Richard Gough

By Adam Robertson
 September 11, 2020

Richard Gough - Fine Captain
Richard Gough

Richard Gough - Fine Captain

Season 4 of Netflix’s head-scratching series Dark sees the action relocated to Limassol, Cyprus. It’s 1989.

There are four or five things that instantly come to my mind when I think of Richard Gough, and at the top of that mental list sits the moment when he  took to the field at Tannadice in 1997, holding the league trophy aloft while being unable to do anything to stem the flow of tears.

A couple of the other Rangers-related moments I will return to in a moment but Richard Gough also featured proudly in a period where my loyalties – never split – were complementarily granted to the national team. The only time I was ever genuinely scared at a football match came when Gough scored what would be the only goal of the game against England in a Hampden victory in 1985; I was still a lad and found myself forcefully separated from father and grandfather in the resulting exuberance, a moment that stood me in good stead for later experiences at festivals – and especially the mosh-pits and scrums at the Barrowlands - but did little to endear said gentlemen to their spouses when the honest idiot recounted the tale later that day.

The other Scotland memory – another clincher – came deep into that qualifier in Cyprus and as the years tick on it gets later and later: Almost into a new time zone.

But the two Rangers memories that will always persist are two famous goals, both against our less fortunate city dwellers. One may well have broken a record and the other was part of a series of finals that now seem faintly ridiculous when viewed from a moderate distance.

The 1990 Skol Cup Final was once again something of a triumph for the sponsors, whose time as rights-holder coincided with some of the best and most entertaining finals in the competition’s history. Mark Walters had equalised for Rangers after a Paul Elliott opener for Celtic, and in extra time, with many a heavy limb on display, a long diagonal free kick was missed by both Elliott and Hateley and Richard Gough somehow found the space between Morris and Bonner to edge it into the open goal. The celebration on that occasion was a solid 6/10. Big Richard didn’t score that many, so we’ll forgive him.

A few years earlier, however, his celebration – and indeed that of most of the stadium and a fair number of people at home dropping the wireless – was more fitting. An equaliser in a drawn game in the month of October doesn’t immediately stand out as a great memory. But this Gough goal was in that derby; The Procurator Fiscal Fiasco; The Graham Roberts conducts and Rasputin Grant sullies his faith and soils his shorts game.

People like to argue – I know, can you believe it – but although there’s a fair case to be made for the atmosphere at a number of other games (the very beginning of the Man United game and parts of the Parma game and a fair whack of the Dinamo Kiev tie are all fairly established in the upper section of the canonical list) it’s beyond dispute that the roar that erupted after Gough’s goal was one of a kind for Ibrox Stadium, post-redevelopment. Ludwig van Beethoven would have heard it. Nine-man Rangers had rescued a point after being two goals down.

Gough had earlier set up Ally McCoist’s contractually obligated goal with a lovely pass from an uncommonly advanced position but went one better as he slid in, determined that no one else would get to the ball, as a last minute cross caused a commotion in the Celtic box and Pat Bonner gave succour to suspicions that he was a match-fixer. It was as improbable as it was life-enhancing. The audio from the game is famously distorted after the ball hits the net. That season would act as a wake-up call for some at the club but it was the making of Gough.

To say Richard was a good defender, and a fine captain, is to downplay his importance to what became that NIAR period and to sell short his qualities as a player. True, there were common (legitimate) grumbles about his distribution but he read the game well and was a tremendous marker and a commanding presence at the heart of a defence. The fact that he played until he was booking the 40th birthday party celebrations tells you everything you need to know about his attitude: Gough was a professional footballer both in name and in application. Not coincidentally, he was also one of many men in this list of great Rangers men who was both a captain and a leader.

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