THEY say that football is cyclical and as the great Rangers team of the early 1960s began to break up Celtic emerged to enjoy the greatest period in their history.
Rangers only missed out on the 1965/66 title by two points from Celtic, who won the championship for the first time in 12 years, but there was momentum gaining under Jock Stein.
The Light Blues, however, did have the last laugh in the Scottish Cup Final when Kai Johansen’s thunderbolt beat Celtic 1-0 in a replay. It was to be the last trophy Rangers would win for four years.
Rangers should have won the the League Cup Final against their old rivals the following season but missed out, losing 1-0. They chased again all the way in the championship and won their last seven matches but fell short by three points.
However, there were two colossal situations which signalled the end for Scot Symon. Second Division Berwick Rangers, with Jock Wallace as player-coach, beat Rangers 1-0 in the Scottish Cup and the shockwaves were huge.
Scapegoats were sought and the strikers Jim Forrest and George McLean were the men to pay, never playing for the club again and sold that summer.
Remarkably Rangers reached their second European final but lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the Cup Winners’ Cup. Ironically, if they had kept both or either striker they might have won.
Of course, this was exacerbated by the fact that Celtic had won the European Cup the week before.
In November the Ibrox board panicked. With Celtic playing in the World Club Championship in Argentina, they sacked Symon and replaced him with Davie White who had only joined the club five months earlier as his assistant.
White was only 34 and he was thrust in at the deep end. He very nearly won the title in his first season. Rangers only lost one game all seasn, but it was the last one against Aberdeen and with Celtic winning at Dunfermline they held onto the crown by two points.
Colin Stein was signed for a Scottish record £100,000 from Hibs and he did well but Rangers could not find consistency and they were runners-up again in 1968/69, losing out by five points. Worse than that they were thumped 4-0 in the Scottish Cup Final by Celtic.
Alex Ferguson, playing in place of the suspended Stein, was blamed as he didn’t pick up Billy McNeill for Celtic’s first goal and he was sold to Falkirk later that year – just a week before White was dismissed.
Rangers then turned to Willie Waddell as their fifth manager and clearly he had some work to do. He could not make any impact on Celtic’s league dominance but he brought success back gto Rangers in the League Cup of 1970/71.
Waddell surprised many when he called up a 16-year-old kid called Derek Johnstone and he famously scored the only goal to beat Celtic.
But Waddell also had to endure the gravest event in Rangers’ history which was about to engulf the Club – the Ibrox Disaster.