Arrogance, insults and an aeroplane: Chesterfield's famous victory against Rangers in Anglo-Scottish Cup remembered 40 years on

It is 40 years to the day (October 28) since Chesterfield shocked and embarrassed the mighty Rangers in the quarter-final of the Anglo-Scottish Cup at Saltergate.

By Liam Norcliffe
Wednesday, 28th October 2020, 11:37 am
Chesterfield players celebrate winning the Anglo-Scottish Cup in March 1981, beating Rangers along the way.
Chesterfield players celebrate winning the Anglo-Scottish Cup in March 1981, beating Rangers along the way.

The Spireites had been invited to take part in the competition after Sunderland dropped out and they qualified for the knockout stages after a 1-0 home win against rivals Sheffield United, a 3-3 draw at Grimsby Town and a 1-1 draw at Saltergate against Hull City.

And so the Blues were drawn against the famous Ibrox side away from home in the first leg.

It is fair to say excitement levels were rather different depending on who you supported.

In Scotland, the Glasgow Herald newspaper described the prospect of playing Chesterfield as ‘about as exciting as a night out with the Ayatollah’.

Meanwhile, in north Derbyshire, 300 Town fans were about to set off to Ibrox, including a group from the Mason’s Arms pub, who hired a plane to get there.

Spireites historian, Stuart Basson, said: “What followed exceeded all Chesterfield dreams and stunned the press in England as well as Scotland.”

In front of a crowd of just under 12,000, Phil Walker gave Chesterfield the lead direct from a corner, but they couldn’t hold on and the hosts levelled. Still, it was a great result for the Blues.

To mark them winning the Anglo-Scottish Cup, the Spireites players were invited to Chesterfield Town Hall.

For the return leg, police ordered all pubs to shut in the town centre to reduce the risk of Rangers fans, who had a bad reputation at the time, causing any trouble.

If Chesterfield weren’t already fired up for the Saltergate clash, Rangers manager John Greig labelled Blues defender Colin Tartt as ‘the worst full-back in Europe’ in the build-up to the game.

But it was the Spireites and Tartt who would have the last laugh as under the floodlights in front of almost 14,000 supporters, two goals from ex-Rangers man Phil Bonnyman and one from Ernie Moss sealed Town’s place in the semi-finals where they would face Bury before triumphing against Notts County in the final at Meadow Lane.

It is a night that none of those present will ever forget and is fondly remembered as one of the greatest nights at the famous old stadium.