Old Firm games come around as often as middle-eastern uprisings these days, and tend to include only fractionally more football, regardless though I was assured that this particular secular bun-fight was going to be the most enthralling encounter since they last crossed swords 18 days ago.
We were live at Hampden this afternoon for the Cooperative Insurance Cup Final, and I was almost excited.
After fashioning a rudimentary ariel from shortbread and an empty Tennants can I managed to tune in to the fabled BBC Scotland. What awaited me was a delightful smorgasbord of punditry, with Pat Nevin providing a succulent soft cheese spread of banter to Craig Levein's relentless onslaught of fence-sitting dry crackers; “There was definitely contact on both player's thighs there, but maybe we should leave things like that until after the water-shed”. Presumably that's just how they say “would you smash it?” north of the border...
Special mention to David Moyes though who not only provided a relatively interesting appraisal of the action but, when having a little joke about Walter Smith winning a lot more trophies than he had, didn't go completely and utterly feral on the others in the studio. Had he wanted to choke the presenter to death with his own tie, smash someone's head through the glass and remind everyone that Chelsea and Man United have kept his cabinets bare, not Dundee and Inverness, by writing it on the walls in his own blood, we'd have all been somewhat understanding.
“There was definitely contact on both player's thighs there, but maybe we should leave things like that until after the water-shed”. Presumably that's just how they say “would you smash it?” north of the border...
Speaking of getting a bit carried away, Neil Lennon, a big angry cross between a testicle and a satsuma, had been banished to the stands for this one so the responsibilities for jumping up and down and calling the 4th official colourful names fell to his assistant Johan Mjällby. No, me neither.
No such problems for Former resident gob on Question of Sport and managerial lame-duck Ally McCoist though, who chimed up during the pre-amble with a few points about all the recent handbags that had even seen the aforementioned Lennon get a slap on the wrists and the local plod turn up at training. After labelling them all “a bit silly” and an “over-reaction” he puffed out his chest and proclaimed that; “We should just get on with what Rangers and Celtic are famous for, and that's playing good football”.
Quite right Ally! And might I just add that the opening goal, a dazzling medley of a route-one hump that culminated in an absolute howitzer of a scuffer that snuck in off the post, punctuated your point brilliantly...
As you've no doubt surmised, I went into this game with pretty low footballing exceptions, partly because I'm English, but mostly because I had anticipated a cagey affair, with two teams set out to be difficult to break down and fielding players who would be desperate not to be “that guy” who started an embarrassing brawl
But even I, the “clatty baw-bag” that I am, was shocked to see that not only did both teams seem to fancy it, but they were willing to push forward from the off. We seemed to have a thrilling end-to-end contest on our hands.
Mind you, I had a bout of gastroenteritis once that was “end-to-end” and that (mercifully) lacked a cutting edge as well. Whilst the play, and astonishingly the pace of it, was very good, chances were at a premium.
Mind you, I had a bout of gastroenteritis once that was “end-to-end” and that (mercifully) lacked a cutting edge as well.
Somehow though we ended the half, and indeed the game, with the scores level at 1-1. A few good penalty appeals had been waved away and one, bizarrely, had been given and rescinded quicker than Gadaffi's Royal Wedding invitation. What a lovely outcome I thought, after all the daft carry-on of the recent meeting between these sides, they've drawn in a cup final. Now they can both be winners, pile into each others bars and realise that, deep down, they're all loving guys who just get a little carried away during the football. And hey, the wife probably had it coming.
No such luck though, those sadists at the SFA decreed that we must settle this in extra-time. This meant that David Weir, just two months away from his 41st birthday and with a face like a stuntman's knee, was going to have to complete 120 minutes of competitive football without the aid of a single sit-down or cup of tea. Staggering.
He won't have minded though, as Rangers reacted quickest from a free-kick to steal in and score the winner. Nikica Jelavic ensuring that he'll never be able to drink in/have to buy a pint in any pub in Glasgow again, depending on which one he's in.
There was even time for vile human-vajazzle El Hadji Diouf to make a late cameo appearance, and the man on loan from Blackburn managed to get himself booked for a theatrical dive before running around with the trophy like a man who'd actually contributed something to the game. There was also a sending off in the dying moments but as it was for a foul and not a fight, it barely seems relevant.
Anyway, I'd love to stay and chat but I'm off out with Craig Levein and Pat Nevin tonight to see if we can get ourselves any of that "thigh contact" they were on about. See ye efter!
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