"If you’re looking for an omen, then think of Nottingham Forest!"
So said Blackburn Rovers manager Jim Smith in his programme notes as he tried and failed to whip up some excitement about this 77/78 Anglo-Scottish Cup fixture against Hibernian. Alluding to Forest’s 76/77 ‘double’ triumph of gaining promotion into the top flight and winning the Anglo-Scottish Cup he hoped success in this minor tournament may inspire his team to ’do a Forest’ and win promotion.
Unfortunately for Jim Smith and Blackburn Rovers it didn’t quite work out like that though they did manage a hattrick of rather dubious Anglo-Scottish Cup firsts.
Rovers didn’t win promotion at the end of the 77/78 season nor did they win the Anglo-Scottish Cup. Indeed this fixture saw them complete their dubious Anglo-Scottish Cup hattrick. Hibernian’s 1-0 victory at Ewood Park saw them become the first Scottish club to gain victory on English soil since the tournament had been introduced in 1975. The first ever game being an all-Scottish affair between Aberdeen and St Johnstone.
Back in the 75/76 in the first edition of the cup Rovers had become the first English club to fail to beat a Scottish club when they drew 0-0 at home with Motherwell. A couple of weeks later in the second leg they became the first English club to lose to a Scottish club as they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at Motherwell’s Fir Park. Given the shocking win rate of Scottish clubs in this competition against their English rival it’s quite a feat for one club to hold all three elements of this unholy trinity.
For the record English and Scottish clubs contested 69 games in the six seasons the Anglo-Scottish Cup was played. The Scots won only 18 of these games with 34 English wins and 17 draws. By the way the Scottish clubs withdrew from the tournament after the 80/81 edition due to the ‘declining standard of the English entries’. This was the year third division Chesterfield beat a full strength Rangers team 3-0 at Saltergate on the way to winning the trophy. Draw your own conclusions.
Anyway I digress so to wrap up let’s have three big Anglo-Scottish cheers for Blackburn Rovers, the first English club to fail to beat a Scottish club, the first English club to lose to a Scottish club and the first English club to lose at home to a Scottish club.