Celtic’s 50 Flags – Rangers FC, psyched out and out-manoeuvred

It was then that the first crack in the Rangers edifice became apparent. They were due to play Celtic in the Glasgow Cup of 1968, but suddenly announced that they were withdrawing from the tournament!

Their argument was that they were involved in Europe and the Scottish Cup as well as the Scottish League and they were worried about fixture congestion etc. but to the Scottish footballing public at large, this seemed like cowardice as well as an insult to a competition which was older than the Scottish League!

Stein and Celtic retained a dignified silence and allowed Rangers to score that own goal – but the Press turned on Rangers, and even their own supporters were unhappy about this. They even said that Rangers were now the Aye…R…A…club of Glasgow, the letters standing for I Ran Away!

In the meantime Celtic absolutely piled on the pressure with great away wins at St Johnstone, Dundee United, Hearts and Aberdeen while Rangers struggled.

Hearts put them out of the Scottish Cup and Leeds United put them out of Europe, and then in early April they dropped a point to Dundee United at Tannadice. There was now only one point in it, and Celtic now had a far better goal average.

It all went Celtic’s way on Wednesday 17 April. When Celtic were winning the Glasgow Cup (yes, the Glasgow Cup which Rangers ran away from) by beating Clyde 8-0, Rangers, behind at one point, fought back to earn a draw at Morton – but it was only a draw and Celtic were now top of the League on goal average.

But Morton still had to come to Celtic Park the following Saturday, and they held out until the very last minute before a goal came off Bobby Lennox’s shin to release bedlam at Celtic Park.

Rangers, psyched out and outmanoeuvred, then blew up completely by losing their last game of the season to Aberdeen at Ibrox. They had insisted on playing that game in competition to the Scottish Cup final between Dunfermline and Hearts, thus insulting the Scottish Cup as well as the Glasgow Cup, and once again were railed at in the Press for their arrogance.

They duly paid the penalty for that. The idea that Rangers ran Scottish football died hard at Ibrox.

Celtic had now effectively won the League unless they went down by something like 16-0 to Dunfermline on Wednesday night. That never happened, for Celtic won 2-1 at a dangerously over crowded East End Park in what was a carnival atmosphere of the Scottish League winners v the Scottish Cup winners.

These two clubs had always had a good relationship with each other, and how they all enjoyed Dunfermline coming out with the Scottish Cup, and Jock Stein trying to steal the Cup from George Farm!

David Potter

Extract from Celtic How the League was Won 49 Times by David Potter. More Celtic Title joy later this morning…

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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