Uefa Cup final here we come....
Achieving nine league titles in a row was a special moment I never thought could be equalled as a Rangers fan.I was wrong!
Last night as I waited for my cousin and Dudley to come round to watch the Uefa cup semi-final,making the final in Manchester suddenly seemed a million light years away.We were up against an Italian team currently ahead of AC Milan in the race for a Champions league spot in Serie A and possessing top quality players like Mutu,Vieri and Jorgensen in their ranks.
We broke out the beers and smokes as the game kicked off and sat back in nervous anticipation of what was to come.Fiorentena started well and kept the pressure on Rangers for most of the game, however we defended heroically and our keeper didn't actually have many saves to make.The match crept into extra time and still the deadlock remained unbroken.The tension and nerves were almost unbearable by this point as Dudley,my cousin and I reached for the pixie dust to regrow our gnawed fingers.
We had Daniel Cousin sent off with ten minutes of extra time remaining and somehow managed to hold out for the penalty shootout decider.I felt quietly confident as the shootout approached convincing myself that Rangers heart,spirit,mental strength and sheer determination would be enough to see us through against the more creative and flair filled Italian team.Then our captain,Barry Ferguson,stepped up to take Rangers first and had his penalty saved by their keeper.The nightmare scenario of being so near yet so far loomed large.
Both teams scored the next couple of kicks before our keeper,Neil Alexander,saved low to his left and after we scored our next penalty, Vieri hit his effort high over the bar.All that remained was for Nacho Novo ( who else!) to stay cool,step up and blast Rangers into our first European final since 1972 with a finely executed penalty low and hard into the corner of the net.
Tables were knocked over and ashtrays sent flying as we celebrated our historic result by going completely wild with joy.It's still sinking in that we were actually going to be playing in the Uefa cup final in Manchester on May 14th!
My guess is that between 80-120,000 people ( maybe more) will make the 220 mile trip down south although it looks like my cousin and I will have take my car as there isn't a coach or motorhome available to hire anywhere from here to Carlisle for that day! Seems like there's a better chance of securing a copy of "Fly Fishing" by JR Hartley!
As a season ticket holder I'll be in a ballot for a ticket and I'm seriously considering a major raid on my poker bankroll to pay for a ticket via ebay if I don't get lucky in the draw.
I did make it into my work for 8am but feel so tired I could be an extra from a zombie film.Thankfully it's a holiday weekend so hopefully I can catch up on lost sleep ( may grab an hour just now!) and get back to the tables for some pokery fun.I notice Full Tilt now have 18 player turbos and my cousin and I tried one last night before he went home.It was an $11 entry fee and seemed just as fishy as my usual $16,18 player games.Even having my 1010 shove called by A3 ( Ace on flop) couldn't wipe the smile from my face.