The First Youth Cup Final

In the week leading up to the Youth Cup Semi-Final against Inverness Caley Thistle at Ibrox on Saturday, I thought it would be interesting to look at the first Youth Cup Final, which was played 25 years ago. Its always good to watch the youngsters being successful, but sometimes you have take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

So as well as the looking back on the game, I’ve  looked into what the players from the squads that evening went on to achieve in the game, then it opens another debate about which club benefited most.

It was on 8th May 1984 when the youth teams of Rangers and Celtic took to the field at Parkhead to contest the first ever Scottish Youth Cup Final. Rangers had to overcome Motherwell, Clydebank and Hearts, while Celtic’s route saw them eliminate Clyde, Aberdeen and Dundee United.

derek_fergsuon A misconception from that final was that Derek Ferguson played, but he was carried off in a reserve game at Love Street a week or so before and was ruled out of the final. Although he did of course play in the earlier rounds.  In a first half where both sides had chances, Celtic took the lead when Owen Archdeacon sent John McLindon clear to make it 1-0 at half time. Rangers hopes of a comeback were dashed a couple of minutes in to the second half when Sandy Fraser, broke from the halfway line to add a second, with Rangers players claiming handball when he broke through. From then on the Ibrox youngsters never looked likely to retrieve the situation and Celtic ran out comfortable winners.

Looking at both squads you can put them into three categories, those that achieved full international recognition, those that had a decent senior career, and the others that never made an impact in the senior game.

ian_durrantThere were five players from the squads that went on to play at full international level for Scotland. Ian Durrant who gained 20 caps and played over 300 games for Rangers and Kilmarnock. As we all know he would have achieved much more if he hadn’t suffered such a horrendous injury.

The afore mentioned Derek Ferguson who gained 2 caps, in another injury hampered career that saw him turnout for Hearts, Sunderland, Falkirk, Dunfermline Athletic, Partick Thistle and a few others as well as Rangers. The third player from the Rangers squad to achieve International status was Robert Fleck.  A career with Rangers, Norwich City and Chelsea, saw him command transfer fees in excess of £3,000,000 as well as 4 caps.

From the Celtic side their captain that night was Peter Grant, over 350 games for Celtic and brief spells at Norwich City and Reading and 2 caps. Gaining 10 more caps was central defender Derek Whyte who of course had spells at Middlesborough and Aberdeen after he left Celtic.

robert_fleck_220snsIn the second category from the Rangers side and possibly the one that may have made it into the first category was Scott Nisbet. Over 100 games for Rangers and just as he was establishing himself injury cut his career short at the age of 25. Captain on the night was Hugh Burns, who went on to play for Hearts, Dunfermline Athletic and Hamilton Accies.

Two others that had senior careers were Davie McFarlane, who after a few first team appearances was sold to Kilmarnock for £100,000 and later has a short spell at Partick Thistle. And substitute John Davies, brother of Billy, who played for Motherwell, Ayr United, Airdrie, St. Johnstone and Clydebank.

From the Celtic side, John Traynor over 200 appearances for Ayr United. Lex Baillie over 30 first team appearances, the brief spells at St. Mirren and Dunfermline Athletic. Tony Shepherd 28 first team appearances, then it was on to Carlisle United and briefly Motherwell.

Owen Archdeacon was probably the pick of the Celtic players in the 2nd category, making over 400 appearances in a career that included Barnsley,  Carlisle United and Morton as well as Celtic.  Dougie McGuire managed 2 top team apperances at Celtic and 4 at Coventry City and then it was on to Cumnock.  Stevie Kean’s playing career has been unspectacular, but a spell at Swansea City saw him forge a friendship with Chris Coleman. He has been assistant manager to Chris at Fulham, Real Sociadad and now Coventry City.

The others that played for Rangers that night and as far as I know did not make an impact in the senior game were goalkeeper John Thomson, Ian Halliday, Willie Watson, Gordon Moore, Ian McDougall (not to be confused with Ian McDougall from the 1970’s), David Williamson and Derek Gibson.

And from Celtic, keeper John Thompson, Barney McGhee, John McLindon, Sandy Fraser (very highly rated at the time), Derek Mills and Dom Schiavone.

I apologise if I haven’t done any of  them justice, but I am sure someone will tell me.


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