Linfield 0-7 Rangers: Jamie Mulgrew grateful to be in spotlight for testimonial
Linfield 0-7 Rangers
Jamie Mulgrew paid tribute to his testimonial committee after Linfield played host to Rangers on an emotional afternoon at Windsor Park.
Celebrating 10 years of service with the south Belfast club, the 30-year-old midfielder, who's racked up over 400 appearances for the Blues, was also thankful to the fans who turned out in their numbers amid a carnival atmosphere at the national stadium.
"We had only two weeks to plan the game," he said.
"It's great testament to my committee and there is a lot of things that go on in the background that people might not see.
"So for that size of crowd to turn up with only two weeks planning, and two weeks notice, was incredible."
On the pitch, it might not have been the 'incredible' start to his testimonial he would have wanted. Linfield were 5-0 down after 31 minutes, with fans favourite Kenny Miller netting himself a first-half hat trick.
Miller would add another after the interval as the visitors romped to a 7-0 success.
A close range strike from Rob Kiernan, a 25 yard thump into the top corner from Niko Kranjcar and a first goal for forward Joe Garner completed the scoring for the Glasgow side.
As promised, Rangers fielded a strong team in preparation for Saturday's clash with Celtic and Mulgrew was impressed with the show put on by the likes of Kranjcar, Miller and Joey Barton.
"It is something that we wouldn't be used to," he said.
"Any of our team wouldn't be used to anything like that quality and I would certainly say in all the times I've played Rangers over the years at Linfield, that's certainly the best team I've come up against."
Mulgrew also admitted to being touched by the standing ovation he received from both sets of supporters when he was brought off on the 75th minute.
"I did get a wee bit emotional," he explained.
"Gary Eccles our kit man was in the same boat, even before the match as well, so it was very nice."
Players and managers from both sides paid tribute to Linfield's midfield general, who is playing in his 11th season for the Blues.
Gers goal machine Miller said: "We came here to pay tribute to Jamie and his fantastic achievement."
"Being at a club for 10 years is very rare these days, so we are here to pay tribute to that, first and foremost."
The former Scotland international also explained that Rangers were also using the fixture as preparation for their imminent trip to Parkhead.
"For us, there was another purpose and it was to get the lads back into game action ahead of next week's game," he added.
"So this was a great a workout, a really enjoyable game and it definitely was a good game as preparation for next week."
Linfield manager David Healy reinforced Mulgrew's joy at being able to draw a club of Rangers' magnitude for the occasion.
"Jamie's been delighted that he was able to attract a club the size of Rangers," he said.
"Jamie grew up as a Rangers fan.
"He's a humble boy who's been here for 10 years, won a lot of trophies and medals throughout his career and he's earned that testimonial today."
Despite the occasion, the Linfield boss did express his disappointment with the result.
"I thought we underperformed in the first half," he continued.
"I spoke to them at half-time about it being a friendly game, or testimonial, or whatever other people want to call it, but I thought we were disappointing the way we went about the game.
"If I can learn anything, and the players, I told them to watch the game to see how good players go about the game, whether it is a friendly or a testimonial."
Linfield: Carroll, Glendinning (Casement, 71 mins), Stafford (Stewart, 53 mins), Callacher, Clarke, Fallon, Mulgrew (Quinn, 74 mins), Lowry (Ward, 46 mins), Carson (Gaynor, 46 mins), Burns (Bright, 46 mins), Millar (Frazer, 23 mins)
Rangers: Gilks, Tavernier, Senderos (Hill, 57 mins), Kiernan, Halliday, Forrester (Garner, 57 mins), Barton, Krancjar, Windass (Waghorn, 57 mins), Garner (O'Halloran, 8 mins), Miller (Bates, 68 mins)
Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey).
Man of the match: Kenny Miller
Match rating: 7/10