Friday 27th October 2017 k0 19.15
Development Squad Fixture
RANGERS 1 (Shiels 19)
LIVERPOOL 4 (Lewis 9p Adekanye 20 Miller 32 Camacho 56) Johnston sent off 62 (Serious Foul Play)
Let’s face it, when you think of Scottish football you really can’t avoid the Glaswegian behemoths Rangers and Celtic can you? Very much the yang to the other’s ying I suspect both clubs have grown from the obvious political and sectarian rivalry between the two clubs. But let’s make one thing absolutely clear right from the start, I cannot abide sectarianism, I’m the product of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, after all! As for football and politics listening to slogan chanting and virtue signally leaves me completely cold. I go to football in part to escape from all that.
But if you can turn a blind eye to the extra-footballing activities Ibrox is always worth a visit. The main “Bill Struth” stand is Archibald Leitch’s biggest surviving design dating from 1928, although the third “Club deck” was added in 1991. The rest of the ground is a far more modern affair giving a total capacity of 50,817.
Rangers’ financial woes have been well documented and I’d heard from different sources that Ibrox hasn’t been maintained to a standard that their fans would expect for around 7 years. I saw nothing massively untoward, but the bottom tier of the Struth Stand is beginning to look tired, but then it is around 90 years old!
I’ve seen Ibrox full, and this is probably the lowest attendance I’ll ever see there. It was an odd game, a friendly seemingly mainly for the benefit of Liverpool’s youth team who had a European fixture in a few days to warm up for. To make things worse for Rangers, manager Pedro Caixinha had been sacked the day before and youth team manager Graeme Murty had been temporarily promoted to take the first team. Craig Mulholland, Billy Kirkwood and Peter Lovenkrands ended up looking after Murty’s former charges.
It wasn’t until I spotted the little huddle of autograph and selfie hunters behind the away dugout that I remembered Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is now in charge of the Reds’ youngsters. I suspect his presence added a few on the gate if only to dish out that typical savage, biting humour that Glaswegians do so well. One of Gerrard’s charges slipped at an inopportune time so…
“Hey Stevie, did ya teach him that?”
Gerrard did have the good grace to laugh.
He did get the last laugh though, his team being way ahead of his hosts in just about every department. In fact the only blot was the rather harsh dismissal of George Johnston for a heavy challenge.
But this was an evening of broad brushstrokes rather than any great tactical masterclass by one team or another. This was a chance for both sides to play a quasi-competitive fixture and I suspect that Liverpool’s youngsters relished the chance to play at one of Britain’s iconic sporting palaces.