Stuart Munro: Rangers win at Celtic Park can be turning point like it was in 1989
Rangers have failed to record a victory at Celtic Park for nearly nine years, when Kenny Miller scored twice in a 3-1 win, which equals the longest barren run in their history, set in the eighties.
Alex Miller’s remarkable winner in August 1980 seemed lost in the mists of time when Graeme Souness’s side headed to the East End in April 1989.
But a hard-fought 2-1 win proved not only to be the catalyst for a league title success but the beginning of Rangers’ stranglehold of Scottish football for nine years.
Munro, following Rangers from 10,500 miles away in Melbourne, said: “I think I had been to Parkhead about eight times and not won – but four of these games were drawn. There are periods where one team is dominant – it’s been like that throughout the history of Scottish football. Rangers just can’t seem to win at Parkhead – although it’s always harder to win away from home – and they had a terrible record in the fixture overall up until last December. It was the same for us in the 1980s but that match in 1989 changed so much. We were on the up anyway but we blasted over the horizon after that season.
“We were two up early but Celtic got back in it and then won a penalty but, thankfully, Joe Miller missed it.
“It was a very significant result and I think, if Rangers can win on Sunday, it will be equally important for Steven Gerrard. It would be another major milestone. People say Rangers are still miles behind but I disagree. There have been big improvements – the run in Europe, the first derby win for a while – and big steps forward.
“If Gerrard can make good signings in the summer and take it to the next level, then things can get even better for Rangers.
“I think there are real signs that Stevie can make another big leap forward next season, but he needs the backing of the board.”
Munro spent seven seasons at Ibrox from 1984, winning four league titles and three League Cup medals seeing off a procession of pretenders to his position. Souness signed Jimmy Phillips, Tom Cowan, Chris Vinnicombe, Jan Bartram and John Brown but Munro always seemed to fight his way back into the side.
There was a relentless streak about Souness’s Rangers, and Munro feels that matches against sides other than Celtic have proved so costly for Gerrard this season. Rangers were level at New Year – having played one game more – but go to Parkhead 10 points behind.
Munro, who has been in Australia for 23 years and coaches at Rowville Sports Academy, said: “We’ve all been following what’s been going on over the last few years and we’re getting a lot more enjoyment over what Steven Gerrard has been bringing to the team. And that win over Celtic three month ago was very important for the club – especially the players – as it proved that they can get a result against this Celtic team.
“It was such a confidence-booster because they not only won the game, they dominated the game.
“But, as I was saying to supporters in Melbourne recently, it’s the other games that have let Rangers down.
“They have fallen flat this season so many times in games against the other sides that they should be winning.
“They have had far too many draws in games that they should have won and had they done so the significance of the Old Firm games would reduce.
“Of course, these games are always massive and it seems crazy to say that they wouldn’t matter so much. But, if Rangers had turned these draws against the others into wins, then life would be a lot easier.
“Just look at the matches with Kilmarnock alone – two drawn games at Ibrox which they should have won and a game at Rugby Park they were in control of but somehow lost. I’m hoping we’re at the stage now that it’s difficult to call an Old Firm game.
“You couldn’t say that in the last few years as everyone knows.
“Celtic were so far ahead of Rangers it wasn’t true, so the result was almost a foregone conclusion.
“Now, even if Celtic are still stronger, I think Rangers are capable of giving them a game.
“That was the case when we were dominant in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Celtic always gave us a game.
“Indeed, it took Graeme Souness nearly three years to win at Parkhead in that famous 1989 game, but, once he did, it really changed things.
“We went on to have a lot of good results at Celtic Park in the following years.
“I’m hoping it’s the same for Steven Gerrard this weekend.”