The Scottish Cup
The underdog triumphs in the battle of the Gers
The crowd of 13,365 gathered at Shielfield Park on January 28 1967 in anticipation of a massacre.
In the home dressing room sat Berwick Rangers, a club who been playing in the Scottish professional leagues for less than a decade and who, just a few months prior to this Scottish Cup tie, had their place threatened by talk of reconstruction.
The Wee Gers’ starting eleven was made up of part-time players and journeymen and managed by their goalkeeper, and Rangers legend in waiting, Jock Wallace.
In the away dressing room were the Scottish Cup holders and team that Wallace would go on to serve in two spells as manager.
Despite facing lower league opposition, Rangers were taking few chances in Berwick and fielded a strong starting eleven that included nine internationalists, among them Kai Johansen, John Greig, Willie Henderson and Willie Johnston.
This same team would go on to reach the finals of the League cup, the European Cup Winner’s Cup and finish in second place in the league, three points behind a Celtic side who won every competition they entered that season – including the European Cup. However, their defence of the Scottish Cup would end here at Shielfield with the result still standing as one of the greatest Scottish Cup upsets.
The opening exchanges gave little hint of what was to follow as Rangers attacked in waves, creating numerous chances and forcing 10 corners in the opening half hour.
Then, in the 32nd minute, the unthinkable happened. Berwick cut through the heart of the Rangers defence and Sammy Reid took possession on the edge of the box.
The inside forward had been Bill Shankly’s first signing as Liverpool manager but failed to make a first team appearance at Anfield before returning home and playing for Falkirk and Clyde before moving to Berwick. Striking the ball with his left, he watched as it clipped the post and hit the back of the net.
The goal sparked bedlam. Locals carrying banners and, to a person, wearing looks of complete incredulity, invaded the pitch amid the euphoria. ‘Enjoy it while it lasts’ appeared to be the maxim. This lead was not going to last long.
But it did. Not only that but Berwick continued to create chances after the interval and Rangers’ misery only deepened with Johnston stretchered off with a broken leg following a collision with Wallace.
Time to celebrate
Rangers’ legend Ronnie McKinnon would later tell how Greig, the legendary club captain, would ask the referee, Eddie Thomson, for ‘a couple more minutes’ as the clock ticked down and was bluntly told ‘I’ve already given you four’. The Wee Gers held on. The mighty Glasgow Rangers were defeated.
Despite later describing the defeat as ‘probably the worst result’ in Rangers’ history, Greig stayed on the park amid the celebrations and shook the hand of every Berwick player.
As for Wallace, who would later lead Rangers to three league titles, three Scottish Cup wins and four League Cup triumphs, he believed his Wee Gers should have won by at least three, passing up ‘far easier chances’ than the one scored by Reid.