John Greig

By Adam Robertson
 September 15, 2020

John Greig

John Greig - Symbol and an Icon

There’s a danger when approaching discussion of someone who is a living legend. Player, captain, totem, manager, club official, life president: there’s even a statue of (not to) him and only he could do that particular memorial justice. John Greig is a symbol and an icon. 

His Rangers playing career started before the Beatles had been rejected by Decca and would last all the way through to the break-up of the Sex Pistols. He was a one-club man throughout, and his journey through the years also took him backwards through the team, from the frontline to the rearguard. It was fitting that a man who captained Scotland on fifteen occasions and represented the national team on a total of forty-four occasions would end his playing career with a testimonial match between club and country: in retrospect, the 5-0 Rangers win in 1978 may have been an omen for that summer to come. 

Greig’s direct move from the changing room to the managers’ office ultimately didn’t work out but one could argue that was at least in part because he could never find a version of himself. (Sidebar: that first season has all the elements of a ‘what might have been’ first edition and is still painful to this day for some.) 

As leaders go, Greig is hard to fault. Modern football discussion has a floppy when it comes to intangibles, and in many respects the idea or the value of a captain is not as fashionable as before. (Adopts old man voice to go with increasingly greying beard) But you try telling that to managers or teammates of the time. 

For many, and especially as the team on the other side of the city took control, John Greig stands for something more. He stayed, he battled, he represented, he lead by example and that’s why the ECWC triumph is so special and why John was worthy of the most magnificent and deserved substitution in Rangers history. His late appearance at Easter Road in March 1975 as Rangers clinched the league title for the first time in ten years was pure sentimentalism but fully deserved. John Greig reaped the rewards that his resolute manner and example had set, and those later year trebles and triumphs under Wallace closed the circle neatly: from one great Rangers team to another.

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