May 24, 1972
SCOTTISH clubs’ triumphs in Europe have been few and far between in 60 years of trying.
You don’t have to look too far for the secret of the successes.
Jock Stein moulding talented individuals into Lions in 1967. Alex Ferguson conquering the mighty Real Madrid with a heady blend of youth and experience in 1983.
But Rangers’ European Cup-Winners’ Cup win in Barcelona in 1972? It was partly 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.
First Sporting came a cropper on a memorable night in Lisbon.
The beard did the business in another close shave against Torino before Bayern Munich were clipped in the semi-finals, setting up a meeting with Moscow Dynamo.
Razor-sharp finishing from Colin Stein and Willie Johnston put the Gers 3-0 up. But the
Russians fought back. In the end Willie Waddell’s side won by a whisker.
Less than 48 hours later – while his team-mates were probably still plastered – Greig was getting lathered.
And the beard hasn’t been seen since!