Rangers Reserves 0 vs. 1 Celtic Reserves
Scottish Premier Reserve League
Tuesday 28th April 2009, Kick-Off 2pm
Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow
With Celtic only requiring a draw to land their eighth Reserve League title in a row there’s a decent turn out for this afternoon’s match at Ibrox.
I opt to go into the Celtic end as I presume they may have more to shout about than the home support.
This must be a unique occasion in that the Celtic fans at Ibrox easily outnumber the Rangers supporters. From where I’m sat it’s hard to see how many Rangers fans there are, Celtic’s website estimates that the Celtic support eclipse the home fans two to one, while the Daily Record writes it is 3 to 1. Fan forums suggest this just means that Rangers fans with jobs outnumber employed Celtic supporters by similar numbers.
I choose a spot down the front next to the dugout. Due to the retractable tunnel being in place for the players to walk in and out of, I don’t really think of the close proximation to the Rangers support this seat provides, as at this point I can’t really see them.
When I take my seat the song on the PA system is ‘Jump‘ by Van Halen. This makes me think that almost everyone responsible for pre-match music at football matches hasn’t got much of a record collection that extends beyond 1989.
The Celtic fans are certainly in good voice this afternoon. The most vocal of the support sets up farthest away from the Rangers support, at the bottom end of the pitch. There are plenty of flags and banners at this end too.
John Fleck seems to enjoy the boos and heckles he receives from the Celtic fans, sticking his tongue out at them as he runs down the tunnel after the pre-match warm up.
After a few weeks of watching Junior games on pitches that aren’t the country’s best, it’s nice to see the ball rolling as smoothly as it does on the Ibrox grass today.
The game starts off at a decent pace, with Celtic knocking the ball around a little better than their opponents.
About fifteen minutes into proceedings a small group of Celtic fans arrive to join their pals already there. They seem to immediately start on shouting abuse at the Rangers support.
You could call it ‘Good natured banter,’ but it really wasn’t. It could more accurately be described as ‘Goading’.
Initially no more than a handful of Rangers fans are interested in responding, but after about five minutes of it a large portion of the home support rise to it and a prolonged period of verbal jousting begins.
The stewards come into both ends and attempt to get people to settle down. They have very little joy in this regard.
There’s then a faint murmer of ‘Up the ‘Ra’ singing from no more than a handful of folk in the Celtic end. This is then matched by a similarly tame rendition of ‘The Sash’ from the other end.
I think to myself that I haven’t seen a policeman all day. Not at the subway station, not on the approach to the ground and not inside the stadium itself. Just as I think that, I see a police hat peak out from through the tunnel. The police have now arrived in a sizeable number. The Rangers stewards lead them into either end where they begin to pick folk out for ejection.
Really there was never any chance of the commotion turning into anything physical, but it was an ugly enough distraction from the game.
The first half comes to a close at 0-0 with Celtic still looking the better team.
At half-time some Celtic fans with flags, no doubt having seen the argy-bargy from a distance further down the seating plan, decide it would be a good idea to wave their banners at the Rangers support in the second half. The police immediately clamp down on this idea and there’s a prolonged period of debate before again folk are removed.
Out on the pitch the sprinklers are turned on forcing the Celtic substitutes to scuttle away from the penalty area and find somewhere drier to kick the ball around.
In the second half Allan McGregor takes a constant pounding from the Celtic support with “Let’s all do the V-Sign” and “Scotland’s Shame,” being directed at him.
Celtic are looking the much better team and in particular Paddy McCourt is the man tearing through the Rangers defence. The Northern Irishman is at the heart of every Celtic attack.
One guy is still determined to make something of the earlier blustering, going on about how “That lot [Rangers fans] won’t give us a square go in the toilets.”
With 20 minutes to go Celtic get the goal they’ve been threatening for some time. Ryan Conroy put over a cross to the back post from the left wing. It dropped perfectly for Simon Ferry who rifled a vollley past McGregor for the winner.
Ferry picks up a caution for taking his shirt off to celebrate his goal. Always a needless booking I think. Although I’m sure he won’t care.
At full-time the Celtic players do a brief lap of honour for the fans.
On Celtic’s website Ferry jokingly compares his strike to Marco Van Basten’s goal for the Netherlands in the 1988 European Championship final.
The report of the match is on Celtic’s site here. Rangers have a report on their site.
The Evening Times has a write-up of the game here. A feature on the game and Paddy McCourt is in The Scotsman. The same from The Herald, and again, in a slightly more tongue in cheek fashion, from the Daily Record, along with some odd remarks in the comments section about the singing.
I have more photographs here.
Rangers: McGregor, Durie, Scott, Webster, Forbes, Naismith (Craig 54), Fleck, Little, Lennon, Bagci (Wright 66), Niguez (McCabe 79). Subs not used: Smith, McGeough.
Celtic: Brown, Marr, Lafferty, Misun, Kurakins, McGinn (Towell 88), Ferry, McCourt, Donati (Millar 75), Conroy, Cawley (McGlinchey 69). Subs not used: Kennedy, Gallagher, Hughes, Tidser
Scorer: Ferry (70)