|Markism Today: Battle of Britain- Pile of old Tosh!|
Sun 28th Nov 2010 12:49 by MARKO
Wasn't last weeks "clash" between the Premiership runners-up and the Scottish champions an utter load of underwhelming old tosh?
It was Rangers v Man United last week, in case you missed it.
You would be forgiven for missing it, an underwhelming soulLess dulL occasion and appropriately settled by a penalty.
It seems such a long time ago now doesn't it? Last Wednesday?
This is the problem with the Champions League group stages, it creates meaningless clashes little more prestigious than friendlies when any game involving an England team against a Scottish one should have both nations gripped by passion and ferver.
I was weaned on Home Internationals and the England v Scotland game in May was one highly anticipated. My Grandmother is Scottish so I think to keep the peace I supported Scotland when the game was held at Hampden but reverted to England for the Wembley battles - and battles they were, two great nations, titanic clashes in packed, hostile stadia - not corporate, soulless hellholes like Wednesday night.
Earlier this month the 18th anniversary of our own European Cup clash with Rangers passed. Unlike last Wednesday, it mattered. It was head to head over two legs, winner takes all. Unlike last Wednesday it really captured the imagination of the country.
(Sorry I forgot we had Wills' and Kate stealing the headlines last week!).
Like thousands of other whites', I was denied the opportunity to go to Ibrox due to the security measures imposed and the blanket ban on away fans for both legs. About sevenish that evening I rushed out and got a takeaway curry and some cans of beer arriving just in time for ITV to take us straight to Glasgow. There was no silly Sky pre-match build-up, no daft warbling Champions League "anthem" or silly kids wafting a big banner about. A few words then pitchside where both teams walked into a wall of sound, bloodcurdling Scottish voices - no fireworks, no cheerleaders, no daft music just blood and thunder raw British football and culture at its best,
Id barely cracked my first poppadom when Gary Mac smashed us into a first minute lead! Macca's presence in the Leeds side that night, alongside Gordon Strachan saw two of the finest Scottish players of that era on the side of the English where on the other side Stuart McCall (son of ex Leeds fringe player Andy and raised over the road from ER) and Englishman Mark Atilla Hateley wore the dark blue of Rangers.
It proved to be an epic evening, Strachan thought he had made it 2-0 but it was ruled out for offside. Then came John Lukic's nadir career moment when he lost the ball in the floodlights and punched the ball into his own net. Ally McCoist made it 2-1 before half-time and that is how it stayed - however we were confident we could turn it around in a fortnight's time,
Unlike last Wednesday, the media relished the return leg and I remember being in a pub in Bramley (long story!) and even the non-footballing locals were gripped by Rangers coming south. Would I be in Leeds that night? You fucking bet! On the night itself, 25,000 Yorkshiremen raised the decibel level as high as 44,000 Scots had and again a significant moment happened in the very first minute.
Hateley spotted the hapless Lukic off his line, 1-0 on the night - game over.
It was one of those horrible, sickly,sinking stomach moments where the ER Roar was reduced to a whimper. Hateley and his team-mates cavorted in glory, Leeds players desperate to get out of the blocks and produce a Stuttgart type performance battled for the ball. Suddenly in the Kop there was a roar and scuffling as Police moved in to remove a solitary Rangers fan - a fat bastard with a Vanilla Ice haircut, gleefully sneering at us before being led away to the Bridewell with coins and spit flying in his direction. There were a few Irish tricolour flags fluttering around and a couple of Leeds fans were wearing Celtic tops. It was however game over. If you were at the Galatasary UEFA Cup Semi-Home leg it was a similar sort of atmosphere after they got that penalty,
McCoist added a second, a diving header to add insult to injury. Leeds responded and it was the last significant act of a certain Eric Cantona in a Leeds shirt - when he bundled home a late consolation,
My point is, unlike Wednesday night - it really did matter. We lost, we were out, we were well beaten against the form-book and expert predictions, We did not have the luxury of a home cert against the Champions of Belarus or Lithuanian to secure our safe passage through.
Saying that though, I will accept that the European Cup did have to evolve into the Champions League or the likes of Man U, the Milan clubs, Real Madrid et al would have simply took their balls home and created a European Super League.
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