On this day in 1933 St Johnstone met Rangers in a League Division 1 match at Muirton Park.
Rangers were current Scottish champions and were in great form going into the match. Their last defeat had been at Motherwell on 2nd September and since then had recorded nine wins in the nine League matches played since then. On the other hand Saints had lost their previous two games, 0 – 4 at Falkirk and 0 – 3 at Clyde.
Manager Tommy Muirhead, however, had confidence in his players and picked the following team: – Bob Wylie, Johnny Welsh, Willie Clark, George Mason, Frank Moulds, Duncan Campbell, Jimmy Tennant, Bobby Davidson, George Fulton, Harry Ferguson, Alec Stewart.
Weather conditions were described as “deplorable” with strong wind and driving rain restricting the crowd to some 5,000 hardy souls. This was only half the number expected.
Despite the sodden conditions those who did attend were treated to an exciting match with George Fulton putting the home team ahead in just 4 minutes. Saints had won a corner and when Stewart’s cross came over firstly Campbell and then Ferguson saw headers blocked before the ball fell nicely for Fulton who wheeled smartly to shoot into the corner of the net. 1 – 0.
Confidence was boosted by this early goal and Saints piled on the pressure. International goalie Jerry Dawson had to be on his top form to keep Rangers in the match as twice he dived full length to save fierce Davidson shots. At the other end Wylie was barely troubled.
After 20 minutes it was 2 – 0. This time Tennant received a fine pass from Ferguson. The winger flew past the Rangers left back before cutting into the box and from an acute angle fired the ball into the net with the aid of a sight deflection.
Wonderful stuff and Rangers were beginning to look rattled. Young Moulds was doing a good job in keeping the Rangers danger man, Bob McPhail, in check as Rangers fought hard to get back into the game. After a period of Rangers pressure Smith hit a cannonball shot and it was 2 – 1 after half an hour.
Saints regained the ascendancy for the remainder of the first half but there was no further scoring when the ref blew his whistle for half time.
On the resumption Rangers had the strong wind at their backs and must have been confident that they could pull back the deficit. However, Saints defended stoutly with Moulds particularly prominent in repelling Rangers attacks and behind him Wylie dealing confidently with anything that did come his way.
The pace of Tennant and Stewart on the wings was causing the Rangers defenders serious problems and in a fast breakaway, the left winger hit a shot against the base of the post.
With 15 minutes left on the clock midfield maestro Bobby Davidson sealed it for the Muirton men. Picking the ball up 30 yards out from goal he stepped forward and crashed an unsaveable shot into the top corner. 3 – 1 and effectively game over.
Match reports suggest that Moulds and Davidson were the Saints stars that day but given the conditions I suspect every one of the 11 who played were on the top of their form.
Rangers would again be champions in a season that saw them lose only twice – the Motherwell match referred to earlier, and this game.
So a memorable victory for the Saints team which at the season’s end would see them on 40 points, sitting comfortably in mid table.