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COLIN STEIN scored the goal that ended a decade of despair and disappointment for Rangers. Now the Ibrox legend is preparing for history to repeat itself sooner rather than later.
When Jock Wallace’s side made the trip to Easter Road in March 1975, they knew the opportunity that lay ahead of them. The wait had been too long as supporters had been starved of success, but a point was all that was required to be crowned champions.
The goal from Stein was not the most important or the most famous that he scored during his Ibrox career, but it was hugely significant nonetheless as the Barcelona Bear gave fans the silverware and the memories that they had craved during Celtic’s run to nine-in-a-row.
🏟 Hibs Away
🗓 29th March 1975
🏆 First 🏴 League Title since 1964
🖋 A Colin Stein goal in the 1-1 draw at Easter Road was enough to win us our 35th League Title and stop Celtic winning 10 in a row. What a support & what a noise from the travelling Bears! pic.twitter.com/lVStMkeqoa
— Rangers History (@RangersFACTS) December 13, 2017
The focus then, as it has been this season, was on winning the league for the benefit of Rangers rather than denying Celtic a tenth title.
With Steven Gerrard’s side now 21 points clear of their Old Firm rivals, someone from the Class of 2021 seems destined to follow Stein’s example and end ten years of hurt at Ibrox.
“It was a bit different for me going back to Easter Road as well and I can remember the crowd was absolutely unbelievable,” Stein told and Times Sport.
“It was full of Rangers supporters in anticipation of winning the league. We had a few games to go and we were expected to win the league but winning it that day was special.
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 27: former Rangers 1972 European Cup Winner Colin Stein poses for a photograph at Hampden Park during the Scottish Football Hall of Fame Inductees Dinner 2019 on October 27, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jamie Simpson/H
“I left for Coventry for a couple of years so maybe there was more pressure on the lads that were still there to end that run but I just wanted to win the league, as you have to do at Rangers. The players today will be the same.
“We were desperate to do it for us and I don’t think there was as much made of ten-in-a-row as there has been with Celtic now. They had a chance and then Rangers had a chance and this time Rangers had been out of the picture for a few years.
“We just wanted it for ourselves, we wanted it for each other and for the supporters and it was a great day. We went a goal down, Sandy Jardine missed a penalty and then I scored and that was the point that we needed.”
The scenes at the final whistle that day summed up the importance of the occasion and the achievement for Rangers as a barren league run came to an end.
READ: Ally McCoist on the ‘unbelievable’ effect a Rangers title win will have on fans as Steven Gerrard’s side near Premiership glory
It was the first Division One flag that Rangers had secured since season 63/64 as Kilmarnock went one better the following term and then Celtic embarked on their run of nine during a legendary era at Parkhead.
As Wallace hugged his players on the park, supporters serenaded them from the terraces on a day when Rangers finally had a reason to celebrate.
“You want to win the league, first and foremost, for yourself and your fans,” Stein said. “You don’t win it to stop someone winning it.
“This time around, the situation was that Rangers weren’t in the top league for a while. Now they are back and I think they will certainly win the league this season.
24/05/72 EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS’ CUP FINAL.RANGERS v MOSCOW DYNAMO (3-2).NOU CAMP – BARCELONA.Colin Stein celebrates after scoring against Moscow Dynamo..
“Back then, it didn’t matter if it was six-in-a-row or ten-in-a-row, you went into the season knowing you had to win it for Rangers and for the supporters.
“After the game, a few of us went to the North British at Waverley. We went with a guy called Kenny Gallagher, who worked for the Daily Record, and John Greig, myself and Sandy went for a drink and then we went home.
“When we went to the hotel, we had to go through Waverley and, well, if there was 1,000 Rangers supporters there then there was 20,000 there!
“By the time I got up to the hotel my back was aching with people thumping me and saying well done. I remember it well and it was certainly a great day for us.”
In the not-too-distant future, there will surely be another afternoon to savour for Rangers and a support that have been through it all in recent times.
Having stuck by their club as admirably and loyally, it is a shame that they may not get to celebrate with Gerrard and his players when they are crowd champions this term.
READ: Rangers can welcome the chase after Old Firm power shift
The job is not yet completed for Rangers but the current crop now have a chance to write their names in Light Blues’ folklore and become one of the most revered sides in Ibrox history.
Stein said: “I think they will certainly go on and win the league this season and that will be fantastic for everyone at the club.
“You have to say what a great job the manager and the players have done. It would have been nice to get to some of the games but unfortunately that is not the situation.
“I can’t imagine what it has been like for the players having to go out in front of no crowds, it must be really difficult for them and that is a shame.
On This Day 1975 – Colin Stein’s header at Easter Rd. secures the League Title for the first time since 1964. pic.twitter.com/83i0VR7Jej
— Rangers History (@RangersFACTS) March 29, 2016
“The fans are desperate to win the league and get back to Ibrox and they deserve that after what they have been through over the last few years.
“They are desperate to be there and I feel for them because I don’t see people being back at Ibrox for a long time to come. It will be surreal to win a league in that situation and difficult for the players too.
“Rangers have had to come through a long journey and they have got stronger and stronger over the last couple of years so they will be right up there in the affections of the fans.
“They have a chance to qualify for the Champions League and that money can take the club on again so it would be a terrific achievement for Rangers.”