Rangers have spent happier St Patrick’s Days than the one they spent at Ibrox yesterday going down 0-1 to Kilmarnock. However, to cheer up the Teddy Bears recovering from having drowned their sorrows in in Guinness and Irish whiskey, here is an account of one of them passed on to me by my Facebook friend Iain Forbes:
Rangers first ever cup final was against Vale of Leven
Last century Rangers team (above) which included the Garelochhead brothers Moses McNeil (right with his family in Clynder) and William and (below) a cup winning Rangers team from the glorious 1960s including Davy Wilson, Ron McKinnon, Jim Baxter, Jimmy Miller, Eric Caldow, Ralph Brand, Bobby Shearer, Ian MacMillan, Billy Ritchie, Harold David and Willie Henderson.
On the 17th March 1877 Rangers contested our first ever Scottish Cup Final against Vale of Leven, writes Ian McColl..
Our Scottish cup campaign of 1877 saw the young Rangers, after trips in earlier rounds to places such as Mauchline in Ayrshire, incredibly reach the Scottish Cup Final where the mighty Vale of Leven lay in wait.
Vale had caused a sensation of their own in an earlier round by handing Queens Park their first ever defeat on Scottish soil.
The final was to be played on 17th March 1877 at Hamilton Crescent in Partick and our lads got to work to make sure that they were prepared.
Moses fondly recalled tuck-ins of ham, eggs and steaks every morning after a 6am rise, then a 10 mile training walk and a 90 minute session with the football. This was all in an attempt to make themselves bigger and stronger.
The lads would train for the Final at their Kinning Park ground often late into the night and because of this the local residents daubed the Rangers ‘The Moonlighters’ a name which would stick with us for a few years.
To say that the final of 1877 caught the imagination of the Glasgow public is a massive understatement as thousands made their way to Hamilton Crescent.
The match first played on the 17th March ended in a 1-1 draw with the Rangers goal coming via a Vale own goal. A crowd of over 8,000 attended that day to see this team of youngsters take on the mighty Vale. The draw actually saw the young Rangers team carried off shoulder high by the crowd.
The replay took place on 17th April. William Dunlop scored in normal time ,that game also ended 1-1. We then went into extra time William Dunlop scored again but the goal controversially was disallowed.
Glasgow Professor of Surgery George B McLeod was standing behind the goal and was prepared to take an oath and vow that the ball had actually gone through the goal and struck him on the head then landed back in the goal-keepers arms!
The match umpires were consulted. One umpire gave the goal one umpire said no goal and the third who was on the field of play said he was too far away and couldn’t say for certain.
The goal never stood.
This led to supporters of both sides invading the playing field, bedlam ensued and the match was duly abandoned. Of course the moral of this particular story is that The Rangers were being cheated by referees 10 years before Celtic were even formed.
The Scottish Cup of 1877 was eventually decided at first Hampden, with Vale winning 3-2.
This series of games saw the transformation of the Rangers from what was essentially a boys club into a respected football club one which caught the imagination and admiration of the Glasgow working class.
The Rangers were never to look back.