Big Interview: The Tin Man
READ a Big Inteview with former Gers player Ted McMinn in our series of features.
On RangersTV supporters can watch in-depth one-to-ones with a lot of the club’s greatest stars as they discuss their football careers and years at Ibrox.
Kevin ‘Ted’ McMinn was a tall, gangly winger who might not have possessed the grace and elegance of his Gers team-mate Davie Cooper, but he was effective and capable of scoring spectacular goals.
Signed from Queen of the South in 1984, it was Jock Wallace who brought ‘The Tin Man’ to Ibrox at the age of 22 and he went on to play a big part in the club’s League Cup success in 1986/87.
McMinn struggled to ‘get on’ with Graeme Souness after he was installed as Rangers’ new boss and it was not long before he was transferred to Sevilla where he again worked with his former manager Wallace.
Ted went on to play in England for Derby County, Birmingham City and Burnley and on 1 May 2006 – after a mystery infection led to his right foot being amputated – a crowd of 33,475 travelled to Pride Park to watch a tribute match between Rangers and Derby.
Name: Ted McMinn
POB: Castle Douglas, Scotland
Appearances: 75 (1984-87)
League Championship– 1986/87
League Cup – 1986/87
Ted, in 1984 you moved to Rangers from Queen of the South but it must have been an honour playing for the Doonhamers, being a local boy who grew up in Dumfries.
TM: “It’s funny you say that because I remember watching the film There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble. He was a young boy and his dream was to play for Manchester City one day.
“I was watching it and I said to my kids that I was the same as that boy in that I would run to my local club, Queen of the South, and get in at half time when the gates opened.
“I can never forget watching Rangers play there with Sandy Jardine and Tam McLean was on the wing. They played Queens in a cup game and won 5-0.
“That was the only time Palmerston was ever full, when Rangers went there, so it was always a dream for me to play there. Drew Busby was the manager of Queen of the South and he told me to join the club and try to better my career, perhaps in a couple of year move on.”
How did your move to Rangers come about? Had you been aware they had been tracking you for some time?
TM: “No, not Rangers. I was informed that Newcastle were very interested and they arranged to have a pre-season friendly against Queen of the South. Jack Charlton had just taken over and Newcastle were supposed to sign me.
“I’ll never forget the Sunday morning when there was a knock at the door of the flat, because we never had a phone in the house.
“Willie Harkness, who was the chairman of Queen of the South, came up and then told me to be up early the next morning because he was taking me to Glasgow to sign for Rangers.
“I thought ‘That cannae be right, he’s had too much to drink!’”
It came true of course and in October 1984 you moved to Rangers.
TM: “Yes, It was October 13 and Willie came and my dad said he would drive. My dad was never a football man but he took the day off work from ICI. We went to Ibrox and it was like nothing I had seen before.
“As soon as you walk through the doors you think ‘what am I doing here, is this too big for me?’ Even getting shown round the dressing rooms, meeting the kitchen staff and seeing the stadium, I remember wondering what it was going to be like when it was full.
“When I went to Ibrox none of the players were there, they were away in Milan playing in a European game, so that was quite strange. I think half the battle when you go to a club is to meet your team-mates and you suss them out and find out who you’ll get on with and how they’ll take to you.
“I was just a town-boy from Dumfries going up to a city so I had to find out how I would handle that as well.
“It was certainly an eye-opener but I’ll never forget signing for Rangers and my day saying it’s every dad’s dream for their son to play for Rangers.”
Jock Wallace brought you to Rangers and he was such a big character. What kind of influence did he have at the time?
TM: “I didn’t see Jock for three days after I signed because I had to wait for them coming back from Milan. But Jock was an Army man, as soon as you shook hands with him you felt every finger getting crushed.
“I had never seen a man pick up young kids by the ears. That was Jock’s thing, he never hurt the kids but he was just a gentle giant, a great guy, and that was one of the reasons I signed for Rangers.
“People were saying ‘Ted who?’ because no-one had really heard of me in Scotland as I was playing for Queen of the South, other than people in Dumfries.
“Jock put his money where his mouth is and said I would be a success for Rangers maybe in a year’s time, maybe in two years’ time. I signed a five-year contract.”
Who were the big players that stood out in that Rangers team you joined?
TM: “Well, Davie Cooper was my hero anyway but you also had big Peter McCloy. He was still playing and you felt over-awed all the time because you were going from a smaller club.
“But if you let that bother you, you were never going to move on and people like Alex Totten really helped me.
“He was Jock’s assistant and because I had a problem with my crossing I would be out every afternoon practising with Alex, hour after hour.
“For me it was an important learning stage and later on in my career people would say the best part of my game was my crossing.”
Tell us about your first goal for Rangers against Dumbarton at Boghead when you scored directly from a corner kick?
TM: “It was winter and there wasn’t any grass on the pitch. It wasn’t the best ground in the world to go to but I’ll never forget it.
“Coop played on one side and I played on the other side. I don’t even know why I took the corner to be truthful but I remember putting the ball down.
“It was really windy and I must have steered it out towards the halfway line to curl it back! It’s gone into the box and in and I don’t think I had ever celebrated a goal before.
“I danced round the corner flag and then I ran up the side of the pitch where all the Rangers fans were. I don’t think they had ever seen anything like it.
“Then I went up to the far end where the other Rangers fans were and I could hear Jock screaming ‘Get him back into position’ I was still celebrating and the game had kicked off again!
“The referee blew for half time and I got in and big Jock gave me the biggest rollicking ever.
“He asked me why I was still celebrating my goal five minutes after I had scored it but I was so excited. The fans and players were going bananas as well and it was just one of those days where the wind more or less blew the ball in and the fans probably blew it in as well!
“It was brilliant to score my first goal straight from a corner. I was also the Man of the Match and Jackie Stewart presented me with a tankard. He was my dad’s hero because he was a motor racing and Formula One champion.
“I don’t know if he had any connection with Dumbarton or if he was just invited that day, but I remember going upstairs and getting the award from him.”
How long did it take you to get settled into that team, was it a quick transition?
TM: “No, it wasn’t. I can remember going there in the October and Jock told me to get on the scales and I had never seen a bit of steak in my life.
“Jock told me I had to eat more and do more weights. Every Monday used to be press-up and sit-up day and you would also do weights. Jock would always have a programme for you to do to get stronger because I was very lightweight at the time.
“I wasn’t even muscly, even although I worked in a wood yard before I was a professional player, or strong enough and Jock seen that I needed to be built up.
“When I signed for Rangers I actually made my debut from the bench against St Mirren but I knew then I wasn’t going to be in the Rangers team, if someone was injured I might get on the bench.
“I knew I wasn’t really ready for that step up. I did score against Dumbarton and then the Old Firm was the week after. The papers were wondering if I would play again against Celtic and that was going to be my first Old Firm game.”
What are your memories from the Old Firm matches?
TM: “In that first game I had a nightmare. As soon as I walked out I froze, you had Celtic fans behind the goal and in the corner of the Main Stand in those days.
“I just went out and froze; it was too much for me. I had only been at the club for three months and I went out there thinking ‘I can do this, I can do this.’
“I can never forget a simple ball became a hard ball because everything I had done was wrong. I got hauled off just after half time but I learned so much in that Old Firm game, and it was the only Old Firm game I ever lost.”
Jock Wallace left Rangers in 1986, two years after you joined the club.
TM: “Yeah, Jock left in April ’86 and Graeme was still playing at Sampdoria. I think the deal was he would play there until the end of the season and he brought Walter Smith in with him at Rangers.
“Luckily enough, Graeme gave me a run and a chance. Even although we never saw eye-to-eye I respect the guy because of what he has done in the game.”
Did Graeme Souness have a different style, a different approach, to Jock?
TM: “Oh yeah, some people say Graeme is an arrogant man. Yeah he is an arrogant man, I’ll say he’s an arrogant man. He’s a man when he walks in the dressing room he has that strut with the Boss suits and the fancy shoes.
“He’s made a living out the game and done really well but we never saw eye-to-eye, me and Graeme.
“That was the reason I left Rangers. We never saw eye-to-eye and we had the odd run-in. We had the carry on with myself, Durranty and Coisty and that was a warning. I then had another warning at Christmas time after beating Celtic 2-1.
“By that time I was already going to Spain anyway but we still had run-ins all the time and my last game was against Clydebank when I went on as a sub.” .