6 Classic Scottish Football Bounces

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The bounce. The armchair fan will never understand those who follow their team the length and breadth of the country in pursuit of an epic bounce. It’s almost impossible to explain to the uninitiated that moment when the ball hits the back of the net and within a split second everything else is obliterated, the moment is all that matters. What follows is a crystallisation of pure emotion, at once you are part of a seething mass of joyous humanity but also totally disconnected from everything.

If truly epic bounces are rare, those caught on camera even more so – so fixated are TV producers with shit, choreographed celebrations that they normally totally ignore one of the few authentic aspects left in the game: the reaction of fans to a truly meaningful goal. These are six classic bounces from the Scottish football vaults. Enjoy!

ABERDEEN v Rangers
8th October 1988
Goalscorer: Charlie Nicholas
Peak Bounce: 26:26

Aberdeen against Rangers is always one of the most incendiary fixtures on the calendar but this game in particular has gained notoriety as one of the most volatile in the history of clashes between the sides.

The Rangers debut of Neale Cooper – who’d been a member of the all-conquering Dons side of the early 80s – in front on a sell out Pittodrie crowd provided the fuel and Cooper’s decision to react to the hostile pre-match reception he received by volleying a ball into the home fans provided the spark.

Passions were further stoked by the now infamous Neil Simpson/Ian Durrant incident and then, in an especially nefarious act of the footballing Gods, the opening goal of the game complete with predictably effusive celebration came from none other than Neale Cooper. Jim Bett brought the hosts level from the spot but the game continued to be played in a fashion that led Dougie Donnelly to remark post match it “wasn’t one to bring your granny to”.

With the match finely poised at 1-1 and heading into the last 5 minutes, a cross from Bett on the right had Rangers keeper Chris Wood’s scrambling and Charlie Nicholas looped a superb header into the net to secure the win for the Dons. The ensuing chaos in the Aberdeen end symbolises the instant release of the tension that had built to fever pitch during the game.

It is rumoured that the seismic damage caused by this bounce is the real reason the Dons now have to relocate from Pittodrie.

Dundee v DUNDEE UNITED
14th May 1983
Goalscorer: Ralph Milne
Peak Bounce: 00:19

The Dundee Derby has produced some cracking encounters in its 92 year history but none more pivotal than this one in 1983 when Dundee United made the 200 yard journey to Dens Park in the knowledge that only a win would guarantee their first top flight title.

A 29-thousand strong crowd packed into the tight confines of Dens. Given the magnitude of the game the United fans among them could have been forgiven for harbouring some nerves. Within 4 minutes of kick off those nerves were blown away in glorious fashion.

After picking up the ball in the middle of the park, Paul Sturrock slipped a pass through to the mercurial Ralph Milne. In a moment of brilliance, Milne evaded a lunging tackle before deliciously chipping the ball over the Dundee keeper from fully 25 yards out. The enormity of the goal is clear as the massed ranks of Arabs in the TCK end behind the goal transform into a rushing, swaying sea of tangerine.

United went on to take the game 2-1 and with it a one point advantage over Aberdeen and Celtic at the league summit. Winning the league is always special but winning it at the home of your city rivals on the last day of the season takes some beating.

Brøndby v HIBS
21st July 2016
Goalscorer: David Gray
Peak Bounce: 00:12

If you’re beginning to wonder if classic bounces are the reserve of a bygone age, this beauty from the beginning of this season proves mental celebrations are still possible in all-seater stadia.

Having qualified for Europe by ending their 114 year wait for the trophy after an epic Scottish Cup final against Rangers, Hibs were drawn against Danish outfit Brøndby c in the Europa League Second Qualifying Round.

The first leg of the tie at Easter Road was a tightly fought encounter decided by a calamitous goal given away by Hibs keeper Otso Virtanen. The young Finn, making his first competitive start for the club, pushed a tame shot back into the path of the Brøndby striker allowing him to score after only 17 seconds. Despite the early set-back, Hibs gave a good account of themselves for remainder of the match and headed to Copenhagen a week later with genuine belief of overturning the deficit.

After a nervy first half, Hibs took the game to the hosts in the second period and were rewarded for their efforts just after the hour mark. David Gray – the hero of Scottish Cup final a few months earlier – produced a deft finish in a packed penalty area to level the tie on aggregate.

The Hibs support, famed for their exuberance on the big occasion, certainly lived up to that reputation. The footage of the celebration taken from the home section of the ground will give any genuine football fan chills. If you want to get a feel for it, imagine how delirious a Scotsman has to be to throw around 7 quid pints of lager.

Having finished all square on aggregate after extra time the headed for penalties. After John McGinn’s miss from the spot, Ross Laidlaw, who’d been drafted in to replace the hapless Virtanen, was unable to keep out any of the Brøndby efforts and the Hibs’ European adventure, along with Virtanen’s Hibs’ career, was over.

Liverpool v HEARTS
30th August 2012
Goalscorer: David Templeton
Peak Bounce: 00:24

The ever-widening gap in resources between English and Scottish clubs has seen the previously keenly contested cross-border “Battle of Britain” clashes take on a rather one side complexion. Very little was expected of Hearts as they headed into this 2012 Europa League play-off match against the might of Liverpool, especially after they’d exited the competition the previous season following a comprehensive 5-0 demolition at the hands of Spurs.

The first leg at Tyncastle saw a young Liverpool side edging a 1-0 victory after an Andy Webster own goal broke Hearts resistance late in the game. The return of the talismanic Suarez and Gerrard to the Liverpool side a week later did little to bolster Hearts’ hopes of causing an upset.

Belying their status as massive underdogs, Hearts more than held their own before a speculative effort from David Templeton (remember him?) six minutes from time was palmed into the net by Pepe Reina. The reaction from the Hearts fans behind Reina’s goal is that beguiling combination of wide-eyed disbelief and that glimmer of anticipation that your side is on the verge of one of the great upsets. These thoughts were expunged within 3 minute as a late Suarez strike saw Liverpool squeeze through. The dream may have been short-lived but the bounce will live long in the memories of the Hearts fans at Anfield that night.

Rangers v KILMARNOCK
28th August 1993
Goalscorer: Bobby Williamson
Peak Bounce: 10:02

Back in the top flight after a 10 year absence, 93/94 was rollercoaster affair for Kilmarnock: they enjoyed major highs including beating Rangers home and away, and reaching the semi final of the Scottish Cup, before narrowly escaping relegation on the last day of the season, with only goal difference keeping them out of one of the three relegation spots.

The first three games of the season had been fairly inauspicious for Tommy Burns’ side and there had been little to suggest Killie would pose any threat to Walter Smith’s Rangers who’d made a typically undefeated start to the campaign.

Killie, backed by a 3,500 strong following, hadn’t read the script and took the lead through a diving header from 17 year old Mark Roberts just after the hour mark. Characteristically Rangers rallied and equalised ten minutes later through Steven Pressley. This would’ve normally heralded the end of Killie’s resistance and most journalists inside the ground were probably readying their tired clichés about a plucky minnow eventually being overrun by the Govan juggernaut. But Killie had other ideas.

They continued to take the game to Rangers and their perseverance paid off in the 4th minute of injury time, when an improbably svelte Bobby Williamson – who’d clearly yet to discover the wonder of the Killie Pie – tapped home the winner in front of massed ranks of Killie fans in the Broomloan Stand.

St. Mirren v ABERDEEN
27th April 1991
Goalscorer: Jim Bett
Peak Bounce: That gif

This bounce has taken on almost mythical status among Dons fans of a certain vintage.

The match itself was part of a 12 game unbeaten run which saw the Dons overhaul an 8 point Rangers lead and ultimately set up a final day showdown between the sides which decided the destination of the 90/91 league title.

With the Dons on such a stellar run of form, a St. Mirren side rooted to the foot of the league should have presented little in the way of resistance. However, the Paisley side – who knew only three victories from the last three games of the season would be enough to save them from the drop- made things difficult and the game appeared to be petering out to a stalemate which would have halted the Aberdeen league challenge in its tracks.

That was until Jim Bett’s emphatic half volley following a delightful pass by Peter Van De Ven broke the deadlock in the 76th minute. The surging run and finish was typical of the midfielder’s contribution during a campaign in which he played every league game and weighed in with nine goals.

The ensuing bounce is so fleeting in the highlight of the goal that it’s hard to appreciate fully, it’s only when slowed down and looped into GIF form that the full majesty is revealed. The scene on the terrace is like a Where’s Wally picture brought to life, each loop reveals another layer of beldam: running man in the top left corner, Happy Monday’s Bez in the white jumper, a perfectly executed standing jump over the hoarding in the bottom left…the list goes on. This bounce is my personal favourite; it perfectly encapsulates the best elements of an unadulterated bounce.

Like many great bounces, the goal that preceded it ultimately counted for little as Aberdeen went on to lose that last day showdown against Rangers and the subsequent fortunes of the sides headed in exponential opposite directions over the next two decades. But as anyone who has been in a classic bounce will attest, the future matters little when you’re in the midst of it, it’s all about that one life-affirming moment.