1961 Cup Winners Cup Final
"1961, 1967, 1972, 2008 and 2022!"
The Ibrox side has always been at the forefront of change in European football. In 1993, Rangers were one of 8 founding members of the Champions League, after qualifying against tough opposition in the form of the English Champions at the time, Leeds United. This came after Executives with great influence at Ibrox had pushed UEFA for the change.
After success in the 1972 Cup Winners' Cup, Rangers faced Ajax in the inaugural European Supercup. UEFA did not officially recognise this as the 'Gers were banned from Europe at the time, but this was officially taken on by UEFA from the very next season.
This particular competition was the first ever instalment of the Cup Winners' Cup, and Rangers would not only be a founding member but reach the final and become the first British club to achieve such a feat.
Back in the early days of European football, there were fewer rounds to negotiate. The first of three two legged knockout ties that Scot Symon's men were to come up against was against Hungarian side, Ferencváros.
Hungarian football was strong during this period. The National tea were a powerhouse, and they would boast talent such as Ferenc Puskás. Ferencváros themselves would be just a few years away from winning the Fair's Cup.
Rangers got by on an aggregate score of 5-4.
We were not lying when we said there were fewer rounds. In this version of the tournament for Cup Winners, there were lower numbers, therefore, qualification from the preliminary round granted a quarter final spot. Rangers would face German opposition, Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Modern day, Mönchengladbach are a reputable club, and in the '70s, won the UEFA Cup twice!
However, Rangers would ease past them on this occasion, 11-0 on aggregate after a 3-0 away win, which eased the pressure for Symon's men to hit the Germans for 8 in an entertaining night at Ibrox.
Semi Final - When The Rangers Came To Wolverhampton Town
"There's not a team like the Glasgow Rangers. One of the famous songs they sung!"
English counterparts Wolverhampton Wanderers would stand between Rangers and a place in the final. The winner, would be the first British club to enter a European final.
Wolverhampton were in European competition fairly frequently back then., and would reach the final of the UEFA Cup in 1971-72, but would lost out to Tottenham Hotspur.
Rangers did most of the damage in the first leg at Ibrox, and took a 2-0 win down to the Molineux.
A 1-1 draw there, would secure Rangers a place in the final against Fiorentina. Unlike European finals today, this was played over two legs and would be the only time this happened in the Cup Winners' Cup.
The first leg of this historic final would be at Ibrox. As you will likely know, attendances at Ibrox in the 60s were among the highest ever, and of course, this was before all seater stadia. 80,000 packed into Ibrox for this. For Rangers, they had the opportunity to become the first ever winners of the tournament, but also the first British side to win a European tournament.
Rangers would line-up; Billy Ritchie, Bobby Shearer, Eric Caldow, Harold Davis, Bill Paterson, Jim Baxter, Davie Wilson, Ian McMillan, Alex Scott ,Ralph Brand and Bobby Hume.
Unfortunately, Fiorentina took the lead within 12 minutes, and managed to hold on for the rest of the match and snatching a 2nd in the 88th minute which made Rangers chances of claiming the trophy diminish significantly.
The Glasgow Herald report the following morning stated that Rangers should accept blame for failure to realise that the high cross into the goalmouth was not likely to outwit the Italian defence. This read all too familiar, as it is a trait recognisable in some of the Rangers teams this side of the millennium.
The second leg was at the Artemio Franchi Stadium aka the Comunale. This stadium also has significance in Rangers more recent history, as it is the ground where Nacho Novo slotted the winning penalty to take Rangers to the UEFA Cup Final in 2008.
However, the Gers would not have so much luck on this evening, and again succumbed to a loss against the Italians. This time, 2 goals to one making the aggregate 4-1 to La Viola.
To this day, both Rangers and Fiorentina have the same trophy count in Europe with a Cup Winners Cup each. Rangers would be in their next final six years later ...