So the scene was set. Rangers had won the final home game against Birmingham 2-0 and we led Blackpool by the smallest of goal differences for second place in the table. The final match against Villa was seven days away and the week dragged by. Sleeping was a problem as anticipation increased with each day. For anyone who doesn’t follow a football team, these anxieties must be very strange. Grown men losing sleep over a simple game but as we all know, football life is more important than that.
Match day came and along with 15,000+ others, we filled the M1. Hundreds of vehicles displaying the hoops with horns blowing and I can even recall the odd vehicle pulled over with engine trouble. Hopefully an angel in blue and white came to their rescue to get them to the Ground in time.
The match itself was a roller coaster. Rangers were poor in the 1st half and were very fortunate to reach half time only one down. The only consolation for us was that Blackpool were also one down to Huddersfield. The 2nd half commenced and at last we started to relax, so presumably Alec Stock had worked his magic again. Dear old (much underestimated) Mickey Leach equalised with a header off bar and post which the referee adjudged to have crossed the line…such relief !
The news came through that Blackpool were leading which added to the tension. Heaven smiled again when Villa’s right back, Bradley, diverted the ball into his net to give us the lead. Even then Villa protested that Frank Clarke had handled the ball. The goal stood and the celebrations started with the ball being shunted here, there and anywhere into safety.
The final whistle went and we had reached the ‘promised land’ (albeit for a short while) and the world was a wonderful place. The sun was shining in Shepherd’s Bush and the beer tasted like champagne !