Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Ibrox - The Beamback

Well, first of all I have to extend my apologies to all you Rangers fans out there. I didn't think youse were that mental. But you are. I went along to Ibrox for the Beamback. What a blunder that was. I have never seen such a badly organised shambles of a major event.

By the time I got there, after work, at 4.55pm, there were, by the police's own reckoning 60-70,000 fans both inside and outside the ground. The capacity for the evening is 30,000. Rangers seem to have got the organisation of this badly wrong. On their website they suggest 'fans are encouraged to be there by 7.15pm to guarantee a spot'. The capacity must have been reached by around 2pm.

What I saw in the 25 minutes or so I spent there was utter chaos. People were changing queues when they saw that one queue seemed to be moving while the one they were in wasn't. There appeared to be far less police and stewards than on a normal matchday. Fans were stood in the queue drinking, in more than one instance making their way through full cases of lager. Now would you be allowed to do that before a normal match? Naw. So why were folk being allowed to do it here? Is drinking not still illegal on the streets of Glasgow? So why is it allowed somewhere where there should have been a strong police presence?

I saw one girl run past me with blood pouring from her head shouting to a policeman "I need someone tae look at my heed. Some cunt's just pure cracked us." Then one guy shouting at a policeman while clutching his greeting kid. There were many children there, 'a real family occasion,' according to Reporting Scotland. One guy even had a wean in a pushchair. I suppose it was easier to transport his carry-out to the ground that way. Then your man upstairs in the photo there passed me shouting, "I've been bottled."

I think panic had set in as fans realised that they possibly weren't making it into the ground to see the game. The final straw for me came when I had to alert a mounted policeman to a mass brawl that was taking place 100 yards from the Copland Road stand entrance.

I think it's obvious now this should have been an all-ticketed affair with police and stewards turning folk away at the underground. Staff at Rangers can only have assumed, much as I did, that the heed-the-baws were all away to Manchester and the folk that wanted to drink all day wouldn't want to sit in a no-alcohol environment. Wrong on both counts.

I think I learned on the day of the Scotland-Italy game that too many folk just want to use these occasions to drink all day and get up to bammery. The TV coverage of Ibrox portrayed it as a happy, family occasion, but I think their cameras were there early in the day when folk had no worries about getting in and the numbers had yet to swell to ridiculous levels.

So I'm settling down to watch the match in the house with a few Belgian beers and my free souvenir Rangers v. Zenit magazine. Let's hope Fizzy, Ronnie and everyone else down in Manchester are having a good time out in the fanzones.

More Beamback photos at my Flickr page.

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