IN Barcelona, in 1972, Colin Stein scored one and Willie Johnston two. The Bears were born, legends were made and five decades on their achievement still stands as the greatest in Rangers' history.

The journey from Disaster to triumph has been charted by author Tom Miller as the champions prepare to celebrate their 150th anniversary and fifty years since that famous win over Dynamo Moscow.

In an exclusive serialisation, Herald and Times Sport recalls the achievement and the fall-out from Barcelona. In Rangers' glorious story, this is their most remarkable chapter.

IT had been a thrilling if arduous ninety minutes, but Rangers had achieved their goal. The European Cup Winners’ Cup belonged to them and would soon be taking pride of place in the famous Ibrox trophy room.

The players had all made it back safely to the sanctuary of their dressing room in the Nou Camp as Colin Stein recalls: ‘When the fans came on the first time thinking the game was over, I thought the same too until I looked to the referee who was waving us on to carry on playing.

Then when the final whistle did go, everyone came on and we had to scamper for the changing rooms. We thought it would all calm down and we could go back out on to the pitch to collect the trophy, our medals and celebrate, we didn’t know what was happening at all.’

In the bowels of the stadium, the Rangers players continued to celebrate what was a terrific achievement for a club who had last won a trophy on 24 October 1970, a period of nineteen months to the exact date.


The Rangers players celebrate with the European Cup Winners Cup trophy after victory over Moscow Dynamo

The Rangers players celebrate with the European Cup Winners' Cup trophy after victory over Moscow Dynamo

Pictured are former Rangers players Colin Stein, left and Derek Parlane at the launch the book Barcelona by Tom Miller

Pictured are former Rangers players Colin Stein, left and Derek Parlane at the launch the book Barcelona by Tom Miller


Manager Willie Waddell and captain John Greig were summoned from the dressing room by a UEFA official and Greig recalls: ‘We were taken to a small room and the chairman of UEFA quickly handed the trophy over, as if to say here it is, now get out! I always visualised winning a European trophy, picking up the cup and being able to go around the park showing all the supporters who had travelled halfway over Europe to see it.’

It was a genuine anti-climax. John Greig continued: ‘I collected the cup and walked back along a corridor and back to the boys in the dressing room.’ Despite the disappointment of no formality of the presentation, his teammates had started the party and a number of the players were already in the bath and the champagne was flowing. Some of them hadn’t even noticed that their skipper had left the dressing room but when he came back the biggest cheer went up and Greig tossed the trophy into the bath to further heighten spirits and raise the celebrations.

Eventually the team dressed and made their way to the bus to go back to the hotel where partners, wives, girlfriends and family were waiting to greet their heroes – but Willie Waddell had other ideas.

Back in Glasgow the printing presses were getting ready to roll and the events of Barcelona were front-page news. The Glasgow Herald of the next day ran with ‘Spanish police in baton charge as fans invade pitch’! Charles Gillies from Barcelona reported: ‘Spanish policemen with guns drawn and wielding batons charged thousands of Rangers supporters who invaded the pitch at the end of the European Cup Winners’ Cup match against Dynamo Moscow. Fighting broke out with the police after an estimated 10,000 fans swarmed on to the pitch in Camp Nou stadium, Barcelona, to congratulate the Rangers players on their 3–2 win over the Russians.


Crowd trouble at the Nou Camp

Crowd trouble at the Nou Camp


'Mr. Waddell, the Rangers manager, said later: “The behaviour of the fans places our whole future in Europe at risk.” Mr Waddell added, however, that he was still proud of the support the team had received. Journalists watching the scenes believed that there would have been no trouble had the police not charged. Trouble broke out about ninety seconds from the end of the match when Rangers supporters, believing that the final whistle had gone, invaded the pitch.

'Mr Waddell, police and European football officials also ran on to the field telling the supporters to return to the terracing. Play was delayed for several minutes. At the end of the match, however, even more fans ran on to the field, mobbing the players and Mr Waddell. Police fought unsuccessfully to contain them as hundreds of cushions and other missiles were thrown from the terracing. About 10,000 Rangers supporters thronged the middle of the field waving flags and banners.

'Then the scene turned ugly. Police drew guns and made a baton charge. Fighting broke out. Supporters fled in disarray and policemen

stormed the crowd. Five minutes after full time the centre of the park was ringed by police and opposite the stand another section of the Rangers following rushed onto the grass. Police replied with another charge. A pitch battle followed, and as one supporter was led away other fans attacked the police.


Colin Stein celebrates after scoring against Moscow Dynamo

Colin Stein celebrates after scoring against Moscow Dynamo


'One man was clubbed by several policemen, and this brought a hail of missiles from other fans. The fighting continued for more than ten minutes. Outside the players’ dressing rooms at least fifty Rangers fans formed a guard against the police. More than fifty people were led away with head injuries as police began throwing batons into the crowd.

'The park became littered with cushions, oranges, papers and other articles as ambulance men ran all over the grass dealing with casualties. Earlier the crowd had been, for the most part, good natured. The noise in the stadium was deafening.’

Rangers headed back to their hotel at Castelldefels but any hope the players had of a reunion with their partners were quickly dismissed, with boss Waddell taking charge of proceedings and stating, ‘This is a night for the boys.’ The wives and girlfriends were quickly despatched back to their own hotel to party on their own!

As the players started to unwind, John Greig confided in his roommate Dave Smith and to Willie Waddell, ‘I probably shouldn’t have played. Adrenaline kept me going and I was desperate for time up because by then I was completely knackered.’ Greig’s suffering wasn’t over at the final whistle. As he raced off the field as the fans came on, one leapt in the air in front of him and came down landing on his injured foot!

As the champagne flowed the captain admitted, ‘I wasn’t fit to play!’ But before he could say more the manager replied, ‘I know’ – adding with a smile, ‘but I wanted you to play anyway and the rest of the players felt the same way!’

The players partied long into the night with thoughts of how a carnival had descended into chaos forgotten, at least for the night, but something was missing.

The famous shiny silver trophy that the players hadn’t let out their sight on their night of celebration was the only recognition, apart from lots of champagne, for a terrific campaign that culminated in the win against Dynamo Moscow.


What was missing were the personal medals that under normal circumstances would have been awarded to each player after the game on the pitch but, like the formal trophy ceremony, that also didn’t happen.

In fact, the players had to wait to get their European Cup Winners’ Cup medals. The players didn’t even get their medals on the night of their return to Ibrox in front of their adoring fans.

Each player from the winning squad was introduced to the home crowd at Ibrox on 12 August 1972 and presented with their medals then. It was Rangers’ first home game of the season with Clydebank in opposition. A crowd of 26,240 were there and Rangers ran out 2–0 winners with Barcelona heroes Alfie Conn and Alex MacDonald the scorers.

Peter McCloy recalls: "It was a bit strange. It was about ten weeks since we had won the cup and in all the post-match hysteria the medals had pretty much been forgotten about. However, when we did get them, they were very much worth waiting for."

*'Barcelona: The greatest day in the history of Rangers FC' is written by Tom Miller and published by Black and White Publishing.

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