How Sprott si­lenced the Ibrox roar with a gi­ant-killing goal 30 years ago

At 18-1, the odds were stacked against Hamil­ton pulling off a shock against big-spend­ing Rangers

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FOOTBALL - STEWART WEIR

TO­DAY marks the 30th an­niver­sary of one of Scot­tish football’s big­gest shocks, when Graeme Souness’s big-spend­ing Rangers were knocked out of the Scot­tish Cup by bottom-of-the-ta­ble Hamil­ton Ac­cies.

And for the Ac­cies goal hero on that mo­men­tous day, de­fender Adrian Sprott, the mem­ory of that af­ter­noon at Ibrox re­mains just as vivid to­day.

“I trav­elled through to Hamil­ton for the game with Ally Brazil. We only con­firmed the bonus that day, not re­ally giv­ing it much con­sid­er­a­tion as we didn’t think we would win!” laughed Sprott from his home in Spain.

In con­trast to Rangers’ high-pro­file play­ers such as Terry Butcher, Chris Woods, Colin West and Gra­ham Roberts, the book­ies had Ac­cies at 18/1 to win at Ibrox, given they were bottom of the Pre­mier League, and had fa­mously gone un­til the end of Novem­ber be­fore win­ning their first league game of the sea­son 3-1 at Hibs.

“I re­mem­ber hear­ing on the tan­noy af­ter 35 min­utes that he had bro­ken the record,” said Sprott. “The game in gen­eral was backs-to-the-wall stuff. Not be­cause we planned that, just Rangers were a qual­ity out­fit.

“But Rangers un­der Souness were try­ing to play a Euro­pean style of football and most of the play was in front of us, not around the side or be­hind us.

“As long as Dave McKel­lar in goal dealt with the long-range stuff [which he did] we had a chance. In ad­di­tion, Kevin McKee had a great game against Davie Cooper and Stevie Clarke was rat­tling Souness. They were key.”

Hav­ing man­aged over the first 45 min­utes to sup­press Rangers, who were on their way to win­ning the league ti­tle hav­ing al­ready lifted the League Cup, Hamil­ton were read­ied for on­slaught in the sec­ond half by man­ager John Lam­bie, who had pre­pared the team for the cup tie in his own inim­itable way.

Sprott re­flected: “I re­call a trip to Black­pool prior to the game. Or trips! These did al­ways seem to co­in­cide with a pi­geon con­ven­tion at the Tower. Not sure how John man­aged to con­vince the board to travel.

“We found our top-qual­ity accommodation where I shared not just a room but a bed with Alex Tay­lor! It was large bed thank­fully, oth­er­wise the smell of fish would have been too strong. Alex owned a fish shop, I re­call.

“Also, we shared the only win­dow with next door – it had the par­ti­tion wall run­ning through it. It was a fight to get fresh air in the room when the smell of fish got too strong and when next door were feel­ing the cold. It was Jan­uary.”

That happy jaunt to the sea­side seemed a mil­lion miles away as Rangers laid siege on Dave McKel­lar’s goal. But, against all odds, Sprott scored a shock opener.

“I’m not sure how I came to be in the Rangers box. I cer­tainly wasn’t in the game plan,” he ad­mit­ted. “I can only think, mark­ing Robert Fleck, that we just drifted into the Rangers half and I ended up los­ing him and found my­self in the box. I re­mem­ber we had a free-kick on the main stand side of the pitch near the half­way line.

“Gerry Collins, I think, took it. A long ball into the Rangers box where Dave McPherson, un­der no pres­sure and try­ing to keep pos­ses­sion, took his eye off the ball and it found its way into my path. I struck it well with my left foot across Woods and the rest, as you say, is his­tory.

“They say si­lence is deaf­en­ing. Well it was for about two or three sec­onds af­ter the goal as the Rangers sup­port­ers fell silent in dis­be­lief, be­fore the sound picked up and they got be­hind their team for the last 20.”

How­ever, while they had Sprott to thank for the goal, it took a won­der save from a Colin West header by McKel­lar – who would later end up at Ibrox as No.2 to Andy Go­ram – to pre­serve the Ac­cies’ lead.

“At the end, we went to clap the Ac­cies fans who were cel­e­brat­ing in the cor­ner. There were a few photos taken next to the dugout.

“I went to the bus af­ter the game, only to find Fergie [Ac­cies’ leg­endary fan] in it. I re­turned to the sta­dium to find ev­ery­one up in the suite hav­ing a beer, so I joined them for one.

“The enor­mity of what I had done didn’t reg­is­ter with me. Alan Dick [the club sec­re­tary] said he would sub­sti­tute that win for league sur­vival. No-one agreed. We all thought we could sur­vive. I guess Alan was cor­rect.”

SINGING THE BLUES: Head in hands, Robert Fleck watches as Ally McCoist misses a go­den op­por­tu­nity and Rangers’ mis­ery deep­ens.

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