Saints Shine in the Sun (1962) and McLeod’s Foursome (1972)
(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Rangers, 16th December 2020)
St. Mirren and Rangers have played each other in twenty League Cup ties stretching back to the inaugural season of the tournament in 1946. Their most recent meeting was in the infamous Cup Final of 2010, when the nine men from Ibrox snatched the Cup with a late goal. Saints wins over the Ibrox Club in the competition have been few and far between, but when they have come, they have been eventful.
St. Mirren v Rangers 1962
The sides were drawn together in Section Four of the 1962/63 tournament along with Third Lanark and Hibernian and met at Love Street in bright sunshine on August 18th 1962 before a crowd of 33,916. Play raged from end to end in the first half with George McLean leading the home team’s strike force and Rangers retaliating through Willie Henderson’s attacking moves. While Ralph Brand hit the bar for Rangers, the best effort from Saints came when Ritchie had to deal smartly with a 30-yard effort from McLean just on the interval.
After 51 minutes, ”Red” Campbell picked up a loose ball on the right wing and his shot deceived Ritchie to put the home side 1-0 up. Two minutes later, Kerrigan sent a slide-rule pass through to McLean, who blasted the ball past the Rangers ‘keeper to double the score. Rangers continually changed their forward line formation to find a way through the Saints defence but it was not until nine minutes from time that Murray finished off a move by Shearer and Wilson to reduce the deficit. There was still time remaining for Brand to hit the bar again and a Kerrigan shot to be cleared off the line, but Saints held on to win 2-1.
The 12-page match programme was Saints’ first issue of the season, as there had been non-issues for the Paisley Charity Cup match with Norwich City and the midweek League Cup tie with Hibernian. The programme was along the usual format of the late 1950s / early 1960s issues. The “Club News” discussed the unseasonably icy cold wind during the previous Saturday’s 2-1 win over Third Lanark at Cathkin and the ding-dong match with Hibernian which had finished in a 3-3 draw. Photos of Saints stars Clunie, Campbell, Bryceland and McLean occupied two pages, whilst the centre spread gave the team line-ups. The fixtures for the season and the Half-Time Score Board completed the reading content of the issue, priced at threepence.
Rangers v St. Mirren 1972
This is a tricky issue to source and doesn’t feature very often on dealer’s lists. It would therefore be expected to command a hefty price if a good condition copy were to appear.
Ten years later, St. Mirren were teamed up with Rangers, Ayr United and Clydebank in Section Three of the 1972/73 competition. The first meeting of the sides at Love Street was a defensive disaster for Saints with Rangers easily winning 4-0 (and having a further four goals disallowed). In the return at Ibrox on August 23rd 1972, Alfie Conn put the ‘Gers ahead after just four minutes and the Paisley contingent in the 17,934 crowd feared the worst. However, in stepped Saints’ striker Ally McLeod, the previous season’s top scorer, to take charge of the situation and within a minute he had netted the equaliser. He put Saints in front just after half time and went on to score another two later in the game to make the final score 4-1 to St. Mirren. He remains the last player to have scored four goals in a single game against Rangers at Ibrox.
The 24-page “Rangers Match Magazine” was a compact issue printed blue and red on white gloss paper and costing 5p. The front cover featured the match details under an action shot from Rangers previous match against Ayr United. The inside cover listed the Club officials and honours alongside the team line-ups. The three-page “Matchday Spotlight” set out Saints’ aim for immediate promotion back to the First Division and featured photos from the first match at Paisley. Two pages of competitions preceded a centre spread of photos from the Ayr United tie at Ibrox and a “League Cup Round-Up” told the story of the competition so far. Two pages of “Reserve Review” focussed on 21-year old Graham Fyfe’s hat-trick against Morton in the Reserve League Cup and “Facts, Figures and Fixtures” detailed the season statistics. In contrast to the 1962 programme, the 1972 issue is quite an easy one to find.