We didn’t believe the title was ours until the last whistle

HeadLine: We didn’t believe the title was ours until the last whistle

The Mirror, 26/05/2003, p4
by SHAUN MILNE

THEY’VE been in the shadow of their city rivals for the last week as
Celtic’s UEFA cup braves hogged the limelight.
But yesterday it was the turn of the Rangers fans to come out to play
as their team clinched the Scottish Premier League title with relish.
Alex McLeish’s men fought out an enthralling 6-1 victory against
Dunfermline’s brave Fifers at Ibrox.
But, with Celtic 4-0 up away to Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, an eerie hush
settled on the Glasgow stadium.
Skipper Barry Ferguson held his hands over his mouth and boss Alex
McLeish paced the touchline as 50,000 fans strained to hear portable
radios.
Then a deafening roar welled from the crowd as radio commentators and
pals at home watching TV broke the news by mobile phone.
Rangers were champions. As the final whistle blew at Rugby Park, Ibrox
erupted.
Probably no-one even noticed Dunfermline’s players trooping off,
despite their brave performance which forced Big Eck’s men to battle
for every goal.
And none at Ibrox spared any sympathy for Celtic’s shattered stars who
had suffered their second brutal kick in the guts within five days
after losing to Porto in the UEFA Cup final in Seville.
Martin O’Neill, the poker-faced Celtic manager, looked a broken man. A
season which promised so much has delivered nothing. Not a trophy, not
a winners’ medal.
Some fools say football is only a game. Try telling that to Celtic and
their fans this morning.
But in Govan, it was all so very different. The fans who have sat in
bitter silence as Celtic cut through Europe took to the streets in
their thousands.
The red, white and blue flowed down the Copland Road and all along
Paisley Road West in Glasgow, peppered with the brilliant orange from
their away strips.
Champagne corks popped and cans of McEwan’s, Carling and Tennent’s
cracked open.
The flags were unfurled and hanged from widows and lampposts as people
in bars spilled out into the streets, those in cars sounding their
horns in celebration.
Strathclyde Police were on hand in case it got rowdy. Some Bears in
uniforms even had a sneaky smile on their faces, others looked like
they were in a living hell.
Rangers may not have taken 60,000 odd fans to Seville with just a
single arrest. But what did they care. They’d won the league title.
Their fans will get their suntan on holiday during the Glasgow fair as
usual.
Around 300 supporters chanted the names of their heroes for around an
hour outside the main entrance at Ibrox yesterday.
Thousands more brought traffic to a standstill on Copland Road after
the final whistle.
George Thompson, 58, of Paisley, was close to tears as he walked with
son Gary, 27.
George said: “I didn’t believe the trophy was ours until the very last
whistle.”
The crowd waiting outside were eventually rewarded when Dutch star
Ronald de Boer made an appearance at 6pm.
Jim Rundle, 31, of Wishaw, Lanarkshire, said: “There is only one thing
better in life than this, and that is Jesus.
“I’ll be celebrating by going to church tonight and giving thanks for
Rangers’ victory.”
Jimmy McLeod, 50, of Erskine, Renfrewshire, said: “It’s been all the
sweeter knowing Celtic have won nothing this season.”
Gary Boyd, 34, of Lincoln, travelled up to see his idols lift the
trophy.
He said: “Many people down south think the SPL is a Mickey Mouse
League, but where else would you find such drama?”
Stephen Murray, 44, of Belfast, said: “People think it’s all about
Glasgow, but there will be more parties tonight in Belfast than
anywhere else in the country.”
Caroline Matheson, 27, of Glasgow, was at the game with her aunt Helen,
49.
Caroline said: “I’m not married and don’t have children, so this is
truly special for me.”
And Helen added: “Let’s make it the treble now by winning the Scottish
Cup next week.”
No such hope left for the Celtic faithful.
Most looked dejected as they made their way off the supporters buses
and reflected on a trophyless season.
Scott Robertson, of Edinburgh, blamed Celtic’s European run on them
losing their grip on the League title.
The 26-year-old said: “When we went 3-0 up I thought it might be our
day, but unfortunately Thommo missed his second penalty.”
John Turnbull, 40, of Glasgow, said: “Our European run has put Celtic
back on the map.”
Dad Danny Boyle took a posse of his kids down the A77 from Glasgow’s
Bearsden.
“It was breathtaking stuff,” said the 44-year-old financial consultant.
But those Celtic supporters who stayed in Seville hoping for something
to celebrate were left devastated yet again.
In the Hoop’s HQ, Flahertys, Gary Green, 32, from Condorrat, said: “We
thought we might have a reason to party tonight after Wednesday’s
defeat but it wasn’t to be. It’s heartbreaking.”

**



Categories: Daily Mirror articles

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