“THERE was a rough as well as unfinished quality about the Scottish Cup final on Saturday at Hampden Park. The mind was given few images to capture and the memory little to store away to be gratefully recalled on some day of less vivid light, mildness, and colour.
“Tension kept the game absorbing and the knowledge that just one bold slash might be enough to cut the stiff knot of deadlock and bring with it that mingling of irrevocable triumph and tragedy which sets competition by elimination apart.”
So began Glasgow Herald sportswriter Raymond Jacobs’s account of the April, 1966 final between Rangers and Celtic, which was watched by a crowd of 126,559, and ended in a goalless draw. Both forward lines, he wrote, “were endowed with insufficient imagination to break down defences too sophisticated and practised in their art to be deceived by naive advances.
“There were moments of excitement, especially in the second half; in the last analysis, however, a game without goals is as unsatisfactory as tonic without gin.”
In the photograph, Rangers keeper Billy Ritchie beats Celtic’s John Hughes to a corner kick.
Jacobs said a “widening trend in modern football” was all too evident; namely, that defence must be organised and in control, “for then the likelihood of defeat is diminished.” But either Celtic or Rangers would eventually have to concede, “which is always the consolation to be taken again from drawn cup matches.”
Jacobs returned to Hampden on the following Wednesday for the replay. It was, he wrote, a relentless and at times ruthless battle. Twenty minutes before the end, Kai Johansen got the only goal, and the Rangers fans in the 96,862 crowd went wild.