Jack Pitt-Brooke: Even Sky seem to give up as tawdry 'Glasico' lives down to expectations
View From The Sofa: Old Firm Derby, Sky Sports
Monday 26 March 2012
Sky spent the build-up paying tribute to Old Firm derbies of the past. The lustre of the match, they thought, would be increased by the backward look at legendary old games, and their reflected glory.
In fact the effect was the opposite. First we were shown the game at Celtic Park from May 1999, which Rangers won 3-0 to clinch the title. Just 13 years old, it felt like a game from another era. Apart from anything else, the players were good. Dick Advocaat's Rangers side included Lorenzo Amoruso, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Colin Hendry and Claudio Reyna: able men, organised by a good manager.
Celtic had Alan Stubbs, Mark Viduka, Paul Lambert and Henrik Larsson. Even a year before Martin O'Neill arrived, they were useful.
The prospect of seeing Victor Wanyama, Steven Whittaker and Georgios Samaras charge around suddenly felt like a shame.
And if that was the feeling when seeing two competent late 1990s sides playing, it was profoundly intensified with a brief 1967 retrospective. A charming segment had Willie Henderson and Bertie Auld reminiscing on a Glasgow park bench about a 2-2 draw on 6 May 1967, which won the league for Jock Stein's Celtic, who lifted the European Cup 19 days later. That Rangers team was not bad either: Scot Symon was about to take them to his second European Cup Winners' Cup final, which they lost to Bayern Munich.
To see footage of the great "Jinky" Johnstone scoring the two goals which won Celtic the title was quite something. To remind oneself that Scott Brown was about to kick off quite another.
Sky recalling when the Old Firm were among Europe's finest teams just reinforced the frustration at how dismally uncompetitive they are now: both lost their Europa League play-offs this season, and only FC Sion's ejection allowed Celtic into the group stage.
The game was only ever going to live down to expectations. Bad tackling, bad passing, bad defending, bad behaviour: yes, it was exciting, but only because it mattered so much to so many. It was never going to be the "Glasico" that some hoped for, but almost every minute was a lurid disappointment.
The first half was not charming, but when it was announced that Neil Lennon would not be allowed into the dugout for the second half, after comments made to match officials at half-time, Sky seemingly gave up.
They could not pretend any more that this was valuable, necessary or interesting. So they paused their TV images. Then, realising that this was unfair, switched to a camera seemingly placed in the back row of a stand, but without sound. Crowd noise was tentatively reintroduced, and the original TV footage, which itself was interrupted by flickering black lines. Eventually, the original sound and pictures were restored.
Maybe Sky had to make a brief acknowledgement of their guilt. This was not a glorious classic, but a mess.
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