Belfast Telegraph

Super Sunday marked brand new start for Celtic and Rangers

By Billy Weir

Heavy metal behemoths AC/DC's scorching 1980 come-back album Back in Black featured the song of the same name proclaiming that, and I paraphrase slightly, that it's been too long and it's good to be back.

This could well have been applied to Sky's Scottish Cup Old Firm cracker on Sunday as Rangers and Celtic were indeed back, although more in blue and green than in black, although with a fair smattering of orange, red, white and gold thrown in for good measure.

For Strathclyde Police it is more of a Highway to Hell but you knew it was a big game when we had a big opening montage, sprinkled with Old Firm stars of the past giving their thoughts on playing in the match, which has been denied us for so long.

In reality, it was actually only 14 months ago, not nearly long enough for old wounds to heal, but Sky never shy away from a hint of hyperbole as they left us all Thunderstruck in the build-up to the game over the week.

"You can't hear each other breathe, never mind speak," said Charlie Nicholas, so he was well trained for the Soccer Saturday studio, but we were all speechless when David Tanner revealed his team-mates in the studio.

"I'm joined by three Old Firm icons, Neil McCann, Neil Lennon and Neil Johnston," he said. Actually he didn't say that, it was Mo Johnston but he probably would have felt more at home and safer had he changed his name as he was a man that certainly did silence the Old Firm.

"Mo, it's good to have you back, you've come a long way from your home in Florida, what brings you back?" enquired Tanner.

"Hmm, let's see, a 747, a big bag of cash, a year's supply of Irn Bru and all the Highland Toffee I can eat," should have been the answer, but it wasn't.

"Just the game, I'm looking forward to seeing it," said the man who didn't sound that enthused, but Tanner, in for a penny, kept pushing his man.

"How big is this fixture," he asked.

"It's massive, I'm looking forward to it," came the reply.

"In general terms, it is great to be back for this fixture," pressed an increasingly desperate Tanner.

"Absolutely. I'm really looking forward to it," concluded Mo and we then knew he was looking forward to proceedings and with good cause as this was going to be a cracker, as Tanner reminded us just in case you hadn't got it by now.

"The world's fiercest football rivalry is back, the build-up started six weeks ago when the draw was made on Mother's Day - prepare yourself for the mother and father of all derbies," he said and then we went for a break

There was time for one last question to Mo, thankfully with a different answer, as he was pressed on 'who do you want to win?'

"Whoever scores the most goals," seemed the diplomatic response, and four goals duly followed over a rumbustious 120-minute roller coaster ride of a game, the highlight being Mo's half-time comment that 'I'm thinking I'm looking at Barcelona the way Rangers have been knocking the ball around."

Clearly the sun in Florida is quite strong.

The goals were shared, thus Mo not getting his wish, but the blue hordes did with a nail-biting penalty shoot-out win and in summing up Tanner pressed the fixture's arch-villain for one more nugget of punditry gold.

"Mo, what's your reaction to that enthralling, if elongated, Old Firm game," he enquired.

"Congratulations Rangers," came the response. Tanner admitted defeat, deciding instead to remind us that the final against Hibs, who apparently won the other semi-final the day before, would be on Sky.

Thankfully he didn't ask Mo his thoughts, although I think it would be safe to say he would look forward to it, and in the words of AC/DC, they would be back to shoot to thrill again at Hampden Park.

Belfast Telegraph


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