Ask any dyed in the wool True Blue what was the greatest moment in Rangers FC’s history and the likely answer would be Barcelona 1972.
The day Rangers lifted a European trophy into the air, conquering the continent at a time when Scottish football was as feared, respected and admired as much as any of the current European superpower nations.
Four of the famous ‘Barca Bears’ were in Stornoway recently as the latest star guests of the Lewis and Harris Rangers Supporters Club.
Goalscorers on the famous night when Rangers beat Dynamo Moscow 3-2 in the final, Colin Stein and Willie Johnston made the trip alongside team mates Peter McCloy and Dave Smith for a packed out question and answer session in the Stornoway-based club which has been recognised as the world’s biggest Rangers Supports Club.
En-route to European Cup Winners Cup glory Rangers saw off Rennes, Sporting Lisbon, Torino and a Bayern Munich side much fancied as having a number of the world’s bst players at the time.
But looking back on their glorious run it is impossible to not talk about the infamous penalty shoot-out/away goals incident with Lisbon.
At the time UEFA had recently introduced the away goals rule.
At the end of the second-leg the sides were tied 6-6 but the Dutch referee ordered penalties which Rangers lost.
The Glasgow side thought they were out until manager Willie Waddell brought up the away goals rule and the referee realsiing his error sent Rangers through instead.
“We had no idea what was happening,” roared McCloy as he chatted to the Stornoway Gazette during their visit.
“We thought we had won, that’s why Davie missed it.”
“I knew we were through,” chipped in Smith with a grin.
“No you didn’t,” they all laughed.
McCloy continued: “We were speaking to the referee and we were shocked with the rule. Deflated first then delighted. But don’t forget we were the better team than Sporting Lisbon.
“We were 3-0 up at Ibrox and all over them.”
In the semi-final Rangers faced the ominous threat of a Bayern Munich side packed with some of the world’s best players at the time.
“It was hard to motivate ourselves after beating the best team in Europe in Bayern Munich when we played a Russian team,” said Willie Johnston.
Reflecting on the final McCloy recalled: “At 3-0 up we seen the wining post two quick, lost a slack goal and we hadn’t had a game for weeks.”
The end of the match saw the jubilant Rangers fans invade the pitch but there actions resulted in a two-year ban from Europe, denying the club the chance to defend their trophy.
“The fans were only doing what they had seen other fans doing before hand,” said McCloy.
“It was harsh but the problem was they came on before the referee finished the match as they thought they had blown the whistle.
“You always think you can do it again but as the years go on you realise how important it was.
“At that time a lot of Scottish teams were doing well in Europe and were reaching finals and semi finals so we thought it would happen again.”
All the Bears remain loyal Rangers supporters and regulars at Ibrox and the subject of young Scottish players and the current squad prompts a mixed reaction.
“The Bosman ruling came in and clubs now bring players in insteado of bringing through Scottish kids,” said McCloy. “You have to have talent to get through too though. In our era all the top English clubs had Scottish internationals playing for them.
Smith said: “Coaches also coach football out of players a bit instead of letting boys play. There is no flair.”
Mccloy added: “We need to wait a year at least but this season will show if we have bridged the gap to Celtic. Everyone said Rangers were very poor last season but we finished third in the league so what about the rest of Scottish football. St Johnstone and Partick were praised but Rangers were just up. The expectations at Rangers are so high.”