NOBODY needs to tell Stuart McCall just how pivotal a win for Rangers over Celtic in tomorrow’s Scottish Cup semi-final could be, after all, he played an integral part in the night he believes Walter Smith’s Rangers team were born.

It was late March of 1992, and reaching the business end of Smith’s first full season in charge of the Ibrox club when on a sodden night at the national stadium, the great Glasgow rivals faced off for a place in the Scottish Cup final.

A straight red card for David Robertson after just six minutes seemed to swing the tie in favour of Celtic, but against the odds, Ally McCoist’s goal on the stroke of half-time was enough to send Rangers through. Graeme Souness may have already delivered three titles, but McCall believes that was the night Smith’s side never looked back from on their march to nine-in-a-row.

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What is often overlooked, at least according to the former Rangers midfielder, is the part he played in the goal, winning the ball in midfield and squaring for McCoist to deliver the coup de grace.

“I only watch that three times a week!” laughed McCall.

“Sometimes it is about a bit of luck. Obviously, we had Robertson sent off after six minutes on a night when it was bouncing down with rain.

“But I always look back on that game as being the night that Walter’s team were born. We had gone out of Europe, Hibs had beaten us in the League Cup and our league form was okay, but not running away with anything.

“I think if Celtic had won that night then maybe Rangers wouldn’t have gone on to have the success they did.

“McCoist put the chance away well and then we had that bit of luck. Celtic should have had a stonewall penalty, (Paul) McStay hit the bar and (Andy) Goram was what he always was – inspired.

“You can look back through the history of games for little defining moments. And Walter might look back at the one. Once we managed to win with 10 men for 85 minutes, the belief in each other really grew. It was Walter’s first season after Graeme had left and new players had come in.

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“It was a big moment. I was fortunate enough to play in four semi-finals against Celtic and win them all. That was when Rangers were going through a good period.”

It is not lost on McCall that the current climate is very different to what it was then, and Scottish football is now firmly in the midst of a period of Celtic dominance.

But McCall has seen enough chinks in the champion’s armour of late to suggest that his old side may just be in with a chance of halting their rivals’ relentless march towards back-to-back trebles.

“You can look at Celtic’s last two games which have shown they are not invincible,” he said. “Last season, you looked at them and thought: (sighs). This year, Rangers have improved since January, albeit that they have had a couple of blips.

“But they have got players in the team now who can give Celtic a game. But they have to turn up. Rangers have to be at their best to give themselves an opportunity.

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“They can look back to when Mark Warburton’s side beat them on penalties. Anything can happen in a tight game like this one will be.”

If anyone can cause Celtic problems tomorrow, the McCall believes it will be a player he knows extremely well having managed him earlier in his career. Jamie Murphy was an emerging talent when he excelled under McCall’s guidance at Fir Park, and with the experience his former charge now has, the former Motherwell boss thinks that he can give the Celtic backline plenty of food for thought.

“You saw the goal he scored against Motherwell the other week,” he said. “The number of times I saw him do that at Fir Park – come inside, come inside and then cut one back.

“I have said before that when I thought it was a terrific signing when he joined Rangers in January. He is at the right age now. He was linked with Rangers when I was at Motherwell, but I don’t think he was ready then. He is now.

“His career path has been terrific. He went to Sheffield United. I was delighted about that having worked there before, even though they were in the third tier at the time. He then moved up to Brighton, played in front of big crowds and helped get them into the Premier League.

“Coming back to Rangers at this stage of his career has been perfect for him. You saw in the last game against Celtic that he was one of the better Rangers players that day.

“It’s about what happens on the day, but he has got the ability to give Celtic a hard time. No doubt about that. I’m really pleased for him that he is doing well. I think the contract is sorted for him, even though he is only on loan at Rangers at the minute. Certainly, though, he is one who can cause Celtic problems.”