Sandy Jardine

By Adam Robertson
 September 20, 2020

Sandy Jardine - Jardine’s Calling Card

Sandy Jardine - Jardine’s Calling Card

Sandy Jardine won his second Player of the Year award when he was 37. His career at Hearts alone would be worthy of a few paragraphs but the idea of an outfield player winning the POTY at that age would probably make younger readers think (incorrectly) that Scottish football of the time was rank rotten. 

It wasn’t. And the period immediately before that – when Scotland habitually qualified for world cups when England didn’t and where Scottish teams did rather better in Europe than has come to be expected – was filled with (genuinely) top class individuals. Many of them established their talent before escaping as soon as they could to England and occasionally beyond, others were regrettably missed by scouts and hopped over the border as a result of mismanagement, and some others stayed behind when they could easily have left. Back then they didn’t have to. The gulf between the EPL television show and what’s left of Scottish football may today be a chasm but that wasn’t the case when Jardine played for Rangers. 

My Uncle gifted me a stack of Rangers programmes from the early 70s when he sought to make room for the fanzines, Ska records, and memorabilia that had taken over his life and one of the things that struck me most was how damn handsome almost every player looked in those days – partly because of the hair but mostly because of those strips – and how damn ugly everyone looked in the crowd pictures at the end of each edition where the lucky punter circled could win a small fortune they would doubtless then waste on terrible trousers and questionable alcohol before paying £5 to see some legend or other at Green’s and then the Apollo. 

The idiotic teenager had drawn faces on most of the cover stars – and a belly, which may well have been added later, dominated a rather fetching action picture of Derek Johnstone – but he spared Sandy Jardine the pleasure, based on a fondness formed not only on his play but on the basis of a convoluted story involving a train ticket, a young lady and an instance of mistaken identity regarding some suitcases. I’ve seen my Uncle cry only three times in his life – on two occasions where every son feels the pain - and the third was the first time I saw him after Sandy’s sad passing. It had been more than 40 years since he’d been at a game but you never forget your childhood heroes. 

It’s amusing to note the current dilemma facing the manager of Scotland where his best two players are left backs and he can’t seem to find a good way to fit both into the team; older Bears will tell you that Danny McGrain moved across to accommodate Jardine at right back but what Sandy’s career demonstrates is that the contrary is true regarding how that conversion is often framed. 

McGrain, at least the younger version, was indeed an exceptional defender and showed fair ability to be able to perform well out of place at international level but it was in fact Jardine who could more comfortably play in many different positions – he was (in modern parlance) a forward, a midfielder, and a defender throughout his time at Rangers, although he was accordingly more reliable on the ball than your standard full back. 

Longevity is one thing, versatility another, but class – genuine, elegance of thought and motion – was Jardine’s calling card; throughout his playing career and, notably, in his final years when he was a figurehead for supporters and a noble cause. One could argue that Sandy’s greatest achievement – 

Or at least his most important – was to be found during that period. To say that of an individual with such talents and so many honours merely scratches the surface: Jardine was a remarkable man who would have been embarrassed to accept such praise. And that’s why he’s a real legend.

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