RANGERS turned to one of their European Cup Winners’ Cup heroes, John Greig, to be their seventh manager and he came desperately close to winning the Treble in his first season in charge.
berdeen were beaten 2-1 in the League Cup Final and Hibernian were overcome 3-2 at the third attempt in the Scottish Cup Final. But Rangers, who led the table, came unstuck near the end of the 1978-79 season at Parkhead going down 4-2 to Celtic. With just eight minutes to go it had been 2-2. The lapse was enough to hand the title to Celtic.
After such an encouraging start, the honours dried up although the main problem that Greig had was that he had to change a lot of the old guard.
While he was doing this both Aberdeen and Dundee United emerged to enjoy the best spells in their history with success at home and in Europe.
In fairness to Greig the European Cup run of 1978/79 was also memorable as Rangers knocked out Juventus and PSV Eindhoven before losing out to Cologne in the quarter-finals.
There is definitely a feeling among the players that had they progressed against the Germans they would have had an excellent opportunity of defeating Cologne’s subsequent opponents Nottingham Forest and going all the way.
The following season, 1979/80, was a poor one as Rangers finished 5th in the league and failed to qualify for Europe. They reached the Scottish Cup Final for a fifth successive season but it went down in history for all the wrong reasons.
The Light Blues were the better team but Celtic won the game when George McCluskey stuck out a boot to divert Danny McGrain’s ball into the net in extra time.
The aftermath was alarming. Celtic fans began spilling onto the pitch at the Celtic end and gradually encroached onto the field. A few become dozens which in turn became hundreds.
Rangers supporters spilled on at the other end and a pitched battle ensued which had to be cleared by mounted policmen.
Many suffered injuries from bottles thrown from both sets of fans, including Daily Record photographer Eric Craig who was incapacitated for a year as a result.
The upshot was a radical change in the law with the implementation fo the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act which banned alcohol from all football grounds.
Season 1980/81 started promisingly and after 12 games Rangers were in good shape but they fell away and finished third behind Celtc and Aberdeen.
Always a good Cup team in this period, Rangers reclaimed the Scottish Cup when, in a replay, they defeated Dundee United 4-1 with Davie Cooper imperious.
Inconsistency afflicted Rangers again in 1981/82 as they finished a distant third again in the league but reached both Cup finals. United were victims again as Ian Redford’s looping shot sealed a 2-1 win in the League Cup Final but the Scottish Cup Final was a miserable experience as Aberdeen won 4-1 in extra time.
It was another season of disappointment in 1982/83 when Rangers lost both cup finals – to Celtic in the League Cup and Aberdeen again in the Scottish – and were nowhere in the league.
The situation took its toll on October 28, 1983 when Greig resigned. Aberdeen’s Alex Ferguson was approached but he turned it down and then Jim McLean at Dundee United rejected Rangers’ advances.
Jock Wallace then returned but his second spell was infinitely less successful than the first.
He won the League Cup in his first two seasons, the first of which was an exhilirarting 3-2 win over Celtic in which Ally McCoist scored a hat-trick.
Iain Ferguson scored the only against Dundee United the following season but these were fleeting moments of success.
In the league Rangers could not break into the top three and in 1985-86 Rangers slumped to fifth, finishing with less than a point a game – a total of 35 from 36 games. It had never happened in Rangers’ history and it was a record they would want to forget.
Wallace, previously the man with the golden touch and the only one to manage Rangers twice at that point, could not survive.
He was gone before the campaign was over and his replacement sent shockwaves through football. It was Graeme Souness.