Ibrox is full of history. You only have to look at the intricate red-brick facade of the Bill Struth Main Stand to realise that the place is steeped in the stuff. The first match was played there in 1899 for goodness sake – which makes it even older than TikTok, kids. Fans have witnessed more than 100 domestic trophies paraded around the place in the time since and some might even have been lucky enough to see Frank Sinatra and Billy Joel warble their way into the grand old ground’s rich tapestry of momentous events in the 1990s. Everybody loves a bit of history. Unless it’s the bad stuff.
Which brings us to Tuesday night and the 50,000 or so hardy folk who trooped out to see their side handed a sixth Big Cup group-stage shoeing in a row (OK they only lost 2-0 at Anfield but we’ve set off on this path now and we’re sticking to it). The 3-1 loss to Ajax confirmed Giovanni van Bronkhorst’s side as the worst-ever in Big Cup group-stage history. Yep, even worse than Blackburn Rovers in 1995-96 – and they were mostly fighting each other. Rangers’ results read: 0-4, 0-3, 0-2, 1-7, 0-3, 1-3. That’s 22 goals against! Thirteen at home! In three matches! It took them 38 league games of the 2020-21 season to concede 13 at home and away – and defensive mastermind Steven Gerrard was in charge back then.
It says a fair bit about the state of the Scottish Premiership. It’s hard to expect Rangers to rise up from facing – sorry, St Mirren – St Mirren one week to Napoli the next and handle it well. It also makes their Big Vase run last season seem like a fever dream. There weren’t many of the 50,000 or so left at Ibrox to witness the final whistle being blown on this stain in the record books. Most of them had already sent their jeers cascading down the steep stands before heading for home. Perhaps they could have been saved the infamy of being given six consecutive wedgies had Antonio Colak hoiked his shot at the crossbar, Ronny Rosenthal-style, instead of into the empty net when they beat PSV in the playoffs back in August. “It has been a difficult learning curve for us,” sighed midfielder Steven Davis with spectacular understatement. “But we need to try to learn from it and improve, but also park it and concentrate on our domestic competitions now.”
If Rangers fans want a quick pick-me-up they could start by watching Celtic (P5 W0 D2 L3 F3 A10) take on Real Madrid at the Bernabéu later on. Madrid haven’t yet won the group so will be hungry to get the job done. The last time Celtic played there (March 1980), Madrid waltzed to a 3-0 win. Celtic might take that given they played well and lost by the same scoreline at home in August. Whatever happens, though, Celtic will finish bottom and Scottish football will continue to wear Big Cup like an oversized coat that it keeps getting tangled in.
RIP RONNIE RADFORD
Ronnie Radford, whose thunderous strike for Hereford on the quagmire of Edgar Street against Newcastle remains one of the greatest FA Cup moments, has died aged 79. Television footage of Radford’s equaliser in the 2-1 third-round win in February 1972 has become one of the competition’s most treasured and repeated scenes. “We are devastated to hear of Ronnie’s passing, and wish to extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time,” read a Hereford statement. “Ronnie is not just a part of Hereford United folklore, he is a part of football history and has kept Hereford on the football map since 1972.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We realise now that a link can be made between this advertisement and the appalling working conditions in Qatar and that was never our intention. We deeply regret this and offer our sincere apologies” – the penny finally drops for Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo, who have scrapped a tone-deaf TV advert linked to the Human Rights World Cup that included scenes showing people dancing on scaffolding at a building site. In case they need further reminding.
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE
Daniel Harris is on deck for all of the evening’s Big Cup action at 8pm GMT, while Scott Murray will also have Real Madrid 4-0 Celtic MBM updates from 5.45pm.
“I have admiration and respect for all your correspondents who are willing to boycott the HR World Cup (Fiver letters passim). But I also have to acknowledge that, as a signed up Fiver reader, I am a shiftless, indolent, half-hearted-at-all-times kind of older bloke (just ask my long-suffering boss). So the idea that I am going to be principled enough to ignore wall-to-wall football during the grimy winter months when the cost of living is reducing me to penury is utterly absurd. Still, if it wasn’t so much effort, I would take my hat off to the more principled members of our community” – Colin Reed.
“With all the concern by Fiver readers and other concerned members of society about watching the HRWC, here’s a suggestion that allows us to watch the beautiful game, assuage some guilt, and support a good cause. Keep track of how many matches you watch during the tournament and for each match you watch, donate an amount you’re comfortable with to a human rights charity (suggestions welcome). For example, if you watch 10 matches and you decide to commit to €5/$5/£5 per match (or pick your local currency) then at the end donate more to the charity of your choice” – Jason Loeb.
“Re: ‘Who throws focaccia?’ (yesterday’s bun-fight-related ticking off of the day, on the full email edition). It seems bread throwing is not uncommon and Roberto Malotti’s mini-focaccia lob is not really that bizarre. Indeed you referenced the Battle of the Buffet, while this which, although its title is rudely deceptive, also relates to bread hurling. Perhaps a fill-in bread-throwing sport can be undertaken while we all studiously ignore the upcoming sourdough-funded tournament” – Rod de Lisle.
“The long nights are drawing in, our Fisher-Price VAR system is now in place, and both Big Cup representatives have been suitably humbled by our gifted friends on the continent. Can The Fiver please reassure us Scots that there’ll be regionalised content to get us through the winter? Perhaps you could get Pat Nevin in to talk about LPs, or review old Scotch & Wry episodes” – Johnny Connelly.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winners of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Jason Loeb.