Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: A Little too late for Rangers to hold firm

With Rangers not having tuppence to rub together at the moment it was a tad cruel of Sky to despatch David Tanner to Ibrox for the cross-community jamboree that is the Old Firm.

There wasn’t a huge amount of charity on show if I’m being brutally honest, it wasn’t so much Sport Relief as the Relief of Derry as the beleaguered red, white and blue underdogs fought valiantly to hold back the green marauders.

And they won the day, who says history doesn’t repeat itself, although the history books will record that despite the loss of one battle, the war was won by the forces led by a fiery red-headed Ulsterman.

“The lion rampant on Rangers’ badge is a wounded animal,” began Tanner. Don’t be saying that, this is Glasgow for goodness sake, blink an eye and it’ll be covered in batter and deep-fried before you can say coronary — and I don’t mean Sean.

“Celtic need Rangers as much as Rangers need Celtic and Glasgow would not be Glasgow without the Old Firm,” he added. Just hang on there, I think you’re overlooking Motherwell and Patrick Thistle here.

Neil McCann and Charlie Nicholas were as excited as two very excited things, the latter so far gone that he urged Celtic players to ‘just rub it into Rangers’ noses’. What exactly are they rubbing, Charlie?

Highlight of the build-up was an empty park bench, eventually filled by Old Firm legends Bertie Auld and Willie Henderson, reminiscing about clashes from bygone days of yore with a good deal more humour and dignity than the present-day incumbents in green and blue.

Willie remembered Jimmy Johnstone, famously right-footed, hammering a goal into the top corner and asking did he get lent a left leg for that day while Bertie recalled talking to Rangers skipper John Greig in the tunnel before the 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’, while Willie joked about another player who ‘couldnae trap a submarine.’

I could have listened to them all day but there was more hype needed and Tanner handed over the hyperbole torch to Ian Crocker who predicted ‘more than a few tales of the unexpected.’

I started imagining a half-naked woman (or was it more?) dancing in front of a fire but the noise of rampant hatred soon drowned that out while in the spirit of Sport Relief it was nice to home fans holding up signs for ‘1972’, the current running total for the fighting fund.

Suddenly it was a Sone day for half of Glasgow.

“A goal for Aluko, a goal for the fans, a goal for the cause,” he hinted, before Cha did his bit to by pulling Lee Wallace down and getting a red card. Onto the second-half and Crocker vowed the ‘conflict continues’ but let’s be honest Rangers’ troubles are going to take even more sorting out unless a mysterious benefactor can be found. I wonder if Bertie Ahern is a bluenose?

We resumed minus Neil Lennon, scolded and sent to his room for a tantrum, and then were all sent away as the screen went blank and no-one was fooled by the piping in off normal fans’ noise.

Pictures, from a man standing on top of Ben Nevis then appeared briefly, before shaky pictures and sound and I had visions of an carrot-topped man being spotted running away cackling from a plug.

In desperation I reached for the red button and to my surprise what should appear? Was it Ulster’s game against Treviso? You’re just being silly now. No, not a sausage, not even a battered one, but four minutes later we were back to normal.

The Gers’ fairytale continued with a goal via Andy Little’s first touch, joining fellow Fermanagh boy Kyle Lafferty coming off the bench and completing the Erne triumvirate was Salim Kerkar, who, as we all know, hails from Lisbellaw. Okay, I made that up. He’s from Belcoo.

Another Rangers goal, a sending off apiece and then two Celtic goals as the game petered out. That’s the thing about the Old Firm, meaningless matches with very little to talk about.

Belfast Telegraph


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