Old Firm fire burns as strong as ever but Sky still turn up the heat for Rangers against Celtic
07:27 GMT, 26 March 2012
At 3.30pm on Sunday afternoon at Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland experienced its hottest March day since records began – eclipsing the previous high from 1965 in Strachan, Kincardineshire (although Gordon of the same name has certainly got pretty hot under the collar a few times since then).
However, a couple of hours earlier in Glasgow, the mercury was also rising in anticipation of a particularly significant Old Firm derby.
Or as commentator Ian Crocker put it on Sky Sports coverage of the game, ‘the temperature is about to hit the 70’s in Ibrox…hot and bothered’.
On hold: Celtic fans turned up to party but the Ibrox men made them wait
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Much like the hordes of green and white clad fans we saw arriving at the ground brandishing inflatable champagne bottles, Sky were all set to crown the visiting Glasgow team champions – a win would of course do it – but they did also have the useful fall-back point that in the face of their current adversity, a home win for Rangers would certainly also have enough emotional resonance to make this particular derby one of the big ones.
Thus when host David Tanner slapped it on thick and heavy with an opening gambit that included ‘Celtic need Rangers, Rangers need Celtic and Glasgow would not be Glasgow without the Old Firm’, you could just about forgive the hyperbole in the circumstances.
If that kind of flowery language wasn’t to your taste, however, there was certainly a much more down-to-earth alternative provided by two old fellas chatting on a park bench.
This was a great little pre-recorded piece featuring two veterans of 45 years ago when Celtic last won the title at Ibrox – Gers Willie Henderson and Celtic’s Bertie Auld.
Boasting seriously undiluted brogues, these old stagers laughed and jibed away over some great vintage footage of both clubs in their glory years.
Willie recalled a goal by Celtic’s very right-footed winger Jimmy Johnstone by asking Bertie ‘wee Jinky stuck it in the top corner; did he get lent a left leg for that day’ while Bertie remembered talking to Rangers skipper John Greig in the tunnel before the big game.
'He said, what’s your bonus I said three quid. We’re on six, said Greigy. I know, I said, but I’m guaranteed it.'
Pride: Rangers fans and players finally had something to smile about
Back at Ibrox it was an undulating sea of flags in alternating blue and white (with plenty incorporating red) or green and white waves, in the middle of which was a banner aimed at Rangers fans which boldly advertised ‘Party Over Here’.
This provided the backdrop for the booth where the pundits were former Rangers forward Neil McCann and Celtic hero Charlie Nicholas – and judging by his croaking voice, you couldn’t help but wonder if Charlie had decided to start celebrating a Celtic title the night before
The pair were excellent in their set-up and subsequent analysis, both perceptive and passionate, with McCann perhaps summing up the entire occasion best when he said this was Rangers ‘biggest game in seasons…they could make themselves heroes.'
Indeed, co-commentator Davie Provan thought much the same thing 10 minutes into the game when he observed ‘you can see the Rangers players are up for this…(they’re saying) not on our patch’ and within a minute, there was Sone Aluko going on a fantastic run to score the first of five goals, punctuated with three players seeing red.
Another fiery affair: Victor Wanyama was one of three players sent off at Ibrox
That was also the not unfamiliar fate of Celtic manager Neil Lennon who wasn’t seen on camera again once he got himself sent off in the tunnel at half-time.
One former manager was caught on camera, though, in the second half, Walter Smith, who was sitting in the stands and for a few compelling seconds, appeared to be involved in a synchronised chewing performance with someone I can only assume is Mrs Smith.
It really was quite a mesmerising display, and should certainly have put them among the medals.
At the final whistle, Crocker deftly pointed out ‘this may be Celtic’s season, but Rangers had a day in the sun’, and accordingly the coverage shifted gear to the significance of the win to a club in crisis.
Enjoy it while it lasts: Neil Lennon was not allowed on the touchline after half-time
This they did, rather unusually, by welcoming Rangers manager Ally McCoist to sit alongside McCann and Nicholas into the booth to look back at the game, and project forward on Rangers future, of which he optimistically said he’d ‘talked to potential purchasers (and) been very impressed.'
So a win on the day for Rangers, and perhaps a victory in sight for the club itself
Meanwhile for Celtic, they’ll just have to get that title party started another day.
SPORT RELIEF WEDGIES
BBC4, and on a celebrity Only Connect, Spurs fan Stephen Mangan outed himself as a golf fan when he worked out a ‘dog-leg’ clue, but then tried to back track: ‘I’ve played, you know, occasionally…yes…no…what’s golf
BBC Breakfast and a bleary-eyed Freddie Flintoff was confronted by what turns out to be his toughest opponent yet; a chocolate muffin he can’t eat in under 25 seconds.
BBC1 and John Bishop embarked on a torturous ‘week from hell ‘ ,as Chris Moyles put it, on two wheels in Paris alongside Chris Boardman. ‘You’re quite balanced on a bike’, said Boardman. ‘A bit of a natural’, asked John. ‘I didn’t say that’, replied Chris.
Saturday night on BBC1 and Jermaine Defoe got ‘bladdered’ with the Horrible Histories team while Frank Lampard deftly flicked the little girl from Outnumbered on to Howard Webb.
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