Remembering Rangers’ Barcelona Bears - 50 years after their finest hour

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Rangers’ only major European triumph to date after they defeated Dynamo Moscow 3-2 in the Cup Winners’ Cup final in Camp Nou.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 8:00 am

The heroes of that triumph became known as the Barcelona Bears.

Here, PA takes a look back at the careers of the 11 men who made history under manager Willie Waddell.

Peter McCloy

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John Greig, a current Rangers ambassador, was captain of the ‘Barcelona Bears’ squad. Pic by Getty.

Nicknamed “The Girvan Lighthouse” due to his birthplace and the fact he stood 6ft 4in tall, the goalkeeper joined Rangers from Motherwell in 1970 and went on to make more than 500 appearances for the Ibrox club before retiring in 1986. He was one of five players who featured in every match of the Cup Winners’ Cup run. In retirement, he worked at Turnberry Golf Resort. Currently 75.

Sandy Jardine

Jardine first signed for Rangers in 1964 and made his debut as an 18-year-old in a 5-1 win at home to Hearts in 1967, a week after Rangers had been knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Berwick Rangers. Played in the 1967 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final against Bayern Munich in Nuremberg as Rangers lost 1–0 after extra-time. Was used in several positions, but right-back was the position in which he made the bulk of his 674 appearances for the club. An ever-present in the 1972 Cup Winners’ Cup run and scored the first goal of a 2–0 win over Bayern Munich in the semi-final. Aged 33, he left to join Hearts – the club he supported as a boy – in 1982. Died aged 65 in April 2014 and now has a stand named after him at Ibrox.

Willie Mathieson

Left-back Mathieson came through the ranks at Rangers and spent 15 seasons at the club from 1960 to 1975, making more than 300 appearances. Joined Arbroath after leaving Ibrox three years after Rangers’ Cup Winners’ Cup success and then had a spell at Arbroath before a spell coaching with Berwick. Aged 78, Mathieson lives in Auchterarder.

John Greig

One of the most iconic figures in Rangers’ history, defender Greig was the captain of the Barcelona Bears. First signed for the club in 1959 and scored 120 goals in 755 appearances for the club. Won three domestic trebles as well as the Cup Winners’ Cup before retiring as a one-club man in 1978, when he kicked off a five-year spell as Rangers manager. Aged 79, Greig is currently a Rangers ambassador.

Derek Johnstone

Johnstone signed for Rangers as a schoolboy in 1968 and scored twice on his debut against Cowdenbeath in 1970, aged just 16. Netted the winner in a 1–0 victory over Celtic in the 1970 Scottish League Cup final and then bagged two in the Cup Winners’ Cup final while aged 19. After scoring 210 goals in 546 games for Rangers, he was sold to Chelsea in 1983 and then returned to Ibrox two years later. Finished his career with Partick. Aged 68, “DJ” has remained prominent as a newspaper and radio pundit until recently.

Dave Smith

Primarily a left-sided midfielder, Smith started his career with Aberdeen and moved to Rangers in August 1966 for a fee of £50,000. During his time at Ibrox, he made 303 appearances. He was voted the Scottish Football Writers’ Association’s Player of the Year in the season of the Cup Winners’ Cup triumph. Left Rangers in 1974 to join Arbroath, then had a spell in America before returning to see out his career with Berwick, Meadowbank, Hamilton and Huntly. Went into management in the lower leagues. Currently 78 years old.

Tommy McLean

Winger McLean – brother of Dundee United legend Jim – started his career at Kilmarnock, where he helped them win their only league title in 1964-65. Joined Rangers for £65,000 in 1971, just a year before the Cup Winners’ Cup triumph. He went on to play 452 times for Rangers, winning three League titles, four Scottish Cups and three League Cups. Retired in 1982 and went into management, most notably with Motherwell, where his decade in charge was illuminated by Scottish Cup glory in 1991. Currently 74.

Alfie Conn

The son of a Hearts legend by the same name, midfielder Conn started his career with Rangers in 1968. Left two years after the Cup Winners’ Cup victory to join Tottenham and then returned to Celtic to sign for Celtic. After a spell in America, he wound down his career with Hearts, Blackpool and Motherwell in the early 1980s. Aged 70.

Colin Stein

Striker Stein joined Rangers from Hibernian in 1968 and went on to score the opening goal in the Cup Winners’ Cup final. Left Ibrox after that triumph to join Coventry then returned to Govan for a second spell in 1975. Scored more than 100 golas in his two spells with Rangers. Currently 75.

Alex MacDonald

Midfielder MacDonald joined Rangers from St Johnstone in 1968 and played a key role in the European success, scoring against Rennes in the first round. Scored 94 goals in 503 games for the Ibrox club and won three league titles, four Scottish Cups and four League Cups before joining Hearts for £30,000 in 1980. Went on to manage the Jambos and Airdrie. Now 74.

Willie Johnston

Joined Rangers in the early 1960s and left after the Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1972. The attacker joined West Brom later that year and had a distinguished seven-year spell in which he became one of the Baggies’ greatest-ever players. Following a stint with Vancouver Whitecaps, he returned to Rangers in 1980 for a further two seasons. Scored 131 goals in 404 appearances over his two spells at the club. Now 75.