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Why Fintry lad Derek Johnstone took his mum with him to Rangers’ European final in 1972

Derek Johnstone took his mum Emily to Barcelona back in 1972.
Derek Johnstone took his mum Emily to Barcelona back in 1972.

Emily Johnstone proved a good luck omen when Rangers won the European Cup Winners’ Cup 50 years ago in Barcelona.

She was the mum of Ibrox teenage star Derek and lived in Findowrie Street in Dundee.

Rangers dispatched Rennes and Sporting Lisbon before defeating a Bayern Munich team in the semi-final that included Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller.

The final took place against Dynamo Moscow at the Nou Camp in Barcelona on May 24 1972 with 16,000 Rangers fans travelling to Spain to support the team.

Derek Johnstone and his beloved mum Emily.
Derek Johnstone and his beloved mum Emily.

Rangers players were told a fortnight before by manager Willie Waddell that they would be able to take their wives and girlfriends to Spain with them.

Immediately Derek decided to ask if he could take his mum.

Ex-Linlathen High pupil Derek grew up in Fintry with six brothers and Emily held the Johnstone family together after Derek’s father died when he was 10.

“It was the perfect chance to give Mum a well-earnest rest,” said Derek.

“She comes first, in my book.”

The party flew out from Scotland on the Sunday before the Wednesday match with the wives and girlfriends being taken to a holiday resort to bask in the sun.

Dynamo were the first side from the USSR to reach the final of any European competition and their players listened to ideological speeches from Communist Party bosses before they left Moscow.

Willie Waddell’s plans suffered a blow when Colin Jackson, who had brilliantly marked Gerd Müller in the semi-final against Bayern Munich, injured an ankle 24 hours before the game.

Derek moved back to replace him in defence, Alfie Conn was drafted in and skipper John Greig declared himself fit.

Rangers seemed to have the trophy won within 50 minutes, a Willie Johnston double following Colin Stein’s opener seeing them race to a 3-0 lead.

Emily watched on from the stand as the Russians fought back, with goals from Eschtrekov and Makavikov making for an anxious final three minutes.

Rangers stood firm to win the game 3-2 and take the trophy.

Willie Johnston with the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972.

“That was the only two games she saw – the League Cup Final in 1970, when I scored, and also the European Cup Winners’ Cup Final in Barcelona,” said Derek.

“She certainly picked her games.

“I think she absolutely loved Barcelona in 1972.

“She didn’t really want to go there because she wasn’t a woman that travelled a lot.

“I don’t think she had ever been abroad.

“Holidays she would maybe go to Arbroath or Butlins in Ayr but we couldn’t really afford to go abroad.

“I didn’t have a girlfriend or a wife and I think myself and Graham Fyffe both took our mothers and they both had a ball over there, looking after all these young girlfriends and wives.

“It was a fantastic trip and she was really, really ecstatic when we won. It was probably the best three or four days she ever had.

“She went abroad and watched her son win a major trophy.

“She was as proud as punch.”

Rangers captain John Greig gets off the team bus with the club's first European trophy back in 1972.
Rangers captain John Greig gets off the team bus with the club’s first European trophy back in 1972.

Spain was under the military dictatorship of Franco and the police took a dim view of Rangers supporters coming on to the pitch thinking that it was full-time.

The Spanish police confronted them with batons drawn. It meant John Greig was presented with the trophy in a tiny room inside the Nou Camp.

So parading the trophy had to wait until the players were back at Ibrox the next day.

After Celtic’s Lisbon Lions, this Rangers team earned the team the nickname Barcelona Bears.

These images of the celebrations from the DC Thomson archives show how the trophy was displayed by the triumphant players on the back of a coal truck!

Rangers would be unable to defend the trophy after being banned from European competition as a result of the clashes which followed the pitch invasion.

And while Emily may have been a good luck charm, was victory also down to John Greig‘s beard?

The club captain was preparing for the visit of Sporting Lisbon when he tripped over a bench at the team’s training HQ in Largs, was knocked out and badly gashed his chin.

He required nine stitches but, typically, Greig played against the Portuguese the following night.

He joked that it was a good luck omen and that he wouldn’t shave until Rangers were out of the competition.

And so, for the next six months, Greig sported a beard.

Less than 48 hours after Rangers won the trophy in Barcelona – while his team-mates were probably still plastered in Glasgow – Greig was getting lathered.

And the beard hasn’t been seen since!

More like this:

Rangers broke Dundee United legend Jim McLean’s heart in forgotten ‘family final’

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