Posts Tagged ‘Rangers’

2009/10 – Game 4 – Rangers Reserves vs. Oxford United

July 22, 2009

Rangers Reserves vs. Oxford United

Rangers Reserves 2 vs. 0 Oxford United

Pre-season Friendly
Tuesday 21st July 2009, Kick-Off 12pm
Murray Park, Milngavie

I’ve went for a double header today and this one is the earliest kick-off I’ve attended either this season or last season. I’m out in Milngavie in plenty of time due to my train arriving about 20 minutes earlier than the Scotrail website suggested.

Murray Park is about a 20 minute walk from Milngavie train station, so with plenty of time to spare I wander round to Sandra’s Snacks van beside West of Scotland rugby club for a pre-match roll and sausage.

When I get to Murray Park I’m greeted by a club official. He directs me round to the far away astro turf pitch where today’s game is being played. Spectators are welcomed at Rangers’ £14M training facility for reserve matches but it still feels somehow like you’re sneaking in somewhere you shouldn’t be.

There’s about two dozen spectators dotted along the touchline. Among them is Scotland Under-21s manager Billy Stark.

I remember the Oxford United of the mid 1980s with players like Ray Houghton, John Aldridge and Billy Hamilton. Milk Cup winners in 1986, this was also the era that saw famed nutcase and pension stealer Robert Maxwell at the helm. It’s a very different story for the Oxford of today who now find themselves a non-league club playing in the Conference National.

This isn’t their first game in Scotland this summer as they defeated Morton 3-0 at Cappielow on Saturday.

The rain comes down just as the game kicks off and it doesn’t let up for the rest of the match. Unfortunately there’s no shelter either.

The game begins at pace and it’s clear to see it’s no stroll in the park friendly. Both teams are totally committed to getting a result and this turns it into a decent encounter.

The most notable name, for me, in the Oxford line-up is 20 year-old Alfie Potter, on loan from Peterborough. Potter was part of the Havant & Waterlooville side that lost 5-2 to Liverpool in the FA Cup in 2008. Joining Oxford on a season long loan last month, Potter has now played for 6 different clubs on loan while at Peterborough. He doesn’t see that much of the ball today. When he does he sets off on mazy dribbles. Almost every time he tries one turn too many and ends up beating himself.

Rangers Reserves vs. Oxford United

Although Oxford initially look more of an attacking force it’s Rangers who take the lead in practically their first foray over the half-way line. On seven minutes Andy Little bangs home a lovely half-volley into the top corner from the edge of the box.

There’s plenty of tasty challenges going in from players on both sides. It being a friendly of course the ref isn’t showing any cards, but he’s frequently having to pull a few players aside to have some words with them.

The U’s almost get back into it when Ross Perry, believing the ball to have crossed the line for a throw-in decides to stop playing. Oxford’s winger takes the ball into the penalty area and fires a shot just over the bar. The defender is soundly chastised by his team-mates. “Don’t stop playing! Play the whistle”. In response he has a half-hearted moan to the referee about the ball being out. It wasn’t. Lesson learned though I would imagine.

At half-time Rangers put on Israeli trialist and Pedro Mendes lookalike Gil Bluhmennstein, who was recently released by Villarreal. Rejected as an 11 year old at Tottenham Hotspur, Bluhmennstein also played with Gent in Belgium. He showed a couple of nice touches today, although nothing that really made him stand out. From what I’ve read about him he’s determined to make a name for himself in Europe so hopefully he’ll impress enough at Rangers to be offered a contract.

Rangers get their second with five minutes left. Stephen Stirling sends a lovely chip over the heads of the Oxford defence for Lennon to get on the end of it and lift the ball over Ryan Clarke in goal and into the top right hand corner. A well worked move to seal a deserved win for Rangers.

Pictured below is Bluhmennstein (14), some of his colleagues and the referee all cleaning off their boots before going into the dressing room after the match.

Rangers players wash their boots off

Rangers: Adam, Lowing (Wylde 60), Perry, McMillan, Kinniburgh (Loy 75), Lennon, Ness, Emslie (Cole 60), Stirling, Loy (Bagci 60), Little (Bluhmennstein 45)

Scorers: Little (7), Lennon (85)

Advertisements

Game Forty-Six – Rangers U19s vs. Hibernian U19s

May 7, 2009

The two teams line up

Rangers U19s 1 vs. 2 Hibernian U19s (AET 90 mins 1-1)
Youth Cup Final
Wednesday 29th April 2009, Kick-Off 7.30pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow

The Youth Cup final’s been pencilled in my diary for a wee while now. I’m expecting a good match.

Rangers have won the cup for the past two years while Hibs just pipped the Ibrox club to the Youth league, so they’re going for the double.

This is Hibernian’s first Youth Cup final since they defeated Ayr United to win the trophy in 1992.

On the approach to Hampden there are several vendors punting Rangers flags, hats and scarves.

Getting there early I opt to hang around the main entrance for a while. Ibrox mascot Broxi Bear is patrolling the top of the stairs posing for pictures with anyone who asks.

While there I spot Gordon Marshall, Mixu Paatelainen, John Greig and Andy Cameron all making their way inside the stadium.

Whereas yesterday I was in the Celtic end today I opt to sit with the Rangers supporters.

When I get inside the ground I’m handed a free programme, which is a nice touch. In the concourse at Hampden Park there is free face painting for the fans. A lot of them seem to come away with what looks like a French flag painted on their faces.

There’s no John Fleck in the Rangers team, but that’s no surprise as he played a full 90 minutes against Celtic Reserves yesterday.

From early on you can see that the Hampden Park pitch is cutting up quite a bit, as it becomes laden with divots.

I’m sitting a bit away from it this time, but once again the police see fit to chip a few folk out. This appears to be for repeatedly standing up as a patch of the Rangers support can’t resist the urge to bounce up and down in defiance of the stewards.

There’s also a healf-hearted sing-song in the shape of ‘No surrender’ by what appears to be a number of teenage Rangers fans.

The first goal of the game comes from Hibernian. In the 33rd minute David Wotherspoon’s cross is met in the box by Kurtis Byrne who drives the ball home. The thing that’s quite frightening about Byrne for me is not his talent, on show in abundance tonight, but that his dad is younger than me.

Hibs take the lead

There are huge queues at the pie stall at half-time, so I settle for watching a bit of the Man U-Arsenal Champions League semi-final on the TV screens.

Three minutes into the second half Rangers get back into it. Archie Campbell runs at the Hibs defence, weaving his way through the penalty area and slotting a shot past Hibs keeper Thomas Flynn. A really nice goal.

Rangers suffer a blow when their goalkeeper Grant Adam, brother of Charlie, is injured in a collision with Fergus Bell. He has to be replaced by Arturs Vaiculis. The big Latvian does a decent job deputising.

The game goes into extra-time and just when it’s looking like we’re heading for penalty kicks the game gets its last minute decider.

The match is just going into injury time when Byrne breaks into the Rangers penalty area, he appears to have his shirt pulled but he carries on and gets a shot off. His shot is blocked and the rebound played back into the penalty area where Byrne gets his head onto it. Time seems to stand still for a moment as the looping header goes up and drops into the net.

The large Hibs support go mental, as the players race into the crowd to celebrate. There’s no time left for Rangers to get back into the match and the final whistle sounds seconds after the restart.

It was hard lines on a good Rangers team. Both sides served up a very entertaining final.

A surprising number of Rangers fans stick around to see Hibs lift the trophy.

Rangers players

There’s a match report in The Scotsman. Hibs have a write up of the game on their site. The report on Rangers site is here. I have more photographs here.

Rangers: Adam (Vaiculis 72), Cole, Perry, Wilson, Wylde, Hutton, Stirling, Ness, Naismith (Bagci 85), Campbell, Hemmings (Dick 65). Subs not used: McGeough, Durie.

Scorer: Campbell (48)

Hibernian: Flynn, Park, Moyes (Welch 111), Smith, Booth; Russell, Wotherspoon, Currie, Bell (Kelly 88), Byrne, Deane (Taggart 82). Subs not used: Graham, Murray.

Scorer: Byrne (33, 120)

Attendance: 4200

Referee: Euan Norris

Assistants: Alan Hogg and Rodney Marshall

Fourth Official: Kevin Clancy

Game Forty-Five – Rangers Reserves vs. Celtic Reserves

May 4, 2009

Celtic celebrate

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.

Celtic and Rangers fans

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.

The Celtic team

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)

Attendance: 2400

Game Forty – Rangers Ladies vs. Spartans

April 21, 2009

Rangers vs. Spartans

Rangers Ladies 6 vs. 5 Spartans (AET 90 mins 4-4)

Unite Scottish Cup Semi-Final
Thursday 16th April 2009, Kick-Off 7.30pm
Toryglen Regional Football Centre, Glasgow

The second Women’s Scottish Cup semi-final. First Division Rangers take on the Premier League’s only unbeaten side, Spartans.

It’s played on the same pitch as the first semi-final at Toryglen. The turnout tonight is probably a little better than last night’s. I would roughly estimate there’s maybe around 90 spectators gathered along the touchline tonight.

Spartans take the lead after 4 minutes when a long ball to the back post is tapped in by Debbie McWhinnie.

Just like last night one of the neighbouring pitches loses their ball to this game. A guy in a Celtic strip from 1985 has to mingle with the Rangers dugout to get it back.

Against the run of play in the 32nd minute Rangers make it 1-1. A long ball plays Natasha Anderson in and she takes her finish well by slotting it past the Spartans keeper.

The Rangers keeper finds herself rooted to the spot as Spartans regain the lead five minutes later, as Claire Crosbie rund on to a pass from the right hand side.

Rangers vs. Spartans

That’s the score at half-time as I go off inside to use the facilities. As I’m coming out of the toilets I’m almost bumped into by a guy on his way in. As I bodyswerve him I realise it’s Alan Rough. If he couldn’t see this free-kick from Zico coming at him all those years ago what chance has he with me?

Fourteen minutes into the second half Spartans have extended their lead. Diana Barry meets a corner at the back post with her head, it comes off the underside of the bar and goes in.

Spartans have looked the better team and at this point seem to have the beating of this Rangers side in their first season in the Women’s game.

Rangers get back into it though just three minutes later when a Ruadh Houston free-kick flies into the top corner. There’s a bit of a mini pitch invasion when one excitable Rangers fan runs on to the playing field.

It may well have been the same spectator who a few minutes later kicks the ball before it has ran out of play for a throw-in. The referee quite rightly points out to the Rangers players that it’s not a throw-in now but a bounce up as the ball didn’t actually go out before being interfered with.

The scores are levelled in the 75th minute when Claire Rae beats the offside trap and with a composed finish knocks the ball home. The linesman explains to the crowd behind him that the defender on the far side had played her on.

With ten minutes to go Spartans go back in front when a free-kick is pushed out by the Rangers keeper, but only as far as Crosbie who knocks it in for her second goal of the game.

The Blue Belles draw level once again in the 82nd minute when confusion at the back leads to Anderson nipping in and slotting the ball past the Spartans keeper. It’s 4-4 and we’re onto extra-time.

Seven minutes into the extra period Rangers are ahead, with Anderson the scorer once again. She gets on the end of a long ball and calmly finishes from just inside the box.

We’re not finished yet. With a minute to go before the break Spartans catch the Rangers keeper unsure whether to come out or stay on her line and Diana Barry’s cool chip over her head levels the match with the game’s tenth goal.

Rangers beat the offside trap once again in 113 minutes and Anderson knocks the ball home for her fourth of the match. It’s 6-5 Rangers and there’s no way back for Spartans.

The final whistle goes and there’s something of a pitch invasion led by the guy who kicked the ball before it went out earlier on. He discards his jacket to reveal a Rangers number 9 shirt before running the length of the pitch to congtratulate one of the players. Presumably his lady friend.

How could this be anything other than a first class advertisment for the women’s game? They may not swap shirts at the end like that sketch from Not The Nine O’Clock News (I looked for it on YouTube. It’s not there) but tonight has proved there’s lots of reasons to take in a women’s game. It’s been great entertainment and a proper end-to-end match.

A report from the Spartans website is here. A report from the Rangers website is here.

Rangers Scorers: Anderson (32, 82, 97, 113) Houston (62) Rae (75)

Spartans Scorers: WcWhinnie (4), Crosbie (37, 80), Barry (59, 104)

Referee: James Carberry

Attendance: 90 based on a rough headcount.

Game Thirty-Eight – Rangers Reserves vs. Aberdeen Reserves

April 17, 2009

Rangers Res vs. Aberdeen Res

Rangers Reserves 2 vs. 1 Aberdeen Reserves

Scottish Premier Reserve League
Tuesday 14th April 2009, Kick-Off 2pm
Murray Park, Milngavie

Murray Park was opened in June of 2001. The brainchild of Rangers’ former boss Dick Advocaat it’s a £14M state-of-the-art training facility designed to develop the Rangers players of tomorrow.

It can be found about a ten minute walk away from Milngavie train station. It may actually be nearer Hillfoot, but I worked out how to get there from Milngavie so that’s the way I went.

When I arrive at the gates there is a small crowd already gathered there. At first I assumed that they were waiting to get in for the game, but I quickly realise they are seasoned autograph hunters waiting on the first team stars to leave from training. They have numerous match programmes opened at double page spreads of the relevant Rangers players, some of them carry footballs that already have a few autoraphs on, and many of them have large folders and scrapbooks.

I hang around for a bit myself to see who comes out. Steven Naismith and Pedro Mendes drive out while I’m there and happily sign autographs and pose for photographs.

With about ten minutes before kick-off I wander through for the match. A teamsheet is available in the Youth Reception area and I go through to pick one up. There are also snack machines and toilets available in here, so everything you would really require for an afternoon match.

The reception area also has a few interesting things up on the wall. A painting of a team of Rangers greats, where Greig, Jardine and Cooper line up with Goram, Hateley and Gough. There is also a framed speech by Bill Struth that he made shortly before he died.

I walk round to the pitch area where Sandy Jardine, who still looks like he could fill in beside Davie Weir during an injury crisis, is chatting to folk at the office door.

There’s a three step terracing area that runs the length of one side of the pitch from where you can watch the match. There’s room to stand behind one of the goals too.

I stand around about the halfway line, just where the Rangers TV team have set up. This leads to me being able to hear the the commentator provide his live commentary for the match. This is a nice little extra, being able to get TV commentary while at a game. From his summary I am treated to little tidbits of information such as the fact that today’s match referee is also a school teacher and the date for the Under 19s Cup Final is April 29th.

Rangers hit the crossbar a couple of times in the first half. The second occasion it’s a Steven Lennon shot from 6 yards out. Andy Webster marshalls the Gers defence well, but the obvious stand out is John Fleck. He’s just got that extra bit of class than anyone else on the pitch. He takes control of the ball well and isn’t afraid to take on defenders.

Andy Little brings out a great save from Bertrand Bossu in the Aberdeen goal. Bossu is the only player on the pitch wearing a name and first team squad number on the back of his jersey.

It is goaless at half-time. There is still a huddle of autograph hunters at the front gates as a few more first team players leave the training ground.

When the teams enter and exit the pitch they have to step over the little chain link fence that surrounds it. The Aberdeen players go over it with the neccessary cuation. Several of the Rangers side however, presumably because they’re used to it, leap over it. Brahim Hemdani is one of those who does so, catching his foot on the chain and going flying. He can do little but turn and laugh along with those of us behind the goal chuckling at him.

Rangers are awarded a penalty kick when Stewart pulls down Andrius Velicka. It looked a fair award to me, but Aberdeen captain Stuart Duff is not so sure. Suggesting a dive he points to Velicka while shouting to the referee, “He’s pishing himself ref.”

Steven Smith bangs the penalty home sending Busso the wrong way.

Steven Smith scores a penalty

A through ball from Velicka in the 67th minute sends Fleck away. The 17 year old takes it well and slots the ball in from just inside the penalty box for 2-0 Rangers.

Aberdeen get back in it with 4 minutes left when the Gers keeper Scott Gallacher pulls down Michael Paton out on the byeline. Again looked like a decent award to me, but it was met by some criticism from the Rangers men. Paton takes it himself to make it 2-1.

It’s a decent afternoon’s entertainment given that additional wee polish with the match commentary. Rangers Reserves are still in with a chance of preventing Celtic from lifting the league title for the 8th sucessive season. They meet at Ibrox for a potential title decider on Tuesday 28th April.

A report from the Rangers website is here. A report from Aberdeen’s website is here. I have some more photographs here.

The Rangers team leave the pitch

Rangers: Gallacher, Lowing (Durie 10), Webster, Wilson, Wylde, Lennon, Hemdani, Little, S.Smith (Stirling 60), Velicka (Miller 72), Fleck Subs Not Used: Vaiculis

Scorers: Smith (50 pen), Fleck (67)

Aberdeen: Bossu, Crawford, Vidal, Stewart, Duff, Pawlett, Clark, Wright, Paton, Ross. Megginson, Subs: Bain, McRobbie, Low, Megginson, Jarvis

Scorer: Paton (86 pen)

Referee: Des Roache

Assistant Referees: Alan Newlands, Paul Robertson

Game Nineteen – Rangers vs. Hamilton Academical

December 8, 2008

Broxi the Bear

Rangers 7 vs. 1 Hamilton Academical

Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League
Saturday 6th December 2008, Kick-Off 3pm
Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow

With us now well into winter, heading out for a football match in Scotland is a precarious occupation. I had thought I could get along to the Edinburgh City-Brechin City cup-tie that was postponed from last week. However by midweek I concluded that if last week’s weather saw the game being called off, then this week’s even worst frost should see it off again. (The match failed an early morning pitch inspection.) So my decision was made to go along to Cambuslang Rangers’ Junior Cup third round clash with Irvine Meadow. Just as I was about to head off for my train I checked the Football Central website and saw that the Cambuslang game along with nearly every other junior match has been postponed.

So I’m looking to the seniors and their more reliable and expensive pitches and undersoil heating. Except two games in the SPL are off, prompting an “urgent and serious inquiry”. While a further three games in the Scottish League fall victim to the weather, as well as Forfar’s Scottish Cup tie. So I plump for a game I know will be on and head for Ibrox where Rangers entertain Hamilton Academical.

You can’t get much further away from the juniors than Rangers at Ibrox. As soon as you get off the underground the streets are buzzing. People are hoisting their spare tickets in the air and stallholders punt their scarves, flags and badges. On a bright and sunny (but cold) day like this Ibrox is good for a wee walk round the perimiter to take in the atmosphere and the sense of occasion. There is a good programme stall which has on sale many programmes and books from the club’s illustrious past.

If you really want to you can also find a stall where you can buy a William of Orange flag.

Rangers are currently seven points behind Celtic in the race for the league title. The rules in the Scottish press are whomever is currently in the lead is a shoe-in for the title. Press rules apparently dictate that Rangers and Celtic are both guaranteed maximum points in games that aren’t against one another, so whichever one of them does the impossible and drops points, that’s the team who is finishing runner-up.

Of course we could just enjoy watching the league season play out instead of eagerly predicting a new title winner every week or two.

Rangers players are in the press alternatively acknowledging that one more slip up could hand the title to Celtic and confidently assuring the fans that they can still win the league.

Andy Cameron is in the match programme telling the players to ‘Keep the heids up’.

A defeat today would be certainly be a big setback.

Hamilton Accies lie second from bottom in the league table and they know full well that despite a good start to the season, 2008/09 is all about survival.

The Rangers fans are in decent voice before the game. Lex MacLean‘s famous ‘Every Other Saturday’ is now belted out as standard again, just as it was in the 1960s.

When the game kicks off it’s Hamilton who go on the attack first. They seem to be playing the ball around nicely. A long ball gets hoisted into the Rangers penalty box and Alan McGregor makes a hash of it. James McArthur lobs the ball over him and into the net for 1-0 Hamilton after just two minutes. There is a stunned silence for a moment, until the Hamilton fans, who are at the opposite end, realise they’ve scored and go mental. As did the players.

The Rangers fans round about me take it well and continue to get behind their team. The last time I was at Ibrox the guy behind me kicked the back of my seat when Partick Thistle scored first.

Although now a shock looks possible, it’s far too early in the game to realistically expect Hamilton to hold out. Kenny Miller, who received a good reception from the fans, smacks in a nice shot from just inside the penalty box to level the scores on eleven minutes. From this point on there only looked to be one winner.

Kris Boyd puts Rangers ahead on 28 minutes with a lovely turn and finish. I’ve always liked Boyd as a striker and can’t understand why he gets a lot of stick from supporters. No one is on his back today however.

The referee is another matter. He gets pelters from the Rangers fans. By my reckoning he had a decent game. The home support though weren’t keen on his tendency to give Hamilton free-kicks while allowing Rangers to play the advantage.

Cerny saves

Sat behind me throughout the match is a young couple and their two kids. One of the kids sits at peace. The younger one, a toddler, spends practically the entire 90 minutes kicking the back of my seat.

In the second half the roof falls in for Accies. Seven minutes into the half and a clumsy challenge from Martin Canning brings about both a penalty and a red card. The sending off was possibly a little bit harsh, but Boyd makes no mistake with the penalty and Rangers, with the extra man advantage set out to make it count.

Boyd’s hat-trick is a simple tap in after a good long ball from Ferguson and a pinpoint cross from Steven Davis. Substitute Kyle Lafferty knocks in the fifth as Rangers start to score the kind of goals I bang in when I’ve got Pro Evo on the amateur setting.

Nineteen-year-old Aarón Niguez comes on a substitute to make his debut with eleven minutes to go. He wears simply ‘Aarón’ on his jersey. Eager to get hold of the ball he looked pretty imprressive in the short time he was out there. He sets up Rangers’ sixth for his fellow sub Nacho Novo.

On his return to the team Steven Davis knocks in the seventh right at the end.

The referee blew for full-time on exactly 90 minutes. This caused one Bear behind me to rant how disgraceful it was that he would do such a thing.

According to their official statistics Rangers have 14 shots on target and 13 off target during the match. Hamilton have 4 shots off target and that goal is their only shot on target all day.

Highlights of the game are available on the BBC website.

Rangers defend a corner

This is the report from the Rangers website. The report from Accies’ website can be found here.

Rangers: McGregor, Whittaker, Bougherra, Weir, Papac, Davis, Mendes, Ferguson, Beasley (Aaron 79), Boyd (Lafferty 76), Miller (Novo 67). Subs Not Used: Alexander, Edu, Broadfoot, Little.

Scorers: Miller (11), Boyd (28, 52 pen, 62), Lafferty (80), Novo (88), Davis (90).

Hamilton: Cerny, Canning, Swailes, McLaughlin, Easton, McClenahan (Graham 71), McCarthy (Gibson 71), Neil, McArthur, Mensing, Thomas (Lyle 71). Subs Not Used: Murdoch, Elebert, Akins, Ettien.

Sent Off: Canning (51).

Scorers: McArthur (2).

Attendance: 48,282

Referee: Calum Murray

Game Twelve – Celtic Reserves vs. Rangers Reserves

October 8, 2008

The Rangers keeper gathers a cross

Celtic Reserves 3 vs. 1 Rangers Reserves

Scottish Reserve League
Tuesday, September 23 2008, Kick-off 2pm
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie

A Tuesday afternoon in Airdrie and it’s the Old Firm. Or the Reserves at least. This is the first time I’ve been to the Excelsior Stadium. Or The Shyberry Excelsior Stadium. Or New Broomfield. Or whatever it’s called. I’ve been to Broomfield a few times though.

The ground is not that difficult to find. It’s a fifteen minute walk from Drumgelloch train station and the stadium sits on its own on what appears to be a big chunk of wasteground.

I take a walk around it and come to the main entertance where I find several folk in Rangers and Celtic tops all milling about waiting for the gates to open.

Once inside there seems to be a good couple of hundred fans there to cheer along their favourite half of the Old Firm. I overhear one guy on the phone telling someone that he was just out for a walk when he heard the noise from the ground and was pleasantly surprised to find an Old Firm reserve match underway. This meant that he just happened to have been out for a walk decked out head to toe in Celtic gear.

Chris Burke of Rangers

Seggregation is provided by a typed sign telling us which entrance is for the Celtic fans and which for the Rangers. I opt to sit with the Celtic support.

Neil Lennon is in the Celtic dugout and spends most of the game shouting instructions, mainly to Paddy McCourt on the left wing. Reserve team manager Willie McStay is comparatively quiet.

It’s a decent game of football with both teams having chances Rangers having the best of them as Aaron Niguez skelped the crossbar with a free-kick. It’s Rangers who take the lead as we approach half-time as Ross Harvey comes in at the back post to meet a crossed ball and head home.

In the 66th minute Celtic get the equaliser with a McGowan header. It looks to be all the green half of the Old Firm from now on.

Charlie Adam, on as a half time substitute doesn’t have the best 45 minutes and takes it tight from the Celtic support, being the closest thing to a first-team player in the side.

McGowan got his second as he finished off a nice bit of team play to take Celtic into the lead. Late on Ben Hutchinson got his reward for his 90 minutes of hard work. Picking up a long ball out on the right he had a look before lofting the ball over the on-rushing Graeme Smith in the Rangers goal.

3-1 to Celtic and a decent Tuesday afternoon’s football.

A report from the Celtic website is here. A report from the Rangers site is here.

The confirmation that I was at this game is in the photograph below from the Celtic website. That’s me on the far right.

Me at the Celtic vs. Rangers Reserves Game

My photographs are here.

Celtic: Fox, Doumbe (Towell 28), O’Dea, Lafferty, Conroy, Cawley, Millar, McGlinchey (Mizuno 5), McCourt, McGowan, Hutchinson.
Subs Not Used: Marshall, Tidser, Monti, Graham.

Scorers: McGowan (66, 78), Hutchinson (84)

Rangers: Smith, Little, Harvey, McMillan, McLachlan, Burke, Shinnie (Bagci 85), Edu (Adam 46), Niguez (Stirling 75), Fleck, Loy.
Subs Not Used: Perry.

Scorer: Harvey (45)

Attendance: Not sure exactly, but a good couple of hundred at least.

Game Nine – Rangers Ladies vs. Inverness Ladies

September 9, 2008

Rangers Ladies vs. Inverness Ladies

Rangers Ladies 3 vs. 2 Inverness Ladies

Scottish Women’s’ Football League – Division 1
Sunday 7th September 2008, Kick-Off 2pm
Petershill Park, Glasgow

Ladies football, derided in some quarters, championed in others. It’s a growing part of the game in general. Apparently football is now the fastest growing and largest team sport for girls in the UK.

The Rangers ladies team was established thanks to a partnership with Paisley City Ladies. They play their home games at the impressive Petershill Park complex in the Springburn region of Glasgow.

While not as skillful as the men’s game ladies football still offers up its fair share of entertainment as well as a refreshingly enthusiastic attitude. I may as well say here that in the ladies game I’m quite happy to support England whenever they’re on the telly. The English Ladies football team is more or less the same standing in their game as the men’s team. The crucial difference being that the women and the media who cover them are well aware that they’re only a decent side and treat progression to the quarter-finals of a major tournament as the good performance it is. Whereas in the men’s game each England team is expected to bring the trophy home. The attitude the English women have is more conducive to lending them my support.

The match gets underway and some poor control by an Inverness defender leads to a desperate back-pass which the keeper forgets she can’t pick up and Rangers have an indirect free-kick inside the box after 30 seconds. This leads to them hitting the underside of the bar, not once but twice. At this point I’m thinking I might be in for a goals avalanche.

It takes until the 31st minute to get the first goal as Rangers’ number 9 is sent clean through. Just as I’m thinking that she doesn’t have the ball control to keep the run going she hits a lovely shot from 25 yards out which sails over the keeper into the top left hand corner to make it 1-0 Rangers.

The game is littered with poor passing as well as wildly off target crossing. Players routinely need three or four touches to get the ball under control. Defenders play the ball closer to their goal in attempting to clear and attackers seem to pass the ball back as much as forward.

Petershill Park

A small girl, presumably the sister or daughter of one of the Rangers players runs up and down the side of the pitch, bouncing a ball and encouragingly shouting ‘Score a goal.’ One of the more intelligent things I’ve heard shouted form the sidelines so far this season. Some young boys playing in the corner of the ground frequently let their football run onto the field of play and the players take turns booting it clean over their heads.

At half-time the two teams receive their team-talk out on the pitch whereas I go inside to the impressive cafe/bar. You can have a few cheap drinks or a full meal for your half-time snack here, while watching Sky Sports. I settle though just for a Lucozade and a packet of crisps, which turns out to be a month out of date.

The second goal comes a minute into the second-half as a low shot from the edge of the box makes it 2-0 Rangers.

The crowd is about 50 strong and is mainly, if not exclusively, made up of the players’ friends and family. The HABs (that’s Husbands and Boyfriends) are out in force. During a break in play Rangers’ number nine gets called over to the touchline where her boyfriend provides her with a bottle of Lucozade and some encouraging words, sending her back into the fray with a warm pat on the back.

Rangers Ladies vs. Inverness Ladies

Rangers can’t seem to turn their obvious superiority into a more comfortable lead and in the 68th minute Inverness begin their fightback. The Bears keeper is caught in what I guess is ‘No Woman’s Land’ and the ball is punted from about 30 yards clean into an empty net. “Shite,” is all the keeper can muster as she vainly attempts to run back into her goal.

From this point Inverness recognise that all is not lost and they take more control of the game. With six minutes remaining the Rangers keeper is all at sea once again and this time the ball is smacked from 40 yards over her head and into the net for 2-2.

The tackling from both sides is excellent and there are a few crucial penalty box challenges that are as good as anything you’ll see in the men’s game.

Rangers push forward in the last few minutes and in injury time force a corner. Their number 14 rises to head it home and take them back into the lead at 3-2.

There’s only time left for Inverness to shoot straight from kick-off. It’s on target but this time the Rangers keeper can’t be caught out and it finishes with Rangers nicking a win with the odd goal in five.

It’s an entertaining 90 minutes and although I can’t genuinely say I’ve seen a lot of brilliant football, for £0.00 it’s as good an afternoon’s football as you’re likely to get on a Sunday afternoon.

I have some more photographs here.

As for the teams, who knows? I contacted the SFA and the lady there who deals with the ladies’ leagues to get the teams and scorers. They hadn’t been received three days after the game and checking back two months later I discovered that they were never handed in.