30 March 2015

Boyhood Heroes

Colin Stein
My first boyhood hero was probably JF Kennedy. Even at twelve years old, I was aware of the impact he was making in the US and the wider world and like everyone else of that era, I know exactly where I was when his death was announced.

Around the same time a young boxer called Cassius Clay was starting to make the news and I remember skipping school when he fought, and beat, Sonny Liston to win the world boxing championship.

Thereafter, there was a bit of a gap until several years later when my team, Glasgow Rangers made the first £100,000 signing in the history of Scottish football, a Hibernian player called Colin Stein.

Now, I know jumping from a world leader and a history changing boxer to a football player might be regarded as a bit facile, but the impact of this signing to a fanatical Rangers supporter was just something else. Ask any boy in Glasgow at the time who his hero was and the reply would undoubtedly be a football player, so I make no apologies in changing from world famous individuals to Colin Stein.

At Hibs, Stein was a good centre forward scoring 41 goals in 74 appearances but as they say in football, you are only as good as the players around you and the promise of Stein playing in a really good Rangers side was something I was looking forward to.

Until that time, the early sixties, I was brought up on a truly great Rangers team. A team I can recount to this day......Ritchie, Shearer, Caldow.....Greig, Mckinnon, Baxter.... Henderson, McMillan, Miller, Brand and Wilson. And then Stein arrived.

The first game he played in was an away match which I couldn’t attend and he scored a hat trick (3 goals). The next game at Ibrox Park (Rangers Stadium) was against his previous employers, Hibs, and I was determined to see this game, buying a ticket to the stand, unheard of for me ,but for this game, I wanted the best seat in the house.

As I sat in the stand (something I always think of as an oxymoron), I watched in awe as Stein scored his second hat-trick in a matter of days. The whole stadium was in raptures as Rangers’ new centre forward seemed to be scoring at will. And the fact that his latest scoring spree was against the team he’d left only a week before, made it all the more satisfying.

In the next game, Stein scored another two goals, making it 8 in his first three appearances for Rangers, probably the best start to a new career ever by a football player.

Thereafter, I watched as Stein scored a total of 60 goals in his four years at Rangers, however, I missed  what was probably his most infamous goal, in a match against Rangers’ most bitter rivals, Celtic, in a match on 2nd January 1971.  

It was an equalizing goal, scored in stoppage time and which led to the Ibrox Disaster, in which, unfortunately, I was caught up in. A tragedy which will live with me forever.
I wrote a blog about the disaster a few years ago. It can be found here......

Today, my hero is quite probably enjoying a quiet retirement although last night (29th March 2015) his phone would be ringing off the hook as his 46 year old record as the last player to score a hat-trick for Scotland was equalled by a rather average player, Steven Fletcher.

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