kenny hodgart

Must-see sporting events. No 18: An Old Firm match

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This article appeared in the Sunday Herald

WHAT IS IT? There is a lot of misinformation put about regarding the Old Firm. First of all, there are those who will tell you that the Celtic-Rangers (or is it Rangers-Celtic?) fixture is mired in religious and political animosity, but this is wide of the mark. Any religious element is of the most benign order, and matches tend to feel almost like hippy love-ins from the 1960s. There can sometimes be violence away from games, but this is only because the people of the west of Scotland are very demonstrative in expressing their love for one another. Also, there are never refereeing controversies, matches are played in a spirit of goodwill redolent of a bygone age of amateurism, and Rangers are one of Scotland’s best examples of financial probity and good governance.

HOW TO ENJOY MATCH DAY: Tuesday evening’s match (7.45pm) is to be played at Celtic Park, in the vicinity of which there are a number of great bars and restaurants. Many Celtic supporters like to take some refreshment in nearby Bridgeton, but if the rain stays off, it is often pleasant to stop off at Lidl and buy a few cans to drink on the 20-minute walk from the city centre.

WHO WILL WIN THIS ONE? Nobody really bothers about the result so long as it is a good game of football, and often, if the early exchanges are a bit one-sided, the referee will ask one of the players to leave the field in order to make it a fairer contest. Neil Lennon, a man who brought the city of Glasgow closer in appreciation of his flair in midfield when he played for Celtic, is currently the club’s interim smanager, and there is no doubt that everyone at Rangers will wish him well.

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