A tale of two anniversaries

45 years ago today Celtic won the European cup in Lisbon. Ever since then their city rivals have sought to equal this achievement, by any means necessary.

A tale of two anniversaries
A tale of two anniversaries

Today is the 45th anniversary of Celtic’s historic victory over Inter Milan in Lisbon.

Winning 2-1 against the Italian giants Celtic became the first non-Latin team to win European club football’s greatest prize.

Celtic’s achievement that day has never been equalled by any other Scottish club.

Even the vanquished manager of Inter Mila, the Argentinian tactician Helenio Herrera said that Celtic’s triumph that was “a victory for sport”.

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of Rangers greatest European achievement.

They won the Cup Winners Cup in Barcelona defeating Dynamo Moscow 3-2.

Rangers were 3-0 up after 49 minutes.

However the Russian team came back into the game and scored a second goal on 87 minutes.

With the Soviet Union club pushing for an equaliser Rangers fans invaded the pitch.

The match was stopped for six minutes.

The momentum was gone from the chasing team.

When the fans invaded the pitch they fought with policemen.

Later as part of their celebrations the Catholic cathedral in the city was attacked and vandalised.

There is no photograph of the Rangers captain John Grieg receiving the cup as this was done in a room in the stadium not in front of the fans.

The Ibrox club remain the only team ever to have won a European trophy yet have been prevented from defending it the following season.

Because of the crowd trouble inside the Camp Nou Rangers were banned from European football for two seasons.

This was later reduced to one season on appeal.

The Ibrox club, despite coming second in the Scottish premier League, will not play in any European competition next season.

Being in Administration since February 15th they did not submit audited accounts on time and, subsequently, were not granted a licence to play in Europe.

At time of writing it is not at all clear whether or not the club will actually exists next season.

They remain in Administration and there are huge debts.

Moreover an inquiry that the club fielded ineligible players over more than a decade is on-going.

The allegation, made by former Rangers director Hugh Adam, is that a “second contract system” was in place in order to pay the players money that the taxman did not know about.

This, of course, gave the Ibrox club a huge and unfair advantage over Celtic.

Under the previous owner, Sir David Murray, Rangers “chased the dream” of European success.

The Celtic team who triumphed in Lisbon 45 years ago today also dominated domestically winning nine titles in a row.

Rangers equalled that record in the 1990s.

They wanted, of course, to reach double figures, but this was snatched from them in 1998 when Celtic won the title for the first time in a decade.

After that historic season Sir David Murray brought in Dutch manager Dick Advocaat and the “little general” was allowed to spend on a lavish scale.

At the height of the madness Tore Andre Flo was bought for £12 million in 2000.

This, it now appears, could be afforded because Rangers operated a tax scheme where players were paid via offshore trusts.

The operation of these payments may mean that the players were not properly registered to play.

This could involve titles being taken from the Ibrox club.

The British tax authorities have taken action against the club and if they are successful the club could face a bill of over £50 million.

The club’s total debts could be £136 million.

It is perhaps now only discernible how much of a psychic wound Celtic inflicted on Rangers that day in May 45 years ago.

The Hoops fans adore the Lisbon triumph and never tire of reminding the city rivals that it is a prize their club has yet to win!

Chasing the European dream has created the nightmare that now engulfs Rangers.

Billy McNeil lifting the “big cup” is a heart-warming image for all Celtic fans.

However, for Rangers supporters and everyone involved in the club it is a spectre that haunts their imaginations.