Raith Rovers supporters can be forgiven for overdoing the celebrations in the wake of the club’s superb Scottish Cup win over Rangers, as they don’t come around very often.
The last time Rovers won against the Glasgow side at Ibrox was 56 years ago, when a Jim Baxter-inspired side came back from two goals down to win 3-2, a victory that in itself had been almost 40 years in the waiting.
Baxter was hot property at the time and rumours of an imminent move from Kirkcaldy were persistent.
The Fife Free Press however reports that Slim Jim, who had put in a transfer request at the beginning of the 1959-60 season, had undergone a change of heart and was no longer keen to go and play in England and would remain at Stark’s Park indefinitely, with no Scottish club able to afford to pay the money that Baxter’s transfer would command.
But it was this scintillating performance capped with a magnificent solo goal, that caught the eye of the Ibrox management and at the beginning of the following season Baxter was at Ibrox for a then record fee between two Scottish side of £17,500.
Though he would go on to become a Rangers legend Baxter maintained that his favourite ever match on the Ibrox turf was this Raith Rovers victory on November 21, 1959.
This is how it was reported in the Fife Free Press.
Great Raith Win At Ibrox
Rangers 2 Raith Rovers 3
(HT - 2-2)
Rangers - Wilson 2, Scott 13
Rovers - Kerray 16, 56, Baxter 17
Have Raith Rovers ever gained a greater or more glorious victory than this?
It was their first win at Ibrox for almost 40 years and, almost incredibly, it was achieved after Rangers had built up an early two-goal lead - a lead which was wiped out by one of the most courageous fight-backs - and three of the best goals - Ibrox has ever seen.
Fresh from their midweek European Cup triumph and with the tremendous roar of welcome still ringing in their ears, Rangers were a goal up after only two minutes when Scott raced clear on the right to cross a ball to the far post which left winger Wilson headed cleanly into the Raith net.
In another 11 minutes they were two up when Scott took advantage of a shrewd McMillan pass to beat Drummond for a second time.
But if the 30,000 crowd thought this was the start of a rout, they were sadly mistaken when a fighting, smooth playing Raith team came back to transform and level the game by scoring twice in just over a minute. And what tremendous goals they were.
With 16 minutes gone, centre forward Kerray picked up an Urquart cross and burst through the Ibrox defence to crash a great 18-yard shot into the net off the far post. And then almost immediately afterwards left-half Baxter brought the ball through, swerving his way past three opponents on the run before hammering another unsaveable shot past the diving Niven and into the roof of the net from all of 20 yards.
The impact and effect of these two shattering goals had to be seen to be believed, but although the Rovers were now emerging as the better playing team, half-time came and went with both sides still locked together at two goals each. And then, 11 minutes after the restart, came the goal that won the match so gloriously for Raith.
When McNaught lifted a midfield fee-kick high into the Rangers’ goal area, centre-half Telfer headed the ball out, but Kerray, always alert for a scoring chance, met it on the drop on the edge of the penalty area to drive another superb shot into the Ibrox net via the underside of the cross-bar.
Rangers did most of the attacking after that in a desperate attempt to save the match, but the found the Raith defence in one of its most unyielding moods, covering-up brilliantly and sending their own forwards away with their intelligent use of the ball.
These infrequent Raith raids were, in fact, more dangerous than all of Rangers’ power play and it was only a first-class save by Niven, who finger-tipped the ball across the goal to safety, which prevented Kerray from notching his hat-trick in the closing stages.
Every Raith player was a hero in this superb win, achieved as it was by a perfect blend of fighting spirit and football skill.
It was, in fact, a real team success, but once again the foundation for the victory was laid by the magnificence of the half-back line of Young, McNaught and Baxter who were streets ahead of their counterparts in the Ibrox side.
As far as Baxter is concerned, his performance, capped by that wonderful first-half goal, must have added considerably to his value in the transfer market.
A special word of praise must also given to left-back Mochan for the way he challenged and ultimately blunted the menace of Scott on Rangers’ right wing, and to Kerray for his dynamic, scoring leadership of a Raith attack who never stopped playing football.
Rangers - Niven; Shearer and Little; Davis, Telfer and Stevenson; Scott, McMillan, Millar, Baird and Wilson.
Raith Rovers - Drummond; Polland and Mochan; Young, McNaught and Baxter; Wallace, Conn, Kerray, Spence and Urquart.
Referee - R.H. Davidson, Airdrie.