Foul Play – “The behaviour of the (Rangers) fans was shocking and ugly,” President of UEFA

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EARLIER TODAY we ran an article which briefly looked at the Celtic support at each of the three European Finals our club has reached, in Lisbon in 1967, in Milan in 1970 and in Seville in 2003.

One glorious victory was followed by double heart-aches in extra-time in but the thing that remained consistent was the exemplary behaviour of the Celtic support. Indeed after the final against Porto, FIFA awarded their Fair Play Award to the Celtic Supporters who were in Seville, thus the title of our earlier article – FAIR PLAY.

This evening we are going to look at how Rangers FC got on in their two European finals, against Dinamo Moscow in the 1972 Cup Winners Cup Final (they hadn’t actually won the Scottish Cup – Celtic had the trophy – but as we also won the league and were playing in the European Cup, the Ibrox club entered the tournament as Scottish Cup beaten finalists).

The Cup Winners Cup final was played in Barcelona and Rangers ended up with the cup, winning 3-2 after 86 mins. But the night was not without incident.

“The behaviour of the Scottish fans was shocking and ugly” was the headline in The Guardian on 13 May 2008, on the eve of the other European final that Rangers someone managed to reach. And once again they were playing a Russian side – Zenit St Petersburg who comfortably won the match. But just like in Barcelona things got ugly. Very ugly indeed.

Back in 1972 and with the Russians pressing hard for a late equaliser the Rangers winger Willie Johnston belted the ball into the crowd. The Rangers hordes had a better way to run down the clock as hundreds of them spilled onto the park.

“The majority of them were drunk,” The Russian goalkeeper Pilguy recalled. “They had mad faces, with bulging eyes. They had to be cleared from the field and although they didn’t really do us any harm, it meant the game was held up, and that was a big advantage for our opponents. They were exhausted by that stage and could hardly drag their legs, and I’m sure in that final four minutes we’d have scored a third.”

Rangers were able to regroup, catch their breath and see out the game. The final whistle was greeted with a full-scale pitch invasion. Franco’s police waded in with batons, the fans fought back and, as a riot raged outside, the Rangers captain John Greig and their manager Willie Waddell were presented with the trophy in an office deep beneath the stands of the Camp Nou.

Dinamo were rightly furious and appealed against the result, and they seemed to have most of the world’s press on their side. The Spanish media, not surprisingly, condemned the pitch invasions, but so too did neutral sources.

The correspondent of the UPI agency wired: “The referee had the right to stop the match during the pitch invasion, but he chose to take a different course. He patiently waited until the hooligans had left the pitch, and then ordered the players to complete the final four minutes. The pitch invasion prevented Dinamo from converting their attacking superiority and so was not a fair result.”

Here’s what the President of UEFA, Gustav Wiederkehr, had to say: “The behaviour of the Scottish fans was shocking and ugly,” he said. “I support Dinamo’s protest but the question of whether the game can be replayed can only be decided at a formal UEFA meeting.”

A decision was expected when UEFA met on the day of the European Cup Final in Rotterdam, a week after the match in Barcelona, but no statement was made.

The chairman of the Soviet Football Federation, Nikolay Ryashentsev, who was also a member of Uefa’s executive committee, raised the issue the next time the executive committee met and finally, on 16 June, the result was upheld, with Rangers being banned from European competition for two years (although that was later reduced to one year on appeal).

Rangers next Final was in Manchester on this day in 2008. Rangers fans like to estimate the size of the crowd in the city at around 200,000 and obviously the vast majority didn’t have tickets, a similar situation to the one that the Celtic fans found themselves on in Seville in 2003. Most had to content themselves with watch the match on the big screens in various parks and public spaces.

Then when there were one or two technical problems, just like in Barcelona in 1972, things started to get ugly. Very ugly. In 1972 Rangers somehow kept the cup but got a lengthy European ban because of the bad behaviour of their Hordes. In Manchester they lost the final but did succeed in securing significant coverage on one of the BBC’s most popular programmes for many months after that ugly evening in Manchester.

That BBC Programme was Crimewatch.

Incidentally behind the scenes at that time there were attempts by both Celtic and Rangers to leave Scottish football and instead join the top English division and some very close to the action reckoned that it was Manchester that killed that stone dead and ultimately led to the death of Rangers FC.

Today The Celtic Star spoke to the Manchester based photo-journalist Joel Goodman who spent the evening on this day in 2008 in Manchester City centre with the Rangers support. Joel has kindly given us permission to show you the following images.

No words are needed. Go to the next page to check out the photographs that Joel took that ugly evening in Manchester on this evening in 2008…

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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

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