Posts Tagged ‘Rangers’

The Old Firm Cup Final That Nobody Won…
‘Cheated’ Fans Riot at Hampden!

Celtic 1 – 1 Rangers (Scottish Cup Final, April 17th 1909)

by Scott Murray.

Willie Maley’s Celtic were the dominant team in Scotland. They were looking to complete their third double on the spin: later that month they would win their fifth title in a row, and here they faced Rangers in the Scottish Cup final.

The first match ended in a 2-2 draw, so the teams had to return to Hampden Park for a replay. That game was also a close encounter, played in front of a crowd of 61,000, and ended 1-1. A third replay would have to be arranged, with the Scottish FA rules clearly stating that extra time would only occur after a “series of three draws”.

1909ScotCupFinalHowever, neither players nor crowd seemed aware of that. For a while it seemed like extra time would be played after all. Celtic hung around on the pitch waiting for the restart. A couple of Rangers players milled around with them. But when a linesman wandered over to a corner flag, and yanked it from its moorings, it was clear that proceedings were over for the day, and a third match was indeed required.

That match would never be played.

Nobody in the crowd seemed much interested in the intricacies of the SFA rulebook. As far as they were concerned, both teams and the SFA were grifting them for more attendance money; this series of draws was nothing more than a whopping great con. “Of late, draws between Celtic and Rangers have occurred with monotonous regularity and the ill-informed man in the street has been heard to hit off the situation by the explanation that these indecisive matches have been ‘arranged for a gate’,” was the Manchester Guardian take on the crowd’s thought processes.

The game might have been off, but the heat was on. Quite literally, too. Amid chants of “play the tie”, thousands invaded the pitch, uprooting goalposts and yanking down nets. Stones, planks and chunks of loose terracing were wheeched through the air, while dods of the Hampden turf was ripped from the ground. Overwhelmed and overrun, the police retreated. Fans took the opportunity to set light to pay boxes, reportedly fuelling the flames with their whisky, an illustration of just how jolly baity they were. “We cannot get our money returned, but we will get our money’s worth!” screamed the crowd, according to a painstakingly edited Guardian report.

When the fire brigade arrived, they were met with what the Daily Record referred to as “interference of the crowd, who pelted them with stones and missiles”. It took the best part of three hours to clear the 9,000-strong protest group; 130 people ended up in hospital.

Celtic and Rangers asked the SFA to cancel the third replay, and so the 1909 Scottish Cup was never awarded. Celtic would not get their third double in a row.

On the same evening, Charlie Chaplin was starring at the Glasgow Hippodrome as part of the Fred Karno Comic Company. But somehow that doesn’t seem quite as exciting a performance.


This piece originally appeared on in 2012.

BOBBY’s Top Ten Classic Old Firm Encounters
PLUS: Selected Match Odds

After a long absence the Old Firm re-engage this weekend in what is sure to be a lively affair at Hampden Park as they contest the Scottish League Cup semi-final.

To whet the appetite BOBBY recalls ten classic Old Firm derbies from living memory;

CELTIC 6-2 RANGERS, 2000/01

It didn’t take long for new boss Martin O’Neill to ingratiate himself with the Celtic support when, in August of his first season in charge, he patrolled the touchline for this hammering of Rangers. Even by the standards of Old Firm matches, this one got off to an astonishing start as after only 11 minutes The Bhoys were 3-0 up, with Chris Sutton grabbing the first after just 51 seconds. For Celtic fans the joy was unbridled as their side kept up their 100% league record.

This game marked the start of a Parkhead revival that brought the hoops treble glory in 2000/01 and an end to the near total dominance by Rangers that had lasted a decade.

CELTIC 0-3 RANGERS, 1998/99

This was an historic win for Rangers as they clinched the league title at Parkhead for the first and so far only time ever, winning back the SPL trophy they’d relinquished the previous season (when they were stopped from winning ten in a row). Neil McCann bagged a brace and Jorg Albertz converted a penalty as the Gers also recorded a 100th league win over their great rivals.

Sadly, the game was marred when referee Hugh Dallas was left bleeding after being hit on the head by a coin thrown from the crowd. Another Celtic supporter attempted to attack the official – who in a predictably feisty encounter had ordered off Celtic’s Stephane Mahe and Vidar Riseth plus Rangers’ Rod Wallace – but he was restrained by stewards and policemen.

Dick Advocaat’s team went on to rub salt into Celtic wounds at Hampden with a 1-0 Scottish Cup final win that sealed a treble of trophies in the Dutchman’s first season.

CELTIC 5-1 RANGERS, 1998/99

Celtic had won the previous season’s SPL to end Rangers’ run of nine-in-a-row, but title-winning boss Wim Jansen had moved on and now the side managed by Jozef Vengloš were trailing Rangers by 10 points going into this November fixture.

One of the last Old Firm games to kick off at 3pm on a Saturday, Celtic romped to victory with a brace each from Henrik Larsson and the outstanding Lubo Moravcik, before young Mark Burchill put the icing on a very sweet cake in the last minute.


Ray Wilkins celebrates his great strike

RANGERS 5-1 CELTIC, 1988/89

Graeme Souness’ Rangers side served notice that they were Scottish football’s new top dogs as the Gers recorded their biggest Old Firm win for 28 years when they thrashed Celtic in late August 1988. Celtic had won the double just three months earlier, but two goals from Ally McCoist, plus strikes from Kevin Drinkell, Mark Walters and a wonder-strike from Ray Wilkins knocked The Bhoys from their perch.

Rangers went on to win the title, the first of a record-equaling nine consecutive championships in an era of near total domination.  

RANGERS 2-2 CELTIC, 1987/88

The Great Storm of 1987 – the Michael Fish Storm – had just caused incredible damage across England but it would be nothing compared to what would tear through Ibrox just over 24 hours later.

Rangers’ defence of the championship hadn’t started well. After 12 matches, Graeme Souness’s side were trailing in fourth place, six points behind Hearts and  four behind Celtic. Both sides were desperate for the win and this led to a particularly high-octane opening, even by the standards of Old Firm battles.


Tensions are about to boil over at Ibrox…

After 16 minutes the Celtic striker Frank McAvennie clattered into the Rangers keeper Chris Woods. The two men went nose to nose and light slaps were exchanged. Woods took McAvennie by the throat and all hell broke loose. The keeper’s teammates Terry Butcher and Graham Roberts got involved and in the ensuing melee, Roberts crept behind Woods and punched McAvennie before scuttling off. Only Woods and McAvennie were given the red card.

The match was almost an afterthought, yet brilliant for all that. Roberts went in goal to replace Woods, and soon found himself picking the ball out twice, once from Andy Walker, a second from his own man Butcher. Ally McCoist pulled a goal back and then Butcher, who had been booked in the original fracas, picked up a second yellow of the match for a crude lunge on the Celtic keeper, Allen McKnight. In the last minute, Richard Gough scrambled an equaliser.

The match is also remembered for the crowd-baiting by both sides. Peter Grant – who had harried Butcher into his own goal – celebrated by blessing himself with glee in front of the Ibrox faithful whilst Roberts conducted a sectarian sing-song from between the sticks.

It was all too much. A fortnight later, the Procurator Fiscal charged Woods, Roberts and McAvennie with “behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace” and Butcher’s name was soon added to the list. McAvennie was found not guilty and Roberts not proven, while Butcher and Woods were fined.

RANGERS 4-4 CELTIC, 1985/86

What a match this was as the two rivals served up a classic. Mo Johnston netted the opener for Celtic before Brian McClair quickly prodded home a second. The brakes were then applied as Celtic’s Willie McStay was then sent off after half an hour for two bookings. With 10 minutes of the half remaining, Ian Durrant and Ally McCoist set up Cammy Fraser to head Rangers back into the game. Johnston burst through for his second to make it 3-1 after the restart, but Rangers wouldn’t lay down. McCoist smashed a shot into the bottom-left corner, and Robert Fleck fired home an equaliser just before the hour. Fraser then poked home a Dave McKinnon looping header to give Rangers a 4-3 lead.

But the 10 men were not to be denied, Murdo MacLeod curling a beauty into the top-right corner from distance. It would prove a priceless point for Celtic, who at the time were in a desperate pursuit of Hearts at the top of the Premier Division table.


Celtic had won their eighth title in a row in 1973 and would win the Scottish Cup four times in five seasons from 1971, but on this occasion the Gers emerged victorious thanks to a winner from defender Tom Forsyth. Celtic failed to capitalise after taking the lead with a goal from Kenny Dalglish, Parlane equalising before half time.

The turning point came 30 seconds into the second half when the Celtic defence were caught napping, allowing Alfie Conn (who would later play for Celtic) to race through the centre to score. Celtic equalised through a Connelly penalty after Greig had dived full length to punch a Dixie Deans shot on the goal line with McCloy stranded, but Forsyth won the cup for Rangers in their centenary year nine minutes later.

A crowd of 122,714 witnessed Rangers upset the odds and take the trophy back to Ibrox. After their European Cup Winners’ Cup success a year earlier, this win was a first domestic trophy at Ibrox for seven years.


An incredible Hampden crowd of 132,870 watched Celtic clinch the Scottish treble in style. Rangers had beaten Aberdeen 6-1 in the semi finals, but were no match for a Celtic team that would go on to reach their second European Cup final a year later.

Billy McNeill’s early header set the tone and two goals on the stroke of half time killed the game. 19 year old George Connelly’s goal was memorable, dispossessing John Greig and rounding Norrie Martin easily to tap home and soon after Bobby Lennnox raced clear to finish emphatically. Stevie Chalmers scored the fourth on the break in the second half.

There was no joy for a certain Alex Ferguson, yet to be knighted and playing up front for the Gers in this final. In later years Bertie Auld was to comment that he had seen this game twice. The first was on the Celtic tactics board at Parkhead as Jock Stein explained to the team in advance what would happen and the second was on the pitch at Hampden on the day.

CELTIC 5-1 RANGERS, 1965/66


Stevie Chalmers

Played in gloomy fog, this thrashing of Rangers helped Celtic clinch the first of nine successive titles under the great Jock Stein. It all started well for the light blues when Davie Wilson put them a goal up after only 2 minutes, a lead they still held at the break.

Jock Stein’s halftime talk seemed to do the trick however; A hat-trick by Stevie Chalmers, a fine shot by Charlie Gallagher from the edge of the box and an even better one by Bobby Murdoch from all of 30 yards, made the final score 5-1, pushing Celtic two points clear of Rangers with a game in hand.

Just over 12 months later Chalmers would score an even more important goal when he grabbed the European Cup final winner against Inter.


Celtic enjoyed their biggest ever win over Rangers in the 1957 League Cup final. Incredibly, it was the first time that Celtic and Rangers had met in a major cup final for 30 years. Rangers were champions and clear favourites to lift the cup, but didn’t play like it as the Hoops ran riot on a memorably sunny day at Hampden Park.

It was only 2-0 at half-time, but “By the time we came out for the second half we had sensed that something was on,” said Celtic’s Bobby Collins. They even wrote a song to celebrate the occasion.

Amazingly, Celtic didn’t win another senior trophy again until the Scottish Cup win in 1965.



CELTIC – 1/3   DRAW – 7/2   RANGERS – 7/1

Selected Correct Score odds;

CELTIC: 1-0: 15/2, 2-0: 13/2, 3-0: 8/1, 4-0: 12/1, 5-1: 33/1

DRAW: 0-0: 14/1, 1-1: 9/1, 2-2: 20/1, 3-3: 66/1

RANGERS: 1-0: 20/1, 2-0: 50/1, 2-1: 22/1, 3-2: 66/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Kris Commons to score & Celtic to win: 6/4

Odds courtesy of Wiliam Hill.



Scotland Says Goodbye To Sandy
Rangers Legend Loses Battle with Cancer Aged 65

sandyjardine_1823793aby Rob Shepherd.

Sir Alex Ferguson has led tributes to Rangers and Scotland footballer Sandy Jardine, who has died at the age of 65.

The European Cup Winners’ Cup-winning full-back was among the Ibrox side’s most decorated servants and played 38 times for his country.

Jardine – who was also named Scotland’s player of the year at the age of 38 during a stint as joint manager of Hearts – was diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago. He is survived by his wife Shona, children Steven and Nicola as well as several grandchildren.

Sir Alex, a former Rangers team-mate, said: “From Cathy and I, this is some of the worst news we have heard.

“Sandy was a noble and courageous man. The respect he is held in at Rangers is immense.

“He was one of the greatest players ever to wear the jersey. To Shona and family, we express our sympathy and sadness.”

Jardine played more than 600 times for Rangers, winning three league championships, five Scottish Cups and five League Cups. But the finest moment of his career was undoubtedly Rangers’ 1972 Cup Winners’ Cup final victory over Dynamo Moscow in Barcelona.

Jardine made his Scotland debut against Denmark in 1970 and played in all three group matches during the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany, where he and Celtic’s Danny McGrain were voted the competition’s best full-backs.

He also featured in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina and captained Scotland on nine occasions.

Rangers boss Ally McCoist said: “There have been many great names associated with Rangers Football Club in our 142-year history and Sandy is a Rangers legend in every sense of the word.

“We are all devastated with the news he has passed away. We have lost a great man today.

“I had the privilege of watching Sandy playing for Rangers when I was a young boy, I had enjoyed the pleasure of working with him closely since I returned to the club in 2007 and he was a truly remarkable human being.

“He was respected not only by Rangers fans but also the wider football community and he is a huge loss to the game. We will never see his like again in the modern era.”

Sandy Jardine 1948 - 2014

Sandy Jardine
1948 – 2014

Midfield Maestros
Lallana and Ramsey Bring Back Memories of Gazza

By Dave Smith.


Keep it quiet: Lallana has shown the kind of promise that could ignite England in Brazil

You can’t fail to have been impressed with Southampton this season (apart from the fact their manager still won’t conduct a post or pre-match interview in English!) and for me their stand-out performer, consistently, has been Adam Lallana.

Never more so than at the weekend when he celebrated his call-up to the England squad – in front of the England manager too – with a man of the match performance and a super solo goal which had me thinking…are you Aaron Ramsey in disguise?

The grace, style, power, balance, skill and composure when it counted was reminiscent of Ramsey in his pomp, as the Arsenal midfielder has been since day one of an incredible season. And Lallana isn’t far behind on the basis of his performance in the 4-1 win against Hull.

Yet whilst the way Lallana danced through a toothless Tigers’ defence drew immediate comparisons with Ramsey, my mind wandered back a decade or two when a certain Paul Gascoigne was the master of the mesmerising run from midfield into the ranks of bewildered back lines.

A young, devil-may-care Gazza made his name in an average Newcastle side he orchestrated in the lofty way Andre Previn might have conducted the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band; leading defences a merry dance yet alone a Floral Dance.


Gazza the Conductor; In the days when shorts were short!

Football’s latest, and some would say greatest, national football hero did the same on many occasions for Spurs – I can instantly recall a magical FA Cup goal against Portsmouth – and, of course, he raised our spirits and our hearts many times in an England shirt.

In the build-up to the 1990 World Cup there was a mass media debate about Gazza’s possible inclusion in Bobby Robson’s final squad. Would the England boss take a gamble on a wayward genius he would later describe as ‘daft as a brush’?

A maverick Wembley cameo capped with a wonder goal against Czechoslovakia just weeks before the announcement of the World Cup squad provided the answer. As did the look of delight, disbelief almost, on the face of Robson as Gazza weaved his magic. He knew; so did we.

Gazza’s performances at Italia 90 until the tears and traumas of Turin more than justified his inclusion. I’m sure we all still get goose bumps when we still think about that wonderful adventure – much in the same way he underlined his name in English football history six years later.

The date: June 15, 1996; the venue: Wembley Stadium;  the occasion; England’s 2-0 win against Scotland at Euro 96. Who could forget that marvellous moment when Gazza turned Colin Hendry inside out before volleying home the best goal of the tournament; his career, perhaps.

The celebratory re-creation of the infamous ‘Dentists Chair’ incident in Hong Kong will live long in the memory, as will Gascoigne’s subsequent comments about his wonder goal, and continued taunting of the Scottish defender he left trailing in his wake.

‘Aye, it wasn’t a bad goal was it? Not sure Colin Hendry enjoyed it though – they’re still trying to screw him out of the Wembley pitch!” – Classic Gazza.


Gazza leaves Colin Hendry twirling towards Down Under at Euro ’96

So how did the tormenter of the Tartan Army become such a legend in the Scottish heartland as a Glasgow idol – on the blue half of the great city at least..? I’ll tell you.

As the chief football writer on SHOOT magazine I was assigned to report on a ‘day in the life of Gazza’ during his career rejuvenation at Rangers. After watching a routine training session and enjoying lunch at Ibrox, an Adidas photo shoot followed before delving into the ‘real world’ of Paul Gascoigne.

An afternoon spent fishing on the banks of one of Scotland’s many beautiful lochs was followed by a few cheeky pints at Gazza’s local in Kilbarchan and an impromptu ‘England v Scotland’ game of pool; myself and Gazza taking on two fervent Scottish football fans. The result: England 2 Scotland 0 – a familiar score.

After last orders it was back to Gazza’s rambling, multi-bedroom mansion and a late supper. On close inspection of his fridge, which contained two slices of left-over pizza, a bottle of milk and a can of Gillesipies’ Irish stout, Plan B needed to kick into action.

A quick phone call from the great man to a local Indian takeaway saw a Far East feast fit for a family of five arrive (he didn’t have to pay; an autographed photo sufficed) and we sat up until the wee small hours devouring our free delivery.

A normal night for some, you might think, but perhaps not the ideal preparation for a honed athlete who, two days later, would be playing in the penultimate game of the domestic season – a Rangers’ title showdown with Aberdeen.

What sort of shape would he be in come the big day, I wondered. I needn’t have worried. True to form, he was the star of the show and capped an incredible hat-trick with a solo goal which raised the Ibrox roof (click on the image below to see it). Rangers were champions: Gazza the hero.


The delight on the faces of his adoring public was eclipsed only by the broadest of grins on Gazza’s face, as wide as the Firth of Forth itself. This was his moment; his stage. As Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel once sang ‘Come up and see me, make me smile’. We all did.


Capital Stuff – Edinburgh Showpiece is now Scotland’s Biggest Derby Game

by Karl Hofer.


Wednesday 30th October – Live on BBC Scotland, KO 7pm

With the Auld Firm game currently on hold until the new version of Rangers return to Scotland’s summit, Scotland’s biggest local derby is now the one from the nations capital – and the two rivals will meet again on Wednesday night in the League Cup.

Hearts currently hold the bragging rights after winning the first derby of the season 1-0 back in August with Callum Patersen’s header proving decisive in front of a crowd of over 16,000.

How times have changed. A few generations ago Hibs and Hearts would challenge for the league title on a regular basis and matches between the pair would attract crowds of equal or greater measure than the Auld Firm.

Indeed the largest attendance for the fixture was 65,860 on January 2nd 1950 – this is still the largest attendance for any fixture played outside of Glasgow.

These days nether side is sadly in a position to step into the hole created by the dissolution of Rangers. Hibs are stuck in mid-table mediocrity currently rebuilding with limited resources under Pat Fenlon, whilst across the way Hearts are facing an uphill season long battle against relegation having been docked 15 points for entering administration before a ball was kicked in anger.


John Robertson netted 22 times in Edinburgh derbies

So perhaps it is fitting that the derby spotlight should fall on these two giants of the Scottish game now, because now more than ever they really need it.

Over the years the record scorer in Edinburgh derbies has been John Robertson, better known to Hearts supporters as ‘the hammer of Hibs’ for his prolific record in this match. ‘Robbo’ notched up 22 strikes against Hibs during his 12 years at Tynecastle, whilst Hibernian’s Gordon Smith rattled in 15 times to be top scorer for the green half of Edinburgh in derbies.

Classic games between the two have  been commonplace since they first met in the 19th century, below we’ve picked out two of the more remarkable Edinburgh derbies in living memory.

Hearts 0-7 Hibernian (January 1st 1973)

There are certainly better ways to begin a New Year then seeing your beloved team slapped at home by your biggest rivals. Conversely, the best possible start to the year for Hibs’ supporters was a record derby defeat inflicted on Hearts at Tynecastle. The goal-scoring heroes of this still-celebrated encounter were Jimmy O’Rourke, Alan Gordon, Arthur Duncan – twice – and Alex Cropley who afforded Hibernian a 5-0 lead by half-time. To make it even sweeter (if that’s possible) Eddie Turnbull’s Hibs side went to the top of the league after the rout.

The Scotsman’s match report read: “Only three excellent saves by goalkeeper Kenny Garland from Pat Stanton, Alan Gordon and Jimmy O’Rourke prevented this first match of the year from being a double-figure tale of woe.”

Hibernian 0-3 Hearts (September 15th 1990)

The Edinburgh derby is always a feisty occasion, this one probably tops the list though. This was the first derby after the highly controversial bid by the then Hearts chairman, Wallace Mercer, to take over Hibs in order to merge the rival entities into one. Mercer required a security guards at his home and did not attend the game on safety advice.

With tensions so high at Easter Road it was perhaps inevitable that bad sentiment spilled over, and after Hearts raced into a 3-0 lead before half-time the players were removed from the field for eight minutes after a pitch invasion and sporadic outbreaks of crowd trouble. Incredibly during the interval, police went into the Hearts dressing room to warn of the potential for further disorder should the lead be extended!

There was no more scoring, but more than 50 arrests and 17 fans taken to hospital with injuries.


Below is classic archive footage of a 2-2 draw at Tynecastle from September 1959.

The match features Jimmy Murray scoring an equaliser for Hearts after Joe Baker had put Hibs ahead. Ex-Hibs legend Gordon Smith is playing for Hearts in a team that would ultimately be crowned Champions, the last time a side from the capital would fly the Championship flag.


HIBERNIAN:   4/5   DRAW:   23/10   HEART of MIDLOTHIAN:   11/4


Hibernian’s James Collins is 9/2 to open the scoring

First Goalscorer:

R0wan Vine (Hibs) –  9/2

James Collins (Hibs) –   9/2

Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) –  15/2

Callum Patersen (Hearts) –  15/2

Liam Craig  (Hibs) – 6/1

Gary Oliver (Hearts) –  9/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY – Ryan Stevenson to score anytime & Hearts to win: 5/1


Odds courtesy of William Hill



One 2 Eleven with Nigel Spackman



Nigel James Spackman was born in Romsey in Hampshire in December 1960 and is 52.

He played for Bournemouth, Chelsea, Liverpool, QPR, Rangers, Chelsea again and Sheffield Utd.

He also had managerial stints at Sheffield United, Barnsley and Millwall.

Nigel is now a regular pundit on a number of foreign TV shows covering the Premier League and La Liga.

First Car: A Mini: Mini 1000 I don’t know how I got in or out of it! That’s when I was with Bournemouth, It cost about 400 quid! Next up was a 1275 GT Mini and I bought it off Dave Webb. [Webb was manager at the time and known in the game a bit of an Arthur Daley type! – Ed]

Best Ground: Anfield.

Worst Ground: That’s a tough one… Crystal Palace, Selhurst Park. It always seemed cold there for some reason and a bumpy pitch.

Best Goal Scored: The one I scored on my debut for Chelsea against Derby in 1983. I scored the first of the season. Kerry Dixon scored two and we got promoted that year. The most important goal I scored – the one that people remember me for – was Rangers against Celtic and my first Auld Firm game, New Year 1990 at Celtic Park.


Eddie Niedzwiecki, Joe McLaughlin, Nigel, Kerry Dixon, Pat Nevin and player/coach John Hollins all signed for John Neal’s Chelsea in 1983 and swiftly won promotion

Boyhood hero: I loved George Best and was lucky enough to play with him at Bournemouth for nine games and then went on to work with Bestie on Soccer Saturday.

Best Manager: Man-manager would be Kenny Dalglish. Best coach-manager I’d say Glenn Hoddle.


Nigel likes Rihanna, but he doesn’t know why…

Best Friend in the Game: I’ve had several really good mates in the game from Liverpool and Chelsea, Ian Rush is one.

Best Memorabilia: My medal from 1998 when I won the League title with Liverpool. The Simod Cup with Chelsea in 1986 would be second on the list!

First record bought: T- Rex [Spackers breaks into song] “Oh Girl I’m Just a Jeepster For Your Love”….It certainly wasn’t Gilbert O’Sullivan!

Most recent: I like a bit of Snow Patrol. I like a bit of Rihanna too…but I don’t know why!

Best Country visited: I’ve been lucky to visit some beautiful places….but the best? I’d have to say The Maldives.


Red or White Wine: A nice Italian Amarone

Drogba or Dixon..?: [Chuckles ] Has to be a bit of Drogba… just a little bit better. Kerry will kill me for that!


Hijacked Transfers: The Stories of Mo Johnston & Gianluca Vialli

by Rob Shepherd.

Transfer deadline has become Soap Opera as evidenced by the hysterical and smug coverage on Sky Sports News who have hijacked the day and turned it into a kitchen sink drama, with their front men pretending they are the ones breaking the news when actually they are just reading the auto-cue of tales coming from off the wires, web sites or Twitter.

And it beggars belief that after three months of the transfer window being open so many clubs leave it to a last minute Christmas Eve style trolley dash to spend vast sums of cash.


“Yes, I always wanted to play for Spurs. Sorry, what was that..? A phone call for me you say…”

Some deals will go to the wire and even then extensions are asked for when servers crash and emails don’t get sent. Where IS an old photocopier and fax machine when you need one…?

Three years ago Tottenham signed Dutch forward Rafael van der Vaart after a move from Madrid to Bayern Munich was in the balance, under the midnight oil and were allowed to finish the paperwork the next day.

And of course as the day unfolds several clubs will be jostling with each other for the same player, as on Sunday when Liverpool beat off West Brom and Wigan to take Victor Moses on loan.

There will be gazumping, auctions, Dutch auctions, who blinks first shenanigans, brinkmanship and bullshit.

And even hijacking as witnessed last week when Chelsea embarrassed Spurs when they singed Willian from Russian club Anzhi after the Brazilian player had not only agreed terms to join Tottenham but had even completed a medical.

That ‘steal” prompted us at BOBBY to think back to some other infamous hi-jack transfer tales.

Perhaps the most notorious of all time was when Mo Johnston opted to join Glasgow Rangers – a Chelsea of that era if you like given the financial muscle they had – from French club Nantes in 1989.

Now when Johnston had joined Nantes from Celtic two years earlier there was a buy-back clause and Mo was indeed on his way back to Parkhead when then Rangers boss Graeme Souness intervened.

There was obvious outrage from Celtic at losing the player to their bitter rivals.

But the bile was even more bitter from the majority of staunch Rangers fans who were apoplectic that their club (with its fierce Protestant principles) had signed a Catholic.

Now while Catholic based club Celtic would actively sign non-Catholics (Aflie Conn had preceded Johnston playing for both clubs) Rangers had not pursued a Catholic of any prominence to play for the club since the end of World War I in 1918.

Mo Johnston

Gathered reporters, expecting to see John Sheridan unveiled, gasped as Mo Jo entered the room

It was a policy rooted in deep seated religious bigotry and so instead of being elated that Rangers had pulled a fast one on their rivals many fans were incensed and burned scarves and season tickets, while to Celtic followers Johnston was “Judas”.

Rangers fans mellowed as Johnston scored three goals in matches against Celtic in his two year spell there (taking a pie full in the face from the away fans after one of them at Ibrox!) and he would go on to score 46 goals in 100 league and cup games. But tension remained and although a number of Rangers fans took great delight in the one-upmanship over Celtic, many fans were not sorry to see him or Souness move on within a couple of years.

Vialli Scoop

A personal transfer hijacking memory for me also highlights the pressure a football reporter can be under and bizarre newspaper politics. It was before the transfer window had been introduced but there was still a frantic summer rush as the season approached.

Ruud Gullit had taken over from Glenn Hoddle as Chelsea boss and wanted a star signing and had identified his old pal at Sampdoria, striker Gianluca Vialli.
But at the time Rangers still had money and clout and it looked as if Vialli had opted to move to Scotland.

I was working for the Daily Mail in London and the Scottish office were convinced Villa was on his way to Ibrox. They had run a back page exclusive to say so.

The following day I got a call from a good contact -a leading agent infact – who told me Chelsea had hijacked the deal and Vialli would fly to London and sign for Gullit the next day.

I filed the story at about 6pm. First edition deadline was looming. The sports editor called me into his office and explained the Scottish office were adamant the move to Rangers was still on and my story was being dismissed by the Scottish sports editor to the point where he was championing ‘his’ reporter and rubbishing me.

A few heated phone calls between the editors followed.

“How Good is my source ?” Good. “Was I Sure?” Well, as sure as I can be. “Will he definitely sign for Chelsea?” As it stood, yes but how could I know if he slept on it and then changed his mind …?

It was getting silly.

Weren’t we meant to be on the same side ? Could we not work together on this one. In the bizarre world of behind the scene machinations at national newspapers than answer was no.

Ridiculous really.

Did I think my info was correct ? Yes. Would I have bet my mortgage on it ? No.

In the fickle football world a done deal is never done until it is done. But I stood by my story and suggested to the editor it was his call.

He went with my story. The Mail’s back page in all but one its editions went with: Vialli to sign for Chelsea.

But since the Scottish edition of the paper had a lot of autonomy their back page the next morning was: Vialli to join Rangers.


Gullit signs the man who would eventually replace him as Chelsea manager

Now getting such stories wrong were not quite sacking offences but you could get knocked way down the pecking order if you got such a big one wrong.

At 11 am the next day the Press Association wire service announced Chelsea would be unveiling a new signing at Stamford Bridge at 1pm.

Chelsea had indeed successfully hijacked Rangers and in a bizarre twist I had scooped one of my own colleagues.

I later told Vialli that the night after he joined and all the copy (it felt good writing it!) had been filed, several bottles of champagne had been consumed by the Mail sports desk close to its London offices in Kensington, not far from Stamford Bridge, each toast being in Vialli’s name – and that my expenses credit was good for the tab.

Gianluca, who became a Chelsea legend, had a good laugh about it and then smiled: “If anyone thought I was going to sign for Rangers after Chelsea had come in for me they must have been mad…”