Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Classic Old Firm games!

In the lead up to the Celtic-Rangers game this weekend, the BBC have picked some so-called 'classic Old Firm' encounters and put highlights on their website.

I dispute their description strongly.  If you want 'classic' Old Firm games, I suggest the ones below.  Enjoy the nostalgia, guys!

10 May 1980
The 1980 Scottish Cup Final seems like a fine place to start.  For what it's worth, it was apparently a rubbish game, won in extra time by a single goal from Celtic's George McCluskey (until now I'd never heard of him).

The scenes after the final whistle were described by Archie MacPherson as "like a scene out of Apocalypse Now" (except presumably with an odour of Buckfast rather than a smell of napalm).  Celtic fans managed to scale a 10 foot high fence which had been erected specifically to stop fans getting onto the pitch, and some ran to the Rangers end to goad their rivals.  Soon there was a running battle on the pitch, with the fence only coming in handy as a source of weapons, with iron bars and pieces of wood being wielded and thrown.

Archie went on to compare it to Passchendaele, which seems just a little bit hyperbolic since there were not 600,000 casualties and the Hampden pitch was probably in better nick than No Man's Land.  However this riot is primarily responsible for the alcohol ban at Scottish football grounds which remains in force till this day.

17 October 1987
Three red cards and four charges of breach of the peace.  Oh, and Rangers came from two down to draw.  The 'fun' started after little more than a quarter of an hour when Frank McAvennie and Chris Woods had a punch up and both were sent off.  I love how the ref (who looks like a midget next to the players) takes an age to send them both off individually.  With no goalkeeper on the bench in those heady days, Graham Roberts went in between the sticks.  To be fair, from the highlights you could be fooled into thinking he was actually a goalie, and his unsuccessful attempt to stop Andy Walker's opener was fairly convincing.

It wasn't a great day at the office for Terry Butcher - booked for his part in the McAvennie-Woods fracas, he then lobbed his own keeper for Celtic's second goal and then inexplicably had a go at Celtic goalkeeper Allen McKnight (until now I'd never heard of him either) off the ball and was sent off.  But despite being a man short and having an imposter between the sticks, Ally McCoist and Richard Gough struck to earn a point.

As for the aftermath, Woods, Butcher, McAvennie and Roberts were all charged with breach of the peace and went on trial in April 1988.  The latter two got off on a 'not proven' verdict, while Woods and Butcher were fined £500 and £250 respectively.  Oh, and 62 supporters were arrested after the game.

17 March 1991
This is actually one of the first matches I remember ever watching live - a Scottish Cup Quarter Final which got just a wee bit out of hand.  One can't help but be a little impressed by the thuggery.  Even at age 7 I could tell that Terry Hurlock was a lunatic, and he saw red after elbowing Tommy Coyne in the face.  Mark Walters was sent off for flattening Coyne later on - finally hacking him properly at about the fourth attempt.  And Mark Hateley became the third Ger to head for an early bath after a tackle on Anton Rogan that was so late that it almost took place in April.  Remarkably, it was Celtic who had a player sent off first - Peter Grant's second yellow was for encroachment, which makes him a pansy by the standards of this game.  Their scorers in a 2-0 St. Patrick's Day victory?  Gerry Creaney and Dariusz Wdowczyk.  I'm sure I had a sticker of the latter in a Panini album.

2 May 1999
The Hugh Dallas game.  It's no surprise that the atmosphere was even more heated than usual, given that Rangers had the chance to clinch the title at Celtic Park.  The whistler stayed remarkably dignified in the face of it all, despite taking a coin to the head not long before half-time.  Four Celtic fans invaded the pitch at various times to try to confront him, and that evening someone lobbed a brick through his window.  Ever the diplomats, Celtic later hired a psychologist to write a report on Dallas' performance!

Dallas sent off three players - Celtic's Stephane Mahe and Vidar Riseth, and Rangers' Rod Wallace.  Mahe's second yellow, for dissent, was possibly disputable but there could be no argument about the other dismissals.  He also correctly awarded Rangers a penalty just seconds after restarting play following his injury.  The visitors, inspired by a Neil McCann double (sandwiching Jorg Albertz's successful spotkick), won the league with an emphatic win.

14 November 1996
It's only fair that one game on my list is there for positive reasons.  And here they are: a great goal and wonderful performance as a lone striker by Brian Laudrup; chance after chance after chance as both teams threw everything into attack; Gazza's missed penalty; Pierre Van Hooijdonk's missed penalty; a fox running onto the pitch; Tom Boyd denying Jorg Albertz with a stunning last ditch tackle not once but twice; that Van Vossen miss.  This Thursday night clash was on the very first evening after we got satellite TV, and sits in my mind as one of the most thrilling games I've ever seen.  Quality (not counting Alec Cleland), spirit and a distinct lack of nastiness.  Why can't these games normally be like that?

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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