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Rangers in Russia: The Story of the 1962 Tour

Publication Date: November, 2018
Published by: Rangers Football Club
Format: A4 Softback
RRP: £5
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The Story of the 1962 Tour

The first inkling that Rangers might be touring somewhere of great interest arrived at the beginning of May, 1962, when a story broke in the press of the players being asked to hold off booking a summer holiday. It was the briefest of announcements by manager Scot Symon, but one which hinted of a tour abroad.

What wasn’t in doubt, though, was that the Rangers players wer
off on holiday to Denmark the following week, the reward for a
thoroughly satisfactory season in which the top team had claimed
a double of Scottish and League Cups, while the second string
lifted all three trophies on offer. Only the Scottish League
championship had eluded the Ibrox men.

Mind you, that didn’t stop five Gers players being included in a ‘friendly’ international against Uruguay at Hampden Park, the week before the Light Blues were due to head off to Copenhagen. The match erupted into a riot when a Uruguayan player went down injured and the entire visiting bench ran onto the field. An ugly
battle ensued and wee Davie Wilson was seen to hold back hard-man team mate Pat Crerand. Not the easiest of tasks for the slight Rangers winger.

In fact, in one contemporary match report, the journalist speaks of an ‘ugly, bruising encounter in which the referee was forced to take the names of two Uruguayans!’ Changed days indeed, when a couple of bookings represents an ‘ugly encounter’.

The Gers players involved in the match were Eric Caldow, Jim Baxter, Alex Scott, Ralph Brand and Wilson. The ‘bruising encounter’ finished 3-2 to Uruguay, with Baxter and Brand on target for the Scots.

But when the Rangers party left for their well-earned break to Denmark just a couple of days later, one player decided to stay at home. Ralph Brand had played just one short of 70 matches that season and gave up his place on the plane for a week with
his wife and kids.

Brand knew there would be no football played in the Danish capital, just rest, especially after a long and arduous season, and he was happy enough to spend that time with his family.

Just as the players were boarding the flight for Copenhagen, the official word from Rangers on the prospect of a tour ‘somewhere interesting’, was met with a wall of silence, the likes the Kremlin itself would have been proud of.

And then it happened…an announcement was made that the
famous Glasgow Rangers would become the first Scottish club
side to tour the Union of Soviet, Socialist Republics…the USSR,
Russia to you and I. It was announced that Rangers would play
their first match on June the 2nd in Moscow, but the shock news
was that they might have to go to the Russian capital minus their
star player.

Jim Baxter was on tour with the Army football team in the Far East, and when asked if the classy left-half would be back in time to go on the tour with Rangers, an Army spokesman said: “We have no idea when the team is returning from the Far East. When the squad left, all the fixtures hadn’t been fixed, and we haven’t received a cable yet from the commanding officer with any further details.”

It was indeed a massive blow, but at least the veil of secrecy had been lifted. Rangers were heading off to Russia, although no one was quite sure what awaited them, Jim Baxter or no Jim Baxter!

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