RANGERS, the reigning Scottish champions, flew out to Spain (right) on Saturday, May 19, 1956, for a three-game tour. The trip, scheduled to take in matches against Barcelona, Valencia, and Valladolid, was an eventful one.

By the Monday, the Evening Times was reporting a “muddle”, with the opening game being staged in Valencia rather than Barcelona. The Scots, it was said, had been “shunted south 250 miles to this town of orange groves when they should have been resting quietly away up north in Barcelona.”

A thrilling match in Valencia ended in a 1-1 draw but, the paper added, “nobody knows for certain what is going to happen to-morrow, or the day after, or the day after that”.

In an Evening Times article datelined Minorca, Wednesday 23rd, Rangers player Sammy Baird said that though Spanish officials had let the team down so far as hotel and travelling arrangements were concerned, the Spanish people had been remarkably kind. The next game would be against the local team in Mahon. As he later reported, however: “... [The ground] was the absolute limit. We thought we had got into a bullring by mistake. The entire surface was of sand with rocks pushing through ...”

On Sunday, Rangers took on Valencia in a return game; like the opening fixture, it was an exciting 1-1 draw. (A “very rare”match ticket was advertised for sale on a football programmes website in 2016).

T he following Thursday, it was reported that the Spanish club, Jaén, had complained to the Spanish Football Federation that Rangers had broken an engagement to play them. On Friday June 1, the Evening Times said the federation had suspended Rangers’s remaining games at Barcelona and Valencia until it had enquired whether Rangers had been justified in cancelling the Jaén match.

“The ... tour has been one long tale of petty squabbles and disorganisation. Matches have been arranged then rearranged”, the paper said. Rangers had stipulated that they would only travel the 250 miles from Valencia to Jaén by plane; the federation wanted them to go by bus. The matter was resolved, though Rangers lost 3-0 at Barcelona on the Saturday, and 4-1 in another game with Valencia.

Finally, on June 6, they were back home (main image), an outsize trophy in their midst. Evening Times sportswriter Peter Hendry reported that the squad looked fit and happy, despite the reported privations. Manager Scott Symon told him: “We have had a wonderful time. We would go back any time”. Bobby Shearer – who, like Billy Simpson, was bringing a Spanish guitar through Customs – was equally enthusiastic.

In a final despatch, Sammy Baird cheerfully recalled one player taking cine shots of team-mates who had been sick while on an open ketch crossing of the Med.