in both an OF ‘Ne’erday’ league fixture and the Scottish Cup final into the bargain.

8 – 1962/63
– It would take Rangers another ten years before the L+SC double would come about and this may rank as good as any of them.

This of course was the Rangers team of the Baxter era, and the title was won in a canter, in the season of the ‘big freeze’ by nine points over the fine Kilmarnock side of the time.

What whetted the appetite with this particular Scottish Cup final is that it was the first OF final tie in 35 years, when Struth’s hoodoo busters said enough was enough.

The final would come to be known as ‘Haffey’s Final’ as he did everything he could do keep the Gers at bay during a 1-1 draw.

However, the replay will be remembered for all manner of good things. Where do you start here?
The night the ‘Easy, Easy’ chant was born.
Thousand of bears in the ‘Sellik End’.
The so called and laughable GFITW flocking out with twenty minutes to go.
Baxter treating them with the contempt they deserve.
Baxter walking off the park with the ball up his duke and giving it to Ian McMillan.

Oh, and it ended up, as it did now and again in the Baxter era; 3-0 to The Rangers.

9 – 1963/64 - Like 1948/49, this particular double was part of a treble. The league had been put to bed against Dundee Utd three weeks before Rangers would contest the final with their Dundee rivals.

For many Rangers fans, certainly of my old man’s generation, this is their favourite Cup final as the action see-sawed from end to end. Rangers open the scoring and Dundee equalise right away.

Then those last two goals in the last ninety seconds by Millar and Brand to put the result beyond any doubt. Ralphie Brand also created history here by becoming the first player in Scottish Cup history to score goals in three consecutive finals. I’m pretty sure that record still stands.

10 – 1975/76 – There was a lull in double successes in the ensuing period but all was put to right this season. It will be a season remembered for Derek Johnstone and quick fire goals.

In April 76, DJ scored in 22 seconds at Tannadice. It was the only goal of the game and it clinched Rangers 36th title.

Exactly a week later he scored the opener in the final against Hearts in 42 seconds. Whoever said there’s much wrong in firing in quickly must be a woman!

So there we were with a third treble. It was a Teddy Bear’s picnic right enough. What we need to remember here is that DJ’s first goal in the final is not a record.

11 – 1977/78 – Who can forget  wee Doddie, a guy with a perm we loved and the sunshine. Yup, it was a fourth treble all in and Jock Wallace’s second in two seasons.

A title that seemed to be won by late February, then had some twists and turns, but the title had been clinched at Ibrox the week previous.

John Greig went down in the history books as being the first and only player in Scottish football history to win a treble in three different seasons.

12 – 1991/92 – An awful lot of water, torrents of it in fact, had skooshed under the bridge since the last double and in this season, a certain Walter Smith’s first season in charge, Airdrie faced us in the Cup final portrayed as lambs to the slaughter.

With the title already tucked away, this final and Rangers first SC victory in eleven years was something of an anti climax. Still, yours truly and his family with the South East Antrim, RSC ensconced chez Gub before the match had a day to be remembered.

I still don’t know how many pies and peas and sandwiches were sold (the till went on the blink) that day. All I can add is that being in the company of 50 odd Ulster bears as you enjoy the pre match atmosphere and going home to just you, the missus and the two ‘chukky stanes’ brings out a sense of loss and emptiness.

13 – 1992/93 – This was a season of triumph, ultimate loss but yet another treble. We had four full weeks from clinching the league till the Cup final.

A tired and jaded Rangers still had that wee bit left in the tank to grant us another treble. If that wasn’t enough, the thought that the last song ever heard in ‘the old jungle’ at CP in a competitive match is the ‘Bangers n Mash.’ Happy, happy, happy, happy talk.

14 – 1995/96
- Then there was this one. Eight in a row and Gazza versus Aberdeen at Ibrox and that title clinching hat-trick. It was, and remains the stuff of Rangers folklore.

We didn’t know it that day at Ibrox, but we were then to witness something even better. All that remains for me to say is that on May 18th, 1996, Gordon Durie became the first Rangers player, ever, to score a hat trick in a Scottish Cup final.

Will Durie’s efforts in that match be remembered? Of course they will; but only as a side salad to the main course, which was the display of Brian Laudrup that Hans Christian Andersen Cup final day. Nuff said.

15 – 1998/99 – I predict a riot; I predict a riot! Well, once again it was OF SC final day and this one was being played against the backdrop of Celtic fans displaying a sense of hatred previously, as only they can.

May 2nd, 1999, speaks for itself. The final, played a month later will be remembered for about two things of note. Lil Rodders’ goal and a sublime piece of skill by Amato on the touchline. I’m telling you, Messi read Gabby’s correspondence course as a child.

16 – 1999/2000
– It was ‘One hundreds up day’. It was also in fact Oranje Day and how we guffawed at Timbo and his apologists in the Scottish Press and their pain. Imagine being upset by a colour? I blame the schools myself.

Once again the title had been won in style and Oranje Day was going to be the icing on the cake. The fans were superb and they were delightful little Oranje clad, blue-nosed Peacocks all around Hampden.

The game will be remembered for an early collision that put Leighton out the game. That’s by most, but not by me. I remember it mostly for Rangers not running up a cricket score against this shower.

My brother was also adamant that neither the referee nor linesman were allowing big Jorg’s cannon ball effort that day that rocketed off the underside and was well over the line. He’s of the opinion that it was only because it was followed up by Rodders and Doods, who bundled it over the line between them, that the goal was awarded. I think my brother may just have a point.

17 – 2002/03 – Big Amo’s last hurrah, I suppose. The title was won in the most delirious, most mind-numbing and most breathless of circumstances the week previous.

After the league clincher versus Dunfermline, this was always going to be an anti-climax. That Dundee FC’s greed conspired to mean that 5,000 bears missed out on this particular ‘treble yell’ we’ll have to put down as one of those things.

18 – 2008/09???? – Well who knows, nothing is set in stone and nothing should be considered as done and dusted. And no one should think we can just roll up on Saturday and we will win anyway.

Tell you what though, given just how important this particular league title win has meant to the entire club. Given the possible ramifications and implications of what would have happened if we had lost this title, then Messrs Smith, McCoist and McDowall find themselves in probably a unique situation this Saturday. Probably, a situation that has never happened before and will probably never happen again.

I.E If Rangers lose this particular Scottish Cup final it will not be the end of the world. Think about it, we could lose a Scottish Cup final in shock circumstances and the Rangers support will turn a blind eye. I don’t ever remember this set of circumstances ever being the case before.

Now if you don’t believe me, then ask yourself what you would have gambled within yourself last week. The Title in exchange for the Scottish Cup? The support at large would have bit your hands for that scenario to come to pass. And don’t anyone kid themselves.

That’s not to say I don’t want to win or even demand to win. Believe me I do. But you also have to look at this season, despite the fact that WS has never been remembered as someone who gambles on youth, he did blood Fleck and Aaron during a turbulent mid season.

It has to be said; both looked a wee bit overawed by the demands. Maybe this season will be remembered by both as a salutary slap in the giz as to what is really required when you step up to that higher level.

So to hopefully, a League and Scottish Cup double # 18, and in Homecoming Year, too – It should be on, but I’ll bask, still, in last week and keep the calm head on. That’s unless I get a ticket of course.

I don’t think it is rocket science to say that the squad who got the manager over the line will be those who get to wear the jersey on Saturday. That should be enough to send us off into a happy summer.

Just do it Rangers,