Who Put The Ball In The Rangers Net?

by William Sheridan
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GERRY BRITTON

04.05.1993 Rangers [h] W3-0 (SFL Premier Division - game 42)
Ray Farningham (1-0, 1 min); Grant Tierney (1-0, 52 mins); Gerry Britton (3-0, 62 mins)

Who put the ball in the Rangers net? Gerry… Gerry… Who put the ball in the Rangers net? Gerry Gerry Britton. Gerry Gerry Britton, Gerry Gerry Britton, Who Put The Ball In The Rangers net? Gerry Gerry Britton!

If that's not the original version of the song, then it’s certainly the version which has been sung most often, and with most gusto, for he is the King of Spain, and he loves the Thistle just as much as we love him and his rubbery ways. Seemingly Half Man / Half Elastic Band, his unlikely methodology of bamboozling his way to goal is a thing of Jaggy folklore, first witnessed in season 1992-93.

Technically, this #3 entry is nowhere near the best goal he ever scored, for that would have to in the Scottish Cup at Dens Park in 2002. Heck, it wasn’t even the best goal on this night! However, Gerry's high placement is secured by virtue of the fact that it encapsulates the very essence of our countdown; his goal was all about Shankly’s holy trinity – players, manager and fans – revelling in a glorious moment together, as the man who would become one of our most favourite sons led the party with a merry dance all over the hallowed turf.

Just 3 days earlier, a dominant Glasgow Rangers had, almost inevitably, secured the fifth of their nine-in-a-row League titles. Last month, they were just 90 minutes away from reaching the Champions League final. From August to March, they did not lose for seven months, stringing together a run of 44 games without defeat in all competitions. In a few weeks time, they would secure the domestic treble. I’m really sorry to have to drag all that up but, you know, perspective, it’s important.

Thistle were desperately keen to snare at least a point in this Tuesday evening affair, as the vital end games were being played in the 5-way struggle to avoid the 2 relegation places. Rangers lined up with battle-hardened lads such as Richard Gough, John Brown and Ian Durrant, and potent final-third men such as Mark Hately and Pieter Huistra, but they were no match on the night for a well-organized and hungry Thistle side that played with an irresistible mixture of dig and flair. Ray Farningham’s stunning first-minute strike (the best of the match) set the tone, as did some fine saves by Craig Nelson. By half-time, the Jags were looking good for at least a point. When Grant Tierney stabbed home a second in 52 minutes, the Firhill Shed really came alive, as the prospect of a glorious win drew nearer. The cracking atmosphere would reach a mighty crescendo just 10 minutes later…

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Shooting towards the North terracing, Davie Irons thundered a drive towards goal which was too hot to handle for Ally Maxwell, and the sheer box sense of Gerry Britton meant that it was he who was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the spill. As Maxwell scrambled to his feet, Gerry sold him a dummy which made it oh-so-easy for our man to take a step to the left, and to tap it home with gleeful abandon.

The iconic mazy run in celebration is now synonymous with the match itself, and will live forever in the minds of every Jags fan who was there that night. As will the personal celebrations which ensued in the Shed and elsewhere. Me and my mate, up at the back and beside the segregation fence, decided upon a wee jig up on your actual crush barrier, together with a few, er, cheery waves at the scowling faces just 15 yards to our right. To the tune of the Billy Boys, the largely wordless “Ha Ha” was glorious, as were the modern day classics such as “Champions League? You’re Having A Laugh!”, and “Who’s the pub team in the blue?

The Jags fans lapped it up for all it was worth and, by all accounts, the dressing room celebrations were a bit lively too, as the King of Spain himself later explained:

To get a win was sensational but to achieve it in the manner that we did was fantastic for us. We didn’t just win, we won with a bit of style. I’ll never forget Gerry in the dressing room after the game. He gets excited at the best of times and tends to get carried away in matches. He said: ‘You played like AC Milan tonight, boys!’ I think everyone was caught up in the excitement of it all, in fairness, because we had achieved our ambition of staying in the league for another year.

With this victory, the boys earned themselves an end-of-season trip to Ibiza, and they deserved it. The result had bigger implications off-the-park too. With top-flight finances secured for another season, it meant that the proposed £2.5M East Stand development could be rubber-stamped without delay.

Not that Thistle fans cared much about that kind of stuff on the night. More important to them was the ultimate closure on the “wilderness years”. Back in September, the Celts had been turned over on their own park and thus a fine double was complete. Join-top scorers Geordie Shaw and Gerry Britton shared 26 goals between them. As the smash hit said, it felt like the “good times” really were “coming back to Firhill now”. As an excellent bonus, many a bealing bear was heard to be growling its way down the Firhill Road as the darkness descended. They don’t like it up 'em do they?

Publishing date Originally published on 23-Dec-2017 (WAT).
Thistle Archive publishing date Republished here on The Thistle Archive, 07-Sep-2020.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 23-Dec-2017.





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