‘We didn’t catch them on an off-day’ – When Hibs beat Gazza’s Rangers to claim rare Ibrox win
Such has been Hibs’ recent record at Ibrox, it is hard to imagine that in one 15-year spell they managed just a solitary victory in Govan.
Five years had passed since Keith Houchen had scored the only goal of the game before Darren Jackson did likewise, converting a second-half penalty to clinch an all too rare victory over Rangers in Glasgow and, incredibly, it was to be another decade before Hibs enjoyed success there again.
Little wonder then, that former midfielder Chris Jackson remembers that day, September 23, 1995, vividly, not least because it brought him face-to-face with one of his footballing idols, Paul Gascoigne.
The talismanic Englishman had only recently arrived in Scotland, tempted from Italian Serie A outfit Lazio to join the likes of Brian Laudrup, Richard Gough, Andy Goram, Ally McCoist and Alan McLaren in donning a light blue jersey.
Fresh from a League Cup win over Old Firm rivals Celtic and with a European Cup clash with Borussia Dortmund pending, Rangers were undoubtedly expected to swat aside the threat from the Capital – and in some style.
But they were left shocked as a second-half penalty from Jackson, awarded when Gordan Petric up-ended Kevin Harper, saw the points head back along the M8 while, recalled Jackson, Gascoigne was left less than impressed by the attentions of the then 21-year-old. He said: “I’d only played at Ibrox once before, in a reserve game in which Ian Durrant was coming back from his serious knee injury. There must have been 15,000 or 16,000 when the most I had played in front of before then was in a BP Youth Cup semi-final.
“I was only a kid so it was brilliant to have such a crowd. I played directly against Durrant and, to be honest, he was terrific with me.”
Jackson’s return visit was an entirely different proposition. He said: “We’d had a pretty decent start to the season and I knew the Rangers game was coming up, one that I really wanted to be involved in.
“Gascoigne had just arrived at Ibrox that summer. When I was a youngster he was one of my heroes. I’d been lucky enough when I was down training with Norwich City that they played Spurs and I saw him play at Carrow Road.
“I remember [Hibs coach] Alex Miller didn’t give me a specific role of staying with him or man-marking him but warning me that if he came into my space I had to pick him up, be aggressive towards him and not to allow him to play, otherwise I was going to have a very long afternoon.
“We set up really well, were very good defensively and going forward but, regardless of whether it’s a youth, reserve or first-team, in a game against Rangers or Celtic you know they will come at you in those first 15 or 20 minutes.
“Gascoigne never spoke to me but he knew he was in a game. As a young man I wanted to give him as hard a day as I possibly could knowing if I didn’t get close to him he could pass me – or anyone else – off the pitch.
“It was a terrific experience, so difficult to wrestle the ball off with the way he used his body shape to keep the ball away from you while he had a really quick burst of pace over ten yards that would take him away from you.
“He was complimentary afterwards, but he didn’t appreciate the attention during the game. But we had a good squad at the time, a good mixture of experience and youth, youngsters such as myself, Kevin and Graeme Love and older heads like Darren, Keith Wright, Michael O’Neill and Gordon Hunter.
“It wasn’t a case of catching them on an off-day or under-strength. We set up well and were very disciplined.
“Kevin’s pace would cause anyone a problem and that’s what won us the penalty which was tucked away by Darren.
“It was a bit like the Alamo at the end but we managed to hold out for the win.”