IF Hawk-Eye goal-line technology or VAR had existed when Dave Mackinnon played for Rangers back in the 1980s then he would be able to proudly state today that he once scored in an Old Firm game.

Not just any old Old Firm game either – the famous 4-4 draw between the fierce Glasgow rivals at Ibrox back in 1986.

Full-back McKinnon was perfectly positioned in the opposition penalty box when Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner punched clear a Davie Cooper corner kick in the second-half of that incident-packed Premier League encounter.

He nodded an arching header over the visitors’ flat-footed rearguard and watched as the ball dipped under the crossbar.

Then saw his team mate Cammy Fraser nip in and get a final touch on his effort.

The midfielder was credited with the goal in the newspapers the following day much to the annoyance of the defender.

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“I scored in the 4-4 game,” he said. “Pat Bonner told me afterwards that my header was over the line. Ally McCoist and Robert Fleck told me exactly the same thing. But Cammy Fraser got a touch.

“It was definitely over the line, about a yard over the line. Everybody came running up to me afterwards to congratulate me because it was that unusual for me to score.

“To be fair to Cammy, he did exactly the right thing as a midfield player. He went in the goal to make sure it was in, but it was definitely in. Maybe someone could do a VAR check on it now!”

Glasgow Times: Mackinnon added: “I played in between 20 and 30 Old Firm games, which was great. It was quite a thing. I scored three goals in total for Rangers, excluding penalties. But I never scored against Celtic. I had a few shots, particularly when I was pushed into midfield, but I never scored.

“My big claim to fame is setting up Ally McCoist for his first ever goal against Celtic at Parkhead at the start of the 1983/84 season. It was after about 30 seconds – I think it was the fastest goal in Scottish football at the time. But it would have been nice to score one myself.”

You would think that Mackinnon, who last week inspected the restoration work which has been carried out on the statue of his friend and former team mate Cooper in the Hamilton Palace grounds as the result of an online appeal he launched, would be firmly in favour of VAR having been denied his place in the history books by a wrong decision.

Nothing, though, could be further from the truth. The former right back feels the involvement of modern technology in the decision-making process has made football in general and Scottish football in particular far less physical than it used to be. And he does not think that is necessarily a positive development.

He certainly believes the “art” of the slide tackle, something which he used to pride himself on and which he knows from personal experience that football supporters love to see, is slowly but surely being lost to the game.

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“I wouldn’t have liked VAR,” said Mackinnon. “A lot of things happened off the ball in my time, people getting punched and elbowed and what have you. If there had been cameras there then there would have been about eight players left on the park at the final whistle. But it was just in the spirit of the game.

“I was only sent off once in my career – and it was in my last ever game. I came out of retirement to play for Forfar. I got sent off against Hamilton up at Station Park after about 10 minutes for a deliberate handball on the goal line. My hand was on the post and a header came in and hit my arm. The referee deemed it to be deliberate.

“The thing that I practised and practised and practised, and it became an art, was a slide tackle. During a game, if the opposition winger was running towards your goal and you ran in and slide tackled him it raised the whole crowd, especially in Europe.

“Whenever you played in Europe you always had to make sure that you raised the crowd. If you slid in and won the ball it really did that, it lifted atmosphere inside a ground.”

Glasgow Times: He continued: “Sadly, you don’t see players putting in slide tackles now. The way an incident is slowed down by VAR means players can’t follow through and you have to follow through. I would probably get sent off every week now.

“They slow it down to such an extent now and take a still photograph. Then it is interpreted as being dangerous. But if you are a defender you have to defend and use all means available to you to do so. Slide tackling is an art. The fans like it, everyone likes it.

“Even opposition players like it. I can remember speaking to wingers after a game when I played. They would often say, ‘Your timing was spot on there Davie’.”

The goal that Mackinnon scored against Celtic – but which was given to Fraser – at Ibrox in that classic Old Firm showdown in 1986 put Rangers 4-3 ahead and sent the home supporters in the 41,006-strong crowd wild.

But Davie Hay’s men, who would go on to win the Scottish title that season thanks to a 5-0 triumph over St Mirren at Love Street on the final day in May, would secure a point when his cousin Murdo MacLeod rifled in a shot from fully 30 yards out. 

The right back, who released his autobiography Slide Tackles and Boardroom Battles last year, had a few memorable tussles with his relation when they were on opposite sides of the Glasgow divide.

“In one game we came together in midfield and he left me in a heap,” said Mackinnon. “He landed on top of me after his tackle and said, ‘Sorry, ‘Davie, I didn’t realise it was you. I thought you were Jim Bett!’

“As I was lying there, I heard ref Brian McGinlay above me saying, ‘That was a bad one Murdo, you might have to go off for that’. I struggled to my feet and said, ‘Ref, give him a break, he didn’t realise it was me he was tackling’. Brian thought for a minute and then said, ‘Okay, but no more.’ He didn’t even book him!”

Glasgow Times: