HIS GREATEST GAME – DAVIE PROVAN – 1982 CELTIC 2-1 RANGERS

Celtic fans will remember the 1982 League Cup final for a variety of reasons. The best of them being that Celtic won and brought home the trophy after a n eight year absence, but also that this game was played in horrendous weather of wind and driving rain as the supporters stood on open terraces, bearing the brunt of the elements.

Rangers pulled off a shock signing the day before the match when they took advantage of a transfer loophole to bring Gordon Smith back to Ibrox for a loan period from Brighton, then a team in the top tier in English football. Also, the Hampden capacity had been drastically cut as the quaint old North Stand was currently in the process of demolition which meant that the North Enclosure was out of bounds.

Celtic were strong favourites to win and started well with Davie Provan playing a prominent role on the right flank. Ian Redford, who was deployed as an auxiliary left back by Rangers’ boss John Greig, was given a torrid afternoon by the rampant Provan, so much so that he was eventually substituted in the second half to spare him any more misery.

Celtic opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Provan cut in from the right flank to set up Charlie Nicholas to score with a precise low shot. The Celts were zipping the ball about on the greasy surface to great effect and in 31 minutes they went two in front. Another Provan cross from the right was headed clear, but only as far as Murdo MacLeod who sent a spectacular shot high into the net from the edge of the area.

At half time the drenched Celtic fans were dreaming over another 7-1 thrashing over their old rivals, such was their team’s superiority. However, when Jim Bett pulled a goal back shortly after the interval, Celtic were then set back for a short spell.

They recovered their composure with Provan again leading the charge at the Rangers defence. He went on a brilliant run where he beat three men and cut the ball across the face of goal. The ball struck Rangers’ defender Craig Paterson and would have been a certain own goal had it not been for a spectacular clearance by Dave McKinnon to save his team mate’s blushes.

Provan continued his one man assault on the Rangers goal and from another cut back Nicholas missed a snip when he sliced the ball wide with the goal gaping. Late in the game McGarvey ran clear with only the ‘keeper to beat only to shoot wildly over. These missed chances were hugely infuriating to the Celtic supporters and gave the scoreline a greatly misleading look in the end.

Celtic fans, soaked through to the skin, celebrated wildly at the final whistle, as did the players. This final was sponsored by the electronics firm, Telejector, and they correctly voted Davie Provan as man of the match for his outstanding performance on the old Hampden turf.

For his great endeavours on the day Davie was rewarded by Telejector with a two week holiday in Fort Lauderdale, USA, which he took the following summer after a long hard season. Davie Provan was superb for Celtic in that League Cup final and you can easily argue that his display took him a long, long way

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