Mccoist steals the show on night of legends
For a support that has been battered and bruised for almost two months, a bout of nostalgia must have felt like a rare comfort. There was an air of sentimental glory to the sight of so many revered figures from Rangers’ past gathering again on the Ibrox pitch, and the turnout in the stands reflected the urge to celebrate, but perhaps also cling on to them.
In the likes of Andy Goram, Richard Gough, Brian Laudrup, Lorenzo Amoruso, Arthur Numan, Ronald de Boer, and David Weir, three eras of success were represented; years of uncomplicated and victorious pride. Some of them were reminders, too, of times when Rangers could be haughty and triumphant, but also of the reckless spending and vanity of Sir David Murray and, no doubt, the Employee Benefit Trusts at the centre of the dispute with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
The fans greeted each hero with resurgent cheers. The loudest, most deeply sustained was for Ally Mccoist, whose stewardship during the crisis of administration has been a source of strength to the support.
Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes to allow fans into the ground in time for the start - the announcement generated an ovation from those already inside – and 47,521 turned up to reminisce, but also contribute to the club’s future and the Rangers Charity Fund.
“It was fantastic for what was an old crocks game,” said Walter Smith, who managed the home side. “The fans have reacted brilliantly to the situation Rangers are in. It just shows the feelings people have for this club.”
AC Milan Glorie brought their own icons, with Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Zvonimir Boban and Jean-pierre Papin starting. The goodwill extended to the visitors, particularly Baresi and Maldini, who moved with an effortless but ruthless grace.
The years had been more abrasive for some – Amoruso’s jersey and shorts strained in complaint at their burden – but nobody came to make judgments. Old habits remained ingrained, though and Gough organised with sharp rebukes, Albertz delivered a pass with precise ingenuity and Goram made pointblank reaction saves. One certainty defied time more emphatically than the rest. Mccoist appeared as a substitute to score the only goal, darting across his marker to steer a header past Massimo Taibi from Gio van Bronckhorst’s cross. “Hardly surprising, is it,” said Smith dryly.
This match was a reminder, of times past, of some old ambitions that turned out to be misguided, of individuals whose contributions remain vital to the club’s sense of esteem, but also a reassurance. The faith and commitment of the fans carries the greatest value in these troubled times.