Sunday was a momentous day to be a Rangers supporter. The fans at Hampden were outstanding and backed the team all day long – even singing all the way through the penalty shoot-out whilst the players were, to a man, outstanding and produced a display full of heart, hunger and desire. Not to mention they added that little bit of extra quality and a whole load of bottle to get the job done. It was a privilege to be there and witness what is quite possibly the most gut-wrenching, energy-sapping Old Firm fixture I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing.
However, it leads to a wider point. It has been four years of football hell for the club and fans alike, and as many have said, Sunday was an outpouring of emotion and a line in the sand. We have closure – on the footballing side of things – and can look forward to going back into the top flight and contesting the Scottish Cup final on May 21st. We are now a progressive club who are only striving to get better and better, especially with Dave King heading up the boardroom and Mark Warburton leading the management team.
For Celtic – and their fans – I can’t help feel like a massive dose of karma has come along and bitten them right in the buttocks. They thought all they had to do was turn up and walk all over this Rangers team – and they failed, big time. And oh boy, they know it. Blaming the pitch, blaming Ronny Delia, blaming a penalty spot, and of course, it wouldn’t be the Celtic support if they didn’t blame the referee for something now, would it?
I did notice after arriving home from Hampden that a certain Maurice Johnston was one of the pundits in the SkySports studio, along with Neil McCann and Neil Lennon. I wasn’t born when Johnston signed for Rangers in 1989 and I have literally no first-hand memory of ever seeing him play – only on old VHS and YouTube clips have I seen his goals – but the one thing I do know is the Celtic fans hate him to this very day and it still haunts them that Graeme Souness stole him from right under their noses. In truth, I don’t think they will ever be able to live with it.
In fact, I heard that one Celtic fan decided to call up Clyde1 Superscoreboard and inform them that he threw something at his TV all because Johnston compared Rangers’ first-half display to watching Barcelona.
But the fact is they were outplayed, outclassed and outfought by a Championship Rangers team who had four, yes, that’s four first-team players missing. As a support, we should never let them forget that.
They rejoiced in 2012 when they manipulated their cohorts into throwing Rangers out of the top flight. Their support – particularly the online section – devoted every minute they were awake to tell everyone Rangers had died and were a new club. Meanwhile their own club stagnated, then went backwards and now have gone the whole hog and lost to a Rangers team that’s just won the Championship.
In many ways, it’s like Mojo II, let them think they have it, and take the glory from them and send them into years of rage, anger and embarrassment. At Hampden, Celtic were the only embarrassment… It’s not so funny now, is it?
Well, it is, but this time we are having the last laugh. The Rangers are back stronger, together and ready for payback. We had our moment in the sun and we’ll also have our cup final.
All they will have is their footballing equivalent to Rangers signing Mo Johnston 27 years ago – and it will haunt them forever.
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