RANGERS V RED STAR BELGRADE 1964
Blue Stars and Red Star : Baxterism Beats Communism

● European Cup 1st Round Replay
● Wednesday 4th November 1964 Kick-Off 7.30pm

EXTRACTS FROM : BACKGROUND

• RANGERS 1963-64 DOMESTIC PERFECTION
Domestically this was a perfect season as Rangers took the Treble. Unfortunately they had the misfortune to draw Real Madrid in the 1st round of the European Cup who were still fielding the likes of Di Stefano, Puskas and Gento. Rangers gave a splendid account of themselves at Ibrox, only to be caught out 5 minutes from time, following, a thrilling interchange of passes between Puskas and Gento, rounded off by the Spaniard. However in the 2nd leg, Real demolished Rangers 6-0.

EXTRACTS FROM : PRE – MATCH BUILD UP

• WHO ARE THE OPPONENTS?
Please Tick As Appropriate
Red Star Belgrade                               
The Yugoslav Olympic Team            
The Yugoslav Army Team                  
The Yugoslav International Team    
The Workers of Belgrade                   

• A METAPHOR FOR LIFE – A PHOENIX FROM THE FLAMES
Some 25 years earlier Belgrade had suffered appalling devastation at the hands of the Nazis. On one day alone, Palm Sunday 1941, 25,000 men, women and children were killed in a 300 bomber blitz. (So don’t anyone lecture me about Dresden and Arthur ‘bomber’ Harris.) Tens of thousands more suffered the most horrific atrocities at the hands of their Nazi occupiers and local collaborators. Namely Croatians and Bosnian Muslims who set up their own branches of the SS and actively worked with the Nazis to murder and persecute the Serbs especially in those parts of Yugoslavia where Serbs were in the minority.

After the horrors of war, Belgrade began rebuilding from the ruins and the newly formed club became a metaphor for a city being rebuilt. Life was of course tough and austere in those post war years but Red Star’s successful ‘joie de vivre’ brand of football brought a smile to the passionate footballing public of Belgrade and to Serbs further beyond.

~ZVEZDA JE ŽIVOT, OSTALO SU SITNICE~
(RED STAR IS LIFE, THE REST IS UNIMPORTANT)

In other parts of the Eastern Bloc Yugoslavia was probably the most liberal), fans often shied away from clubs sponsored by governments but Red Star were the best supported club in the country.

• DOCTOR, DOCTOR
Officially they were managed by former Red Star legend, Mitic but the real power rested with Dr Alexander Obradovic. He was the previous Red Star manager but currently serving a 1 year suspension for ‘bribery’, so Red Star appointed him as their ‘physio’. Dr Alex told Bill Brown of the Evening Times that due to Yugoslav Olympic calls on their players, Red Star had played just once in 35 days and matters had not been helped by injuries to their excellent pair of forwards Dragoslav ‘Sekki’ Sekularac and Selimir Milosevic.

• ANYONE FOR A FERRERO ROCHET ?
At 8 o’clock on Monday, both teams assembled in the hotel lobby to head off for a reception hosted by the Yugoslav ambassador at the Embassy. Bill Brown of the Evening Times was most impressed with the good atmosphere between both sets of players at the hotel. Sometimes he noted, East European teams were as retiring as Scot Symon when it came to mixing with foreign newsmen but the Yugoslavs came across as a friendly, happy bunch. They even asked Bill Brown to pass on their best wishes to Willie Henderson in hospital. Seemingly both camps agreed that the last thing either wanted was a toss of the coin to decide who proceeded into the next stage should the match be drawn.

• ELSEWHERE… A ‘NEW’ TEAM HAD EMERGED FROM GREENOCK.(6+5 AGAIN!)
Denmark’ Morton fielded 5 Danish players in their away game to Hearts on Saturday. Part of the Danish contingent included 2 players by the names of Kai Johansen and Eric Sorensen.

EXTRACTS FROM : TUESDAY

• MORNING AND AFTERNOON

1962 AND ALL THAT
Red Star’s captain was Vladmir Popović and alongside Durković, and Melić played for the Yugoslav team that reached the 1962 World Cup semi finals in Chile. Indicating the task that faced Rangers yet it could have been a lot more difficult.

THE AWESOME ABSENTEES
Red Star’s best player who made a massive contribution to that 1962 World Cup campaign would not be playing. Namely, the wonderfully talented if temperamentally volatile Sekularac or Sekki as he was known at home. The 27 year old was rated as possibly the best inside forward in Europe despite having already been suspended twice during his career for a combined total of 3 years. (Each suspension running for 18 months.) With a bag full of tricks, like Jim Baxter Sekki could run a game entirely on his own and after the 1962 World Cup Juventus of Italy tried to buy him for £150,000. Unfortunately for the neutral, he was still recovering from a serious knee injury. Other injured absentees were Selimir Milosevic with one of the hardest shots in European football and regular goalkeeper, Mirko Stojanovic. His replacement the 18 year old Dujković a more flamboyant, acrobatic if less reliable custodian.

• PLACE YOUR BETS
John Banks, a fearless Glasgow ‘layer’ renowned for generous prices chalked up these odds :
Over 90 minutes. 8-13 Rangers Win. 5-4 Red Star Win. Rangers to win the tie 10-11
Any of the following to score a goal : 6-1 Brand, 4-1 Millar, 2-1 Forrest, 7-2 Baxter, 5-1 Johnston.

EXTRACTS FROM : MATCHDAY

• THE UNOFFICIAL RANGERS COMPETITION
Eric Caldow, Davie Wilson and Bobby Shearer had each made 30 European appearances, these 3 stalwarts were no doubt keen to see who would take the lead upon the selection of the team. Eric Caldow had demonstrated a remarkable determination to recover from an injury which would have had forced many other professionals into retirement.

• YOU CAN TUCKET
Rangers Captain Cutlass, Bobby Shearer did not make the Rangers line up, nevertheless the pirates descended on Finsbury Park and Arsenal stations to sell their counterfeit programme. It was an 8 page issue produced by Tuckets. The front cover was actually better than the official programme’s. Tastefully printed in red, white and blue and it had a large photograph of Rangers in action.

EXTRACTS FROM : MATCH REPORT

RANGERS : 1 Billy Ritchie 2 Davie Provan 3 Eric Caldow 4 John Greig 5 Ronnie McKinnon 6 Wilson Wood 7 Ralph Brand 8 Jimmy Millar 9 Jim Forrest 10 Jim Baxter 11 Willie Johnston. (Eric Caldow takes the Rangers record for European appearances)
 Blue shirts with a deep white V. White shorts. Red socks topped with white.
RED STAR : As announced.

 Red and white striped shirts with red collar. Black shorts to avoid a clash of colours. White socks.


 Referee : K Dagnall (Bolton).
 Linesmen : Mr E Press (Staines, Middlesex) and Mr A Oliver (Leigh on Sea, Essex).

: Under Competition rules, no substitutes allowed.
 Dry and chilly.

HALF TIME SCORE : RANGERS 2 RED STAR 0
CAN YOU HEAR THE PIRATE SING?

Some players when not selected prefer to keep their own counsel when watching a match. Sadly it too often masks a desire for their team to lose, so that they can get back in the first team. Not so Bobby Shearer, he shouted himself hoarse urging on and encouraging his team mates.

Willie Allison observed him at the match, “That was Shearer. He withheld nothing in an age when self is, alas, becoming more important than club.”

Bobby memorably summed up on a number of occasions what Rangers meant to him when he said, “To be a Ranger is beyond price.”

SECOND HALF

•Red Star improve but their slow build up and spraying of passes sideways lacks penetration.
•The Rangers defence is solid and in goal Ritchie when called upon is reliable.
•Jim Baxter continues to display his various tricks.

73 mins : GOAL 3-0 : Baxter finds Ralph Brand who scores and leaps high in to the night air. Upset Red Star players appeal for offside. John ‘6-1 on Brand’ Banks dare I say it, takes a very large breath of air and gulps something much stronger.
77 mins : GOAL 3-1 : Kop heads home a Cebinac corner, through a cluster of defenders.

Red Star leaving it late throw everything into a final effort to claw their way back into the tie and Rangers are forced deeper. The goodwill at the hotel is forgotten as some tough challenges fly in, particularly from the desperate Yugoslavs. Kostic and Skrbic are booked for Red Star, Provan for Rangers.

Jim Baxter’s composure and distribution is enough to buy Rangers sufficient time and possession to take the sting from their determined opponents.

FINAL SCORE : RANGERS 3 (Forrest 2, Brand) RED STAR 1 (Kop)
Attendance : 34,428

EXTRACTS FROM : POST MATCH REACTION

• THE CHAIRMAN
Rangers chairman John Lawrence, “Our play, like that against Red Star of Belgrade, in the European Cup play-off at Highbury, reflected the intense pride in the colours when the odds looked all against us. The Austrians (who were scouting their opponents for the next round) said afterwards that they were completely taken aback by the fervour, devotion and non stop drive of our players.”

“The memorable display of our boys at Highbury, where they rose to the utmost heights of individual and combined skill, and their ability to super-impose their will on the Red Star by their sheer pace and purpose must make us face any undertaking with assurance. Assurance yes, but never over-confidence or bombast. Because we always treat our opponents with the greatest respect.” (Chairman’s Message, Rangers v Rapid Vienna programme, November 1964)

• THE SCOTTISH MEDIA
Like their London counterparts, they also lavished praise on Jim Baxter, though there was a feeling that Rangers would need to improve if they were to win the trophy. They gleefully pointed out the misfortune of Bookmaker John Banks who lost a monumental £12,000 on the evening. The Brand goal alone cost him £2,000 and the hapless bookmaker revealed that things could have been much worse as a lot of money had been invested on Jim Baxter making the score sheet.

EXTRACTS FROM : NORTH LONDON B&B
OR THE NIGHT SLEEPER?

The following morning 21 fans appeared at Highbury Magistrates. Of them 18 were fined and 3 were remanded on bail. Of the 18, most had been arrested for the pilfering of drinks from off licences and bars. Two men from Corby were fined £3 each for drunk and disorderly, Using insulting behaviour and climbing on to the pitch at half time shouting and waving their arms.

In a memorable exchange with the magistrate, one of the men said, “I was just celebrating the win.”
To which the magistrate replied “It’s a bit early to celebrate at half time.” Fair play, the Beak knew his football.

The Evening Times reported that during the hearings, Detective Sergeant Blake of the Met had informed the magistrate, "The police in Glasgow are so inundated with matters arising from this match that they are accepting no more calls.”

A night in the cells was probably preferable to the fate that awaited Rangers fans travelling on the overnight train from London to Glasgow. Carrying hundreds of fans it broke down at Carlisle. It was meant to arrive in Glasgow at 07.50am but did not turn up until 10.30 and not only was it uncomfortable vis-à-vis a night in the cells, the fans also missed work the next day. However a railway spokesman reported that that the fans had been well behaved during the journey.

EXTRACTS FROM : IF YOU TOOK OFFENCE AT RANGERS SUPPORT…

• IT’S A HARD KNOCK LIFE
Contrary to the image of the 1960’s as a peaceful, law abiding era, a read of newspapers from that era suggests a society as violent and more brutal than today. Murders, violent robberies, knife and axe attacks plus assorted random acts of delinquency filled the papers everyday.

The young adults were products of war time and post war austerity and society was much tougher. We’re talking about the children of the 1940’s and early 1950’s whose homes had no electricity, no hot water and outside toilets.

Young people had far fewer leisure activities and often joined gangs and fought each other as it was something to do. The ‘clip round the ear’ was an acceptable punishment by school teachers, parents and police officers. Young people were brought up to be tough, not to complain and to sort out problems themselves. An oversensitive youngster was derided as a ‘softy’. Be it in London or Glasgow, football fans were nothing more than excited enthusiasts.

EG MODS AND ROCKERS NEXT DAY IN LONDON
The events in London on 5th November for various Guy Fawkes celebrations are a case in point. On this night 138 people were arrested for incidents at Trafalgar Square and Hampstead Heath. At Trafalgar Square 98 youths were arrested as they battled with the police and threw fireworks at them. At Hampstead Heath, 40 were arrested as mods and rockers clashed violently.

OR GLASGOW GANG CULTURE
And then again, the mods and rockers were lay preachers compared to Glasgow’s thriving culture of youth gangs. Glasgow gang culture dated back to before the turn of the Century and new gangs sprouted up all the time. Frequently gang disputes were settled with knives, swords, knuckle dusters, bottles, clubs, coshes and especially the ubiquitous ‘malky.’ The malky frazer rhyming slang for a razor of a cut throat variety left permanent and ugly disfigurement to the face.

EXTRACTS FROM : POSTSCRIPT

EXTRACT FROM : THINGS CAN ONLY GET WORSE

RANGERS 1964-65
Things were starting to look up for Rangers and defeated Celtic in the Scottish League Cup Final. However, in the next round of the European Cup Rangers faced Rapid Vienna and half a dozen Austrian internationals. Taking a slender 1-0 lead from the 1st leg to Austria, Rangers won 2-0 in Vienna and Scot Symon rated it as Rangers greatest victory in Europe. Unfortunately it came at a massive price. Having tormented the Viennese defenders in one of his finest displays on an ice rink of a pitch, Jim Baxter was victim of a ‘dubious’ challenge in the final seconds of the tie and broke his right leg. Rangers were edged out of the competition by the cosmopolitan and expensively assembled Inter Milan in the next round (quarter finals) by 3-2 on aggregate despite winning the 1st leg, 1-0 at Ibrox. That victory was just about the last thing Rangers got right that season as the wheels off with defeat in the Scottish Cup quarter finals and a dismal 5th place finish in the League. Kilmarnock managed by Rangers legend Willie Waddell secured the title on a thrilling final day of the season. Jim Baxter was not the same player when he recovered from injury and when he next asked for a pay rise, the board called his bluff and he reluctantly left to join Sunderland in Summer 1965 and double his weekly wage. Given that a number of illustrious careers had either recently or were about to draw to a close simply through age (eg Harold Davis, Ian McMillan, Bobby Shearer, Ralph Brand, Eric Caldow) and Scott Symon’s urgent need to improve on 5th place, it was time to build a new team.