Pre-season tournaments have their benefits. Even more so when they try to be innovative and tread on new ground.
Little over a year ago, there was a lengthy piece about the Watney Man Cup, a pre-season tournament, that was staged in England in the 1970s. It was an attempt to initiate some tension before the season started in all seriousness. In order to attract attention and attendances, the organizers tinkered with the offside rule and invited the highest scoring teams of England’s top divisions. The fun did not stop there; to decide a drawn match, a new way of finding a decision was introduced: penalty shoot outs. England, the craddle of the modern game, thus invented the very method that would later cause so much pain and tears against their biggest rival Germany.
It seemed that the 1970s were a fruitful era for trying new things in Britain. Between 1971 and 1980 the Scottish had a similar tournament, the Drybrough Cup. Like the Watney Man Cup it was named after its main sponsor, a Scottish brewery. The idea was similar: invite the four highest scoring teams from the two top divisions and stage a mini-tournament.
Since Scottish football is dominated by the Old Firm since football began, it was logical that Rangers and Celtic featured in the tournament, though both only won it once in six editions. Celtic finished runners-up three times in a row before winning in 1974; the following year they reverted back to type in this tournament and duly lost against Rangers. The most successful teams are Hibs and Aberdeen, with two titles each. Rangers and Celtic have one to their names respectively.
One of the best goals was scored in 1979 by Davie Cooper against Celtic. It was a keepy-uppy style that fooled the whole Celtic defence before he finished low into the bottom corner.
Glenn Billingham wrote this:
Rangers won the 1979 final 3-1, with Cooper