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27th April 1968:   Scottish Cup Final at Hampden and Rangers v Aberdeen at Ibrox

Three in a row!

Morning of the Matches

Two big games in Scotland on the same day and Celtic not involved in either of them? What an unusual situation. However, there was not much chance of our squad enjoying itself as we were told to report on the Saturday morning for a light work-out and we all duly did. We had our final match of the season coming up only three days hence but curiously enough, in between the sprints on the track, the chat was focused not on that match against Dunfermline but more on the Scottish Cup final at Hampden and the Rangers/Aberdeen clash at Ibrox. And, to be brutally honest, the game at Ibrox got more attention from us.

We were all very aware of the situation, as most of us had checked the positions of Celtic and Rangers on more than one occasion that week –

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic     33 29 3 1 104 23 61
Rangers      33 28 5 0 91 31 61

 

So, the situation was –

  1. If Rangers won, they would go back to the top of the table and we would have to take both points from the Pars at East End Park. As we had an almost unmatchable goal average figure, we would then win the title. But we would have to beat the Fifers.
  2. If Rangers drew, then, realistically, we would only need a draw to take the championship.
  3. And if Aberdeen won at Ibrox…..Hallelujah!

 

The Matches

There was a crowd of 56,365 at Hampden to see the Cup Final, quite a good figure considering that neither of the Old Firm was involved. While at Ibrox, a surprisingly low attendance of 35,814 was in attendance. At a time when Rangers still had at least a chance of winning the title, I would have thought that the figure would have been much higher than that. Or did the absentees know something that those attending didn’t?

 

The Action

Hampden. Right from the start of the match, Dunfermline seemed to have taken control of the play, pushing Hearts back into their own half but just failing to capitalize on the chances they made. It was still goalless at the interval but the Pars came out even more determined in the second half and got their reward in the 56th minute through Gardner. Three minutes later, Lister made it 2-0 from the penalty spot and although Hearts did pull one back through Moller, Gardner repeated his earlier effort in the 73rd minute to give Dunfermline a 3-1 victory.

 

Ibrox.   This match reverberated with tension. Rangers went ahead through Davie Smith in the 17th minute; Aberdeen equalized in 29 minutes. A certain Alex Ferguson put the Light Blues 2-1 ahead nine minutes after the interval; Taylor of the Dons made it 2-2 shortly afterwards then, in one of the most dramatic finishes anyone could remember or anticipate, Taylor got the winner in the 89th minute of the match. Rangers had been beaten 3-2; the title was ours, unless we lost to the Pars by some ridiculous score-line.

That night, the reports in the press were not complimentary to the Light Blues –

‘Once Rangers had surrendered a one-goal lead in 29 minutes, their play went from bad to worse so rapidly that even before the interval, every wayward pass – and there were plenty – was being greeted by derisive whistling from the frustrated thousands on the terracings’.

 

The headlines that night, of course, were split between the two matches played on the day-

Teamwork Triumphs in Final

 

Fifers’ Cup – Celtic’s Flag

 

Rangers Crash to First League Defeat

 

It was a great night to be a Celtic player or fan and I suppose we all took the chance to celebrate the moment. One of the papers put Celtic’s position in to perspective –

‘This week’s match between the new Scottish Cup holders Dunfermline and Celtic is now no more than of academic interest. Celtic go to East End Park in the knowledge that they are league champions for the 3rd successive year and 23rd time in all’.

 

Updated Table

P W D L F A Pts
Celtic     33 29 3 1 104 23 61
Rangers      34 28 5 1 93 34 61

 

On the following day, as if to rub some extra venom into the wounds of the Rangers fans, one headline provided a piece of probably unwanted advice –

Rangers Must Enter Market for Players

 

 


21 football supporters arrested during and after the Scottish Cup final between Dunfermline and Hearts at Hampden Park on Saturday will appear in court today. 14 arrested inside will appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court and the remaining 7, arrested outside, will appear at the Police Court.

One spectator arrested at the Rangers/Aberdeen league match at Ibrox will appear at the Sheriff Court and 2 more arrested outside at the Police Court.