There are a few reasons I remember the end of August and this particular Old Firm game. For a start, I got married on the 30th August 2008. As I’m not completely daft, I married into a Rangers supporting family. Three months previous we had been sat, at home, watching The Famous in the UEFA Cup Final. A trip to Manchester had been mooted but neither of us could get off our public-sector jobs. Gutted was an understatement.
There is a nice symmetry that ten years after our most memorable season, since the early nineties, we are again on the cusp of something great in Europe. Qualifying for the Europa League is an incredible achievement already. We’ll forget about the 2008/09 European campaign for now. We were also close to achieving something amazing domestically. Had the league and SFA provided a little more, in fact, any support prior to the UEFA Cup Final. The parallels with Steven Gerrard’s team are uncanny and the next four days would be the finest in any Rangers’ fans since 2011 if results go our way.
The Big Day
So, back in 2008. I was a (relatively) fresh-faced 28-year-old, no bald patch but at the beginning of a losing battle against my hairline. Our wedding date had been booked for over a year so it wasn’t planned that Rangers would play Celtic the next day. It was merely a coincidental bonus. The plan was to go home from the hotel the morning after the night before, finalise packing for our honeymoon on the Monday and then go to the local to watch the Old Firm game.
The best-laid plans of mice and men Gang aft a-gley.
The first part went well. The wedding, the party, the breakfast after. All ran smoothly, without a hitch and it seemed that a good time was had by all. My best man, also a Rangers fan, needed a lift back home and we duly obliged with plans of meeting up in the pub later. We got home and unpacked our assorted wedding regalia then set about the suitcases for going on the honeymoon. Everything appeared to be in order. All our travel documents were in order except one small exception. Passports.
There was no sign of them anywhere.
We emptied the whole house. We were supposed to be flying to Kenya the next afternoon but that looked increasingly unlikely with each passing hour. They had been sent away for visas but we remembered them coming back. Then it sunk in. We had sent them to the registry office in Edinburgh as proof of identity some weeks ago because we didn’t live in the district we were getting married in.
Meanwhile, Daniel Cousin was handing the Celtic defence a new arse. This was peak Cousin, unfortunately, his last appearance for Rangers before his move to Hull City in the Premier League. When he was interested he was some player. Physical, powerful, skillful. A great player to lead the line.
He destroyed Mark Wilson for Rangers’ first goal. He had no right to run with the ball under so much pressure and score from the angle he scored from. A great way to sign off his Rangers career. Celtic equalised and the score was 1-1 at half-time. Rangers looked and were the better team.
Seven minutes into the second half and Rangers were back in front, it had to be Kenny Miller. Decent shouts for a Rangers penalty were soon forgotten when Miller volleyed into the far corner. Pedro Mendes then scored “that” goal from 30 yards out and Miller scored again after Boruc completed his Regi Blinker of a performance presenting the easiest chance of Miller’s 57-year professional career. Nakamura scored a decent free kick but the game was over and Rangers were on their way to three-in-a-row.
As for our passports, they had been lost somewhere in the renovations of the registry office as they moved from one location to another, which was nice. But the passport agency help we received the first time we phoned said we couldn’t get a passport the same day. But we could, so we did, but only after we’d missed our original flights to Kenya. Something that could’ve been avoided if we’d been given the right information the first time!
We missed three days of our honeymoon because of a collaboration of incompetence! We also didn’t get our cases for the first few days, Air France sent them to Amsterdam, “no Mr. Kelly, you don’t need to collect your cases, they will get sent through”. All lies.
More importantly, we missed watching Rangers give Celtic a hiding in their own backyard, and that I will never forgive!
Hopefully, after the pain and suffering of ten years ago, Karma will do us a turn. After celebrating Europa League qualification maybe an Old Firm victory will truly mark the beginning of something special under Steven Gerrard.