Walter Smith: Top of the Tree with Fifty-Three.

Last updated : 03 May 2010 By The Gub

Let’s take a number…. Oh, say fifty-three and see where we go with it. Well, for a start, if you reverse it, you get thirty-five. I may be wrong here, but I believe that 35 (1935, that is) was the first year Rangers successfully retained both the league and Scottish Cup.

Then if you take five and add, three you get eight. And eight is a number we will forever remember Paul Gascoigne with. It is to be hoped, that this troubled soul will one day conquer his demons. I’ll say no more.

However let’s get back to 53. (1953 that is) I don’t know so much about a boy named Sue, but back then a chap called Hillary climbed to the top of a big Munro in the Himalayas.

Back in '53, although no one knew it at the time, that year would see Bill Struth win his final league title and Scottish Cup. This particular double would be his seventh league and Scottish Cup ‘double’ all in.

Back in '53, Ulsterman, Billy Simpson would carve a wee niche in Rangers history for himself by becoming the first, and indeed only, Rangers player to date to score the winning goal in the traditional Ne’erday OF fixture and the winning goal in the Scottish Cup final.

Now Jimmy Millar was seconds away from equalling Billy Simpson’s feat in the 1964 Scottish Cup final against Dundee. But his striking partner and travelling companion Ralphie Brand was having none of it as he sought to create his wee piece of history by becoming the first man to score a goal in three consecutive Scottish Cup finals. Or four, depending on your point of view, regards the original '63 final.

That ‘53’ Scottish Cup campaign would have an enormous effect on my brother and moi’s lives, years down the line.

You see on February 7th, ‘53’ a sixteen year old from Main St Bridgeton woke up full of the joys of spring. He was going up to Dundee with his old man to see the teddies’ in the 2nd round tie at Dens Park. There was over 43,000 in Dens Park that day.

That day however, would have implications on that 16 year old’s health, and have a profound effect on the rest of his life. That day would help shape him as a man. From that day onwards, although he didn’t know it at the time, it would impact on how my brother and I would grow up. That sixteen year old, was our old man.

Oh, and back in '53, it was Her Maj’s Coronation. It will be a sad day indeed when we don’t have her reigning over us.

Anyway, getting back up to the present day, how was title ‘53’ for you? For me, we started on a slow burn as such, although possibly that last gasp winner at Tynecastle was the shape of things to come, with the team eeking out the points when needed. Winning ugly? Every time Rangers win is beautiful to me.

Off the park, a pleasant event took place at Glasgow Green on Sunday 6th September, when a plaque was unveiled in memory of our Gallant Pioneers. If not journey’s end, then it was a significant step forward for our own ‘Le Bluebear’ in his one-man mission (or so it seems at times) to tell the world about those young men who formed our club. LBB, I salute you.

It’s not about imagining how proud he must have felt, I can feel it still. I couldn’t make that day as I was in Spain, but four generations of my family were there when Peter McNeil’s grandaughter’s unveiled that wee memorial.. From my old man down to my granddaughter. So, there’s my granddaughter being in the same company as the granddaughter of a founder of our club. Can it get any better? Does it get any better?

Later that evening in a bar in Alcudia, I was tapped on the back by a big, big, burly guy, who turned out to be Swedish. The conversation went something like this;

Big Guy - ‘Are you from Irland?’
Me – Whereland?
BSG – Irland.
Me – (just getting the accent) – ‘No I’m Scottish.’; where are you from?’
BG – I’m Svedish.
Me – That’s nice.
B (Svedish) G – You like sports?
Me – Yup. In fact one of my all time sporting heroes was Swedish.. Bjorn Borg.
BSG – He was good.
Me – So was Mats Willander and Stefan Edberg. I also remember a Michael Pernfors giving Jimmy Connors a game at Wimbledon, way back. (He seemed to be impressed by my tennis know how)
BSG – We have good football players, too.
Me – Correct, Jonas Thern, was a class act in his day. And that goalie with one hundred odd caps, Thomas sumbdy, I think.
BSG – What about Henrik Larsson?
Me – Dirty, cheating, diving bastard!

(At this point Mrs G, is nudging me to shut up)

BSG – What do you mean?
Me – Larsson was a dirty, cheating, diving bastard. Great player, and a talisman at his club, but still a dirty, diving cheat.

The big guy laughed as he sussed the conversation unravelling..

BSG – You are Rangers and don’t like the other side
Me – You’ve got it in one big man.

As I bought him a Vodka and Red Bull, before we back to our hotel (5 Euros btw) , I had to remind him; ‘Larsson was a dirty, cheating, diving bastard!’ I’m nothing if not nice.


There was a night at Ibrox in October to commemorate the Gallant Pioneers, and I finally got to meet the two granddaughters of one of our founders. It just cannot get any better than meeting Rangers Royalty. I could get used to this top table stuff also. You’re onto the sweets, while the plebs are still waiting on the soup.

Of course this present campaign was hampered by a thing called Europe. Never again will I listen to Rangers fans telling me that you need ultra million pounds at your disposal to gatecrash into the last sixteen. Gordon Strachan, the filth and Unirea tell us something different.

But let’s get back to nice things. After crashing out of the CL, the team hit a purple patch in December, and then some. Possibly, it was the month that won us the title. As ever, every silver lining had a cloud.

I was dying to turn up at the poisoned palace of puss, in the New Year with Da man Beasley, Miller and Novo running at them and Boyd hovering on the fringe. As per usual, my wet dreams turn out to have been half baked and dried up in The Arizona Desert.

Beasley was crocked, as was Boyd... Miller was the victim of a refereeing outrage a few days beforehand and Novo was crocked within the first twenty minutes of that fixture. Curiously enough, the Scottish mhedia prefer to keep their focus on a tackle by Lafferty that day that never resulted in an injury for an opponent. Strange that. An out of sorts Rangers that day dug deep and earned a point.

Whilst we never again hit the heights of December, the team stayed on track for almost the rest of the campaign. Sure enough, there was a hiccup in the Scottish Cup against Dundee Utd, thus depriving us of the chance of a treble. But if you had been asked at the start of the season, if you fancied the league, anything else would have been a bonus.

In Walter Smith, we trust.

I have no, absolutely no reservations whatsoever in saying that this season’s title success has been Walter Smith’s finest hour.

I have never been his greatest fan; I have went along with the concept, that he needed money, and loads o’ it to survive. The last two seasons have seen that notion papped into the Pacific Ocean. Somewhere round the Gulf of Mexico. Walter Smith is a leader of men.

In Walter Smith, I really do now believe we have a man who can sit at the top table with Wilton and Struth. Maybe he was always there and I was too blind to see it.

In Walter Smith, we have a man who has taken our club by the scruff of the neck, the way Willie Waddell did in the aftermath of the Ibrox Disaster. (Remember and check The Boston Globe, for the fine details)

Where do we go from here? I truly do not know. There’s talk of a London based property developer coming in. I personally believe we need to get back to good old fashioned basics. Scottish Presbyterians, running us, but listening to, and tuning into the fans’ fears also.

There is an enormous job required immediately in tackling the scum that constitutes the majority of the Scottish press. We are talking all out war here.

There is talk about how Martin Bain is a changed man these days, and a completely different proposition to the guy who ran the roost under Murray’s countenance. Nah, I for one am not buying into this drivel.

Baldrick, oops, sorry, Bain had the chance, to influence his paymaster down the years, but refused to do so. On the contrary, he even came out in the rhags and said that Rangers fans should not be employed at Ibrox if the job had a salary over 35k a year. He has to go.

Anyway, at time of writing, we still have a game at the poisoned palace of puss tomorrow. I truly want our management and players to treat this as a cup final. Everything is pointing towards the filth wanting to kick us up and down the park. We certainly cannot expect the referee, to help us.

One last 'competitive' game, Rangers. Just do it.