John Greig MBE - The Greatest Ever Ranger (Part 1)

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There are a few mitigating circumstances as to how yours truly landed with the unenviable task of detailing the contribution John Greig MBE has made to Rangers over his distinguished and well documented career. Firstly, I stupidly announced that I have some spare time on my hands at the moment, and actually volunteered this idea in the Gersnet writers forum. Secondly, John Greig was Rangers manager when I started going to watch Rangers on a regular basis. I was lucky enough to witness John as a player (and what a player he was) and given the fact of his illustrious playing career, I felt it unfair to solely focus on his managerial career (as was the thought at the time).
Whilst doing some research into John Greig’s Rangers career, I have found there is very little that I can add to the many articles, books and column inches given to this unique player and his unique achievements, but never being one to shy away from a challenged, I decided to dive headfirst into the history archives and try to do John Greig justice whilst make this an interesting read. This article will serve as an introduction / overview and then I’ll go on at a later date to delve deeper into the following achievements :

- 3 time treble winner
- Rangers Captain
- International Career
- Rangers Managerial Career
- Overall Conclusions

So where does one start whilst trying to dissect, detail and present John Greig’s career, achievements and antidotes picked up along the way? Well, like any goods story, lets start at the beginning. John was born September 11th 1942 in Edinburgh and came from a strong Heart Of Midlothian supporting family who he dreamed of playing for whilst growing up and watching his heroes at Tynecastle. Despite this, as we all know, Greig played the entirety of his career in the famous royal blue of Rangers.

John Greig only signed for Rangers on his father’s insistence after being visited by a scout at his Edinburgh home. Greig made his debut for Rangers in 1961 in a league cup tie against Airdrie a game in which he scored. It is worth noting at this point that John Greig would go on and score an impressive 120 goals during his Rangers career (from 755 appearances), which is an astonishing total for a player who was predominately a defender and occasionally a half-back (or midfielder for the younger generations!).

His playing career spanned from 1961 to 1978 when after captaining Rangers to a second treble in 3 years under Jock Wallace, he was picked by the board to replace the departing Wallace. This in itself would have been an awesome task for an experienced manager, never mind one as raw as Greig. Through the midst of time, Greig’s managerial career has been played down and even ridiculed. However, it started off well and Rangers were playing a brilliant brand of football, especially in Europe where Juventus were dispatched and we became the first Europe Club to defeat PSV at the Phillips Stadium.

It is arguable that his greatest ever achievement was when he captained Rangers to victory over Moscow Dynamo in Barcelona in 1972. However, considering that John Greig was part of three treble teams (captain for two), then this could be argued as a greater feat.
Greig was awarded the MBE in 1977 for his services to football and even at that juncture of his career, not many players could boast of his achievements. Just consider some of the highlights :

- Captain of Club & Country
- Captained Rangers to their first and only European Trophy
- Holder of the most league appearances for Rangers (496 games)
- Second only to Dougie Gray in all time Rangers appearances with an amazing 857 games
- Only player to have won 3 trebles

The above list is a mere snap-shot of his career and in subsequent articles I will endeavour to expand on these and many other highlights of this unique playing career.

I believe what set John Greig apart from his contemporaries were his unmatchable passion, drive, determination and an unmatched will to win – all characteristics that make up the spirit / ethos of Rangers Football Club.

There is some debate as to whether John Greig deserved the accolade of Greatest Ever Rangers (as there always will be with accolades like this, football is all about opinions after all) and this article will not argue for or against, nor be used to justify John Greig’s right to be called the Greatest Ever Ranger. I can give no higher praise than to say within the annals of our club, John Greig can proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with the many other fantastic ambassadors our club has had – from our gallant founders to our glorious leaders (Mr Struth is the obvious man who epitomises Rangers Football Club).