Who Put The Ball In The Rangers Net?

by William Sheridan
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MAURICE JOHNSTON

31.10.1981 Rangers [a] W2-0 (SFL Premier Division - game 10)
George Clark (1-0, 27 mins); Maurice Johnston (2-0, 58 mins)

League wins at Ibrox don’t come around too often for Thistle – there have been a measly six of them in our history – so our 2-0 win there on Saturday, 31st October, 1981, was certainly one to savour.

Thistle had started the season poorly, with 5 straight League defeats and a sloppy Glasgow Cup exit at the hands of Queen’s Park, but, went into this game on a run of 4 without defeat in the League. If George Clark's first-half strike had us dreaming, Mo Johnston's second-half counter made it a reality.

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Former-Ger Kenny Watson pulled a foul from future-Jag Colin Jackson and, from 25-yards, Brian Whittaker drove a strange free-kick hard-and-low into the middle of the penalty box. The most alert player in the throng was 18-year-old Maurice who did well to use the pace, re-directing the ball into the corner of the goal, leaving Jim Stewart helpless. Sportscene’s Archie McPherson was even slower than the Rangers defence that day and called it “a deflection”. Rangers boss John Greig was more in touch with reality: “Thistle deserved their win”.

Building doubts about manager Peter Cormack were suddenly cast aside, and there was no real sense of the miserable season that lay ahead. Alas, Thistle won only 6 of the 36 League games all season, and were duly relegated to the second tier. Unbelievably, however, Maurice and Thistle went on to repeat the Ibrox story again in a February League match at Firhill, again winning 2-0, again with a goal in each half, again with a second half goal from Super Mo. Yes, of Thistle’s 6 League wins this term, 2 came against Rangers; it’s the Thistle way. We had great joy against the Govan side at this time, with 6 competitive wins in 3 seasons.

Looking back, the featured October goal was an important one for Maurice; after scoring on his debut he had played 7 without finding the net, and to contribute to a win at Ibrox must have been a huge confidence-booster. In just a little over the 2 years which followed, he would add another 62 goals to his tally!

This young man was hot property. Even in 1983, Watford’s £200K was a steal.

Publishing date Originally published on 11-Dec-2017 (WAT).
Thistle Archive publishing date Republished here on The Thistle Archive, 07-Sep-2020.
Latest edit date Latest edit version 11-Dec-2017.





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