FORMER Rangers centre half Bob Malcolm has recalled how he helped John Hartson to escape a three match ban by getting the red card the Celtic striker received for punching him in an Old Firm game rescinded. 

But the Alloa assistant manager, who will be in the dugout during the Scottish Cup fourth round match against the Parkhead club at the Indodrill Stadium tonight, has revealed he is still waiting for the pint the Welshman promised him 20 years on.

Malcolm always relished being involved in the Glasgow derby games during the seven seasons that he spent in the first team at Ibrox – even on the occasions that trouble flared on the park. 

That happened in the second last minute of a Premier League match at Celtic Park towards the end of the 2001/02 season after Rangers goalkeeper Stefan Klos had saved a Hartson shot on his line.

A shoving match involving both sets of players broke out in the visitors’ goal and referee Kenny Clark sent off the forward, his team mate Johan Mjallby and their opponent Fernando Ricksen once order had been restored.

But Malcolm knew that Hartson had been innocent of the offence the match official believed that he had committed and exonerated him from any wrongdoing following the 1-1 draw.

“The Old Firm games are fantastic to play in,” he said. “You don’t really get much time to think in them. Once the game kicks off it is manic. You don’t really enjoy them until afterwards.

“I have actually watched old clips that friends have sent me on my phone without actually realising I was involved. I will watch them and say: ‘Did I play in that game?’ You don’t remember. It is crazy.

“Back in those days we gave as good as we got. Celtic were bigger and more aggressive than us, but we were more of a football team. But when it came down to it we would always stand up for ourselves.

“When we bumped into them at the weekend we would always have a laugh and a joke together. During the game, though, it was rough and tumble. I don’t think there was a dominant team at that time.”

Malcolm added: “In that 2002 game Celtic nearly scored late on. Alan Thompson played a corner into the box. Big John Hartson was in about it. He grabbed somebody, I grabbed him, then Maurice Ross got involved. It was mental.

“The referee thought that John had punched me and he got sent off. But I knew that he hadn’t. Afterwards he got his red card rescinded on appeal because I came out and said he didn’t do anything wrong.

“The next time he saw me he said: ‘That’s a pint I owe you big man!’ But I am still waiting for it! I always wind him up about that when I see him. Listen, if somebody gets sent off for something they haven’t done then they don’t deserve to get banned.”