RANGERS were a joy to behold in the 1970s as they built on their Barcelona triumph to achieve unprecedented success.
They finally managed to end Celtic’s stranglehold of the Scottish title in 1975 but what happened next was remarkable as Rangers won the Treble twice in three seasons.
Jock Wallace’s first season was also Rangers’ Centenary and they celebrated by winning the Scottish Cup, defeating Celtic 3-2 in a classic Final when Tam Forsyth’s tap-in secured the trophy
But the real rejoicing was saved until season 1974-75 when at last Rangers broke Celtic’s hold on the Championship. The flag was won at Easter Road when Colin Stein scored in a 1-1 draw with Hibs.
It was to be the last Championship of its kind. Scottish football was changing. The old Division One would no longer be the top flight. A new Premier League was being formed of Scotland’s top 10 teams which would play each other four times in the League in a season.
Somehow there was a pattern to it all. Rangers had been co-holders of the first Scottish Division One Championship, were winners of the last . . . and would be the first Champions of the new Scottish Premier League.
The new Scottish Premier League began in the season of 1975-76. Apart from Rangers, the inaugural members of the elite division were Aberdeen, Ayr, Celtic, Dundee, Dundee United, Hearts, Hibernian, Motherwell and St Johnstone.
Compare those names with the teams who played in the very first Scottish Championship back in 1890-91. Only Rangers, Celtic and Hearts were still there. Others had long gone, such as Abercorn, Cambuslang, Cowlairs and Vale of Leven.
Of the remainder, Dumbarton and St Mirren were in lower divisions and Third Lanark had dropped out of the Scottish League in 1967.
So the brave new world consisted of 10 teams, the same number as the original. The difference was that now clubs would play each other four times a season.
Under Jock Wallace’s management, Rangers won 23 of their 36 Championship games that season, drawing eight and losing five. They won both games at home against Celtic and drew the away games. Their defeats were at Aberdeen, soon to become a major force in Scottish football, and at Ayr, Hearts, Hibs and Motherwell.
Rangers won the first Scottish Premier title by six points (when a win was still two points) from runners-up Celtic.
But it wasn’t just that title win that made it an historic year. Rangers won the League Cup, beating Celtic 1-0 in the Final, and also lifted the Scottish Cup with a 3-1 victory over Hearts. Rangers had achieved the Treble for the third time.
And then euphoria was replaced by disappointment. The next season the cupboard was bare. But it wasn’t empty for long. Within 12 months, Rangers had pulled off their fourth Treble, pipping Aberdeen in the Premier League, defeating Celtic 2-1 in the League Cup Final and beating Aberdeen again 2-1 in the Scottish Cup Final.
Wallace had achieved the Treble twice in three seasons – and then he quit abruptly after a disagreement with Willie Waddell and the Rangers board