The Scotsman’s headline was:
Johnston winning Ibrox hearts
Old One Eye clearly not impressed by Pally Ally’s shooting technique…
As awaydays to Ibrox go, this one could have been a lot worse. We came away with a draw and the supporters’ bus I went on only got stoned briefly once on the way home. On the way there it got a bit of a wash too, as several incontinent fans urinated out the door while the bus was still in motion along the M8, causing other fans to hurriedly close their windows.
As for the game, Steve Archibald made his second appearance for Hibs and though short of match fitness lasted 82 minutes before being subbed by George McCluskey. It was a fairly even match with Hibs threatening Rangers as often as the home side pressed them.
Mark Walters was Rangers’ most impressive player, a fact that failed to impress the imbeciles sitting behind me who persisted in giving racist chants every time he touched the ball. Shortly, however, a large member of Strathclyde Constabulary warned the said imbeciles that they would face an unpleasant fate if they carried on. Three cheers for all-seater stadia, I thought: no hiding place for racists.
For the record the teams were:
Hibs: Goram, Sneddon, Rae, Hunter, McIntyre, Weir, Orr, Kane, Collins, Archibald and Evans (subbed by Tortolano)
Rangers: Woods, Stevens, Gough, Butcher, Brown, Derek Ferguson, Wilkins (subbed by Souness), Durrant (subbed by Cooper), Drinkell, McCoist, Walters.
The score has a nice ring to it, but Hibs were on the wrong end of this one. That Hibs were lying third in the league at this point made the result all the more surprising, but no less bearable. Worst of all was Gordon Durie scoring four of Rangers’ seven.
Still substantially the team that finished third the previous May, Hibs eventually slumped to fifth place by this season’s end. Talents such as Darren Jackson, Keith Wright, Jim Leighton, Michael O’Neill and Kevin McAllister were unable to stop the rot, evidence that Alex Miller was finally losing the ability to motivate the Easter Road dressing room.
This match will also be remembered for Dougie Smith’s complete sense of humour failure in dishing out a yellow card to Paul Gascoigne for the light hearted manner in which he returned the red card which had fallen out of the referee’s pocket. Referees get little credit much of the time, but Smith showed himself up as a grade-1 arse on this occasion.
It is nothing remarkable to us today to be reading about the championship race being over in January. What is surprising is that the supposed title decider in 1995 would be Rangers’ New Year meeting with Motherwell. The following season the Bosman ruling and freedom of contract would rip the guts out of the team that Tommy McLean built and Alex McLeish led to runners-up spot.
It would be over a decade before the Old Firm would again be separated from the top two positions. Even now the achievement of Vladimir Romanov’s Hearts staggering almost in spite of themselves to second place in 2006 looks like a momentary aberration. Realistically from 1995 onwards there is nothing left for the rest to play for but third place.