John Greig

By Adam Robertson
 September 23, 2020

John Greig - The Rest Is History

John Greig - The Rest Is History

As a young bear cub starting his Rangers pilgrimage in the 70’s, I could not help but notice the special reverence reserved for celebrating a John Greig goal. For a fanbase for whom “loyalty” is an integral component requisite this should have come as no surprise. 

Edinburgh born John Greig developed as footballer, initially under the tutelage of his elder brother Tam, going onto play youth football with United Crossroads Boys Club, where Eric Gardiner proved to be a huge influence for a young John Greig both on and off the park. John latterly signed for Edina Hearts from whom he would eventually sign for Rangers, though not before considerable tears were shed! When Bob McAuley arrived one Sunday morning at Greig’s Edinburgh home to sign him for Rangers, his initial attempts were refused as John clung onto his dream of signing for his beloved Hearts. It took all his brother’s Tam’s powers of persuasion as well as his father’s insistence to “SIGN!” to persuade a reluctant John Greig to sign for Rangers. John was purged of any lingering Jamboitus when along with a friend John Meechan, they watched a Rangers side rout Hibs at Easter Road 6-1 with goals from Ralph Brand (4), Andy Mathews and Jimmy Millar. As the saying goes “The rest is history” 

John Greig pulled on the famous blue shirt 857 times during his 18 years as a Rangers player, winning 5 League Championships, 6 Scottish Cups, 4 League Cups and of course a European Cup Winners Cup in Barcelona in 1972. He was the recipient of 44 international caps, 15 as captain. When he captained Rangers to a domestic treble in 1978 he became the only player to accumulate a hat-trick of trebles, adding to those previously won in 1964 and 1976. He was twice voted Scotland’s Player of the Year in 1966 and remarkably 10 years later in 1976. He was awarded the M.B.E in 1977. 

John Greig retired from football in May 1978 when he accepted the role of Rangers manager a post he held until October 1983. He went on to become Rangers PR Executive in 1990 eventually joining the board of directors in 2003. 

It is perhaps ironic that John Grieg who was the living embodiment of so many traditions associated with Rangers Football Club, or as Rangers The Complete Record succinctly summarises “With Greig, the club was the thing and he seemed to epitomise the Rangers ethos” that he was responsible for the club breaking with tradition to grant him a testimonial match. This took place on the 16th April 1978 against a Scottish team much fancied for the World Cup in Argentina. The match was memorable for a number of reasons – the kick off had to be delayed allowing adoring fans in to pay homage to a man who led their club in an exemplary fashion through some of their brightest and darkest periods. It was also to be the last time the old stadium was to be filled to capacity. Rangers trounced the world cup hopefuls 5-0 with John Greig adding to the scoresheet to send the capacity crowd into rapture. The march of “Ally’s Army” was brought to a shuddering halt. For those of us who were there that day the chant of “John Greig MBE” will live in our hearts for time immemorial. 

For a man who had been honoured by Royalty for his endeavours on the field of play, by his peers and by his country it is perhaps fitting that John Grieg’s greatest accolade was awarded years after he had hung up his boots. In 1999 in a poll for the club’s supporters John Greig was voted “The Greatest Ever Ranger”. Perhaps it was his outstanding loyalty to the club, his never-say-die attitude, or his fortitude during some of those dark times which spanned his career. None were darker than 2nd January 1971, when 66 souls perished at Ibrox. In the aftermath of that dark day John Greig spent time consoling and speaking to the bereaved families. John campaigned for a fitting memorial to erected in their memory, close to the site of the disaster and bearing the names of all that had perished. He personally favoured a small cairn bearing the names of the 66 on a plaque but concerns over the possibility of such a memorial being prone to vandalism caused the club to explore a different option. 

Unbeknown to John, Rangers commissioned sculptor Andy Scott to design and sculpt the magnificent statue which today commemorates those who perished that fateful day. John’s own reflections on the 

memorial provide considerable jurisprudence as to why the honour of “Greatest Ever Ranger” was bestowed upon him. 

“So, when I look at the statue I don’t think of it as depicting me, but rather what it represents. I got my wish for a fitting memorial plaque listing the names of the dead, even if the form it took was not quite what I had in mind, Believe me when I say that I feel immense pride to stand above the sixty six names. That means much more than the undoubted honour of Rangers fans pointing to the statue and saying “look there’s Greigy” 

In 1990 John was sitting twiddling his thumbs in his PR role when Graeme Souness invited him down to a training session at Jordanhill for a kick about with the players. John found himself teamed up with Ally McCoist and Ian Durrant and in opposition to Souness. As the game progressed, much to the angst of Souness, McCoist and Durrant kept referring to John as “Gaffer”. Eventually Souness stopped the match pointing out to Messrs McCoist and Durrant “Right let’s get one thing straight – “I’M the gaffer, and he (pointing to John) He’s the legend!” 

For all the wisdom the Souness revolution brought to Rangers perhaps his most unnecessary act was to tell us what generations of Rangers supporters already knew – 

John Greig MBE - Legend

D’Artagnan - @4thProtocol

Rangers fc charity foundation - legends challenge
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