From the archives: Rangers v Arsenal 1973

IN THIS exclusive online article from The Scotsman archives we look back on Rangers’ cententary celebrations 40 years ago this month - marked with a friendly match against Arsenal at Ibrox on Monday, 20 August 1973.

Rangers show off their silverware before their Centenary game against Arsenal at Ibrox in August 1973. Picture: TSPL
Rangers show off their silverware before their Centenary game against Arsenal at Ibrox in August 1973. Picture: TSPL

A huge crowd of more than 60,000 crammed into Ibrox for the game - encouraged by a one-off 5p admission fee. Ironically, the souvenir programme was twice the price on the gate! Arsenal had been the obvious choice of opponents given the long-standing relationship between the two clubs. Recently, disgraced former Rangers owner Craig Whyte was pilloried for his decision to sell 16 shares the Ibrox club had held in Arsenal for more than a century. It emerged that Whyte sold the shares for £230,000 shortly before the club went into administration.

The match between the two clubs in 1973 was preceded by a parade of former Rangers players, and 97-year-old goalkeeper Alex Newbigging - who had made his debut for the club in 1906 - led the way and even managed to get stripped and take a penalty at half-time! The game itself saw Rangers lead until late in the game, until two goals from Bertie Mee’s team secured a 2-1 win for the visitors. The Scotsman’s John Rafferty watched the action...

1973 report

THE night was heavy with nostalgia at Ibrox stadium last night. Rangers held their 100th birthday party and a goodly crowd of 60,000 were there to pay the 1s entrance fee of last century to take part in the festivities. They had a ball.

First there was the display of trophies, taken for the first time from that magnificent room in which only the select have viewed them. They were set out on tables in the centre circle, silver and crystal and porcelain and other choice places from the very ends of the earth. And resplendent among them, the Scottish Cup.

There was the parade of the old players - 230 of them gathered together for the night and led by the oldest of them all, Alex Newbigging, 97 years old and signed as a goalkeeper in 1906. He was a fine old man, a proud old man; and the others followed and stood in orderly ranks to be acclaimed.

The band played ‘Happy Birthday’. It was all so pleasant, and we looked away from the terracing where troubles had erupted on Saturday.

But soon that section was to intrude as they chanted their provocations and hurled obscenities at Alan Ball, normally at war with the Scots but last night a guest of Rangers FC, and as such entitled to better treatment. Despair increased that the notorious section could not be bettered on such an occasion.

McCloy mistake

And then there was the match with Arsenal, the traditional rivals of an association started in the years between the wars.

It was a good game for Rangers, a relaxed game in which they could practise the co-ordinated play they have shown on many recent occasions; the running, passing game which is to be preferred to the more physical charging which, on the stern occasions, supplants it.

In the second half, Derek Parlane took Tommy McLean’s cross with his back to goal, hooked the ball with his left foot over his right shoulder, and the ball flew into the net for a goal fit to grace the occasion.

But someone had to spoil the party. With two minutes to go, Charlie George tried a forlorn drive. The ball flew straight to Peter McCloy’s hands and he parried it carelessly. The ball dropped over the line.

That was bad enough, but with seconds to go and Rangers trying to retrieve the position, George’s pass found John Radford clear, and he raced in to beat McCloy.

Rangers line-up: McCloy, Jardine, Mathieson, Greig, Johnstone, McDonald, McLean, Forsyth, Parlane, Conn, Young. Subs: Scott, O’Hara.

Rangers v Arsenal friendlies: the full list

1933/34 Rangers 2, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)

1933/34 Arsenal 1, Rangers 3 (Highbury)

1934/35 Arsenal 1, Rangers 1 (Highbury)

1935/36 Rangers 2, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)

1936/37 Arsenal 2, Rangers 1 (Highbury)

1938/38 Rangers 1, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)

1951/52 Arsenal 3, Rangers 2 (Highbury)

1953/54 Rangers 1, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)

1954/55 Arsenal 3, Rangers 3 (Highbury)

1955/56 Rangers 2, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)

1958/59 Arsenal 0, Rangers 3 (Highbury)

1960/61 Rangers 4, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)

1962/63 Arsenal 2, Rangers 2 (Highbury)

1966/67 Rangers 2, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)

1967/68 Arsenal 3, Rangers 0 (Highbury)

1968/69 Rangers 2, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)

1973/74 Rangers 1, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)

1980/81 Rangers 2, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)

1989/90 Rangers 1, Arsenal 2 (Ibrox)

1996/97 Rangers 3, Arsenal 0 (Ibrox)

1996/97 Arsenal 3, Rangers 3 (Highbury)

2003/04 Rangers 0, Arsenal 3 (Ibrox)

2009/10 Arsenal 3, Rangers 0 (Emirates)