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Take off imminent, but Rangers title tie at Easter Road this weekend is no Helicopter Sunday . . .

Marvin Andrews lifts the SPL trophy

Darrell King

Share 0 comments 22 Apr 2010

Come Sunday, Rangers may well take to the Easter Road pitch crowned champions a matter of minutes before action commences against Hibernian, a far cry from five years ago when they entered the very same arena carried by hope, far more than expectation.

Rangers have, slowly but surely, edged closer to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League title and, if indeed they do cross the line in Edinburgh this weekend, events will resemble nothing like their dramatic triumph of 2005, a day which will forever be known as “Helicopter Sunday”. To many, that momentous day when the title swung inside its last two minutes from Motherwell to the capital, will remain the most dramatic conclusion ever. Upon reflection five years on, it will take some beating and, chances are, it never will be.

Granted, 1998 went to the wire as Celtic derailed Rangers’ historic attempt to win 10 championships in succession; it also went to the final day in 2003 when Mikel Arteta’s penalty proved, ultimately, to be decisive at Ibrox as Alex McLeish’s team thumped Dunfermline Athletic 6-1 while, down the M77, Martin O’Neill’s brave men, just back from heartache in Seville, fell just short at Kilmarnock. Indeed, in the past two seasons, the destination of the league title has remained unknown until the final day of nerve-shredding drama; but on both occasions, the victor had emerged long before entry into the dying embers of the campaign.

2005, at Easter Road, will probably remain unique in the annals of our game, in that one team lobbed the prize to the other inside a couple of minutes of had-to-be-seen to-be-believed football. Should the Rangers players savour the sweet success of retaining their championship against Hibs, there will undoubtedly be a release of euphoria and unquestionably relief given the arduous months they have endured at a club about as stable as a volcano in Iceland.

But it won’t be 2005. It won’t be anywhere near the day the helicopter changed direction.

I always remember Alex McLeish saying at the break ‘Don’t hand it to them. Go out and win here, make them win it’ Barry Ferguson, former Rangers captain

“That day is probably one you will be asked about time and time again when you get old and are maybe sitting with the grandchildren,” said Barry Ferguson, who was part of the Rangers side that somehow managed to emerge that afternoon with the most unlikely championship ever. “It was only five years ago, so it’s still quite fresh in terms of the memories, but it’s probably going to be one of those iconic days for Rangers fans down through the years.

“Firstly, the boys this weekend won’t care a jot if the same drama isn’t attached. They will just want to win it on Sunday afternoon, no matter which way it comes. They’ve waited a couple of weeks to get an opportunity to cross the line, and now they have it.

“I would have loved to have gone to Easter Road that day in the position the Rangers guys are in this weekend. It would have meant not going through the emotional wringer. Being honest, and I know a lot of the boys in our team that day have since said they believed we could do it, I didn’t think Celtic would lose at Motherwell. When I heard they were a goal up, and we were 0-0 with Hibs at half-time, not many gave us an earthly.

“I always remember Alex McLeish saying in the dressing room at the break ‘Don’t hand it to them. Go out and win here, make them win it’. Then Nacho got us a goal and the rest, as they say, is history after wee Scott McDonald intervened and scored twice in the last few minutes at Fir Park.”

Rangers were so unprepared for winning the title that day that nothing had been prepared back at Ibrox in terms of a meal for the players. When they made the inter-city journey between Glasgow and Edinburgh afterwards, carrying the trophy back with them at the front of the team coach, there were chaotic scenes at Ibrox as thousands of fans converged to greet the team.

“It was unbelievable, by the time we got back there must have been 30,000. There was no food, but we were all starving. We sent out for a McDonald’s,” revealed Ferguson, now into the last couple of weeks of his outstanding first season back in the English Premier League with Birmingham City. “It was all we could get quickly at that time on a Sunday.”

Chances are the plans will be more advanced if Easter Road does indeed prove to be the venue again, just like 1975 when they stopped Celtic’s 10-in-a-row attempt, and five years ago, where Walter Smith’s players secured a championship they led since mid-December.

Ferguson has had little to feel envious of, given the way his life and career have panned out since he cut the umbilical cord with Rangers once again almost a year ago. His own blues have enjoyed a rewarding campaign back in the promised land, and will finish in top half of the Premier League table. He is happy with his lot, but admits that, like every other Rangers supporter, he’ll doff his cap to Smith, his players 
and everyone else connected to what will be a championship won against all the odds.

“I’d like to see them win it this Sunday at Hibs, and then get a few weeks to enjoy being champions until the season ends,” Ferguson added. “That would be fitting for me as they have been so committed, so consistent and so driven to get this title against a backdrop of all sorts of uncertainty at the club.

“The boys have just focused on their football which could not have been easy. It will be a fantastic achievement for them to win the title with three games to spare given that there has been nothing to spend for almost two years.”

That cannot be argued against. But it won’t be Helicopter Sunday . . .

http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/rangers/take-off-imminent-but-rangers-title-tie-at-easter-road-this-weekend-is-no-helicopter-sunday-1.1022496

:sherlock:

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What a fantastic day, will always remember it.

Well done Scott McDonald you little cunt.

before mcdonald signed for the rattlers, do you remember the bears fans who went to cyprus for the cl qualifier v anorthosis and nicked the 30ft banner that said "mcdonalds- I'm lovin it"?

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