John Brown, once a vociferous dissident, has become a public face of Rangers after accepting a mission to Russia on Sunday to represent the club at the 70th anniversary celebrations of Moscow Dynamo’s famous tour of the UK.
The passionate defender from the nine-in-a-row era was a regular dissenter of the Charles Green and Easdale regimes, famously standing in the Ibrox doorway in 2012 demanding fans go to war with Green and then describing the Easdales as stooges at last year’s annual general meeting.
Now he has become an ambassador which is another sign of the complete change in the governance of Rangers since the Dave King takeover nine months ago.
He will attend a gala dinner on Sunday celebrating the Moscow Dynamo tour, which included an historic encounter at Ibrox on 28 November, 1945, and will be a VIP guest at the local derby with Lokomotiv the following night.
Russian Consul General Andrey Pritsepov from the Russian embassy will also make a special presentation to Rangers ahead of Saturday’s Petrofac Training Cup semi-final with St Mirren, which is the exact anniversary of the Ibrox game with Dynamo.
Brown said: “I know the history of the Moscow Dynamo game so when the opportunity came up I was delighted to accept it. Being a Rangers fan I am aware of the importance of the visit of the Russians at that time so it’s an honour to be asked to represent the club.
“Of course the fact that they were the opponents in 1972 when the club won the Cup Winners’ Cup just adds to the whole thing.
“I travelled to many places during my days with Rangers but I have never been to Moscow so I’m really looking forward to it.
“As well as the 70th anniversary dinner I will also be able to see Moscow Dynamo playing Lokomotiv so that’s great.
“Nothing was really known about the Russians when they came over in 1945 but they certainly opened the eyes of the teams they faced as well as the fans who were there.
“Since the new board has gone in they have asked me to do a few things which has been good and it’s a great pleasure to be asked to go to Moscow on Sunday.”
As the world embraced peace-time following the end of the Second World War in August 1945, the Soviet Union’s most famous football side embarked on a four-match trip which captivated the nation.
They were literally hanging from the rafters at Stamford Bridge as 74,000 watched Chelsea draw 3-3 with the Muscovites on 13 November. Four days later 45,000 attended Ninian Park to watch Cardiff City being destroyed 10-1.
Then on 21 November the Soviets took on an Arsenal select side that included England legends Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortenson as well as future Rangers goalkeeper and Scotland manager Bobby Brown.
A crowd of 55,000 was there at White Hart Lane – Highbury had been closed for the duration of the War – and Moscow, playing their “Passovotchka” style of fluid, passing football, won 4-3 in foggy conditions.
However, all of these attendances were dwarfed in Glasgow on 28 November, 1945 when 92,000 crammed into Ibrox to take a peek at the mysterious foreigners which was all the more remarkable given the game was played at 2.15pm on a Wednesday.
The Russians had been unhappy that Arsenal had fielded so many guests and they stopped Rangers from fielding left winger Jimmy Caskie, who had just been signed from Everton.
Rangers, playing in their narrow blue and white hooped “Butcher’s shirt” away kit, were outplayed for much of the match and trailed 2-1 at half-time after battering ram striker Jimmy Smith had pulled a goal back.
Willie Waddell missed a penalty – saved by Moscow’s famous keeper Tiger Khomich but George Young was successful from the spot late in the game to secure a creditable 2-2 draw.
Remarkably, 27 years later Waddell led Rangers to European Cup Winners’ Cup glory against a Moscow Dynamo side managed by Konstantin Beskov, one of his opponents in 1945.
Brown will also attend Friday’s AGM where the King-led board had hoped to nullify Mike Ashley’s voting rights in the continuing dispute with Sports Direct but the Newcastle owner was granted an interim interdict to prevent shareholders from doing so.
It is another indication of the many remaining issues that face the new regime since their takeover success in February.
Brown added: “The good news is that we managed to get rid of the previous regime, although it was terrible that it took so long to do it.
“We haven’t reached the end yet because there are still many things for the new board to sort out and that will take time. But the right people are running the club.”
l Tickets for Rangers v St Mirren are priced £15 for adults, £10 for concessions and £5 for juveniles and are available from: www.rangers.co.uk, calling 0871 702 1972 or from the Rangers Ticket Centre up until the 12.15pm kick-off.