Today I have picked another significant event in time and the Rangers game that follows it.
DATE: 23rd March 1995
EVENT: The tragic passing of Rangers legend Davie Cooper
Davie Cooper, he was not only one of the greatest ever players to pull on the light blue of Rangers, also the dark blue of Scotland, he was one of the all time greats. Rudd Gullit, has said on many occasions, the winger was one of the best he ever played against, no one who seen the great man play will argue with that.
Cooper, is an Ibrox icon still talked about today. Playing for the Gers, between 1977-1989 winning 3 Premier Division titles, 3 Scottish Cups and seven League Cups in that time frame.
It is the manner in which Cooper played that so endeared him to the Ibrox faithful, famously proclaiming “I played for the team I loved” when asked to describe his time at the club. He was truly one of our own.
A player who off the field , had no airs and graces but was just the same down to earth boy from Hamilton he had ever been.
Finding or highlighting a single performance to illustrate just how good he was is near impossible. There is the free kick against Aberdeen in the 1987 league Cup final, with the Gers trailing 1-0 at the time, a better struck ball I have still yet to see, or there is the single handed demolition of Tampere in the UEFA Cup at Ibrox, the run and Cruyff-esque turns accompanied with a blistering turn off pace, taking out FIVE Tampere players allowing Cooper to slide in Robert Fleck for an open goal.
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Most fans will of course fans will always remember him best for the keepy uppy goal, vs Celtic in the 1979 Drybrough Cup final. The moment of sheer world-class brilliance occurring in the 78th minute, dashing any hopes of a Celtic comeback to make it 3-1.
These moments of brilliance were not in any way limited to Rangers. He hit a famous penalty for Scotland in a world cup qualifier in 1985, despite the pressure and the figure of Neville Southall trying to distract the wide man. The penalty ensured Scotland would go into a play off with Australia, to secure a spot at Mexico in 1986.
There is also the Scottish Cup win with Motherwell in 1991. A match that is still regarded as one of the greatest ever played. Cooper, left Ibrox for Fir Park in 1989, after seeing his playing time limited, mostly after the arrival of Mark Walters. He would then go onto make over 150 appearances for the Steelmen, and have a stand named in his honour after his death.
Cooper’s passing was tragic in so many ways, not least due to the fact he was a mere 39 years of age, collapsing while shooting a coaching film for youngsters, with a brain haemorrhage.
The out poring of grief showed just how regard people and football fans held coop. The gates at Ibrox at the Copland Road end were awash with, flowers, strips from every team and personal messages. I can still vividly recall going there on a number of occasions and seeing just how stunned and saddened people of all ages were.
Rangers first game after the tragic passing was away to Dundee Utd.
DATE : 1ST APRIL 1995
VENUE : TANNADICE
SCORE : 0-2 (Durie, McLaren)
COMPETITION : Bell’s Premier Division
Rangers went into this match with the title all but secured, sitting 14 points ahead of Motherwell in second spot. Dundee United, however were locked in a relegation dogfight, with just four points separating them in 8th and Partick, in 10th, Aberdeen making up the bottom 3. United had also recently parted company with their Scottish Cup winning manager, Ivan Golac, paying the price for a drop in form.
Dundee United, went in to this match showing off a new manager but a familiar face to gers fans.
Billy Kirkwood the ex Rangers coach, had been paraded at Tannadice as Ivan Golac’s successor, however within 12 seconds he must have been wondering what had he let himself in for. Before even a United player had touched the ball, Gordan Durie had opened the scoring. Rangers catching United sleeping, on this emotional day for supporters and staff alike.
On 8 minutes the lead was doubled, Alan McLaren sending a rocket of a free kick past, Kelham O’ Hanlon in the United net.
After that Rangers gifted the Arabs plenty of possession, but the result was never in doubt. The only other thing of real note was Maurice Malpas, finding himself lucky to stay on, after only receiving a yellow card, for bring down Laudrup when he was clear through on goal.
O’Hanlon, Mcinally, Malpas, Hannah, Petric , Welsh, Bowman, McKinlay, McLaren, Brewster, (Sergio 66) , Perry (Dailly 78)
Thomson, Cleland, Brown, Gough, McLaren, Boli (Bollan 58) , McCall, Miller, Durie (Mikhailichenko 73) , Durrant, Laudrup