Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rangers won both cups for a treble this year, a significant achievement, unless one looks at the attendance… Cup finals are usually well attended in Scotland and the numbers taken just by themselves are impressive: 58, 806 fans saw the League Cup final between Rangers and Celtic. The Scottish Cup final – Rangers vs Heart of Midlothian – draw 85, 250 fans! Well, consider this – by 1976 around Europe attendance was becoming large concern – it was rapidly decreasing. Scottish numbers were very high… and very low, when compared to attendance just three years ago, when over 122,000 people went to see the Scottish Cup final. In 1969 the number was over 132, 000! But never mind – Rangers grabbed both cups and Protestants were in the erthy paradise.
The Catholics were in misery… hopefully purgatory, and not hell… Celtic was good enough only for League Cup final, lost 0-1. No comfort… and emptyhanded. A lost final is practically nothing at all for a club like Celtic and its fans.

The stars of the great Celtic of the 60s retired, age is age… and transition was so far painful. May be it was their haircuts… remember that the longer the hair, the better the player during the 1970s? Well, not enough long hairs here, so may be next year.
Of course ‘next year’ was the consolation of the other losing finalist, but they were not Celtic. For Heart of Midlothian reaching the Scottish Cup final was quite good: the Hearts were desperate for something like success – they lifted a trophy for the last time in 1963, when they won the League Cup. Since then – absolutely nothing, not even among the top three in the championship after 1964. So, this was their best season since 1963, although they lost the final 1-3.

Sitting, from left: Gibson, Aird, Shaw, John Haggart – manager, Busby, Park, Prentice.
Second row: Gallacher, Brown, Callachan, Hay (?), Burrell, Cruickshank, Murray, Jefferies, Clunie, Kay, Fraser.
They may call themselves ‘The heart and soul of Edinburgh’, but… were on slippery slope already and the occasional leap to a cup final was not going to help. The squad featured some legends… club legends, that is, for when it came to the national team, Hearts players were hardly given a though. But Jim Cruickshank, Donald Ford, Drew Busby were the stars of the club… Cruickshank managed 6 caps; Ford played a total of three matches for Scotland, and Busby – none! Nice team, but if one thinks kit… otherwise a lost cup final was the most to brag about.