18th March 1978 Celtic 1 Rangers 2 League Cup Final
This should have been a memorable day in the history of Celtic Football Club but unfortunately, it did not turn out like that. However, while the day finished in disappointment, the build up to the occasion had been quite impressive.
Celtic had been late starters in the acquisition of the League Cup. The competition had started in season 1946/47 but during the following ten years – while teams like Dundee, Hearts, East Fife, Motherwell, Aberdeen and Rangers all got their names on the trophy – Celtic’s fans suffered as, season in and season out, their heroes failed to even reach the final.
Then in 1956 came the breakthrough, a 3-0 victory over Partick Thistle in a replay giving the club a first-ever League Cup triumph. A year later, that feat was repeated, this time in the never-to-be-forgotten 7-1 win over Rangers.
LEAGUE CUP-WINNING SIDE 1957
There followed another hiatus in reaching the final of this particular trophy, this time for eight years, to the 1964 final, when Celtic went down Rangers by two goals to one. That was a disappointing day but it sparked an impressive for run for Celtic, as it was the first of 14 consecutive appearances in the final of the League Cup. Disappointingly, only six of these were victories.
1964/65 Rangers (1-2); 1965/66 Rangers (2-1); 1966/67 Rangers (1-0); 1967/68 Dundee (5-3; my first ); 1968/69 Hibs (6-2; my second); 1969/70 St Johnstone (1-0; my third); 1970/71 Rangers (0-1); 1971/72 Partick Thistle (1-4); 1972/73 Hibs (1-2); 1973/74 Dundee (0-1); 1974/75 Hibs (6-3); 1975/76 Rangers (0-1); 1976/77 Aberdeen (1-2).
The final appearance of the 14- final run took place on this day in 1978 at Hampden Park in front of a crowd of 60,168. Rangers opened the scoring in 35 minutes through Davie Cooper; Johannes Edvaldsson took the match into extra –time with a header in 84 minutes; and with only three minutes left of the additional period, Gordon Smith headed in the winner from an Alex Miller cross.
NB. That the League Cup never quite matched the Scottish Cup for popularity among the fans can be confirmed from a simple statistic. In the years from 1946/47 until the re-development of Hampden in the mid-1980s vastly reduced its possible capacity, there were three League Cup finals when the attendance was over 100,000; in that same period in the Scottish Cup, 26 finals attracted a crowd of over that figure.