Rangers refused to let their players talk to the media after the club’s defeat in the Scottish Cup final, citing the “disgraceful behaviour” of Hibs fans who invaded the pitch and allegedly attacked members of the Rangers team following the full-time whistle.
Mark Warburton’s side lost the season finale 3-2 after Hibs overturned a late 2-1 deficit to end their 114-year wait for the Scottish Cup trophy. David Gray was the Hibernian hero on the day, heading home an injury-time corner after Anthony Stokes had notched his second goal of the day to draw Hibs level with ten minutes remaining. Rangers had led through goals from Kenny Miller and Andy Halliday.
Just a couple of minutes after Gray’s goal sent the green-and-white end of the stadium into raptures, thousands of Hibs fans poured on to the Hampden Park turf, celebrating the end of their long wait for Scottish Cup glory. While an outburst of emotion was understandable given the circumstances, there can be no condoning attacks on Rangers players, with captain Lee Wallace one of several Rangers players to be allegedly attacked by Hibs fans.
The Ibrox club refused to have their players return to the field and the defeated side were instead presented with their runners-up medals inside the Hampden Park dressing room.
A club statement said: “Rangers Football Club is shocked at the disgraceful behaviour of Hibs fans at full-time.
“Rangers players and staff were assaulted by these fans who invaded the pitch and in the interests of their safety could not return to the pitch for the medal presentation.
“There can be no place for the violent behaviour witnessed at the end of the final and Rangers fully expect the Scottish Football Association and Police Scotland to launch an investigation to find out where security measures failed.
“The club would like to commend Rangers fans for the restraint they showed under severe provocation.”
While security managed to get the Rangers team down the tunnel to safety, they couldn’t stop a hundred or so fans spilling on from the Rangers end. Bursts of fighting broke out between fans before the police made their presence felt as officers on horseback came on to the field and managed to separate the two sets of supporters.
The dreadful scenes brought back chilling memories of the 1980 Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Rangers – often labelled as The Shame Game – a blot on this nation’s football history that led to the ban on alcohol inside all Scottish sports grounds.