Rangers v Celtic
Sky Sports 2 12.00
DTVSr is back, DTVSr is back Hello, Helloooo! That's right fellow TV sports enthusiasts. After a self-imposed exile of about six months, I've decided to watch some TV sports again! I jest of course. I've been watching TV sports throughout those six months (watching it a bit too much some would probably argue...she'd obviously be wrong though) but have only now had the time and inclination to write about it again. “Why's that Dave” you may enquire? Well if you're one of this blog's three readers who doesn't know me personally I've been on a journalism course and don't let the quality of anything your are about to read doubt me on that.
Indeed, those of you who are regular readers of the Huddersfield Examiner's weekly nostalgic Blast from the Past page or buyers of the Non-League and Football League Papers may have recognised my stuff that has been published as part of my work experience. And there cant be many of you that didn't pick up Wales on Sunday around a month ago to read a particularly tasty report on the titanic Southport v Newport clash eh? Anyway, enough of me living on past glories, what you want to read is my account of this season's 17th meeting between Rangers and Celtic right? Right? Want no further my friends.
The programme began with some actor being an old Glaswegian man saying things about the depth of the the Old Firm rivalry with a predictably arty montage of clips. We then went to our presenter, Jim White, who was joined in the studio by ex-Ranger Neil McCann and ex-Celt Chris Sutton who would no doubt provide expert and excellent analysis.
I was trying to make a joke about the frequency with which the two age-old rivals meet when I said it was the 17th meeting between Rangers and Celtic this season. It was in fact the third, of the scheduled six meetings at this point of the afternoon, between the teams with two league games having taken place and this being a fifth-round cup game. I read in a recent When Saturday Comes that overkill is creeping in and the fixture is becoming, the one thing no-one ever thought it could be, boring. I can see where that article's coming from but it's still one out the multitude of live games available to me that I make an effort to watch.
If I was honest, which I am, I'd have to say that my interest in the game stems from a lot of the things many would say is wrong with the fixture. I enjoy watching the out and out hatred from the stands unfold in front of me, I enjoy that the players often get caught up in it far too much and I enjoy, dare I say it, that they sing some pretty nasty things about each other. I'm sure many would disagree (or possibly agree, quite a broad church my readers) but I think all these contribute to make it such entertaining viewing.
Following short interviews with Bursaspor's Kenny Miller (formerly of both clubs of course), Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon, there was a short break before we went to the action. White informed us our commentators were Andy Walker and Bill Leslie if we were taking the first ever opportunity to watch an Old-Firm game in 3D but for those of us content with good old erm 2D, we were stuck with Davie Provan and Ian Crocker.
As the teams came out it was the sea of noise and colour we'd come to expect as the PA played out Tina Turner's Simply the Best which I don't really like then “Follow Follow” for three sides of Ibrox to heartily sing along with which I did (like, rather than sing along with.) The game kicked off at “breakneck speed” and after just two minutes, Rangers took the lead after a real howitzer of a long-range effort from Jamie Ness. His shot flew past Fraser Forster into the top corner of the net to understandably send the afore mentioned three sides of Ibrox into raptures.
With 'the volume now turned up a notch' Rangers nearly doubled their lead in the moments after as Steven Davis' shot rattled the crossbar. With such a cracking start to the game I at no point really contemplated what those lucky enough to be watching in 3D made of it all until typing this up. I think I've been told the 3D camera is on the opposite side of the stadium, or a different camera angle or something. Why would anyone specifically want to watch it in 3D, and what does it look like? Do you have to wear them cardboard glasses with one red and one green lens? These are all things I've since pondered but am actively uninterested in finding the answers out to.
Celtic quickly got back into the contest and around the quarter-of-an-hour mark, their recent acquisition from Derby County, Kris Commons hit home the equaliser. It was the kind of goal that I enjoy in the moment of anticipation when the ball's played across the box and you know someone's on-hand to bang it in. This then prompted the Broomloan Road end to take it's opportunity to erupt.
The Celtic fans, who for me sang the best couple of songs of the day, broke into one of these with their currently popular version of Depeche Mode's (or maybe the Saturday's cover version...or maybe they just like the DFS advert) Just can't get Enough. I'm a big fan of different terrace songs and as Celtic are, as yet, the only group of fans I've heard sing this they win a virtual rosette I've decided to start handing out. They didn't stop at one virtual rosette though. Oh no. Just minutes later they were going at it with their version of Bonnie Tyler's 70's classic, It's a Heartache. As with the above it matched the same criteria so after 20 minutes Celtic were on-top by the most unlikely of margins: 2 DTVSr virtual rosettes.
Despite Celtic, to my technically expert knowledge, looking the better team for the remainder of the first half it was Rangers who re-took the lead when Steven Whittaker hit home a 40th minute penalty after Forster had brought down Steven Naismith. This again demonstrated the level of noise in the stadium as even through my not even HD, and certainly not 3D, TV, I could sort of feel Ibrox shake at this point.
Over half-time McCann and Sutton both felt the sending off of Celtic keeper Forster, which came in the penalty incident, was “contentious.” I felt it was the correct decision and having already gone well-past my loosely-set word guidelines won't elaborate any further on why I'm correct.
The game re-started and we got to see Iain Durrant share a joke with Sir Alex Ferguson (as I always refer to him) in the directors box which if my lip-reading skills served me correctly ended with SAF saying “nooooo hahaha f#ck%ng 'ell.” Celtic again, as they did in the first half, looked the stronger when trailing and it came as no great surprise when captain Scott Brown equalised with another fantastic long-range strike with about 25 left.
Brown celebrated by standing in-front of his fellow pantomime villain and nemesis for the afternoon, El Hadj Diouf, raising his arms while eye-balling him from about a yard away. Now to be fair to Brown, if he happens to read this, which lets face it is highly likely, he may accuse me of hypocrisy for criticising his provocative gesture considering my reasons stated above for watching these games. But my gut-feeling was that he looked a bit of top-hat more than anything and he was booked for this action.
Despite the best efforts of Davis and substitute Georgios Samaras, neither side could find a winner in the remaining time but Naismith made it ten-a-side when he was correctly sent-off with a second booking having dived on the edge of the box. As it had struck me in the first-half and was now being mentioned by the commentary team, this was shaping up for a replay and an unprecedented seventh meeting this season with their two league games and a League Cup final still left to play.
In the post-match analysis (which was double the length of the pre-match preview for any budding statto's out there) our panel re-iterated that they disagreed with me over the first sending off but we were all singing from the same hymn sheet in our opinion that it had been a thoroughly entertaining game. A bizarre glitch in Sky's production department then gave us a minute or so silent clip of what looked like a sound man stood in front of the interview boards for the Championship rugby coverage later.
We jumped back to White in the studio who told us Sutton then had to leave and join Alex Rae and SFA president, George Peat, downstairs to carry out the quarter-final draw in which some teams got drawn against some other teams or some different teams depending on the outcome of their yet to be settled ties. This isn't meant to be derogatory to the Scottish game of which I am genuinely interested, I just cant be bothered repeating it.
So a seventh Old Firm game of the season which will no doubt please the Sky execs and both clubs accountants (do they share gate money in the “Scottish”? I'm sure they do) but probably not the players and fans of both clubs. But what will the keen, and not so keen, TV sports fans feel about it? Well it's very likely I'll watch it. I may even
have absolutely no intention of find a place that's showing it in 3D.
Scottish Cup 5th Round replay
Wednesday 16th February
19.30 Sky Sports 3
(subject to change)