History

1959-60 European Cup: Part V – Eintracht Frankfurt v Real Madrid (Final)

To round off the series, this part will look into the final of the 1959-60 European Cup between holders Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt, conquerors of Rangers. For some, that final at Hampden was the greatest game of football ever played.

The Finalists

Of course, Eintracht had defeated Rangers in the last four, but beforehand had eliminated Kuopion Palloseura by walk-over, Young Boys of Berne (2-5), Wiener Sportclub (3-2) before defeating the Scottish champions 12-4 in the semi-final.

Real Madrid, who had won each of the previous four editions of the 1200px-Eintracht_Frankfurt_Logo.svgEuropean Cup, had received a bye in the preliminary round courtesy of being the defending champions. They eased past the Luxembourgers Jeunesse Esch 12-2 in the 1st Round, before Nice were beaten 6-3 in a controversial quarter-final. A pair of 3-1 wins over Barcelona in the all-Spanish semi-final handed them a 6-2 aggregate victory and secured their place in the Glasgow showpiece.images

Having included a section on the Eintracht team in the previous part of this series, the remainder of this segment will focus on Real Madrid.

Los Blancos were formed in 1902 but became the dominant force of Spanish and European football in the 1950’s with superstars such as Alfredo di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Francisco Gento. All three would play against Eintracht, with di Stefano and Puskas featuring against Rangers when Real Madrid came to Ibrox in the 1st Round of the 1963-64 European Cup. When they met in the 1960 semi-final, Real Madrid had actually trailed Barcelona in the number of La Liga titles won. Madrid had won six in comparison to Barca’s seven, and it was the Catalans, the reigning champions, who would win the 1959-60 championship (finishing level on points, but Barca with a superior record on head-to-head).

I have included the pen pictures below for both times published in the programme of the Final.

IMG_0927

IMG_0928

The Final (Hampden Park, 18th May 1960)

The match was initially in doubt. Due to unsubstantiated doping allegations levelled at the West German national team some years earlier by Ferenc Puskas, the DFB had banned any West German team from playing against a side featuring the Hungarian maestro. A written apology from Puskas ahead of the Hampden clash satisfied the German football authorities.

The Sunday before the Wednesday final saw Spain easily defeat England at the Bernabeu 3-0. The team included three of the Real side: Pachin, Franciso Gento and Alfredo di Stefano. The official Real Madrid party planned to arrive in Glasgow on the Friday, but due to the inability of their hotel in Troon to accommodate them, the plans changed so they would arrive around 1700 on the Saturday. They squad flew into Prestwick, minus those who were to play against England in Madrid, which attracted the ire of Real. Interestingly, the man responsible for their upset was Helenio Herrera, Manager of Spain (and Barca when Los Blancos met them in the semis), and someone who Real had only the previous month offered a massive amount of money to become their own boss which was turned down.

On the Saturday, the SFA’s public allocation of tickets went on sale. Some had begun to queue since midnight, but a queue was forbidden until 0800, and there was a need for mounted police to break-up a section of the crowd at one point. IMG_0926

Eintracht would arrive in Scotland on the Sunday evening, and would be based at Skelmorlie. Unlike Real Madrid, they had made no request to the SFA to train at Hampden prior to the Final.

Despite the threat of heavy rain putting a dent on Real’s training programme, they were able to complete a session on Sunday evening albeit at Rugby Park. The following day was spent resting at their hotel in Troon, with the players ordered to arrange breakfast in bed and weren’t to be seen until after 1100. Afterwards, they took a quick walk around the local area and then headed in to Glasgow for some shopping. A final, light training session in the evening would be undertaken and would last roughly 75 minutes, this time at Hampden.

The Germans, however, preferred a game of golf at Largs. They would return back to their hotel for a siesta, and then come back to Largs for a training session. Team-manager Ernst Berger explained the decision of not wishing train at Hampden ahead of the final, “We don’t feel that travelling so far from our training hotel will be good for our players. We will find out about the pitch soon enough.” Herr Berger also disclosed that with no injury concerns, Eintracht would be fielding the same XI that had faced Rangers. He also revealed the Germans would be sporting a new strip, red with white sleeves, as opposed to the striped jerseys their players were more accustomed to.

In an interview with the Evening Times, Real Madrid’s President Santiago Bernabeu offered some insight into what made Real different to other club sides in the world, “Real is not a football club. It is what you say a college, or a school. Every day we learn something. Every day I learn. Every day the manager learns. Every day the players learn. No learn, no good.”

For the Germans, they would take a sailing trip on the eve of the final, before travelling back for another training session at Largs. The following day they would check-in at the St Enoch’s hotel and have an afternoon of relaxation before the game. They had however, developed a fitness concern over Dieter Stinka, scorer of two goals against Rangers. He was adjudged to be around 50-50 to take to the Hampden pitch on Wednesday.

Real also had an injury to contend with. Outside-right Canario was struggling, and Emilio Ostreicher would wait until late-on to name his team, giving him every opportunity to be ready.

Rangers had arranged that their bus driver of 12 years, Archie Logan Pittman, would be at the disposal of the Eintracht team for the duration of their stay in Scotland.

It was fair to say that Real were firm favourites to be taking home the trophy again, but there was fighting talk coming out of the German camp. Ernst Berger said, “All the newspapers say we are going to be beaten tonight. Real are a wonderful team. The newspapers are entitled to their opinion. But we did not come to Scotland to lose.”

Both sides were boosted with news on the injury front. Both sides would be a at full-strength, meaning Eintracht could name the same side that had defeated Rangers.

IMG_0929

The teams were as follows:

Real Madrid                                                                       Eintracht Frankfurt

  1. Rogelio Dominguez
  2. Marquitos
  3. Pachin
  4. Jose Maria Vidal
  5. Jose Santamaria
  6. Jose Maria Zarraga (C)
  7. Canario
  8. Luis del Sol
  9. Alfredo di Stefano
  10. Ferenc Puskas
  11. Francisco Gento
  1. Egon Loy
  2. Friedel Lutz
  3. Hermann Hoeffer
  4. Hans Weilbacher
  5. Walter Eigenbradt
  6. Dieter Stinka
  7. Richard Kress
  8. Dieter Lindner
  9. Paul Stein
  10. Alfred Pfaff (C)
  11. Erich Meier

 

Referee: Jack Mowat (Scotland)

In the event of a draw, an extra 30 minutes would be played, and if the teams were still level, the European Cup committee would convene to arrange a date and venue for a replay.

It was a sunny evening in Glasgow. There was no rain, but a fair wind blew. The Germans won the toss, giving them the choice of ends and Real kicked-off first. Over 134,000 watched on at Hampden as Real, right from the off, played offensively with some neat and clever passing moves. A near miss occurred within the first quarter-of-an-hour when a goalward drive from the left could only be diverted over the bar from close-range by di Stefano.

However, the Germans were by no means overawed by the Spaniards. Kress carried the ball towards the Real penalty area, before touching it out wide to Lindner, who controlled the ball before delivering a knee-height cross. The Eintracht no.7 carried on his run and was able to get onto the end of it and steer it from the front post beyond Dominguez in the Real goal. After 18 minutes, the Germans led.

Eintracht followed up. Shortly afterwards they were awarded a corner, but the dangerous-looking delivery was captured by Dominguez.

The champions soon began to find their way again. Canario broke down the right-wing and struggled a low cross into the box which somehow progressed all the way to the back-post where Alfredo di Stefano was on-hand, unmarked, to touch the ball into the Eintracht net. The German lead had lasted for less than 10 minutes.

Almost immediately, Real were on the prowl again. A high ball into the box was unable to be properly cleared by the Germans. A careless header could only go as far as del Sol on the edge of the area who nudged the ball sideways to Canario. The right-winger unleashed a low shot with the outside of his boot towards to the goalie’s near post. Loy dived magnificently to stop the shot but failed to take it cleanly and di Stefano was on it like a shot, blasting the ball into the net to give Real a 2-1 advantage on the half-hour mark.

The Madridstas maintained their dominance. Another effort on-goal came when Jose Maria Vidal struck a clean shot with the outside of his foot. As it headed for the goal it found the head of Eintracht left-back Hermann Hofer whose nod deflected it onto the post and the ball bounced clear. Not long after, Eintracht were again on the backfoot. A long ball dropped like a stone into the danger area. Under pressure from Gento, the German defender was unable to deal adequately with the threat. Puskas arrived late, touched the ball beyond Eigenbradt into a wide area of the penalty box and rifled a shot into the roof of the net in the very final minute of the first period. Real Madrid went into half-time 3-1 up. Eintracht had been tenacious, particularly early in the game and had offered some attacking threat of their own, but they were no match for the masterful Madrid attack.

The second-half began just as the first had ended with Madrid on top. First, Loy did well to turn a long-range Puskas shot away from danger with the aid of Lutz. Then Eintracht went forward. A move down the right resulted in a crossed ball, but the resulting shot went high over the bar.

With around 10 minutes played of the second period, Puskas moved forward on the counter and attempted to slip through Gento. Friedel Lutz went shoulder-to-shoulder with the great left-winger and looked to have successfully seen the ball safely back to his goalkeeper when the referee’s whistle went. After a word with the linesman, ref Mowat awarded a penalty for an alleged obstruction. There didn’t appear to be too much in it and justifiably the Germans were aggrieved. The ‘keeper stood still as Puskas lashed the ball to his left-hand side and into the net. 4-1.

Almost instantly after the resumption of play, Eintracht launched an attack of their own and forced a tremendous save by Dominguez. However, any flicker of hope was short lived. Again, Madrid went on the attack. The great Gento moved down the left side and hooked a ball into the box which was nodded in by Puskas, for his hat-trick, on the hour-mark to extend the Spaniards’ lead to four goals.

Again, Gento was threatening down the left side. On one occasion he centred the ball dangerously, finding di Stefano who flicked a header and forced a fantastic diving save by Loy, who conceded the corner.

With the clock just leaving 70 minutes, Puskas strode through the Eintracht half imperiously. Arriving at the 18-yard-line, he lashed a left-footed shot high into the top corner of the Eintracht goal to make it 6-1. This goal was the pick of the bunch.

In all credit to Eintracht, they weren’t too dejected at being 5 goals down with under 20 minutes still to play. Irwin Stein progressed through the Madrid half, beat two defenders, and put the ball high into the top far corner of Dominguez’s net, leaving him with no chance. It was a great goal.

Less than 60 seconds later, and di Stefano struck from well outside the box an absolute thunderbolt which nestled in the bottom left corner of Loy’s goal. Three goals in as many minutes.

The excitement wasn’t over, though. With 15 minutes remaining, an Eintracht attack looked to have been foiled, but Vidal sold Dominguez short on a back-pass and Stein raced in to reduce the deficit to four.

The remainder was an exhibition of scintillating soccer, spearheaded by the magnificent trio of Puskas, di Stefano and Gento. In the final moments it was the aforementioned Gento who possessed the ball down by the corner flag. He stood with the ball stationery, attempting to coax his opponent to make a challenge. With none forthcoming, he got his foot under the ball, and very nearly managed to get it over the head of Lutz. It was a fine effort, and the crowd appreciated the attempt, but they were pleased to see the German saved from public humiliation.

The magnificent spectacle was brought to a close with Real winning 7-3 in what has since become one of the most famous European Cup Finals ever played.

After the match, Trainer of the German side Paul Oswald conceded that the Spaniards were a class above, even if they were aided by a contentious penalty decision. He said, “Naturally we were disappointed that we did not win. But it is no disgrace to be beaten by Real Madrid. Before the game I said they were the greatest club side in the world. That opinion was endorsed at Hampden. I leave with a great respect for the players of Scotland, for the club directors, and for the spectators who were so wonderful last night.”

Senor Bernabeu was also full of praise for the Scottish football public, “Hampden ees magnifico…the Scottish public I will never forget. Never have I heard such cheering in my life. If we are in the final next year we would like to come back to Hampden. This stadium is so good and the organisation so excellent that all finals should be played at Hampden.”

Madrid newspaper Marca had this to say about events at Hampden, “We watched a game of extraordinary beauty with seven goals of such quality. I do not think we should see a final like it again. For many years people will be talking about the legendary feat of a team which won the European Cup five times in a row.”

The compliments even extended to Frankfurt with newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau saying, “One cannot minimise their success with ifs and buts. In the second half when a penalty goal gave the coup de grace to Eintracht, the senors from Madrid began to dance. They proved to be magicians and out-tricked the Frankfurt team. The Spaniards are a super team. Like dancing Dervishes, Puskas and di Stefano beat the Frankfurters to their knees. The two men paid back an old debt, the one from an International in Frankfurt, the other from the 1954 World Cup finals in Berne.”

Capture

Rangers’ Opponents of 1959-60

RSC Anderlecht – The Brussels side went on to finish second in the Belgian First Division, just a single point behind Lierse from Antwerp. They would return to the European Cup in season 1962-63 and reach the quarter-finals. Anderlecht

Red Star Bratislava – In a close-run Czechoslovakian League campaign, Red Star would finish in 5th place, but just 4 points behind winners Spartak Hradec Kralove. They represented Czechoslovakia in the 1960 Mitropa Cup, a cup competition open to countries of central Europe, and went out in the first round to the Hungarians Tatabanyai Banyasz. They wouldn’t compete in Europe again until the 1975-76 UEFA Cup, by which time they had become TJ Internacional Bratislava. Scotland were drawn in the same qualification Group for the 1962 World Cup as Czechoslovakia and some members of the side came up against Red-Star-Bratislavafamiliar faces. Finishing level on points, a play-off between the two nations was organised. A Scotland side featuring three Rangers players (Jim Baxter, Ralph Brand and Eric Caldow) were upset 4-2 AET by the Czechs, who featured old foes to Caldow: Adolf Scherer and Jiri Tichy. In the regular group games, Davie Wilson, Bobby Shearer, Alex Scott and Ian McMillan had also faced the men from the East. Titus Bubernik had played in the second of the regulation group matches.

Sparta Rotterdam – The plucky part-time Dutch side faced a disappointing domestic campaign. Relinquishing their Eredivisie title, they finished in 7th, a whole 16 points behind Ajax and Feyenoord (Ajax defeated Feyenoord in a play-off for the title). In 1962-63, they would return to continental competition, in the shape of 200px-Sparta_Rotterdam_logothe European Cup-Winners Cup by virtue of winning the previous year’s KNVB Cup. Just weeks after losing out to Rangers, they returned to Glasgow for a meeting with Celtic as part of the City’s Dutch week.

Eintracht Frankfurt – The beaten finalists finished 3rd in the Oberliga Sud, missing out on qualification for the 1960 German football championship by a solitary point from Kickers Offenbach and six behind table-toppers Karlsruher SC. Eintracht would be forced to wait over a decade for a return to European football, losing out to Liverpool in the 1st Round of the 1972-73 UEFA Cup.1200px-Eintracht_Frankfurt_Logo.svg

Despite progress to the last four of the European Cup, it had been a disappointing season for Rangers. Two days after being eliminated by Eintracht, the Light Blues completed their final league fixture of the season which was a 2-1 defeat to Third Lanark in-front of 8,500 at Ibrox. The end result was a third-place finish in the league, 8 points behind Kilmarnock and 12 off Hearts. The Ibrox men then had the traditional season-ending Glasgow Merchants’ Charity Cup. Ralph Brand scored as the Gers drew 1-1 with Celtic at Ibrox, only for the home side to progress to the final on the toss of a coin. Rangers then played their fourth game in six days as Millar and Brand scored to secure the trophy with a 2-0 victory over Partick Thistle at Hampden. The Charity Cup joined the Glasgow Cup, and, the season’s saving grace, the Scottish Cup in the Ibrox trophy cabinet for season 1959-60.

Rangers had also been selected to represent Scotland in a new competition: the Friendship Cup. This intended to pit four teams each from Scotland and England against eight teams from France. Dundee, Motherwell and Clyde were the other Scottish sides chosen.

However, all throughout the season there had been discussion of organising other European competitions, owing to the success of the European Cup and to a lesser extent the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. One posed by the Mitropa Cup Committee was to arrange a tournament open to the winners of the Cup competitions of Europe’s national football associations. There were some issues. Firstly, was that not all national associations had cup competitions, and in many of those that did, unlike in Scotland and England, it was often held in low esteem. The SFA were keen, as were the FA and the Italian Football Federation, and a semi-pilot was arranged for season 1960-61. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, West Germany, East Germany, Austria and Switzerland all agreed to take part. Other associations were put off by the unofficial nature of the competition, and others did not believe there would be public demand for a secondary continental cup competition.

Born was the European Cup for Domestic Cup Winners, or the European Cup-Winners’ Cup. As winners of the Scottish Cup, Rangers would compete in the first edition. As a result, the Ibrox side would no longer play in the Friendship Cup and were replaced by Celtic.

The semi-final of 1959-60 remains the furthest Rangers have ever progressed in Europe’s premier Cup competition. The following season’s continental campaign wouldn’t be too bad either.

Advertisements
History

1959-60 European Cup: Part IV – Eintracht Frankfurt v Rangers (Semi-Final)

The Opposition

Eintracht, a sports club best known for competing in football, can trace its roots in soccer back to 1899 when two Frankfurt football clubs were formed and later merged in 1911. 9 years later, that entity joined with a gymnastics club to become TuS Eintracht Frankfurt von 1861. The football and gymnastics teams demerged in 1927. The word Eintracht is German for harmony or unity. 1200px-Eintracht_Frankfurt_Logo.svg

A nationwide professional league didn’t begin in Germany until the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963, of which Eintracht were founding members. Until then, leagues were split into five regions with some receiving two qualification spots and some just one for the German football championship played over the months of May and June. The field was whittled down to eight, which were split into two groups with the winners meeting in the Final.

Eintracht competed in the southernmost league, Oberliga Sud, which encompassed the states of Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg and Hesse. In 1958-59, Eintracht won the 16-team League for the fourth (and final) time in their history by two points from Kickers Offenbach and gained qualification for that season’s German football championship. The final was reached by winning all six group games and would meet their local foes Kickers Offenbach in the final. Extra-time was required, but Eintracht, for the only time in their history, became champions of Germany by virtue of a 5-3 win and thereby qualifying for the 1959-60 European Cup.

Like Rangers, the Germans were drawn to play a preliminary fixture. However, before a ball was kicked, their opponents, Kuopion Palloseura of Finland, withdrew and allowed Eintracht to progress with a walkover. Switzerland’s Young Boys of Berne were put to the sword by 5-2 before Wiener Sportclub from Vienna were beaten 3-2 in the quarter-finals. The Eintracht squad was exclusively German and part-time. They possessed 3 full Internationals: Hans Weilbacher (right-half), Richard Kress (outside-right), and their 33-year-old captain Alfred Pfaff (inside-left), who also won the 1954 World Cup with West Germany. There were also amateur Internationalists within their ranks. Perhaps one thing that defined the Frankfurt side more than anything else was their athleticism and physical fitness.

Again, I have included the pen pictures of the Eintracht players published in the matchday programme for the second leg at Ibrox:

img_0913-e1542727769286.jpg

In more recent history, Eintracht are the current holders of the German national cup competition, the DFB Pokal, having defeated Bayern Munich in last season’s final to win it for the 5th time. After 11 games played this season, they currently sit in 4th in the Bundesliga with 20 points.

Rangers since Sparta Rotterdam

Just three days after dispatching the Dutchmen, Rangers were running out at Hampden to take on Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final. 80,000 watched as the Ibrox side went behind after 25 minutes but levelled up with little over 20 minutes remaining through Jimmy Millar. A replay was required, which would not have been what the Light Blues wished with a large backlog of league fixtures to fulfil in the month of April, and was played on the Wednesday. This time it was Rangers who took the lead, Davie Wilson scoring shortly before the half-hour mark. The sides were to go into half-time level but a second-half goal blitz saw Rangers defeat the Parkhead side 4-1, with Millar scoring twice and Wilson again on the mark. Their opponents would be a Kilmarnock side managed by Willie Waddell, who were by now eight points clear of the Light Blues having played three games more in the league. The final was due to be played in-between away and home legs of the tie with Eintracht. Harold Davis was a fitness concern after that semi, with complaints regarding back muscles. An assessment by Trainer Davie Kinnear and x-rays at the Victoria Infirmary would be required to see if the right-half would be fit for the trip to Frankfurt. George Niven had missed the replay with back pain himself and would also cause a withdrawal from the Scotland squad. Eric Caldow was Rangers’ sole representative as Scotland drew 1-1 with England at Hampden a few days later. As Rangers flew out from Prestwick, there became a third player currently under treatment, and it was none other than Alex Scott. Scot Symon would be sweating over the fitness of three members of his preferred starting XI.

1st Leg (Waldstadion, 13th April 1960)

Having drawn 1-1 at the weekend, Eintracht broke with protocol and organised a training session on the eve of the match. Commenting on their chances against Rangers, an Eintracht spokesman said, “We are very tired now. We have been playing sometimes three matches a week in the league and German cup, and it is possible we will not be at our best against Rangers.”

Rangers themselves would be the victims of fixture congestion, seeing a schedule of Saturday-Monday- Wednesday between the away leg in Germany and return match three weeks later in Glasgow. Scot Symon’s side arrived in Frankfurt on the day prior to the game and would undertake no training sessions before the match. Some of the traveling party were struck by the “beautiful” stadium. The ground it stood on had been cut from a forest, with pine trees lining the outside edge of the terracing. At the corners were large pylons with bright floodlights that shone upon an emerald green pitch that, like was seen in Holland, was considered a perfect surface for football.

The Light Blues were pleased to have Niven and Scott in the starting XI, but unfortunately Harold Davis had lost his fitness battle. He was replaced at right-half by Sammy Baird dropping back, and Symon slightly springing a surprise by shifting Millar to Baird’s more familiar no.10 jersey and recalling Max Murray to play in a double centre-forward formation. The starting XIs are below.

Eintracht Frankfurt                                                                    Rangers

  1. Egon Loy
  2. Friedel Lutz
  3. Hermann Hoeffer
  4. Hans Weilbacher
  5. Walter Eigenbradt
  6. Dieter Stinka
  7. Richard Kress
  8. Dieter Lindner
  9. Paul Stein
  10. Alfred Pfaff (C)
  11. Erich Meier
  1. George Niven
  2. Eric Caldow (C)
  3. Johnny Little
  4. Sammy Baird
  5. Bill Paterson
  6. Billy Stevenson
  7. Alex Scott
  8. Ian McMillan
  9. Max Murray
  10. Jimmy Millar
  11. Davie Wilson

Referee: Gosta Lindberg (Sweden)

Eintracht took to the field wearing shirts and shorts of a washed-out scarlet, whilst Rangers wore their traditional blue kits. 72,000 had ventured into the forest and to the stadium, with a smattering being Scots followers.

The first opportunity for a goal came after just eight minutes. Richard Kress, the slightly overweight German outside-right who was described as looking like “he could not catch a bus leaving the stop in first gear,” ran through into the Rangers penalty area, beating Johnny Little with his deceptive pace. The Light Blues no.3, however did well to recover, and managed to hook the ball away with a tremendous last-ditch sliding tackle, and the ball rolled away for a corner kick. Or so he thought. As Little went in for the tackle, Kress theatrically threw himself down on to the turf and the Swedish official pointed to the spot. It was Kress himself who stepped up to take the kick, which beat the ‘keeper, but also the post. It went well wide and the scores remained 0-0.

The next twenty minutes was a bit of a chess match. Neither side were able to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Goalscoring opportunities were non-existent. When the first arrived, after 28 minutes, Dieter Stinka was on-hand to hook the ball high into the roof of George Niven’s net to give the Germans the opener. The crowd celebrated with fireworks but were quietened down swiftly. Less than 60 seconds after going behind, Rangers went on the attack and Ian McMillan was fouled in the box. For the second time in less than half an hour, the referee awarded a penalty kick. Captain Caldow stepped up, and unlike his German counterpart, made no mistake as he put it beyond the reach of Loy and into the back of the net to equalise.

The Light Blues were in a bit of sweat 10 minutes later when Niven was forced to make a splendid save, and in doing so, staved his wrist. After lengthy treatment, he was deemed fit enough to continue.

Half-time arrived, and whilst it had by no means been a classic Rangers performance, they remained well in contention to leave Germany with a creditable result, even if they had looked sluggish and lacklustre. The Germans had had the better of the opportunities, but the match as a whole was fairly evenly matched in the first period. The second half would be a procession.

A little over five minutes had passed since play’s resumption when the Germans came forward. Alfred Pfaff cut inside from the right and played a lovely disguised through ball which cut open the Rangers defence. Stein latched on to it, and arrived just a second before the onrushing Niven, who dived low to save the shot. The ball was only deflected back into the danger area where Pfaff was ready to pass the ball past two despairing Rangers defenders on the goal-line.

Three minutes after taking the lead, Eintracht attacked again and won a free-kick in a central position, around 25 yards from goal. It was the left-footed Pfaff who was the taker and hit a low controlled shot around the outside of the wall (which broke up prematurely), unclear whether it touched anybody on the way through, and just tucked inside the diving Niven’s left post. 3-1.

Eintracht were now fully in control of the match. They were cutting Rangers open at will with intelligent runs and matching passes. Scot Symon’s men weren’t without their own chances, however. Scott hit the bar, and Max Murray forced an outstanding save from Egon Loy in the Eintracht goal whilst the arrears was still two.

A free-kick was conceded by the Gers on the right-wing on the 74th minute. Weilbacher delivered a high cross into the box. Lindner, the inside-right, rose without any real challenge almost on the 6-yard line and bulleted an excellent header low to Niven’s left, leaving the ‘keeper with no chance for 4-1. The dam had broken.

Five minutes remained on the clock and Rangers were at sixes and sevens. A failed clearance only went as far Lindner who rolled the ball sideways and made a forward run. He waltzed through effortlessly as the ball arrived in the penalty area and with one touch knocked the ball beyond a helpless Niven for number five.

Almost immediately after the restart, the Rangers backline were under pressure again. Eric Caldow failed to take control of a high ball, and allowed Stein to race through on goal, round the ‘keeper and slot the ball home. 6-1 was the final score.

Rangers had been comprehensively outclassed in the second half. The second leg seemed a mere formality. Ian McMillan was later to criticise Scot Symon for not making any tactical intervention at half-time. Rangers were disappointing, but the Germans had played the game of their lives. Rangers Chairman John F. Wilson said after the match, “There is no sense in taking credit away from the German team. They were the best team I have seen. They were really fast-moving and it was an interesting and good game.” Eric Caldow commented, “On last night’s showing the Germans were the best team we have played. If we had had better luck just after half-time we might have been ahead when Scott hit the bar and Murray came near with a header. Two goals then would have made all the difference.”

Capture

The five Eintracht goals from the second-half can be seen here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg2Q7ZZrY7Q

The entirety of the second half can be viewed here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKUR81dEqJc

Back home, there was a small controversy surrounding the BBC. They had planned to show a 30-minute film of the game at 2320 but were only able to show a 10-minute excerpt to viewers in Scotland. They blamed the SFA, who said they had done all they could to facilitate the broadcast despite being approached late and the fault for the error lay with the BBC. Regardless, the situation led to the ludicrous situation of a film originating in Glasgow being shown to viewers up and down the nation, except in Scotland. Both BBC and STV showed extracts from the match the following evening.

Despite the tie appearing at this stage to be a foregone conclusion, Rangers announced that the second leg would be an all-ticket affair such was the size of the crowd expected.

The weekend saw a dress rehearsal for the Scottish Cup final when the Light Blues travelled to second-placed Kilmarnock and left Rugby Park with a 1-1 draw. That day, Hearts secured the league flag with a 4-4 draw against St Mirren. It was a quick turnaround for Rangers who had a League fixture with Motherwell at Ibrox on the Monday (which was lost 2-0), before meeting Kilmarnock again on the Saturday in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden. Over 108,000 descended on Hampden to see Jimmy Millar give Rangers the lead after 22 minutes. Caldow missed a penalty early in the second period, but it wasn’t something the Light Blues were left to rue as Millar scored again to claim the trophy with a 2-0 win.

Two days later Rangers were on the road to Love Street (for a 1-1 draw), and two days after that the Ibrox men lost 4 goals in less than half an hour as they went down 4-1 to Clyde at Shawfield. Only three members of the regular Rangers side played in this match and led to the Club having to explain the team selection to the Scottish League. On Saturday, there was a 1-1 draw with Airdrie at Ibrox. All of these fixtures before the second leg of a European Cup Semi-Final on the Thursday!

Rangers were actually scheduled to play Third Lanark the day after the match with Eintracht, but that was rearranged just one week in advance.

Harold Davis still hadn’t recovered from the muscle injury that had kept him out of the match in Germany, but in his place Ian McColl had returned with the former captain most famously playing his final match for the Club in the cup final. In the match against Airdrie just days before the visit of Eintracht, Jimmy Millar sustained a gashed head, that was to require two stitches. A decision on his fitness would be taken as late as possible.

2nd Leg (Ibrox Park, 5th May 1960)

Testament to just how big a draw the Germans were to the football-loving Glasgow public, admission prices were raised to a record high for a club match, despite the 6-1 deficit.IMG_0911

Based in Largs, Eintracht changed their schedule slightly to allow their players to take in the Scotland-Poland match the night before their meeting with Rangers at Ibrox (the Scotland game was the reason why the Rangers match was to be played on a Thursday). They would train at Ibrox on the Wednesday afternoon, and after the Scotland match would be entertained to supper by Rangers. Matchday would be spent resting at their Largs hotel.

The Germans confirmed they would field an unchanged side from the first leg. Team Manager Ernst Berger said, “Everyone is fit and well and we are looking forward to a memorable match. We know it will be far from easy for us at Ibrox tonight and I will not say we will win.”

Rangers, however, were keeping their cards close to their chest. The starting XI was kept top secret, with all first team players told to report to the Stadium 90 minutes before kick-off. The big question mark was over the fitness of Harold Davis, and if he wasn’t able to play, would the Gers again turn to Ian McColl who had inspired the team in the cup final with Kilmarnock.

The starting XIs were as follows:

Rangers                                                                                     Eintracht Frankfurt

  1. George Niven
  2. Eric Caldow (C)
  3. Johnny Little
  4. Harold Davis
  5. Bill Paterson
  6. Billy Stevenson
  7. Alex Scott
  8. Ian McMillan
  9. Jimmy Millar
  10. Sammy Baird
  11. Davie Wilson
  1. Egon Loy
  2. Friedel Lutz
  3. Hermann Hoeffer
  4. Hans Weilbacher
  5. Walter Eigenbradt
  6. Dieter Stinka
  7. Richard Kress
  8. Dieter Lindner
  9. Paul Stein
  10. Alfred Pfaff (C)
  11. Erich Meier

Referee: Bertil Loow (Sweden)

IMG_0914

Davis’ return to the side enabled Sammy Baird to resume his more familiar inside-left role. Despite suffering a head injury at the weekend, Jimmy Millar was also fit enough to take his place as Scot Symon fielded what most would regard at that point as his strongest team.

Despite the Germans starting with a 5-goal advantage, it didn’t deter 70,000 turning out at Ibrox for the battle to come.

Rangers did the only thing they could: go all-out for an early goal in the hope it could spark a miracle at Ibrox Park. Of course, this came with the existential risk of leaving the backdoor open. When one Rangers attack broke down after around 8 minutes, the ball was picked-up by Stinka who was allowed to advance all of 50-yards on the Light Blues defence. The backline seemed to await the killer pass that would be slipped through to the German forwards, instead Stinka took the opportunity himself and unloaded a shot from well outside the box that found the net. The visitors had extended their lead in the tie to six goals.

The setback didn’t seem to affect Rangers too much. Three minutes later, Davie Wilson broke down the left-wing and delivered a cross which was converted by Ian McMillan for 1-1. Shortly afterwards, Millar found himself with a glorious opportunity, but he could only shoot over the bar.

With the clock just passing by the 20-minute mark, Eintracht won a free-kick on the edge of the Rangers penalty box. Up stepped Alfred Pfaff, and just like in the first leg, found the goal with a drive, albeit with the aid of a deflection that wrong-footed Niven. Less than 10 minutes later, Niven was called into action again. He brilliantly saved from Stinka but could only get the ball as far away as Kress who was on-hand to give the Germans a third before the game was half an hour old.

Eintracht were now well in command of the match at Ibrox. Niven was forced to make no less than four good saves before the half-time whistle sounded.

Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Rangers had a rare attack. A Davis pass found McMillan who managed to grab both his and Rangers’ second goal of the evening and reduce the arrears to one on the night and six overall.

In truth, Eintracht were toying with Rangers, and every outstanding passing move was met with a sporting round of the applause from the Ibrox crowd. There was no more scoring for a whole quarter-of-an-hour. 68 minutes were on the clock when Erich Meier beat Niven, and he did so again three minutes later. The quickfire double made the score 5-2 on the night.

There was a small consolation when Davie Wilson scored a third Rangers goal with a back-heel, only two minutes after Meier’s second. However, the scoring was only complete when captain Alfred Pfaff strode through the heart of the Rangers defence and struck the ball beyond Niven with two minutes remaining. The 6-3 scored made for a 12-4 aggregate loss for Rangers. They had been thoroughly outclassed by an outstanding German team across two legs.

If it hadn’t been for a creditable performance from Niven, the score could well have been more.

At the final whistle, many of the Ibrox crowd remained to applaud the Eintracht team off the pitch, and some even waited outside to do so again when they departed the stadium in their coach. Trainer Paul Oswald said after the match, “The reception the Glasgow crowd gave us was wonderful. Not only did they cheer us at the end of the match, but afterwards thousands waited outside Ibrox to cheer us as we left in our coach. Whilst the Rangers supporters gave wholehearted support to their own players, they did not allow any injustice to be done to us.” Asked his thoughts on the Rangers team, he praised what he considered a “good” team but felt they didn’t perform well enough as a unit in comparison to Eintracht. He singled out Niven and Caldow for praise but criticised the performance of Jimmy Millar.

Whilst Eintracht moved on to play Real Madrid in the final at Hampden, Rangers had only to complete their final league fixture against Third Lanark and then the Glasgow Merchants’ Charity Cup before the squad went off on holiday to Copenhagen. The 1959-60 Semi-Final remains the furthest Rangers have reached in the European Cup.

IMG_0915

The results for the semi-finals were as follows:

1959-60 European Cup Semi-Finals

Eintracht Frankfurt 12-4 Rangers

Real Madrid 6-2 Barcelona

1959-60 European Cup Final

Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt

To round up this series, Part V will detail the final between the famous Real Madrid and conquerors of Rangers, Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden. Some say it was the greatest game of football ever played. Plus, what Rangers’ opponents of that season went on to as well as the Light Blues themselves.

History

1959-60 European Cup: Part III – Sparta Rotterdam v Rangers (Quarter-Final)

The Opposition

One of three football clubs to be based in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam (the others being Excelsior and the more famous Feyenoord), Sparta are the oldest professional football club in Holland. Formed in 1888, De Kasteelheren (the Castle Lords) have won six Eredivisie titles, with five coming between 1908-09 and 1914-15, and the other in 1958-59 which qualified them for the European Cup of 1959-60, the only season in which they have competed in Europe’s top football competition. A 6-month spell under the guidance of Dick Advocaat (a former player) couldn’t prevent relegation last season from the Eredivisie, finishing second from bottom in the league and losing to Emmen in the 200px-Sparta_Rotterdam_logoplay-offs. They sit currently in second place of Eerste Divisie, with 31 points from 14 matches.

Finishing 3 points ahead of Rapid JC (who merged to form Roda JC), Sparta won their most recent Eredivisie title to take their place amongst Europe’s elite. Receiving a bye in the preliminary round, they were drawn to meet Swedish champions IFK Goteborg in the 1st round proper. Despite leading 3-1 from the 1st leg in Holland, they were then defeated by the same score-line necessitating a play-off match in Bremen with the aggregate scores level. For the 3rd time in the tie, the final score was 3-1, this time in Sparta’s favour.

Sparta had been, since 1955, under the management of Englishman Denis Neville, a personal friend of Scot Symon and a former defender for Fulham. As such, the style of the Rotterdam side was not seen as typically continental but very much in the British mould, bolstered by the presence in their squad of Ulsterman Johnny Crossan and Republic of Ireland international Peter Fitzgerald. Crossan was serving a life-time ban from British football, after receiving illicit payments from Derry City, where he started his career. Crossan was only 21 at the time of facing Rangers, but the ban didn’t prevent him from starring for Northern Ireland. His “sine die” ban was later lifted, allowing him to join Sunderland and he later captained Manchester City. He would face Rangers again only 2 years later, by this time in the colours of Standard Liege.

However, star of the Sparta team was their long-serving and veteran right-winger Tonny van Ede. Capped twice for the national side in 1953, he was 36 at the time of playing Rangers and he has since had the main stand at Het Kasteel (The Castle, home of Sparta) renamed in his honour.

Sparta’s League form for season 1959-60 had been a massive disappointment and would relinquish their title without much of a defence, only managing a seventh place finish by the season’s end.

Below are the pen pictures included in the matchday programme for the 2nd leg of the tie at Ibrox:

IMG_0918

Rangers since Red Star

Off the back of defeating Red Star Bratislava, the Gers had suffered a somewhat disappointing run of form. Both remaining matches in November were lost, before 4 matches in December were all won, as was the Ne’er day match with Celtic 1-0 courtesy of a last-minute Jimmy Millar goal. Since then, Rangers had won just twice in seven League matches prior to facing Sparta. Any hopes of Rangers retaining the league had just about been killed off on the Saturday before the European Cup tie when the Gers were beaten 2-0 at Tynecastle allowing Hearts to extend their lead at the top of the table to 8 points and pushing Rangers back into third (behind Willie Waddell’s Kilmarnock) with just 8 fixtures left to complete.

The Ibrox side were still going strong in the Scottish Cup, however. First Round progress was secured with a 3-1 triumph against Berwick Rangers. The month of February saw Arbroath and Stenhousemuir defeated 2-0 and 3-0 respectively, setting-up a quarter-final at Ibrox with Hibernian that would be sandwiched between two legs against Sparta Rotterdam.

With poor form, an inevitable consequence was a shuffling of the pack by Manager Scot Symon. The much-criticised Bobby Shearer and Willie Telfer (the pair however had been stand-outs in the match in Bratislava) had lost their starting berths. Rangers were fortunate to have a player of the calibre of Eric Caldow waiting in the wings to come in at right-back. Bill Paterson had by now established himself at centre-half, joining Harold Davis and Billy Stevenson in the half-back line. Youngster Stevenson was one shining light for Rangers that season, with talk of a Scotland cap heading his way. The experienced Sammy Baird was also in and out of the team and playing in numerous different positions. Teenager Bobby Hume, who had joined up at Ibrox in the summer, enjoyed a spell at outside-left, but was dropped shortly before the clash with Sparta, with Davie Wilson moving from inside-left to outside-left, and Ralph Brand utilised in the no.10 shirt.

The speculation prior to the 1st leg was that Rangers would call upon “the old guard,” three players that had had perhaps a disappointing season domestically (arguably only Johnny Little in the Rangers squad had impressed consistently), but all had stood out at various points in the previous two European ties: Bobby Shearer, Willie Telfer and Sammy Baird. There was also, of course, the issue of who would take over from Millar at centre-forward with one prediction being that Davie Wilson would move into no.9, Baird at outside-left with Ralph Brand at inside-left.

The Dutchmen had injury concerns, and their part-time squad looked to have been depleted to just 13 members. The weekend had seen a heavy 4-0 loss to Ajax and also the injury of goalkeeper van Dijk and Willem der Gyp, the inside-right who Sparta supporters identified as the danger man for the clash with Rangers. Both would be treated in the run-up to the game and a decision on their availability would be taken as late as possible. Captain Verhoeven had also been missing for weeks prior with a muscle injury.

The Light Blues squad flew out to Amsterdam on the Monday before travelling by bus to Rotterdam. Even before the start of the 1st leg of the tie, the semi-final draw had taken place in Brussels, and the result confirmed that the European Cup Final of 1960 would be played at Hampden, as both Real Madrid and Barcelona had drawn each other in the last four. Rangers, should they defeat Sparta, would meet either Eintracht Frankfurt or Wiener Sportclub. Eintracht held a 2-1 advantage for the trip to Austria for the second leg. There had been a minor controversy in Real Madrid’s second leg match with Nice. An appeal was dismissed from the French outfit due to the first half being overplayed by 9 minutes after the referee’s watch stopped. The Spaniards ran out 4-0 winners.

1st Leg (Feyenoord Stadion, 9th March 1960)

The match was played at the Feyenoord Stadion, better known as De Kuip (The Tub), perhaps due to the increased capacity. The first thing of note was the pristine playing surface which came in for high praise. Both Rangers and Sparta were forbidden from training on it before the match, with the visitors making use of one of the other pitches in the complex that were used by various youth and junior teams.

Scot Symon had been unusually coy over his team selection in the days before the game. As it was, Caldow retained his place in the side and the captaincy. It was a straight swap at no.9, one centre forward for another, as Max Murray, scorer of Rangers’ first ever European goal in 1956, came into the side for only his second appearance of the season. The Dutch were bolstered by the swift return of their injured goalkeeper van Dijk,

The full starting XIs were:

Sparta Rotterdam                                                           Rangers

  1. Andries van Dijk
  2. Pym Visser
  3. Freek van der Lee
  4. Jan Villerius
  5. Jannie Schilders
  6. Hans de Koning
  7. Tonny van Ede
  8. Johnny Crossan
  9. Peter Fitzgerald
  10. Peter de Vries
  11. Tanus Boselaar
  1. George Niven
  2. Eric Caldow
  3. Johnny Little
  4. Harold Davis
  5. Bill Paterson
  6. Billy Stevenson
  7. Alex Scott
  8. Ian McMillan
  9. Max Murray
  10. Sammy Baird
  11. Davie Wilson

Referee: John Kelly (England)

Rangers won the toss and, backed by some 2,000 travelling fans in amongst the “astounding” 45,000 crowd, elected to play with the wind.

The Gers started brightly, and in particular, Alex Scott was giving the Rotterdam side, dressed in white shirts, a headache down the right flank. On one such occasion, just 4 minutes into the game, he burst beyond van der Lee and played a ball into the box from the bye-line. Max Murray was waiting, but his shot couldn’t beat van Dijk who blocked it. The ball only fell as far as Wilson who lashed the ball into the roof of the net to give Rangers an early 1-0 lead.

The Scots side were dominant in the early stages but couldn’t find the net. Outstanding opportunities were passed up by Murray and then Ian McMillan. Only after 35 minutes did the score-line become more reflective of the game when Sammy Baird etched his name on the scoresheet. Wilson’s cross was initially headed out, but McMillan took possession about halfway into the Dutch half and won a free-kick. The ball was played high into the box, and Baird found himself time to chest the ball down and shoot for the bottom far corner of the goal.

A two-goal lead after 35 minutes away from home in a European Cup quarter-final is always favourable, but perhaps the Light Blues began to rest on their laurels. Three minutes after going two down, a mix-up at the back saw the ball scrambled away only as far as van Ede who crossed early into the box to the far post. Fitzgerald rose for it, and clashed with George Niven, leaving the Rangers goalkeeper unable to stop de Vries putting the loose ball in the net.

Half-time arrived, and Scot Symon’s men were ahead, but they ought to have been disappointed that their advantage over the Dutch champions was just a single goal. Whether it was a half-time team-talk by the Manager, the goal just before the break, or a combination of both, Sparta seemed to have found new strength. Shortly after the break, the game threatened to again feature the rough play which had afflicted both of Rangers’ previous ties when Baird and de Koning tangled on the ground after a challenge for the ball. English ref Kelly offered a stern telling-off for both players and the remainder of the game was played in the excellent spirit the first half had been.

Within 5 minutes of the restart, Fitzgerald fired a 25-yard rocket towards the Rangers goal which cannoned back off the inside of the right post. The ball rebounded to van Ede whose shot was superbly stopped by the outstretched foot of George Niven.

Rangers now suffered a period of sustained pressure from the home side. Caldow and Little in the Rangers defence acquitted themselves well, but Sparta saw no fewer than 3 shots miss the target, all of which had Niven sprawling. De Koning and Villeruis were effective in creating opportunities for de Vries, Fitzgerald and Boselaar.

The Dutchmen were to rue their missed opportunities, as the Ibrox men had done in the first period, when Max Murray restored the two-goal Rangers cushion on 63 minutes. Scott’s deep cross was punched into the air by the Dutch goalie, but the ball was nodded back across goal by Wilson for the Falkirk-born centre-forward to slam the ball into the net.

The goal didn’t dampen the spirits of Sparta who quickly after were appealing for a penalty, claiming that Caldow had blocked the ball on the line with an arm. The game was by now end-to-end stuff. Rangers attacked through Scott whose cross was dealt with unconvincingly by van Dijk. Wilson also nodded the ball back to Murray in the area but a fourth goal wasn’t forthcoming.

The Dutch had chances of their own. Fitzgerald, who had caused the Rangers defence problems all evening, found himself with the opportunity to shoot from inside the box. His shot crashed off the underside of the crossbar with some shouts that the ball had crossed the line, but the referee disagreed.

Only two minutes from time, de Vries surprised Niven when he flicked the ball, almost out of the goalkeeper’s hands, to reduce the deficit to one goal. The match, which had been an exciting contest with five goals scored but generally agreed not to have been of a high standard, concluded 3-2 in Rangers’ favour. Undoubtedly Scot Symon and his players would’ve been disappointed, especially given early dominance, not to be taking a more extensive score into the second leg at Ibrox. The result still made Rangers favourites to progress, owing to home advantage more than anything else.

The goals from the match in Rotterdam can be viewed here – https://www.britishpathe.com/video/VLVA5Q3ZSS9I737PTTGQ0K7VHOG5T-HOLLAND-ROTTERDAM-SPARTA-VERSUS-GLASGOW-RANGERS-EUROPEAN-SOCCER/query/Rangers+Sparta

Before the Gers could set their sights on Wednesday’s return leg, they first had to negotiate a tricky Scottish Cup quarter-final at Ibrox, a tie many didn’t see Rangers winning. They went behind after just two minutes but prevailed by the odd goal in five, Jimmy Millar scoring the winner with less than 20 minutes to go. This was to set-up a Hampden clash with Celtic in the last four.

Also in the news in the days prior to the meeting with Sparta was that Rangers’ interest in Denis Law of Huddersfield looked to be in vein with the inside-forward seemingly reluctant to move out of England. The hefty price-tag of £50,000 may have put of some suitors but it was reported that Arsenal, Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion all remained keen, and he was a City player within days. Raith Rovers also convened a special board meeting to discuss Rangers’ interest in Jim Baxter. Both Chairman and Manager of the Kirkcaldy club had met with Light Blues’ directors and it was believed that they had intimated their own interest in Andy Matthew and Ralph Brand. An initial proposition of Matthew plus cash was turned down by Rovers who made a counter-offer to include young winger John Queen as part of the deal.

2nd Leg (Ibrox Park, 16th March 1960)

It was clear that Sparta still fancied their chances, and they had every right to do so. All but conceding their league crown, they chose to rest three players in their 5-0 drubbing at the weekend to Ajax. They were also to spring a surprise in their team selection. Jannie Schilders – “the tallest man in Dutch football” and who had been linked with Newcastle Utd- made way for the returning skipper Ad Verhoeven, who had been absent through injury for weeks. Their Directors had also suggested London as a potential neutral venue should the tie require a replay if the aggregate scores were levelled (with no away goals rule in place).IMG_0916

The Evening Times’ Gair Henderson was sure of a Rangers win. He assessed that, “Rangers have never had it so good in the European Cup,” and were “sure to win” even if “no-one rates the current Rangers team as approaching the answer to a supporter’s prayer.”

The Dutchmen arrived at their hotel in Balloch the day prior to the Ibrox meeting and took the opportunity to tour the local area. Matchday was spent with 45 minutes of training in the morning before a team meeting and then the journey to Ibrox.

Rangers were forced into a late change. George Niven was replaced by Billy Ritchie in goal, and Ian McMillan was dropped for Ralph Brand with Sammy Baird moving to inside-right.

The teams lined-up:

Rangers                                                                                            Sparta Rotterdam

  1. Billy Ritchie
  2. Eric Caldow (C)
  3. Johnny Little
  4. Harold Davis
  5. Bill Paterson
  6. Billy Stevenson
  7. Alex Scott
  8. Sammy Baird
  9. Jimmy Millar
  10. Ralph Brand
  11. Davie Wilson
  1. Andries van Dijk
  2. Pym Visser
  3. Freek van der Lee
  4. Jan Villerius
  5. Ad Verhoeven (C)
  6. Hans de Koning
  7. Tonny van Ede
  8. Johnny Crossan
  9. Peter Fitzgerald
  10. Peter de Vries
  11. Tanus Boselaar

Referee: Kevin Howley (England).

IMG_0919

The tactics of the Dutch side may have appeared an odd sight at first. Here they were trailing by a goal and yet were happy for Rangers to do all of the attacking. Whilst it was the home side who were almost exclusively on the front foot, they couldn’t call van Dijk in the Sparta goal into action even once in the first half. At this stage, it may have appeared to some that the non-selection of McMillan, one player capable of creating goalscoring opportunities from nothing, began to look folly. Rangers were far too reliant on Alex Scott on the right wing as their sole avenue of attacking moves. This was anticipated expertly by Sparta boss Denis Neville, who, having spied Scott as the main threat in Holland, assigned as many as four players to nullify his attacking presence, even bringing across Johnny Crossan from the opposite flank.

A total non-event of a first half passed. Whilst Rangers were disappointing and didn’t look at all like scoring, neither did Sparta.

It took until the 69th minute for the first proper effort of the match. Sammy Baird struck the ball from around 25-yards out, the Ibrox crowd roared but watched as the ball came crashing back off the crossbar.

No more than 10 minutes later, Jimmy Millar stumbled over the ball mid-way through the Sparta half. De Vries battled and eventually won the ball and picked out Villeruis who in-turn found Fitzgerald with a long pass. The Irishman then squared the ball 20-yards into the path of van Ede on the right side. The veteran winger charged towards the Ibrox defence drawing Johnny Little towards him, played the ball outside to de Vries but carried on his run to receive the return pass. He raced away from the backtracking Little and bearing down on goal, he lifted the ball beyond the onrushing Ritchie, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance. Sparta had their equaliser.

Once more van Ede caused problems as he sprinted on to a defence splitting pass, but this time Little matched his run and the ball was cleared by a Ritchie charge, that also took out his own left-back.

The remainder of the game saw the Ibrox men desperately try to avoid having to play a third match, but still they looked devoid of ideas going forward. With moments to go, the Gers won a corner. A neat passing move precipitated a cross into the box that was headed away for a kick from the opposite side. That too was nodded clear, as far as Caldow who shot from long range, but a flying Dutchman in the Sparta goal was equal to it. The full-time whistle quickly followed: Sparta had won 1-0 on the night, and more importantly, had made it 3-3 on aggregate.

Large sections of the 80,000 Ibrox crowd booed their team from the pitch. The performance was certainly not good enough. Some suggested that the boos were not merely for the players on the park, but also aimed towards those seated in the Directors’ Box. Frustratingly, as much as the players individual displays were below par, there was no effort to chance the failing tactics throughout the match. Rangers were on the attack for at least three-quarters of the game but had just two efforts of note on the Dutch goal.

Footage from the match can be seen here – https://www.britishpathe.com/video/VLVAF1XM5G8J7WSLLZ32V6LY9W94H-UK-GLASLOW-RANGERS-AND-SPARTA-ROTTERDAM-IN-SECOND-LEG-SOCCER/query/Rangers+Sparta

The following day’s press was scathing. “Disgrace,” “Shameful,” and Unadulterated rubbish” were only some of the words and phrases appearing in the following day’s papers. The Dutch, however, were ecstatic. The true genius of Sparta’s Manager Denis Neville was only fully revealed after the game’s end. Remarkably, he said afterwards that he had sent his players out with strict instructions not to score in the first half. He believed that if there was an early goal, then Rangers would have their backs up and could potentially take four or five goals off them. Instead they waited until the last quarter of the match before launching one final push to save the tie and the extraordinarily high-risk strategy paid dividends.  He had also noted that Rangers had attempted to use aerial prowess in the first leg and it failed. Anticipating a switch in strategy from Scot Symon’s team, he withdrew 6ft4 Schilders, recalled the more skilful Verhoeven and maintained the excellent Jan Villeruis, who was the standout player of the match. IMG_0920

With the scores level at 3-3, a play-off was arranged, and London was chosen as the host city. The neutral Highbury, home of Arsenal was selected for the showdown two weeks later. It may first appear a slight home advantage to the Light Blues, even if Rotterdam is closer to London than Glasgow. Rangers were, however, familiar with Highbury, having played numerous friendly matches against Arsenal over the years and always acquitted themselves well. They had last played there in April of the previous year and ran out 3-0 winners.

Eintracht Frankfurt had secured their semi-final spot with a triumph over Wiener Sportclub, and Real Madrid’s Alfredo di Stefano was quoted as saying, “if we or Barcelona have to play Rangers it is going to be twice as hard to beat them as anyone else.” A clash with Rangers was also said to be the favoured outcome for the Germans.

Three days later, Rangers were held at home 1-1 by Arbroath. In 14 League matches of the season so far at Ibrox, Rangers had won just five and were without a win in 1960. The following week, Scot Symon’s men travelled to Stark’s Park to face Jim Baxter’s Raith Rovers. An 86th minute goal from Sammy Baird was needed to secure a 2-1 win.

Play-off (Highbury Stadium, 30th March 1960)

In the week of the game, Rangers signed Newcastle Utd right-half Albert Franks, but the Englishman would be ineligible for the remaining games of the season.

Four members of the Rangers side had actually played at Highbury the previous week for the Scottish League against the Football League. They were George Niven, Eric Caldow, Johnny Little and Alex Scott, and all agreed that they hoped for rain to soften up the turf before taking on the Dutchmen. They got their wish, for it rained cats and dogs, and the pitch looked more like a quagmire, a far cry from the pristine surface encountered in Holland.IMG_0922

Some 1,500 made the journey from Rotterdam, but the majority of the 35,000 crowd would be supporting Rangers. The match was actually the first European Cup game to be played in the city of London. If the scores were level after the regulation 90 minutes, an additional 30 minutes play would take place, and if the sides still couldn’t be separated after that, a coin toss would determine who would pick up the £20,000 prize and face Eintracht in the semi.

Unsurprisingly, Ian McMillan was recalled to the starting XI to reform the fruitful partnership with Scott on the right side, and Niven was once again available. The Dutch were unchanged from their win at Ibrox.

The starting XIs were:

Sparta Rotterdam                                                                         Rangers

  1. Andries van Dijk
  2. Pym Visser
  3. Freek van der Lee
  4. Jan Villerius
  5. Ad Verhoeven (C)
  6. Hans de Koning
  7. Tonny van Ede
  8. Johnny Crossan
  9. Peter Fitzgerald
  10. Peter de Vries
  11. Tanus Boselaar
  1. George Niven
  2. Eric Caldow (C)
  3. Johnny Little
  4. Harold Davis
  5. Bill Paterson
  6. Billy Stevenson
  7. Alex Scott
  8. Ian McMillan
  9. Jimmy Millar
  10. Sammy Baird
  11. Davie Wilson

Referee: Reginald Leafe (England)

IMG_0925

Perhaps encouraged by their surprise triumph in Glasgow, it was Sparta who started the match the brighter of the two teams. Within minutes van Ede had broken through the Rangers lines, lashed a shot goal-wards, with Niven beaten the ball just went wide of the post. Another shot after six minutes was blocked and ran for a corner. The resulting kick from the left side was taken by Boselaar who centred the ball. Unchallenged, Verhoeven arrived late and at full pace managed the ball into the net with a tremendous diving header.  With just seven minutes of play, the Rotterdam side were 1-0 up.

The Light Blues soon began to get a grip on the game. Scott attacked down the right and won a corner. The delivery was met by the head of Davis, but it was straight at the ‘keeper who dealt with it easily. However, the Dutch side were in again through van Ede. The outside-right, inside the Rangers penalty box, struck a shot that was saved by Niven.

It had become clear that the Dutchmen were happy in the main to defend a one-goal lead. Shortly before the half-hour mark, Rangers won a free-kick out wide to the left. Wilson surprised everyone by firing in a low ball to the near post. Baird dummied and left the retreating Verhoeven unable to do anything other than touch the ball into his own net. The scores were level.

Unlike the Ibrox encounter, Rangers possessed many different attacking threats. Scott as usual was a menace down the right side whilst Baird and Wilson had struck-up an understanding. Davis too was a threat from all corner kicks. Indeed, when half-time did arrive, the Glasgow side may have been unhappy to only have drawn level. However, just before the whistle sounded, Niven was called upon to make a spectacular save from a Villeruis shot from distance.

The second half was 12 minutes old when Wilson brought the ball forward. Sammy Baird yelled, “Lets have it, Davie…now!” The ball was rolled into his path and the no.10 cracked a shot from 20 yards that left the Dutch ‘keeper unable to move a muscle before the ball was firmly in the net. 2-1 Rangers.

There was a nervous moment for the Light Blues’ rear-guard when van Ede delivered the ball from wide into the box. Under pressure from Fitzgerald, Niven came to his near post to collect, but instead of catching the ball he pushed it against his own crossbar. Luckily, Bill Paterson was on-hand to prevent the ball being bundled over the line and scrambled it to safety.

By now, the Rangers inside-forwards were showing their true class. Two players that revelled in European ties, Ian McMillan and Sammy Baird. McMillan was at the heart of most Rangers attacks, and Baird, as well as spraying passes around the field was always a threat if he had time to shoot.

Just over 10 minutes from taking the lead, on another Rangers offensive a through ball was played in by McMillan in the direction of Millar. Before the ball could reach the centre-forward, van der Lee intercepted but only to deflect the ball, from all of 12 yards, beyond the ‘keeper and trickling into the net. The Ibrox men were 3-1 up and well in the ascendency with around 20 minutes left to play.

Quickly after the restart, Sparta went on one of their rare attacks of the second half, and van Ede was in possession of the ball as he progressed through into the centre of the Rangers penalty area. He was bundled over by a combination of Little and Davis, and a spot kick was awarded. Boselaar stepped up and hit it hard towards Niven’s right, leaving the goalie with no chance of stopping it. There was quarter-of-an-hour remaining with the arrears reduced to one.

Rangers were to use all their experience and controlled the game expertly for the remainder. When the full-time whistle did come, bringing with it a 3-2 victory, many of the crowd came onto the pitch in celebration of their team reaching the semi-finals of the European Cup.

Bearing in mind experts were somewhat split on Rangers’ hopes of overcoming Sparta in the end (from unanimously agreeing a Light Blues win was to be a formality), it was a decent performance in the end, and Rangers were adjudged to stand a very good chance of defeating Eintracht and progressing to the Hampden showpiece.

As a lasting memory of the meeting between the sides, Sparta gifted Rangers a delft vase with a musical box in the base which, was at one time, full to the brim with cherry brandy. The ornament, standing 16 ½” remains on display inside the Ibrox Trophy Room. Prior to the first leg in Rotterdam, the Rangers players were seen to be handing large brown envelopes to their Dutch counterparts. It was later revealed that the “secret” contents were Rangers club ties, which the Dutchmen said they would be pleased to wear for the return leg in Glasgow.

IMG_0908
The Delft Vase gifted to Rangers by Sparta Rotterdam

A matter of days after the Highbury clash, Denis Neville, the brilliant Sparta Manager, revealed that he had been in contact with a top division English club about becoming their manger. The team’s identity remained a secret, but the move didn’t come off in the end. The Englishman did go on to boss the Dutch national team between 1964 and 1966. He also said that he would be passing on his knowledge of the tactics of Eintracht to Scot Symon prior to the Semi-Final.

Below is footage from the play-off match at Highbury – https://www.britishpathe.com/video/rangers-beat-sparta/query/Rangers+Sparta

Results of the 1959-60 European Cup Quarter-Finals:

Nice 3-6 Real Madrid

Barcelona 9-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Eintracht Frankfurt 3-2 Wiener Sportclub

Sparta Rotterdam 3-3 Rangers (Rangers win 3-2 in a play-off)

 

Semi-Final draw for the 1959-60 European Cup:

Eintracht Frankfurt v Rangers

Real Madrid v Barcelona

The draw with the Germans was a favourable one in the sense that the Gers avoided the giants of Real and Barca. However, before attention could be focussed on the first leg in two weeks’ time in West Germany, there was the small matter of a Scottish Cup semi-final with Celtic.

Lookout for Part IV in this series coming tomorrow “1959-60 European Cup: Part IV – Eintracht Frankfurt v Rangers (Semi-Final).”

History

1959-60 European Cup: Part II – Rangers v Red Star Bratislava (1st Round)

The Opposition

The draw with Cervena Hviezda Bratislava, or Red Star Bratislava (also known as CH Bratislava), saw Rangers go beyond the Iron Curtain for the very first time. Red Star began life in 1940 when they were founded by the Apollo oil refinery, which was to become Slovnaft and finally assumed the name of Red Star in 1952. Their only

Czechoslovakian First League title was won in 1958-59, thereby qualifying for the following season’s European Cup, convincingly by 9 points from Dukla Prague. 1959-60 would be the second season of a three-year plan for Red Star.

Red-Star-Bratislava

A few years after their meeting with Rangers, Red Star merged with two other Bratislava teams to form what became in 1965 TJ Internacional Bratislava, who saw moderate domestic success in the late 1960’s. After numerous mergers and being renamed several times, they eventually became ASK Inter Slovnaft Bratislava who won consecutive Slovakian League and Cup doubles in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001. In 2004 they became FK Inter Bratislava, which is their current guise. However, after winning promotion to the top League of Slovakian football in 2009, they sold their license to FK Senica, and Inter restarted again in the bottom tier. Promotions quickly followed and eventually made it to 2. Liga (the second tier of Slovak football), for season 2017-18. They are currently in 10th place of the 16-team League with 22 points from 17 matches. Amongst their former players is a certain Filip Sebo, who starred between 2003-2004. brand

The Red Star squad of 1959-60 was exclusively Czechoslovakian, and as such was something of an unknown quantity coming from a Communist controlled state. Naturally, as League Champions, their side featured FK_Inter_logomany Internationals, including Left-back Vladimir Weiss, whose grandson would spend time on loan at Rangers from Manchester City in 2010-11, and whose son would manage Artmedia in their 2005 Champions League clash with the Light Blues. At the 1958 World Cup, Czechoslovakia had defeated Argentina 6-1 and drawn 2-2 with holders West Germany. They had started however, with a 1-0 defeat to Northern Ireland, and were then denied a place in the knock-out phase by virtue of a 2-1 defeat (AET) to the Ulstermen in a play-off. None of the side that played in that game would wear the Red Star colours in Glasgow, but they still had no fewer than 5 Internationalists in their number, including each of the goalscorers in the Czech’s recent 5-0 thrashing of Denmark. Red Star had also defeated West Ham Utd in Vienna the previous season.

Below are the pen pictures of the Red Star team published in the matchday programme for the 1st Leg of the European Cup tie at Ibrox.

IMG_0902

The 1st Round draw for the 1959-60 European Cup was as follows:

Real Madrid v Jeunesse Esch

Boldklubben 1909 v Wiener Sportclub

Sparta Rotterdam v IFK Goteborg

AC Milan v Barcelona

Young Boys of Berne v Eintracht Frankfurt

Rangers v Red Star Bratislava

Red Star Belgrade v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Fenerbahce v Nice

Rangers since Anderlecht

The Monday after eliminating the Belgians, the Ibrox side claimed the first silverware of the season when they defeated Partick Thistle 2-1 in the Final of the Glasgow Cup at Hampden. League form was a mixed bag. Even although 5 out of the 7 League matches played were won, and some in fine style (6-0 v Aberdeen (a), 5-0 v Clyde (h)), there was a disappointing home defeat to St Mirren and a 2-0 loss to league leaders Hearts at Ibrox. Nevertheless, Rangers had ascended from 5th place to 2nd, but still trailed Hearts by 4 points. Following the match with the Jambos, Bobby Shearer, whose performances had been criticised, was lamed with a leg injury which was to keep him out of the match with Clyde on the Saturday before the visit of Red Star. Captain Eric Caldow, who had withdrawn his earlier request for a transfer, replaced him in the slightly unfamiliar position of right-back and also resumed the armband.

1st Leg (Ibrox Park, 11th November 1959)

The Czech’s took the unusual step of flying into Glasgow a full 3 days prior to the match. When the Red Star squad arrived, they were greeted by local reporters eager to extract the latest team news but found the men from the east to be tight-lipped, not helped by the fact most couldn’t speak English. One in the visitors’ party revealed the extraordinary pre-match plans the players had gone through back home in preparation for the clash with Rangers, the biggest game in the Club’s history. The full squad and reserves were whisked away, deep into the Carpathian Mountains and to the picturesque Smolenice Castle. 5 days were spent locked away by the team who were all amateurs, undertaking intense training sessions and planning on how to defeat the mighty Glasgow Rangers. When asked if there were any injuries amongst his players, Dr Onacek, the Manager of Red Star, replied “too many,” but refused to disclose names. Scot Symon on the other hand informed the press that he had a full squad to choose from and intended to start the same XI that had crushed Clyde 5-0 at the weekend.

index
Smolenice Castle

The Bratislava side were to train at Ibrox on the Monday and Tuesday evenings before the game to acclimatise to the Scottish weather and pitch conditions. Afternoons were spent sightseeing around the city. Matchday consisted of the traditional souvenir shopping and sending off picture postcards back home. It was revealed shortly before that the Czech’s star centre-forward Dezider Cimra was struggling with an ankle injury which had been being treated since Red Star had touched down in Glasgow. Every chance was to be given to have him fit and ready to complete 90 minutes of football.

Rangers, however, were still without injury concerns, and were in-fact in a position to send out the same side from the weekend. Caldow was preferred to Shearer, and 20-year-old Davie Wilson had come in for Andy Matthew at outside-left, a position Rangers fans would become accustomed to seeing him play. The visitors were to be without Czech International Titus Bubernik at left-half and he was replaced by U23 International Alexander Rias. Cimra was adjudged fit to play and took up his no.9 jersey.

The teams were:

Rangers                                                                                           Red Star Bratislava

  • George Niven
  • Eric Caldow (C)
  • Johnny Little
  • Harold Davis
  • Willie Telfer
  • Billy Stevenson
  • Alex Scott
  • Ian McMillan
  • Jimmy Millar
  • Sammy Baird
  • Davie Wilson
  1. Frantisek Hlavaty
  2. Arnost Hlozek
  3. Vladimir Weiss
  4. Stefan Matlak
  5. Jiri Tichy (C)
  6. Alexander Rias
  7. Kazimir Gajdos
  8. Adolf Scherer
  9. Dezider Cimra
  10. Ladislav Kacani
  11. Milan Dolinksy

Referee: Daniel Mellet (Switzerland)

IMG_0904

A capacity crowd of 80,000 watched on as Rangers went on the front-foot straight from the off. McMillan sent Scott chasing a ball down the right wing, which he caught just before the bye-line. McMillan then followed in in-time for a cutback and found the net from 16-yards with a low shot away from the Goalkeeper, giving the home side a 1-0 lead within one minute. After the restart, it became clear that Rangers were going to face the familiar roughhouse tactics that so often was displayed by clubs from the continent.

The Light Blues, however, began to press home their advantage. Left-half Billy Stevenson came close to doubling the lead when he struck the post from distance with Hlavaty in the Red Star goal beaten all ends up. This particular warning shot was heeded as the Czechs began to show they weren’t shy themselves. Dolinsky highlighting his own abilities with a venomous shot which just missed the target.

It was again Dolinsky, who was proving himself to be a handful on the left wing, who got away from his opponent and managed to square a pass to Scherer. About 22 yards from goal, he took the ball forward and unleashed a thunderbolt towards the Rangers goal. Niven dived to meet it, but it wasn’t enough and the visitors had levelled the scores at 1-1 after just 16 minutes with a well-worked goal.

Rangers, undeterred, looked again to restore their advantage, but despite having much of the play, still struggled to create clear-cut scoring opportunities. Davis with the only shot of note in the next 15 minutes couldn’t trouble the Red Star ‘keeper. First Millar and then McMillan was felled but the resultant free-kick came to nothing.

The away team again looked bright as once more Milan Dolinsky broke away from the scrambling Ibrox defenders. Reaching the penalty area, Eric Caldow failed with a sliding tackle and the winger was left able to pick his spot and Rangers were behind just before the half-hour mark.

Opportunities again presented themselves to Rangers. Millar missed a glorious chance and did so again when a Sammy Baird shot rebounded into his path. Whilst it was, expectedly, the Ibrox men doing much of the attacking, the Czech’s, to their credit, had the answers to successfully repel their efforts.

Again, Rangers were on the offensive. The ball was whipped in from wide, with Sammy Baird and the Red Star Goalkeeper going up for an aerial duel. It was Hlavaty who came off worse, and whilst lying on the ground out for the count, Alex Scott was presented with the simple task of putting the ball in the empty net. The Czechs were incensed. They gathered around the Swiss official protesting, not without some level of justification, that a free-kick should be theirs instead of a goal for Rangers. Eventually, the referee, in some attempt to calm the Red Star players, consulted with his linesman. He refused to overturn his decision and allowed the equaliser to stand. Hlavaty meanwhile was to receive medical treatment for 5 minutes before being carried to the pavilion on a stretcher. Centre-forward Cimra, who wasn’t believed to have started the match fully fit, took up the gloves.

Tempers still hadn’t cooled when, just after play restarted, Sammy Baird took possession of the ball and immediately found he had the close attention of Stefan Matlak and Jiri Tichy. Matlak blatantly kicked the Rangers inside-left by the touchline, with some suggesting he was also punched by the Red Star Captain Tichy. Matlak was ordered off the pitch, reducing Red Star to 9-men, with some insisting afterwards that he was the victim of mistaken identity and it was actually Tichy who warranted the dismissal. A ruckus ensued, and in an attempt to quell the simmering tensions, Mellet, the referee, blew his half-time whistle 2 minutes early. Worryingly for Rangers fans, Baird, who was always a standout in European matches, had to be helped to the dressing rooms with a sore leg. Confusingly, the Swiss referee appeared to offer two different explanations for his decision to send-off Matlak. When speaking to a local reporter post-match, he had said it was for the foul on Baird, but when that same hack quizzed one of the Red Star staff they claimed that the Swiss official had told them at half-time it was because the Red Star no.4 had allegedly shouted towards the Referee, “Our Goalkeeper is dying…maybe dead. If he is dead you will be to blame.”

When the teams re-emerged, Baird did so seemingly uninjured, but more surprisingly, Red Star seemed to be back with 10-men. Goalkeeper Hlavaty appeared on the pitch with his head heavily bandaged and looking somewhat groggy. The second period began much in the same fashion as the first had. Rangers with most of the ball and attacking efforts but found wanting in creating goalscoring chances. Perhaps even more so with Red Star’s reduced numbers, they were happy to cling on to what would be a creditable 2-2 draw away from home, and whenever a blue shirt found himself with the ball, he was quickly accompanied by two Czechs.

Frustratingly, the Ibrox side were unable to properly test the injured Hlavaty in goal. His only task in the early stages of the first half was to tip an effort over the bar. On a rare occasion, Red Star themselves went on the attack but it quickly broke-down.

Almost halfway through the half, Baird broke through the Red Star back line and was bearing down on goal, when Hlavaty heroically closed him down and scrambled the ball to safety. The visiting goalie was also beginning to attract the ire of the home crowd with his blatant attempts at time-wasting.

Shortly afterwards, Red Star created their own attacking move. Again, the creator-in-chief was Milan Dolinsky. He sent in a ball to Adolf Scherer who, unchallenged, was allowed to control the ball and turn inside the penalty box and finally put the ball past George Niven. Remarkably, the 10-man Red Star were now 3-2 in-front with 68 minutes played.

Rangers again took charge upon the resumption of play, and they didn’t have to wait long for a gilt-edged opportunity. Baird, whilst driving into the opponents penalty area was fouled and a penalty was awarded. The duty fell to Eric Caldow, but before he could take the kick, the Red Star players engaged in all gamesmanship tactics imaginable, including standing in-front of the taker pointing at the ball and indicating it would end up nearer the corner flag than the goal. Minutes past before up stepped Captain Caldow who hit a rather tame shot to the Goalkeeper’s left post. Hlavaty with his bandaged head guessed correctly, dived towards the ball and managed two hands to it, palming it away for a corner kick.

Less than a minute later, and Rangers were in again. McMillan found Wilson with a clever cross after a dummy that fooled the Red star defence, and the 20-year-old left-winger managed to hook the ball into the net and level the match at 3-3 with around quarter of an hour remaining.

The Light Blues’ tails were up and not so long afterwards another opportunity arose, but Baird couldn’t find the net with a close-range shot.

Rangers went in hunt for a goal (or two) but were unable to break down the disciplined Czechs. Their penalty box was besieged, but Red Star were always found up to the task of scrambling the ball away from danger by any means. A defensive display worthy or particular mention was that of Jiri Tichy at centre-half who had kept Jimmy Millar quiet all evening. A final Rangers attack was launched in the dying moments. Neat work down the right from Scott and McMillan culminated in a ball being played into the Bratislava box. On hand was Millar to slide the ball into the net from all of 10 yards. It was to be the decisive goal in what had been a most infuriating night for the Ibrox supporters, who watched their side unable to take advantage of numerical superiority for most of the match to build up a substantial lead to take behind the Iron Curtain.

Indeed, most of the press were in agreement. Some writers, previously confident, were now dubious of Rangers’ chances of making it beyond this round of the European Cup. The following day’s Evening Times headline read “Rangers, that was shocking!”. The Red Star squad, however, were jubilant at escaping Ibrox just one goal in arrears given the circumstances. Star of the show, by far, was the Czech Outside-Left Milan Dolinsky, who had scored one and created the other two Red Star goals.

Capture

2nd Leg (Tehelne Pole Stadion, 18th November 1959)

Before Rangers made the voyage to the second city of Czechoslovakia, they first had to make the trip up to Arbroath on the Saturday on league business. Jimmy Millar scored twice either side of half-time as the Gers returned from Gayfield with a 4-0 victory in a match that saw Bill Paterson come into the XI in place of 34-year-old centre-half Willie Telfer.

The Light Blues would be hoping that their trip to Bratislava would be less eventful than that of the Paisley Pirates ice hockey team who had visited that same City the previous week. Their arrival due to adverse weather was delayed by more than 24 hours. Ideally, Rangers wished to travel on the Tuesday for the match on the Wednesday, but wary of the potential for inclement conditions, made alternative plans to fly out on the Monday if the weather was poor. UEFA rules stipulated that if a team was not in the City of the match 24 hours prior to it being played then they would be ejected from the competition. As it was, the Gers were able to take their preferred option of a Tuesday departure.

The Ibrox men had however developed a concern over the fitness of Eric Caldow. Red Star hoped to have Titus Bubernik, who had missed the Ibrox clash, fit again. They also had to contend with the suspension of Stefan Matlak. The Glasgow bookmakers weren’t too keen on the prospect of a Rangers triumph in Czechoslovakia, offering an odds-on price for Red Star to progress despite the 1-goal deficit.

The match was not to be played at the home of Red Star, but instead across the road at the Tehelne Pole Stadion, the residence of the more illustrious Slovan Bratislava. The stadium was reconstructed in 1961 and played host to Rangers’ Champions League match with Artmedia in 2005 (it was demolished in 2013). The lack of floodlights required that kick-off would take place on a bitterly cold but sunny afternoon.

A dangerously large crowd of 60,000 made the journey to see Red Star, in their colours of red shirts and blue shorts, attempt to overturn the 4-3 1st leg defeat by Rangers. The remarkable footage included at the end of this section shows a rather large crush taking place almost immediately after kick-off that causes the signage on the front of the terracing to collapse with spectators falling onto the outside track.

The teams lined up:

Red Star Bratislava                                                                       Rangers

  1. Frantisek Hlavaty
  2. Arnost Hlozek
  3. Vladimir Weiss
  4. Titus Bubernik
  5. Jiri Tichy (C)
  6. Alexander Rias
  7. Kazimir Gajdos
  8. Adolf Scherer
  9. Dezider Cimra
  10. Ladislav Kacani
  11. Milan Dolinksy
  1. George Niven
  2. Bobby Shearer (C)
  3. Johnny Little
  4. Harold Davis
  5. Willie Telfer
  6. Billy Stevenson
  7. Alex Scott
  8. Ian McMillan
  9. Jimmy Millar
  10. Sammy Baird
  11. Davie Wilson

Referee: Josef Gulde (Switzerland)

Early on it became clear that Rangers were to some degree to repeat the gameplan that had seen them progress in Brussels of sitting back, soaking up the pressure and hitting on the break. Almost exclusively, Red Star had possession of the ball for the opening quarter of an hour but failed to create anything of note with it.

Rangers, when they did go forward, did so at pace. Millar first unleashed Baird down the middle but he couldn’t beat the onrushing Hlavaty to the ball. Soon after, a neat ball over the top by McMillan was caught by Scott on the right wing, and he managed to deliver a ball from the bye-line into the box. Millar laid the ball off to McMillan whose shot was blocked but it broke to Sammy Baird, who from fully 25 yards from goal, struck the bouncing ball with venom and it was to miss the crossbar by mere inches.

It took until the 26th minute for Red Star to have their first decent chance of the game, and when they did it was wasted by centre Cimra, who headed over the bar unchallenged. Not long afterwards, the game was to take a slightly nasty turn which would set the tone for the remainder. Dolinsky, who had performed so well at Ibrox, deliberately kicked Davis, who after retaliating was himself penalised. The handful of Rangers followers who were present in Bratislava watched on anxiously as Bobby Shearer, who had returned to the side following concerns over the fitness of Eric Caldow, was involved in a hefty clash with his almost-namesake Scherer, but Captain Cutlass waved Trainer Davie Kinnear away and carried on.

5 minutes prior to the interval, Rangers again went on the attack. It came to nothing but centre forward Jimmy Millar was punched on the back of the head by Goalkeeper Frantisek Hlavaty. To his credit, Millar didn’t retaliate and removed himself from the situation. There was still time in the half for one more opportunity and it fell to Red Star, however Bobby Shearer was on-hand to divert Cimra’s shot off the line.

The two sides went into the interval goalless, but with Rangers surely the happier of the teams with their 4-3 advantage from the 1st leg. Gair Henderson’s half-time verdict was succinct, “Rangers were playing 90 per cent in defence, but playing it magnificently.”

Quickly after the restart, two free-kicks were awarded close to the Rangers 18-yard line against Davis, with no obvious infringement in either case, but both were easily defended by the stout Light Blues defence. It was then Billy Stevenson’s turn to be penalised, twice, when the opposition could have been seen to be guilty of obstruction.

The first clean chance of the half came the way of the home side, when Adolf Scherer forced a superb save from George Niven from point-blank range. The Czech inside-forward then made a robust challenge on Sammy Baird who required treatment but was fit enough to return to the action.

The barrage continued on the Rangers penalty area, but the men in blue showed no signs of wilting. On one attack, Cimra went down in the box under a challenge, but to what must have been the surprise of the Light Blues, the referee, who had awarded anything dubious in the favour of the home side, waved play on.

Another attempt was made on the Rangers goal, but Gajdos’ shot was deflected over the bar by Davis. More controversy occurred shortly afterwards on around 70 minutes when Baird and Weiss clashed going for the ball. The Czech full-back remained on the turf, apparently writhing in agony, whilst his teammates rushed the Ranger. No action was taken by the referee, tempers soon calmed, and Weiss made a sensational recovery and was back on the field within minutes.

Czech efforts were becoming more desperate with time ticking away. On a rare occasion, Rangers went on the attack with Baird, whose defensive duties had been performed admirably throughout, sending the ball down the line for Wilson to chase down the left side. He caught it with inches to spare and guided a cross into the box, but it was just too high for Millar. The ball sailed over his head, but was to find Alex Scott at the far post, arriving late to head the ball into the Red Star net, which had been vacated by the Goalkeeper’s failed attempt to collect the cross. 1-0 Rangers with just 15 minutes left to play.

The tie was not done yet however. The Bratislava side went on the offensive, and when one meek attack was easily dealt with, Jimmy Millar clashed with Jiri Tichy off the ball. An arm flailed, the Red Star Captain went down and an almighty rammy ensued in which Baird was punched by not one but two opposing players leaving him with a bloody mouth. When order had been restored, the referee conversed with his linesman and took the decision to order Millar off the field for a punch. The decision was generally seen to be the correct one, even if the Swiss referee was heavily criticised for being a “homer,” a tag that also been attached to his compatriot and colleague that had officiated the Ibrox clash. (A minor controversy arose in the Glasgow Herald when their reporter for the Ibrox match Mr Cyril Horne criticised the standard of refereeing, and more importantly what he saw as excessively physical play from the Rangers side. For weeks after, the letters section of the paper contained much comment on Horne’s views, with some who agreed and others who certainly did not). The Gers, if they were to progress, would have Millar suspended for at least one European Cup match, and potentially more if UEFA deemed the offence worthy of a longer ban.

With only a few minutes remaining, the Czech Champions launched a ball into the box from the right wing, which was played behind by Davis. The resulting corner was swung in deep into the Rangers penalty area and was met by a Red Star head. The ball beat the ‘keeper but crashed off the crossbar. The ball only went as far as Tichy who lashed the ball high into the net from inside the 6-yard box.

The goal came too late as the match ended 1-1, allowing Rangers, against the odds, to take their place for the first time in the last 8 of the European Cup with a 5-4 aggregate victory. The Red Star players, staff and officials were full of warm words of congratulations and admitted they had been beaten by the better side.

Footage of the match in Czechoslovakia can be seen here – https://www.britishpathe.com/video/VLVA9T01JZW61R2AM4TZ82QL4ZQJJ-CZECHOSLOVAKIA-GLASGOW-RANGERS-VERSUS-RED-STAR-BRATISLAVA/query/Red+Star+Rangers , including the unbelievable sight of the crush at the beginning, both goals and the sending off of Millar.

So, Rangers went into the draw for the Quarter-Final of the European Cup, along with, so far, Real Madrid, who defeated Jeunesse Esch of Luxembourg, and the Austrians Wiener Sportclub who had eliminated Boldklubben 1909 of Denmark. The glamour tie would be a paring with holders Real Madrid and that money-spinning tie appeared to be the favourite amongst the Ibrox faithful.

A lasting legacy of the meeting with Red Star can be seen in the Ibrox Trophy room where the crystal vase gifted by the Czech Champions when Rangers visited Bratislava remains on display.

IMG_0910
The Crystal Vase gifted to Rangers by Red Star Bratislava

The results of all the completed 1st Round ties of the 1959-60 European Cup were as follows:

Real Madrid 12-2 Jeunesse Esch

Boldklubben 1909 2-5 Wiener Sportclub

Sparta Rotterdam 4-4 IFK Goteborg (Sparta win 3-1 in a play-off)

AC Milan 1-7 Barcelona

Young Boys of Berne 2-5 Eintracht Frankfurt

Rangers 5-4 Red Star Bratislava

Red Star Belgrade 1-4 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Fenerbahce 3-3 Nice (Nice win 5-1 in a play-off)

The December draw in Paris produced the following ties for the Quarter-Finals:

Nice v Real Madrid

Barcelona v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Eintracht Frankfurt v Wiener Sportclub

Sparta Rotterdam v Rangers

 

For the first time, Rangers would meet Dutch opposition in Europe, but before that, attention would turn to the domestic scene with the first leg against Sparta not to be played until 9th March 1960.

Lookout for Part III in this series coming tomorrow “1959-60 European Cup: Part III – Sparta Rotterdam v Rangers (Quarter-Final).”

History

1959-60 European Cup: Part I – Rangers v RSC Anderlecht (Preliminary Round)

Welcome to the first in a series of articles chronicling Rangers’ European Cup campaign of season 1959-60. The European Cup was in its 5th year of existence, and the Light Blues were making their 3rd appearance having gone out at the 2nd Round of both the 1956-57 and 1957-58 editions to Nice and AC Milan respectively. After a year’s sabbatical, Rangers returned to Europe’s premier football competition after regaining the Scottish League title from Hearts, finishing 2 points ahead of the men from the Capital. Part I of this series details the Ibrox side’s Preliminary Round tie against Belgian cracks RSC Anderlecht.

The Opposition

Founded in 1908, Royal Sporting Club (RSC) Anderlecht has established itself as the most successful Belgian football club, claiming the most (34) League Championships and five European trophies. Qualification for the 1959-60 European Cup was secured when they won the Belgian title by a single point from RFC Liege. The Club from the Brussels region were under the guidance of English Manager and former Blackburn Rovers Goalkeeper Bill Gormlie. The playing squad were all part-time, but the Club possessed a large non-playing staff which included a psychiatrist, a dentist and a cobbler. Their proudest boast was that they believed themselves to be fitter than any side they would come up against, claiming to be at their peak in the final quarter-of-an-hour of the game.Anderlecht

Their Squad included many Belgian Internationals, including their Captain William de Koster, who played at Centre-Half, and was regarded as one of the best in Europe. That summer they had added to their number two Hungarians, Wobling and Dacsev, a Luxembourger named Dimmerc and Albert Jordan, a winger who was the only of their new recruits likely to feature against Rangers.

Please see below the “Pen Pictures” of the Anderlecht team published in the Rangers matchday programme for the 1st leg at Ibrox.

IMG_0894

Rangers of 1959-60

The only major changes in Rangers’ squad list between seasons 1958-59 and 1959-60 were the departures of Johnny Hubbard to Bury and Billy Simpson to Stirling Albion. No major summer signings were made by the Club, but there was some nine youngsters who were added to the playing pool, 4 of which would go on to feature for the first team at various points: George McLean (not to be confused with George “Dandy” McLean who signed for the Club a few years later in a record-breaking transfer from St Mirren), Bobby Hume, Bobby Grant and the legendary Ronnie McKinnon, who would have to wait until the end of the following season for his debut.

IMG_0899

I have included below the “Thumbnail Sketches” of the Rangers players included in the matchday programme for the first match against Anderlecht.

IMG_0896

As always, Rangers began the season in the League Cup Sectional round. It started with an impressive 6-1 triumph away at Hibernian, who would also be thrashed in the return match at Ibrox 5-1. Two wins against Dundee weren’t enough to secure progression into the next phase, as home and away losses to Motherwell meant the Gers finished in second below the Steelmen.

The month of August did see a 2-1 win over Celtic in the 1st Round of the Glasgow Cup at Parkhead, before Queen’s Park were dispatched 5-1 in the Semi-Final.

The first 3 matches in the League were also won: 3-2 v Stirling Albion (a), 3-1 v Celtic (h) and 1-0 v Hibernian (a). It was then time for the 1st Leg of the European Cup Preliminary Round tie with Anderlecht, the Belgians having won both of their two matches of the season so far.

In the lead up to the tie, Rangers turned down offers from both BBC and STV for the television rights of the game.

1959-60 European Cup Preliminary Round Draw:

Nice v Shamrock Rovers

Eintracht Frankfurt v Kuopion Palloseura

CDNA Sofia v Barcelona

Wiener Sportclub v Petrolul Ploiesti

Linfield v IFK Goteborg

Jeunesse Esch v LKS Lodz

Red Star Bratislava v Porto

Olympiakos v AC Milan

Fenerbahce v Csepel

Rangers v RSC Anderlecht

Vorwarts Berlin v Wolverhampton Wanderers

1st Leg (Ibrox Park, 16th September 1959)

Unsurprisingly, the match, an all-ticket affair, was a sell-out. Over 80,000 were inside to see a match of skill between the Scottish and Belgian Champions. Sadly, they were to be deprived of that spectacle.

The Belgians began the day with a 0730 rise at their Loch Lomond hotel. The teamIMG_0892, clad in their white and mauve tracksuits, ran the surrounding roads and through the woods for three quarters of an hour before retiring for a nutritious breakfast of bacon and eggs! The afternoon was spent relaxing in the nearby village of Luss, where the visitors acquired all kinds of souvenirs imaginable, tartan tammies a favourite. A last meal was enjoyed at their hotel before the journey to Ibrox was made.

For the tie, Rangers welcomed back Ian McMillan who had been absent since August and took his place in the side at the expense of Davie Wilson. The Gers had also been without Captain Eric Caldow due to an injury sustained in the early weeks of the season, although the deputising Johnny Little had made a very positive impression and had even begun to stake a claim of his own for the jersey. Caldow was still missing for the visit of the Flemish side but had started to get some minutes under his belt in the reserve side.

The teams lined-up:

Rangers                                                                                       Anderlecht

  1. George Niven
  2. Bobby Shearer (C)
  3. Johnny Little
  4. Harold Davis
  5. Willie Telfer
  6. Billy Stevenson
  7. Alex Scott
  8. Ian McMillan
  9. Jimmy Millar
  10. Sammy Baird
  11. Andy Matthew
  1. Henri Meert
  2. Charles de Vogelaere
  3. Jacques Culot
  4. Pierre Hanon
  5. William de Koster (C)
  6. Filip van Wilder
  7. Gaston Dewael
  8. Jozef Jurion
  9. Jacques Stockman
  10. Godefridus van den Boer
  11. Pieter van den Bosch

Referee: Leo Holge (Denmark)

IMG_0897

The match started quick with Rangers going a goal-up within 2 minutes! A free-kick conceded by the Belgians (the first of many) in a wide area was swung-in by Harold Davis to be met by the rising head of Jimmy Millar. The ball found the Edinburgh-born forward about 12 yards from goal, hardly challenged, he nodded goalwards an effort that the Anderlecht ‘Keeper should’ve saved, but instead of standing tall, he crouched down allowing the ball to go over him and into the net.

The cheering had hardly died down when Alex Scott took delivery of a pass about 40 yards from goal. He drove forward, cut inside and found the far corner of the goal with a low drive from just inside the box. Only 90 seconds after gaining their first, Rangers had doubled their lead. If anyone was to believe that this early blitz would knock the stuffing from the Belgians, they were sorely mistaken. Indeed, it only served to rile the bad-tempered Brusselaars.

Anderlecht began to mount attacks of their own, but nothing that could trouble the Rangers rear-guard. Next came two fine saves from Meert. The first was to excellently deny a Davis header from a Scott corner, tipping the ball over the bar. Another corner found Matthew, who got a head to the ball and steered it towards the target, but with a tremendous leap, again the Belgian shot-stopper was found ready in goal.

With half an hour played, Niven had handled the ball only once in the Rangers goal. The Belgians had conceded twelve free-kicks, and Rangers just two.

The home side continued in the ascendancy. First Scott had a volley whizz over the frame of the goal, and then Millar was denied by Meert. At around this point, any semblance of discipline the visitors had retained was well and truly lost. Anderlecht forward Pieter van den Bosch managed the ball into the net, clearly offside, and as such the goal was disallowed. The Belgians immediately swarmed the referee in protest, jostling and slapping his hand away. They then turned their attention to the linesman who had signalled the decision with his flag, and then his colleague on the opposite side. It was to no avail. The score remained 2-0. Upon the resumption of play, van den Bosch charged Shearer and was officially cautioned. Anderlecht began to gain a footing in the match prior to the half-time interval.

The beginning of the second half was delayed slightly as the Belgians sauntered back on to the field of play, with the referee at one stage having to leave the pitch in search of the goalkeeper and right-back. The ‘keeper had actually been injured minutes before the break in a challenge with Millar and was after the match treated in hospital for concussion after collapsing in the dressing room.

The second period began in a similar vein as the first unfolded, with the bespectacled Jozef Jurion fouling Davis once too many times, something he would immediately regret. The Ibrox crowd witnessed the remarkable scene of Davis chasing his assaulter all the way behind the goal, but unable to catch up, burst into laughter. Shortly afterwards, a Rangers attack broke down when McMillan was crudely challenged in the box by Hanon. Penalty. Up stepped Matthew, whose kick was powerful but punched into the air by the Belgian stopper. The winger chased the ball down and managed to bundle it into the net, along with the goalie and the right-back. 3-0.

The Belgians, however, were not done for. 4 minutes later van den Boer crossed from the right finding Stockman who unleashed a magnificent volley which Niven stood no chance of stopping. With a goal back, the away side naturally grew in confidence, but the Light Blues passed up a glorious opportunity to kill the momentum swiftly. McMillan found Baird in the box, but the inside-left could only find the cross-bar with his shot.

With 65 minutes on the clock, van den Bosch chased what looked to be a lost cause down the Rangers wing but managed to catch the ball before it went out of play. He whipped the ball into the area, the Ibrox defence caught napping and Dewael was waiting to convert the chance into a goal.

Hardly had the match restarted when Baird was presented with the opportunity to make amends for his earlier miss. Again, the architect was McMillan, finding the Inside-Forward about 15 yards from goal. He steadied himself and aimed a powerful shot towards the Anderlecht goal. Big Sammy made no mistake, restoring a two-goal lead for Rangers. Once more the Anderlecht players felt aggrieved and received their second booking of the evening when Hanon had his name taken.

Less than 6 minutes had passed when the Ibrox men were again on the offensive. This time the move was stopped by a deliberate handball inside the 18-yard box by van Wilder. The Danish whistler pointed to the spot and awarded Rangers their second penalty of the half. This time it was Baird’s turn. Although Meert again managed a hand to the ball, he could only parry it against the post and the ball crossed the line. With 73 minutes on the clock, Rangers were 5-2 to the good.

With a 3-goal cushion, the match saw no further major incident, and ended 5-2 to Rangers. The Anderlecht players were roundly booed off the Ibrox pitch by the 80,000 crowd somewhat disgruntled by the cynical roughhouse tactics employed by the Belgians.

The following day’s press was united in their condemnation of the thuggery committed by the Anderlecht team. The Daily Record’s headline read, “’Gers hit five in rough-house,” whilst perhaps the most scathing criticism was wielded by the Eventing Times’ Gair Henderson who began his match report by saying, “White is the emblem of innocence and purity. Or so I thought until last night when Anderlecht, the Belgian Champions, came out on to Ibrox dressed head to toe in the bridal colour and quickly proceeded to act like assassins.” IMG_0898

Travellers the following morning at Renfrew Airport were confronted by the curious sight of a man dressed in Goalkeepers kit: shirt, shorts, stockings and complete with football boots. It was the Belgian Henri Meert, who had spent the night at the Southern General hospital suffering from severe concussion. Still clad in full-kit, and very groggy with blurred vision, the 39-year-old had been discharged only in-time to leave Glasgow with the rest of his Anderlecht teammates.

Despite the 3-goal deficit the Belgian Champions still believed their chances in the tie were alive and well. Left-Back Jacques Culot said, “We came out like a boxer last night and walked straight into a knock-out punch. Maybe we will be lucky and get a quick goal in Brussels. If we do, who knows what will happen.” Another member of the side was a bit blunter with his appraisal of the situation “Some of our players acted like school children. But it will not happen again.” Of course, the question remained, if the Belgians were to act as they had done away, how would they behave at home?

Prior to the Second Leg a week later, an unchanged Rangers side were defeated 3-0 at Ibrox by Ayr Utd, leaving the Light Blues 5th place in the table after four matches. The Belgians were to draw 0-0 with Vervirs, but importantly saw their 17-year-old deputy Goalkeeper Jean Trappeniers injured in the match.

2nd Leg (Emile Verse Stadium, 23rd September 1959)

One man who was familiar with the Emilse Verse Stadium, better known as Parc Astrid, was the Rangers Trainer Davie Kinnear. He had turned out at that very venue for the Army in a match against Anderlecht in 1945, shortly before Belgium was hit with one of the heaviest German air-raids of the War.

In the days between the league match with Ayr and the away leg in Brussels, Jimmy Millar picked-up an ankle injury making him a doubt for the game against Anderlecht. The speculation was that he’d more than likely be replaced in the starting XI by Ralph Brand, Davie Wilson or youngster George McLean who had only featured once in the first team since joining a few months earlier from Cambuslang Rangers.

Eric Caldow, who had suffered an injury back in August, was fit again, but faced the unique situation of being selected for the Scottish national team for their match against Northern Ireland in October whilst not holding a place in the Rangers first choice XI. In his absence, Johnny Little had performed most admirably in the left full-back berth. A few days before the match in Belgium, the press reported that Caldow had submitted a transfer request to the Rangers board, citing his English wife’s inability to settle in Scotland.

On the day prior to the game, the Rangers players reported to Ibrox at 0900, where an hour’s training was undertaken before departing for the airport. No further training sessions would be completed before the match, but Manager Scot Symon confirmed that Jimmy Millar would receive intensive treatment on his ankle at the team’s hotel in an effort to have him available for selection.

40,000 would attend the Parc Astrid, including 40 followers of Rangers and around 100 British soldiers. The second half of the match was also to be broadcast on BBC Scotland after the cessation of normal programming.

The Belgians were boosted with the return of Martin Lippens at outside-right, replacing Gaston Dewael who had scored at Ibrox. Goalkeeper Henri Meert also passed a late fitness test following the concussion sustained in the 1st leg. Rangers, however, were without Jimmy Millar who lost his race to be fit and was perhaps slightly surprisingly replaced by Davie Wilson at no.9, rather than Ralph Brand. The Gers were otherwise unchanged.

The full line-ups:

Anderlecht                                                                                     Rangers

  1. Henri Meert
  2. Charles de Vogelaere
  3. Jacques Culot
  4. Pierre Hanon
  5. William de Koster (C)
  6. Filip van Wilder
  7. Martin Lippens
  8. Jozef Jurion
  9. Jacques Stockman
  10. Godefridus van den Boer
  11. Pieter van den Bosch
  1. George Niven
  2. Bobby Shearer (C)
  3. Johnny Little
  4. Harold Davis
  5. Willie Telfer
  6. Billy Stevenson
  7. Alex Scott
  8. Ian McMillan
  9. Davie Wilson
  10. Sammy Baird
  11. Andy Matthew

Any hopes that there would be a change of philosophy from the Belgian Champions were quickly killed off. They were as robust as they had been at Ibrox. It was however less of an issue for the visitors, who were more than happy to allow the Flemish side to do most of the attacking and sat deep to defend their 3-goal head-start.

The Gers held the answers to all questions posed to their defence by the home side. In particular, Rangers’ outside-right Alex Scott came in for the roughest of the rough treatment. Assigned the label of dangerman, it was left to Jacques Culot of Anderlecht to keep him out of the game. A role he assumed with great enthusiasm. It came to a head on around the half-hour mark. Scott, as ever, was beating his man down the right wing, when Culot, with eyes firmly set on the man and not the ball, launched an outright assault on the Gers star. He was launched fully 10 feet through the air before crashing into a concrete barrier. As Manager Symon raced over to the scene of the crime, he found Scott groggy and with blood running down his face, immediately calling for a stretcher. After being carried off into the away dressing room for treatment, Scott began to come to his senses with the sight of Rangers Chairman Baillie John Wilson enquiring as to his welfare. The winger was only interested in what the score was and whether half-time had been. Upon finding out that it was in-fact still the first half and the match was goalless, Scott began to struggle up, eager to get back onto the pitch. His head wound necessitated 2 stitches but considered himself fit enough to re-join the action prior to the interval.

Hanon, the Belgian half-back, had his name taken by the referee for punching Davie Wilson in the chest, knocking him to the ground. De Vogelaere had also been warned by the Danish official after attempting a kick at Matthew, and afterwards Wilson was again the target, this time for de Koster, who tried to repeat Culot’s earlier foul on Scott.

The Light Blues didn’t flinch. Scott, still the Ibrox men’s most dangerous attacker even after suffering a head wound, managed to break down the wing again about 20 minutes into the second period. With blood seeping through his bandaged head, he managed to centre a ball for Andy Matthew. The no.11 rose and managed to guide a header goal-wards and through the legs of Henri Meert in the Anderlecht goal. With the scores now 1-0 Rangers on the night and 6-2 on aggregate, the tie was surely outwith the reach of the men from Brussels.

Only 5 minutes later, and the Gers were in again. This occasion it was Matthew who attacked down the left-wing. A cross found Ian McMillan who chested the ball down and rifled a shot into the roof of the net to make it 2-0 after 72 minutes. The Light Blues would see the match through with admirable discipline to complete their first ever victory in European competition on foreign soil. The job was done with a 7-2 aggregate win.

It had been a victory of tactics for the Glasgow team. Stockman, the Belgian centre-forward who had posed Rangers some problems back at Ibrox, had been completely nullified by Billy Stevenson doubling-up with Willie Telfer. The rear-guard was stout and never looked in any danger. Johnny Little was beginning to be seen as the first-choice selection at left-back ahead of Eric Caldow with another creditable performance. However, the hero of the hour was, of course, Alex Scott.

The players retired to the Atmomium for a post-tie banquet for Club officials, players and staff. It would be the scene of a rather amusing tale that was published in Robert McElroy’s “Rangers Miscellany.” The President of RSC Anderlecht rose to deliver his address to the assembled guests, speaking fluently in three languages: French, Flemish and English. His speech contained an apology for the conduct of his players and congratulated Rangers on their victory. As he finished, there was some debate as to who would speak on behalf of Rangers. Manager Scot Symon was by nature a shy man, and it was even suggested that reserve player and future Manager of Scotland Craig Brown might say a few words as he was a university student! Eventually Captain for the evening Bobby Shearer took command of the situation and delivered his message, which he kept short and sweet: “I’d like to thank youse Belgiums for all the grub and bevvy. Cheers!”

Soon the Scots would depart the Belgian Capital for home, and they were certainly buoyant after a well-deserved victory in trying conditions. Chairman Baillie John Wilson speaking to journalists after the match said, “I have always been proud of Rangers, but never more proud than I am tonight.” As the Ibrox team sang and celebrated on their flight home, they were to land to the news of the 1st Round draw that had been undertaken in Barcelona. Their reward for the Prelim win over Anderlecht would be a showdown against either Red Star Bratislava or Porto, who were still to complete the second leg of their tie. The Czechoslovakians, an unknown quantity, were leading after winning 2-1 at home against the Portuguese. The Porto side contained one or two respected internationals but were to be on the receiving end of a 2-0 loss and consequently, Red Star progressed to face Rangers. Rangers had actually been drawn in every one of their 5 European ties over 3 seasons to play the 1st Leg of their tie at home. The Ibrox fixture was to be played on 11/11/1959, with the return match in Bratislava a week later.

1959-60 European Cup Preliminary Round results in full:

Nice 4-3 Shamrock Rovers

Eintracht Frankfurt W/O Kuopion Palloseura

CDNA Sofia 4-8 Barcelona

Wiener Sportclub 2-1 Petrolul Ploiesti

Linfield 3-7 IFK Goteborg

Jeunesse Esch 6-2 LKS Lodz

Red Star Bratislava 4-1 Porto

Olympiakos 3-5 AC Milan

Fenerbahce 4-3 Csepel

Rangers 7-2 RSC Anderlecht

Vorwarts Berlin 2-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers

 

1959-60 European Cup 1st Round draw:

Real Madrid v Jeunesse Esch

Boldklubben 1909 v Wiener Sportclub

Sparta Rotterdam v IFK Goteborg

AC Milan v Barcelona

Young Boys of Berne v Eintracht Frankfurt

Rangers v Red Star Bratislava

Red Star Belgrade v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Fenerbahce v Nice

As described by Willie Allison, the tie with Anderlecht was one to both remember and forget.

 

Lookout for Part II in this series coming tomorrow “1959-60 European Cup: Part II – Rangers v Red Star Bratislava (1st Round).”

History

Rangers and the World Cup

In the beginning…

Despite the first FIFA World Cup taking place in 1930, none of the Home Nations participated in the competition until the post-War era due to a dispute between the national associations and FIFA concerning amateur players. When relations began to defrost, and there became a necessity for the best countries in the World to compete for the sake of the tournament’s legitimacy, invitations were extended to the top 2 teams of the 1950 British Home Championship for that Summer’s World Cup in Brazil. The SFA held that they would only send a team in the event that Scotland topped the League table, and would refuse as runners-up. Despite wins over Wales and Northern Ireland, a narrow 1-0 loss to England at Hampden meant that the Scots had to settle for the second spot and the SFA followed through with their earlier promise. This was in the face of protests from the players, led most vociferously by Rangers and Scotland Captain George Young. It was at this point that Rangers’ Iron Curtain defence and the Famous Five forward line of Hibernian were at the peak of their powers, and it is regrettable that a Scottish squad wasn’t tested with the availability of such players at the disposal of the SFA.

The same rules applied in 1954 with regards to World Cup qualification and the Home Championship. Scotland again finished in second, but by now the SFA had softened their position and this time chose to send a team, but only of 13 players despite the rules allowing 22-man squads. Aiding Scotland to qualification were Captain George Young, Sammy Cox and Willie Waddell, but none would travel with Scotland for the tournament in Switzerland. This was because Rangers had informed the SFA that none of their players would be released as the Club had a Summer tour of Canada arranged. A loss to Austria and a heavy defeat to Uruguay meant Scotland finished bottom of their Group. Rangers meanwhile were enjoying comfortable victories over local opposition such as the Hamilton and District all-stars, the Ontario all-stars and the BC Mainland all-stars. The programme of fixtures actually started with a match in Montreal against Chelsea, which was won 1-0. The sides would meet again near to the conclusion of the tour in Toronto, with the Londoners winning 4-1 and then a 0-0 draw was then played out in New York by Bill Struth’s men. Chelsea would go on to win the English First Division the following season, whilst two weeks after the tour, Rangers had a new Manager in Scot Symon.

Rangers Canada 1954
The Light Blues party travel home from North America

So, Rangers had to wait until 1958 for their first representation at the World Cup. 4 players were included in the Scotland squad for the campaign in Sweden. They were: Eric Caldow, Ian McColl, Sammy Baird and 20-year-old Alex Scott. Only Caldow was selected for the opening match, a 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia, thus claiming the disticnition of being the first Rangers player to feature at a World Cup Finals. He retained his place for the 3-2 defeat to Paraguay, and did so again for the final group game. He was joined in that match with France by Sammy Baird, who grabbed Scotland’s goal in a 2-1 loss. The Rangers contingent in Sweden was not restricted to Scotland. Billy Simpson featured in Northern Ireland’s squad, but didn’t start any of their games in what was a famous tournament for the Ulstermen whish saw them progress from the Group which included Argentina and West Germany.

Rangers sign a World Cup winner

The Summer of 1998 was an exciting time for Rangers fans, with a new Manager and an influx of new signings for big money. Included in the new players for the Dick Advocaat era was Lionel Charbonnier. The French Goalkeeper had been part of his National team’s squad which had won that Summer’s World Cup on home soil. Playing in the first part of a Treble-winning season, Charbonnier suffered the agony of a cruciate ligament injury that would keep him out of action long-term. In December Rangers signed Der Goalie Stefan Klos, who would become first choice for years to come. Charbonnier was not the only member of that French squad to find his way to Ibrox. Compatriot Stephane Guivarc’h was a summer target for the Light Blues, but the battle for his signature was lost to Newcaste Utd. Rangers did eventually get their man just a few months later when the Frenchman joined for £3.5 million, but a short and disappointing spell at the Club ensued. Guivarc’h however had played a significant role in his Country winning football’s biggest prize, featuring in all but France’s second group game of the tournament. He played the first 66 minutes of the Final against Brazil, helping his team to a 3-0 victory.

Of course, the French duo are not the only World Cup winners to have played for Rangers. Gennaro Gattuso achieved the feat in reverse, enjoying a spell at Rangers between 1997 and 1998, and then playing a key part in Italy’s victorious campaign in Germany in 2006.

Gattuso.png

Rangers Managers at the World Cup

There have been two men who have Managed Rangers and also guided Nations at the World Cup. When Dick Advocaat arrived at Ibrox in 1998, he had a well known pedigree, and part of that stemmed from bossing the Dutch National team at the 1994 World Cup. That particular Dutch squad included two men he’d later sign for the Gers in Ronald de Boer and Arthur Numan, and also a man who he’d recruit to the Backroom staff, Jan Wouters. Also involved were Frank de Boer, Peter van Vossen and Theo Snelders. Drawn into what could be seen as a favourable group (Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Belgium), the Netherlands finished top and then defeated the Irish Republic in the Last 16. The Dutch exited the competition after a thrilling Quarter-Final with Brazil, losing 3-2 with all 5 goals coming in the second period. De Boer, van Vossen and Wouters all played in this match.

In 2010, Paul le Guen became the second Rangers Manager to take charge of a side at the FIFA World Cup, when he guided his Cameroon side to qualification. Despite the presence of Samuel Eto’o, the Africans were the first team to be eliminated from the tournament in South Africa, finishing bottom of a Group containing the Netherlands, Japan and Denmark.

1978

Famously this was to be the year that Scotland would win the World Cup. Genuine contenders in Argentina, the squad contained a healthy Rangers contingent of Sandy Jardine, Tom Forsyth and Derek Johnstone. If it could go wrong, it went wrong for the Scots party, kick-started by a less than satisfactory training facility. A tournament that would be characterised by strange selection choices by Ally MacLeod, only Forsyth was picked for the Scotland’s opening fixture which turned out to be a humiliating 3-1 loss to Peru. It was after this match that Willie Johnston, by now at West Bromwich Albion, failed a drugs test stemming from a hay fever treatment which contained a banned substance. Forsyth lost his place in the side for the match with Iran, whilst Sandy Jardine found his way in. Only managing a 1-1 draw, it meant that for the side to progress, they would have to defeat Holland by three clear goals. Forsyth returned for the crunch match, Jardine dropped out and a certain Graeme Souness came into the midfield. After going behind, Scotland rallied to win 3-2 in a match best remembered for Archie Gemmil producing one of the greatest World Cup goals, but it wasn’t enough as Ally’s Army went home early. Whilst the Scots were needing goals, Derek Johnstone, who that season had won the Treble with Rangers, the Football Writers Player of the Year award, the Scottish PFA Player of the Year award and finished as the top goalscorer of the Scottish Premier Division remained unused for reasons best known to Ally MacLeod.

Scotland v Peru

Steven Gerrard at the World Cup

Three times Steven Gerrard has represented England at the World Cup. Despite helping his Country qualify for the tournament in 2002, even scoring his first goal in that famous 5-1 drubbing of Germany in Munich, the 22-year-old missed the Finals in Japan and South Korea due to injury. He therefore had to wait until 2006 to make his bow on football’s grandest stage, and featured in every match and scored twice (making him England’s top scorer for the 2006 World Cup) as England topped the group ahead of Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago and Sweden. He again started against Ecuador and then in the infamous Quarter-Final with Portugal, in which he saw his spot kick saved by Ricardo in the penalty-shootout which saw England lose out in Gelsenkirchen.

4 years later he travelled to South Africa as one of his Country’s most experienced players, and in the role of Vice-Captain. However, an injury to Rio Ferdinand which would rule him out of the tournament, saw Gerrard elevated and bearing the Captain’s armband. Fabio Cappello’s men had been tipped as a potential outsider for the competition, but in the end only just squeezed through their group, following draws with the USA and Algeria, and a 1-goal win against Slovenia. The Last 16 saw them face Germany in what proved to be a contentious 4-1 defeat, with Gerrard providing the cross for Upson’s England goal.

Gerrard would become permanent England Captain in-time for the 2012 Euros, and later led the Three Lions into the 2014 World Cup in Brazil under the guidance of his former Manager at Liverpool, Roy Hodgson. Drawn into an extraordinarily tough group, Gerrard skippered his side in their 2-1 defeats to Italy and Uruguay, eliminating them from the tournament at the Group Stage for the first time since 1958. Gerrard was dropped to the bench for England’s final match with Costa Rica, and shortly announced his retirement from International football at the tournament’s conclusion as his country’s 4th most capped player of all-time.

Gerrard

Assistant Gary McAllister was included in Scotland’s squad for Italia ’90, but failed to make a single appearance, and missed the 1998 Finals through injury.

Scotland vs Norway (1998)

Scotland’s last appearance at the World Cup, France 1998, resulted in a departure at the Group Stage following losses to Brazil and Morocco and a draw with Norway. It was in that second Group game with Norway where no fewer than 8 players featured who spent some portion of their careers at Ibrox. Rangers’ sole representative at the tournament Gordon Durie started the match, alongside Captain Colin Hendry who would join up with him at Ibrox within a matter of weeks. Also in the Scots side was 2 players who would play a part in Rangers’ journey to the UEFA Cup Final a decade later, Davie Weir and Christian Dailly. For the Norwegian’s, Rangers’ future record signing Tore Andre Flo started, alongside Alex McLeish recruits Henning Berg and the legendary Dan Eggen, whilst Egil Ostenstad made an appearance off the bench.

Current hopes

Bruno Alves will be the lone flag-bearer for Rangers at this World Cup. European Champions Portugal kick-off their campaign tonight against Spain at 1900. A match with Morocco in Moscow follows, before concluding the group phase against Iran. Should they progress, the Portuguese will face one of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay or Egypt in the Last 16.

Alves

Rangers players at the World Cup

Here is a list of players included in their respective Country’s World Cup squads whilst at Rangers:

1958

Billy Simpson (Northern Ireland)

Eric Caldow (Scotland)

Ian McColl (Scotland)

Sammy Baird (Scotland)

Alex Scott (Scotland)

1970

Orjan Persson (Sweden)

1974

Sandy Jardine (Scotland)

1978

Sandy Jardine (Scotland)

Tom Forsyth (Scotland)

Derek Johnstone (Scotland)

1982

John McClelland (Northern Ireland)

1986

Colin Miller (Canada)

Davie Cooper (Scotland)

1990

Richard Gough (Scotland)

Maurice Johnston (Scotland)

Ally McCoist (Scotland)

Gary Stevens (England)

Terry Butcher (England)

Chris Woods (England)

Trevor Steven (England)

1998

Gordon Durie (Scotland)

Brian Laudrup (Denmark)

2002

Peter Lovenkrands (Denmark)

Claudio Caniggia (Argentina)

2006

Marvin Andrews (Trinidad and Tobago)

Dado Prso (Croatia)

Hamed Namouchi (Tunisia)

2010

Madjid Bougherra (Algeria)

DaMarcus Beasley (USA)

Maurice Edu (USA)

2018

Bruno Alves (Portugal)

 

Cooper Caniggia Prso

Bougherra

History

Iceland’s first Professional

Even prior to their sensational exploits during this Summer’s European Championships, I think it’d be fair to say that for a Nation less populous than Glasgow, Iceland have traditionally punched above their weight in terms of producing quality footballers, particular those suited to the British game. Most famously perhaps Eidur Gudjohnsen, but also Gudni Bergsson, Herman Hreidarsson, Aron Gunnarsson, current Burnley player Johann Gudmundsson (who featured against Rangers recently), or present-day star of Icelandic Soccer, Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson. Kari Arnason and Eggert Jonsson, who played for Aberdeen and Hearts respectively, are added to that list, as well as Rangers’ own Tottie Beck. Not bad for a nation whose most popular sport is Handball!

The story of Iceland’s first professional footballer is an eventful one. Rangers play a small part. His nomadic career saw him turn-out for top teams in his native Iceland, Scotland, England, France, and includes a fascinating tale involving one of Europe’s fiercest derbies. Leading his Country in football wasn’t enough. He wanted to lead his Country full stop, in a lifetime that also saw success in the business world as well as Icelandic politics.

Albert Gudmundsson was born on the 5th of October 1923, in the Icelandic Capital of Reykjavik. At the age of 15, he joined Valur, a sports club which focussed primarily on football but also had successful handball and basketball teams. (Valur remain Iceland’s 2nd most successful top flight football team, having won 20 League titles). How much of a part he played in Valur’s success is unclear. They did win the 4-team national League in 1938, 1940 and again in 1942 when it expanded to include a side from outside Reykjavik for the first time, IBV. The Championship was retained in 1943 and again in 1944. It was around this time that Gudmunsson would leave Iceland, enrolling in a Business course at Skerry’s College on Bath Street in Glasgow.

ASG2

The Youngster must’ve made an impression because almost immediately he would join Rangers as an amateur. The specifics of how this move came about are unknown but it would appear that it was down to 1 of 3 men, neither of which have obvious connections to the Light Blues. Murdo McDougall was the co-Manager of Valur, along with fellow Scot Robert Jack, until 1938. McDougall would remain in Icelandic football, taking a similar Managerial post with the national side. He was succeeded at Valur by former footballer, another Scotsman, Joe Devine. Motherwell-born, he had enjoyed a successful playing career in England, most notably with Burnley, both Newcastle and Sunderland, and Queen’s Park Rangers.

Gudmunsson’s stay at Rangers was a fairly brief one, mainly featuring for the reserves and making just a single appearance for the first team. His only outing came in a Southern League clash, playing at centre forward against Clyde on Christmas day 1945, at Ibrox. The match was won 3-1 thanks to 2 goals from Willie Waddell and a 3rd by Charlie Watkins. Former Rangers Captain Davie Meiklejohn was the Daily Record’s reporter for this match and commented, “In comparison, Rangers were slow with their movements. Thornton was too slow and deliberate off his mark. Gudmundsson was the opposite. His first-time passing went in a forward direction, but never within reach of a colleague. This lad, I believe, has something, although he didn’t shine here.” His only notable attempt on goal was a header from a Waddell cross, which was saved by Clyde ‘Keeper Sweeney. Nevertheless, the win would help the Light Blues to their 7th consecutive, and final, wartime League Championship.

In September 1946, the young Icelander was on the move again. Perhaps using his contacts at Arsenal, Bill Struth may have arranged Gudmundsson’s switch to the London Club. He signed on the 25th of September, again on amateur terms.

He entered an Arsenal team in turmoil. Legendary boss George Allison, who had succeeded Herbert Chapman, had struggled to replace the men who had made the Gunners a force to be reckoned with prior to the outbreak of the 2nd World War. Players such as Cliff Bastin and Ted Drake, who had been essential in Arsenal’s most successful period in their history, had retired and the Club were unable to bridge the gap. (Most Clubs would go through huge change as normality resumed to professional football post-war, Rangers included. Bill Struth did a tremendous job in again rebuilding the squad, bringing on stars like Young, Waddell and Thornton).

7a5daba93d32c49edbcfbcc742dbf82e
Gudmundsson in his Arsenal days

The frequent change, due to injury and squad rotation in Arsenal’s team created opportunity for Gudmundsson. (When he made his League debut, he was the 4th person to wear the no.8 in just 11 games). He didn’t have to wait long for his first start. Initially making his debut in a friendly match against Sparta Prague at Highbury on October 2nd 1946, 2 days shy of his 23rd birthday. On their way to Britain, the Czech champions had actually been involved in an accident, when their plane collided with an English aircraft in a Cologne Airport. Despite extensive damage to the plane, fortunately, nobody was injured. The Icelander impressed at Inside-right, so much so that the headline in the next day’s Dundee Courier was “Ex-Ranger was Arsenal’s ace.” The match was drawn 2-2, despite Arsenal being the superior side for the most part. The Gunners’ 2nd was an own goal that stemmed from a Gudmundsson shot. (Sparta would then go on to face Rangers, with the Gers winning 3-1, before taking on Hibs whilst on tour in Britain).

During this time, Gudmundsson was also involved with Iceland’s national team, who were touring England, playing against sides such as Ilford. Whether that kept him out of the Arsenal team for matches against Blackpool and Brentford is unclear, but he did return to the team for the League fixture against Stoke at Highbury on October 19th. 62,000 witnessed Arsenal win 1-0, only their 3rd victory in the first 11 games. He kept his place for the following week’s trip to Stamford Bridge. The North London side went down 2-1 to Chelsea, in what proved to be Gudmundsson’s last competitive match in Britain.

A problem began to emerge. Arsenal were keen on Gudmundsson, and the Icelander wanted to remain. Although due to his inability to gain a UK Work Permit, he was unable to turn full-time professional.

His final appearance was in a friendly against Racing Club, in Paris, on the 11th of November. These matches had been a fixture of both sides calendar since 1930. Arsenal had never lost in 10 meetings between the sides, with all but one of them played in France. The final score was 2-1 to the home side, but the damage could, and perhaps should, have been a lot worse. Despite the loss, Gudmundsson was again a stand-out. So much so that the Parisians would make an offer for his services. A deal wasn’t agreed, although the young Icelander did remain in France, eventually joining Nancy for season 1947-48. (Arsenal went on that season (1946/47) to finish a disappointing 13th, in what was George Allison’s final campaign as Boss).

Details on his short stint at Nancy are scarce at the moment. He finished the Club’s top goalscorer as they finished the Ligue 1 season in 13th. One French journalist noted that unlike the reputation of Scandinavian footballers, Albert’s game centred on technical ability rather than physical attributes. The campaign was enough to earn him a move to AC Milan in 1948, who had just finished (a distant) 2nd to Torino in Serie A.

His only season in Italy, 1948/49, would be that blighted by the Superga tragedy in May 1949. The plane crash caused the death of the entire squad of Torino, who had won the previous 3 Serie A titles, as well as pioneering coach Egri Erbstein and all Club officials on-board.  Despite the accident occurring with 4 matches remaining in the season, the Turin side would win their 4th consecutive Championship, with the remaining fixtures being played by the reserve team.

Milan were hoping to build on the previous season’s 2nd place finish and mount a challenge for the Title, aided by the goals of another Scandinavian footballing trailblazer, Sweden’s Gunnar Nordahl. Instrumental in this move was Irish International “Paddy” Sloan, who was with Milan and had also been at Arsenal with Gudmundsson.

The new signing played 14 times that campaign, scoring twice as the Rossoneri improved their points tally but slipped down to 3rd place. His final match for Milan was very nearly the last of his career. Whilst playing against Lazio, the Icelander suffered a serious knee injury. The Club refused to pay for treatment and seemingly, Gudmundsson’s football career was all but up. However, the team doctor of fierce rivals Internazionale claimed that he could perform a surgery that would correct the injury and allow him to resume playing. Milan, who were involved in an intense battle for 2nd place with the Nerazzuri, rejected this proposition on the grounds that it was too risky. So, fully 60 years before Andy Webster, Gudmundsson bought out his own Milan contract and paid for the procedure himself.

acm_1949_Milan_31
The first 3 players standing (in club colours) from the left are Walter “Paddy” Sloan, Gunnar Nordahl and Albert Gudmundsson.
alb19_1949
Albert Gudmundsson and “Paddy” Sloan, reunited at AC Milan.

 

The surgery was a success and Gudmundsson moved on again, returning to France. RC Paris maintained their interest and the Icelander eventually got his move to the French Capital.

Gudmundsson made a relatively quick return to football, playing 26 times and scoring 9 goals in 1949/50 as RC Paris finished 7th. He also featured in the 1949 Challenge match against former Club Arsenal. A Joe Mercer-led Gunners side defeated the Frenchmen 2-1 in Paris. (He competed in the fixture the following year too, a 5-1 defeat with Don Roper scoring a hat-trick for the Englishmen). RC also reached the Final of the Coupe de France, losing out 2-0 to Reims, with Gudmundsson starting in the forward line.

The following season RC Paris slipped further down the table, ending the season in 13th, despite the Icelander improving his record to 14 goals in 24 appearances.

Gudmundsson very nearly made a return to British football at the end of this campaign. He re-joined Arsenal as a guest on their tour of Brazil in 1951, and had agreed terms to join full-time with the Gunners, but once again he was refused permission to permanently reside in the UK.

He remained in Paris for the 1951/52 season. RC fell further to 14th with Gudmundsson playing on 19 occasions and finding the net 7 times.

He was on the move again, this time to Nice, in what would be his final campaign as a professional footballer. His 14 appearances helped them to a 14th place finish.

It would also appear that Gudmudsson had guested for Nancy, but details of this remain unclear. What is known, however, is that he had returned to Iceland by 1953, and to the Club where it had all began for him, Valur.

2 years at Valur preceded a switch to FH of, Hafnarfjörður, for the 1956 campaign. (FH are the current reigning Champions of Icelandic football, and include in their playing staff former Rangers trainee Steven Lennon.)

It was at around this time that Gudmundsson set up in business as a wholesaler, importing mainly women’s clothing from France. However, it was successful enough to diversify and trade in other types of commodities, such as wine and later he became an agent for Renault motor cars.

Little is known of his time at FH, who were playing outside the top division. (Only winning promotion for the first time in 1979). At the end of the 1958 season, he quit the game.

As an Internationalist, he played 6 times. (Iceland had first played an International match in 1930, but the first to be recognised by FIFA was in 1946, against Denmark in which Gudmundsson played). He also managed 2 goals for his Country.

He was appointed Iceland’s French Consul in 1962. 6 years after that he was elected as Chairman of the Icelandic football association, the KSI. The KSI had honoured Gudmundsson the previous year with a Silver Badge for services to the game, and was subsequently presented with the Gold Badge after stepping down from the top job in 1973. Later, he would also aid other Icelandic footballers in moving abroad.

The late 1960’s also saw Gumundsson join the Independence party, a centre-right, liberal, eurosceptic organisation, for which Albert would become active. (The Independence party remains the largest in Iceland, having only once failed to top the polls in parliamentary elections since the Second World War. They currently have 19 members of the Icelandic parliament).

In 1970, he first ventured into elected politics. He was voted onto the Reykjavik City Council, of which he would become Chairman until 1986.

There must’ve been a moment of personal pride for Gudmundsson as he again made the journey back to Glasgow, taking part in Rangers’ Centenary celebrations in 1973. He was one of over 200 former players presented to the crowd at half-time of the match between the Light Blues and Arsenal. (Derek Parlane put the home side ahead, but 2 late goals from Charlie George and John Radford would deny the Gers a positive result on their special day).

He entered the Althing, the Icelandic Parliament, in 1974, as a member for his home City. (The Althing is believed to be the oldest surviving parliament in the World, first convening as early as 940 AD.) He was re-elected at the end of his 4-year term, as the Independence party remained the largest in the House.

mynd
Albert Gudmundsson the politician.

AR-532782975

In 1980, Gudumundsson decided to run for President, as an Independence party nominee. (Most Presidential candidates in Iceland run independently of the political parties). He received 25,599 votes, 19.8% of the total turnout, coming 3rd. Vigdis Finnbogadottir narrowly won the election, with 33.8% of the vote, to become the World’s first democratically elected female President.

He was returned to Parliament following the 1983 General elections, and joined the Government, being appointed to the post of Finance Minister. 2 years later he switched to Minister for Industry. Just weeks before the 1987 Parliamentary elections, after becoming embroiled in a tax scandal, he resigned and quit the Independence Party, the leadership of which he believed had failed to support him adequately. The scandal concerned a former shipping company that Gudmundsson had been involved with, Hafskip. The controversy would be one of the largest in Iceland’s history and saw a number of employees and board members charged with criminal offences. The vast majority were found to be innocent, with the rest having their charges reduced to relatively trivial ones. Gudmundsson was a popular politician, and stood-up for what he believed in, even if it meant bumping heads with his own Party membership. Perhaps he had long been set on a collision course with the party’s leadership.

29b
The Icelandic Government with Gudmundsson seated on the left, closest to the camera. President Vigdis Finnbogadottir at the top of the table.

Dramatically, he formed his own faction, the Citizens Party, which adopted similar Centre-right positions as the Independence Party, only with a populist element. Remarkably, Gudmundsson’s party took 10.9% of the vote in the election, with the Independence party receiving its worst result in history. (It remained the largest party in the Althing, winning 27.2% of the vote share). The result earned the Citizens party 7 seats, in that number included the election of Ingi Bjorn Albertsson, Albert’s son. He had also been a footballer, starring for Valur and the Icelandic national team in the 1970’s.

Gudmundsson retained Chairmanship of the Citizen’s Party until 1989, when he stepped down to become Iceland’s resident ambassador to France. That same year saw a split in the Citizen’s party when Ingi Bjorn Albertsson, along with another member of the Althing, split to form their own organisation, which was later incorporated into the Independence Party. The remaining members joined the Government, in coalition with the left-wing Social Democratic Party. The Citizen’s Party was so fragmented by the time of the 1991 elections that it did not stand any candidates, and was eventually dissolved in 1994.

Gudmundsson remained in his ambassadorial role until 1993. He passed away on the 7th of April 1994, at the age of 70.

Outside the offices of the KSI stands a statue, erected in March 2010, of Icelandic football’s most significant pioneer, Albert Gudmundsson.

images-e1351171059197
The Statue of Albert Gudmundsson outside the KSI headquarters

Gudmundsson’s granddaughter, Kristbjörg Ingadóttir, was also an Icelandic international footballer. His great-grandson, also Albert Gudmundsson, is a current youth player at PSV Eindhoven, whom he joined last summer. The 19-year old rejected the chance to follow in his great-grandfather’s footsteps when he turned down a contract offer from Arsenal, in favour of a deal from Heerenveen in 2013.