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Souness broke off our big title party to fine me pounds 1500; SAYS IAN DURRANT.

It was 5.15pm on May 2, 1987 - just half an hour after Rangers had won their first title for nine years.

And in seconds I went from singing champion's tunes on the team bus to being fined pounds 1500 for fighting in a chippy!

That was the day and the moment I found out the true essence of Graeme Souness.

We'd just drawn 1-1 at Pittodrie to clinch the championship at the end of an incredible first season in charge for the new gaffer.

Souness himself had been sent off, Terry Butcher had scored to win the point we needed and I'd even survived one of the craziest pitch invasions ever. Our fans had waited so long for that moment they came on wanting souvenirs - ANY souvenir.

I dragged myself off the pitch with one boot, a sock and a pair of knickers on. The punters stole the rest but I didn't care. In fact, those manic celebrations seemed to blow away a cloud that had been hanging over me that season.

I'd been in trouble with the law when I got involved in a scrap with a guy in an East Kilbride chip shop. It was a farce. I was out with Ally McCoist and Ted McMinn and I was on crutches after an ankle injury.

Ally saved my life that night, because the fella turned on me in the chippy queue and I wasn't exactly in the best nick to defend myself. My pal Ally jumped in and because of that he has a criminal record, which hurts me.

I was charged with breach of the peace and assault - both were thrown out. Ally faced the same charges and was eventually convicted of minor assault and fined pounds 150.

But after all that, we were finally the champions. Our bus was a zoo and while we were all partying, Souness shouted Coisty and I down to the front.

I'm thinking it's to say thanks but he snaps "That business in the chip shop, it's not on. You're both fined pounds 1500.

"Behave yourselves for the next six months and I'll give you it back."

I couldn't believe it...30 minutes earlier we'd won the title and here he was fining us. We got the money back eventually but THAT was Souness in a nutshell.

That game was the end of a campaign full of the triumphs and tantrums that were to become part of life in Graeme's days at Ibrox.

To be honest, I revelled in it all - and I respected him immensely.

Yet my over-riding emotion the day he arrived was sadness because we knew then that Alex Totten and John Hagart, men I respected from Jock Wallace's regime, wouldn't be involved for long.

Graeme's first act was to call a team meeting with his new players. McCoist turned up five minutes LATE!

Maybe that was the sign of things to come with them - it certainly gave him a hint of the world-renowned Ally time-keeping. Coisty told me afterwards it was the earliest he'd been late for a while.

For those of us there on time, it was laid on the line right away. There would be big changes. We had five weeks to prove ourselves. Walter Smith was coming in to look after things until Graeme was free from Sampdoria and that was that.

A lot of people knew the writing was on the wall for them. That was the way it would be from then on as he turned the club around.

He wasn't power-crazy. On the training ground we were dealing mostly with Walter, the best coach I have ever worked under. Souness added the stretching exercises he'd learned in Italy but he knew Walter's class and they were a good mix.

Yet, as with Archie Knox under Smith these days, back in 1986 when the players faced the new regime there was no doubt who was in charge right from the off.

Graeme could be cruel, cutting people to ribbons when he needed to and not caring who got it, from Coisty to a cult hero like Scott Nisbet.

I had my run-ins with him too and one memorable feud on the training pitch. The frightening thing is, I started it!

It came after I asked to leave Rangers and Souness called my bluff. I was furious about being forced to play out wide right when I wanted to be in the middle and I stormed into his office.

One thing led to another, I asked away and by the time I was trying to claw the words back into my stupid mouth he had said he'd arrange it.

So it was all simmering and I looked forward to the traditional Scotland- England match at training because he was always in the Sassenach side. I was going to give him the message.

Things are bumping at training and I come in and bowl him over before running away with my usual cheeky laugh. He was fuming and he floored me with a tackle which luckily I saw coming.

I rode the worst of it, bounced to my feet and grinned "Is that your best shot?" Years on, I shudder and wonder why the hell I thought it was a good idea to say that to Souness.

He was gone by now, roaring about how he was going to punch my head off until the whole SQUAD tore in to break it all up.

Souness's biggest clashes, though, were with Ally McCoist. They just never clicked.

Graeme was hard on Ally and although they laugh about it now, that was the classic case of two big egos, two stubborn men against each other and only ONE winner. It's a shame, because it didn't need to be like that. It got to the stage where Ally came off the bench and scored two belters against Aberdeen and Souness didn't even clap!

Graeme was a deep man, a very complex person and I don't think I ever got near him. But we have a nice relationship where I know that at any time in my life we will be able to sit and have a laugh and a beer. I'm happy with that.

I admit I'm no angel. But I honestly do feel the brushes with the law I've had are blown out of all proportion.

After the chip shop saga there was another controversial incident. I was with Derek Ferguson, my pal Davie Currie and a couple of others when a crowd of people walked in to a kebab shop. I was standing there and the crack was fine until a girl said: "Simpson should have broken your other leg."

My mate didn't appreciate that and hit her in the face with a pizza. Before I knew it I was charged with singing sectarian songs, which was ludicrous.

The verdicts? The chip shop was not guilty and the kebab shop was not proven - so going by the justice meted out I'm hardly the hell-raising yob I'm made out to be.

The way it's constantly dug up bothered me at first. But now? I just laugh. After all, I was a bampot when I was a kid!

I broke the rules and went out on a Thursday night, 48 hours before a game, when I was younger because I was so naturally fit I could get away with it. Souness soon scared me out of that.

I made mistakes as a kid and went out when I shouldn't have. By my reckoning it must have cost me about pounds 6000 in fines and I lived to learn the lesson eventually.

There is one thing that I will always bitterly regret - drinking and driving on the day Graeme Souness quit Ibrox. I hold my hands up to that and fully deserved the 15-month ban and pounds 150 fine.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:King, Iain
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 8, 1998
Previous Article:ALLY IS MY PAL FOR LIFE.

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