The terrifying final crash of the Scottish Celtic and Rangers Cup which almost led to another disaster in Hillsborough


Forty years ago this month, Celtic defeated the Rangers in the 1980 Scottish Cup final.

What followed the final whistle was a fan battle that brought shame to our nation.

Archie Macpherson, the dean of Scottish broadcasting, witnessed the events and, in his new book, More Than A Game: LIving With The Old Firm, reveals that what became a national disgrace could have been a disaster without thought fast from a policeman.

Standing at the mouth of the main enclosure tunnel, the match commander, Chief Superintendent Hamish MacBean, began to relax. The normal tensions surrounding a cutting final involving the old business were starting to dissipate. The match had just ended after overtime.

In the 107th minute, a stab from Celtic captain Danny McGrain was redirected by George McCluskey; send Rangers goalkeeper Peter McCloy in the wrong direction and the cup has been won.

They thought it was over. This was not the case.

As McGrain ran with his team towards the Celtic end with the cup, something prompted MacBean to instinctively turn away from this particular jubilation scene to look at the area just below the royal box in the main stand.

What he saw made his veins shiver. In the more expensive seats, reserved for the wealthy of the support of the old company, punches were thrown and necks were twisted. Men in “£ 500 Crombie coats were fighting each other.”

MacBean, returning to the field, stiffened at what he saw now: “No matter what is going on in the stand. Look what’s going on there! “

The crowd was mounting on the ground. On each side, they charged each other.

The battle had started and I found myself asking this question aloud to the now huge television audience:

“And where are the police?” For the love of heaven, where are the police? “

PC Jim Buchanan was in a car going to the Southern General Hospital with a prisoner who needed medical treatment. But while supervising the man in A&E, he got the frantic call to drop everything and go to Hampden.

John was undercover at the 1980 Scottish Cup final

“So I handcuffed the prisoner to a bed and I bolted. I have no idea what happened to this prisoner. As far as I know, he’s still there, handcuffed to a bed. “

PC Willie Allan was part of a patrol team in the south of the city. At the end of the afternoon, a call came. He remembers that “all the resources are coming to Hampden Park NOW!” They rushed to Hampden, the serene horn on the streets.

WPC Elaine Mudie trotted peacefully through the streets of Glasgow from the city center on her white horse, Ballantrae, who had traveled this route so often that she barely needed advice.

Inside the ground, PC Tom McLeod, a track officer supporting the Rangers at the Celtic end, noticed something that was bothering him.

“The kids, right in front, were pressed against the 10-foot-high fence that had been erected around the track. I started to worry about it, “he said.

“After the Celtic players got closer, the children in front were pressed against the fence and I could see the panic in their faces. I decided to open this door next to me otherwise there could have been serious damage.

“I then dragged one kid after the other, maybe a dozen or so, but a new wave hit and the scores started to pass.

Police officer attacks partisan in 1980 riot

“It was then that I noticed that another officer, further down the track, had followed my signal and had done the same. Then the invasion was unstoppable. “

McLeod is adamant that the steps taken by him and his colleague, which certainly facilitated the last invasion, prevented something much worse.

One only has to look at two simple but crucial sentences from the Hillsborough report 32 years later, on the deaths in this FA Cup semi-final, to understand the validity of his action that day:

“There was a small locked [sic] door at the front of each enclosure. The crush became unbearable and the fans collapsed under their feet. “

It is conceivable that a serious accident would have occurred if McLeod had not opened this door. His instant decision to open it and help him get the children out was almost a heroic act.

I was perplexed as to why the invasion could not have been stopped, realizing little that a human act of a single constable had by chance facilitated their passage.

WPC Mudie has arrived on Ballantrae. “Honestly, I thought it had started to rain,” she said. “The sky was filled with missiles of all kinds. For me it was a horror show.

“When we first appeared in the field, a story ended up bypassing the fact that I had led the charge.

“The truth was that Ballantrae was hit in the back by a roll of toilet paper and it bolted. I couldn’t hold it back.

“I was oblivious to the colors. I don’t care about green and white or blue. It was only thugs asking for it. “

Thus, the least lethal missile launched at Hampden that day had accidentally propelled the woman on the white horse in the eyes of the public.

Subsequently, after learning that her horse had been seen foaming in the mouth, she replied: “You too, if you had been between my legs for four hours!”

It was no laughing matter at the nearby Victoria Hospital.

PC Willie Allan recalls, “We heard that the grudge had broken out between the police, who had gone there to be treated for various injuries, and some of the injured fans. “

Rangers and Celtic fans moved to Hampden in 1980

When they arrived, hospital authorities warned them that the aggro was about to tip over. The obvious thing was to separate them into different rooms.

When they returned to the fan zone, they discovered that the rivals were fighting again, right there, in the antiseptic atmosphere of A&E.

The scenes were pretty scary, but PC Allan can’t forget an incident: “I will always remember this guy in a wheelchair. A fan of the Rangers. Quite seriously injured.

“He turned to a Celtic supporter who was lying on a mobile stretcher.

“And he started knocking him off before he realized what he was doing. We jumped into it. It was noise.

“I guess it was understandable. If they were fighting on the ground, they might as well fight here. “

PC Tom McLeod was a tired man on the way home. Alone, he had performed the most dramatic rescue act of the day at the foot of the terrace. Not that he attaches great importance to it.

The sheer physical effort of chasing the crowds out of a soccer field and avoiding injuries himself had taken its toll. He was about to run out by the time he got home:

“I lived in an upper apartment in Dennistoun,” he said. “I climbed up and took a bath for myself, then I sat on the edge of my bed to take off my uniform and my boots. Would you believe I fell asleep right there.

“I was woken up by the neighbors on the ground floor who came to complain that I had kept a tap open and that the water ran down the walls and flooded them.”

The other tap he opened in Hampden that day by opening a door, allowing a flood of young supporters to escape the dangers of the crash, was never officially or publicly recognized until present.


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