Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 12:01 UK

Bringing back Barcelona memories

Tens of thousands of Rangers fans will follow their team to Manchester for the Uefa Cup final on Wednesday. The BBC Scotland news website spoke to one supporter who remembers the club's last European triumph.

Jim Templeton
Jim Templeton with the European Cup Winners' Cup

On the night Rangers won the European Cup Winners' Cup in Barcelona in 1972, Jim Templeton was celebrating his 20th birthday.

The young fan from Coatbridge watched his heroes come of age as he said goodbye to his teenage years.

Since those wild celebrations in the Nou Camp, Jim has followed Rangers through football's equivalent of feast and famine.

Now as the club stands on the verge of another European triumph, he is revelling in his role as president of the Rangers Supporters Assembly (RSA).

From the moment Nacho Novo's penalty fired the Ibrox men into the final, Jim has been working flat out to make sure things go smoothly for ordinary fans travelling to Manchester.

The excitement has also brought back vivid memories of that night in Barcelona when Rangers joined an exclusive club of European winners.

"The whole experience was fantastic and for it to happen on my 20th birthday was something special," said Jim.

"I remember earlier in the competition I had put down a marker with my mum and dad that I wanted to go to the final if Rangers got there.

"Thankfully they agreed and paid the £39 package deal which took me to Barcelona.

'People crying'

"That got me two nights in a three-star hotel in Calella, transfers to and from the game and the all-important match ticket."

The Barcelona trip was a series of firsts for Jim - his first passport, first time on a plane and first time abroad.

"I remember going down for breakfast in the hotel, thinking this would be something unusual, but it was just like back home," he said.

"The hotel was full of Rangers fans all geared up for the game."

Jim admits that although the final was one of the highlights of his life, he was "a bit blasť" at the time.

Rangers players with ECWC
The Barcelona triumph in 1972 could be eclipsed

Rangers had just contested their third European final in 11 years and there was a feeling among many supporters that more success lay ahead.

But it wasn't to be. As the years rolled on Scotland's conveyer-belt of talent began to stutter and money emerged as the main determinant in success.

Jim recalled the 1992 season when Rangers narrowly missed out on a Champions League final.

"I remember my son asking me why so many people were crying and I said, 'you may see another European final but I and most of them won't'."

Like most prophecies made in the depths of disappointment it turned out to be wrong.

'Our time'

Against the odds Rangers have made another final and this time Jim won't have to ask parents for a "special" birthday present to attend.

As president of the RSA, the body recognised as representing all Rangers fans, Jim is travelling to the final as a guest of the club.

"I'm flying down on Tuesday and will attend a civic reception in Manchester for the finalists.

"I'll be staying two nights and just hope that if we win, the cup isn't paraded at Ibrox before I get back."

The will to win among Rangers supporters is strong but Jim's recollection of those 36 years in the European wilderness brings Wednesday's final into perspective.

"This is our time. This is our moment. We'll do everything we can to make the most of it."

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