‘The day Rangers gave Celtic a Guard of Honour at Ibrox,’ David Potter was there!

It will be a shame if Rangers decide not to do a Guard Of Honour on Sunday, but then again that is their decision.

On Saturday 7 March 1964 it was different. It was a bright sunny spring day,and things looked good for Celtic. They had just reached the semi-final of the European Cup Winners Cup on the Wednesday with a fine win over Slovan Bratislava and had return to a deserved heroes’ reception. Rangers had long ago departed Europe, beaten by Real Madrid by a 0-7 aggregate.

I was in the enclosure at the front of the main stand. There was no segregation in that particular part of the ground, but naturally I had gravitated to the end nearest to Broomloan Road end. It was the custom in 1964 for both teams to run out separately EXCEPT in Old Firm games where, in a well intended measure to combat hooliganism, they came out together.

Today however, Rangers walked, they didn’t run, out first, and then seemed to hang about the tunnel area. What on earth was going on? All became clear when Billy McNeill led Celtic out. The Rangers players stood at each side and clapped Celtic on to the park. It was, frankly, a gesture which did them a great deal of credit – but the bawheids in the support of both sides simply did not understand it.

It seems to have been a spontaneous gesture, it certainly was not pre-advertised, and as far as I could see, all eleven joined in – yes,probably reluctantly and with gritted teeth in some cases… but they did it. It would be nice to see something similar on Sunday!

The game itself was a Scottish Cup tie, and was a classic piece of self-destruction through Celtic’s lack of conviction and their ever-present death wish when Rangers were around. Celtic started brightly and remained on top all through the first half with Jimmy Johnstone repeatedly getting the better of Jim Baxter.

The Celtic side that won 1-0 away against Slovan Bratislava

Then just before a half time a Rangers corner kicked palmed out by goalkeeper Fallon to the head of Jim Forrest, and off we trooped to the cheers of the men in blue while the Celtic end lapsed into morose silence with one or two boneheads taken away by the Glasgow Constabulary for throwing bottles during the half-time athletics contest!

We knew it was over. Rangers then scored through Willie Henderson (it wasn’t as good a goal as it was portrayed, and a tackle by a defender would have saved the day), he celebrated provocatively in front of the Celtic end, and the game then petered out.

There was no massive walk out by the Celtic fans, just a steady trickle of departures. The good work in Europe had come to naught. We had now lost 5 times to Rangers that season, mainly because we lacked belief.

It was as if it was the natural order of things in 1964.

David Potter

And confirmation on The Celtic Wiki: “Rangers players lined up before the match and clapped the Celtic players on to the pitch in view of Celts reaching the ECWC semi finals against MTK Budapest. This was regarded as a fine gesture of sportsmanship.”

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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