67 WAS HEAVEN FOR WEE GERS LEGENDS

Players from Berwick and Rangers were honoured at a 50th anniversary dinner at Shielfield last Friday evening.  For more pictures of the event, get a copy of this week's Berwickshire News
Players from Berwick and Rangers were honoured at a 50th anniversary dinner at Shielfield last Friday evening. For more pictures of the event, get a copy of this week's Berwickshire News

Berwick’s heroes of 1967 were remembered last Friday with a 50th anniversary dinner to mark their famous 1-0 win over Glasgow Rangers in the Scottish Cup.

The event was held in the Black & Gold, and was attended by a full house. It was preceded by a reception at Shielfield when the surviving members of the team were presented to the press.

Alan Ainslie, who flew over from Australia, Gordon Haig, Russell Craig, captain Doug Coutts, Ian Riddell and reserve Andy Rodgers were all in attendance, along with Rangers’ players on the day, Dave Smith and Willie Johnston.

Ainslie said he still had fond memories of the day, and was particularly proud as he was the only local player in the team.

“We had a sense we were making history,” he said, “but it wasn’t until we saw the media frenzy afterwards that it started to sink in what we had achieved.

“It was a fantastic occasion, but it was a hard game. They came at us strongly in the early stages, but after we got the goal in the first half it took the sting out of them and the longer the game went on the more desperate they became.

“I’m just glad to be here 50 years after the game and people are still talking about it.”

Haig said a lot of the credit for the victory had to go to goalkeeper and player manager Jock Wallace.

“He instilled confidence in us,” he said. “Some of his training methods were brutal, but if they didn’t make us a better player they made us a better person.

“He told the fullbacks not to tackle their wide men. He said, ‘Stay on your feet and force them wide – me and the central defenders will deal with any balls they manage to get into the box. It was a tactic which worked.

“There were over 13,000 people in Shielfield that day and it was a sight to behold. I was carried from the pitch shoulder high by some of the fans.”

Riddell said: “I think a lot of our success that day was the fact that our defence had all played at a higher level and they were able to handle the situation.”

Captain Coutts said: “It was a day which will live long in the memory, but sadly not all of the team are here now to see this day.”

And Craig added: “It was a hard game, but we had a steel about us.”

And with reference to the current squad he said: “I think we could do with some of that now as well.”

Berwick won the game 1-0 in front of a record 13,000-plus crowd at Shielfield, with the only goal scored by the late Sammy Reid. It was regarded at the time as one of the greatest shocks in Scottish Cup history, as Rangers were a side full of international players.

One of them, Smith, who went on to become player-manager and a title winner with Berwick is the late 70s, said: “It was Berwick’s day, there is no question about that.

“We were the clear favourites, but they did what they had to do and got the right result.

“We did not realise at the time what the consequences for Rangers would be, but I still believe the sacking of some of the players cost us the European Cup Winners’ Cup that season.”

The dinner was a sell-out and guest speaker for the evening was former Scotland international Pat Nevin, who is now a TV and radio pundit.

All the 67 players were presented with replica shirts from the game.