If You Know The History: 17th October 1987: Woods, McAvennie and Butcher off

17th October 1987: Woods, McAvennie and Butcher off

For the Old Firm clash on this day in 1987, Rangers rather set the tone for the proceedings by refusing to come out side by side with Celtic and from the start, it was a bruising encounter.
After only 18 minutes, Rangers keeper Chris Woods objected to a challenge by Frank McAvennie and other players got themselves involved in the fracas. Woods and McAvennie were both ordered off and Graeme Roberts took over in goal. Later in the match, Terry Butcher was also sent off for a foul on Celtic’s keeper Alan McKnight. The game ended in a 2-all draw but most unusually, the law now became involved.

Four players – Woods, Roberts, Butcher and McAvennie – were charged with breach of the peace and a trial was held in April 1988, after which some conflicting verdicts were announced. Woods and Butcher were found guilty and fined; the case against Roberts was not proven; and McAvennie was cleared with a not guilty verdict.

It was a most unusual circumstance in the history of Scottish football…but remembered happily by Celtic fans as ‘The Case of Goldilocks and Three Gers’.

Jim Craig


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