IT CAN take terrible predicaments to foster unity. That will be demonstrated at Ibrox today when Rangers supporters put all boardroom and governance issues to one side, and forget any factionalism for an afternoon as they turn out for Fernando Ricksen’s benefit match.
The Dutchman, stricken by motor neurone disease, will be the focus for a charity game that will bring together a collection of former team-mates from his Ibrox era, from 2000 to 2006, and many more former Rangers favourites. Among the performers who will be strapping on their boots to pound the Ibrox turf once more is acting assistant manager Gordon Durie. The former Scotland striker crossed over briefly at Rangers with Ricksen, and believes the turn-out of fellow professionals for the legends encounter – Teddy Sheringham and Darren Andertonare among those set to play for the All-Star opposition – “just shows the respect the man had at the club”.
Around 22,000 tickets are believed to have been sold but fans will now be able to pay at the gate for an event that will raise funds for Ricksen, his daughter Isabella, Motor Neurone Disease Scotland and the Rangers Charity Foundation. It will be a day to forget the troubles of the football club and show solidarity with a man who has to face daily struggles against a pernicious affliction.
“It’s a fantastic cause,” said Durie. “It’s a tragedy what has happened with Fernando. It brings everything into perspective. I’ve seen him a couple of times over the last couple of years and it’s really sad to see. We are hoping for a good turnout. The Rangers people have been fantastic over the last few years and I’m sure they will turn out for a special cause. We are all looking forward to the game. It’s always nice to catch up with players you have not seen for years. That will be special too.”
Ricksen was no shrinking violet and no stranger to spats in his time at Rangers. His unbridled enthusiasm is what left its mark on Durie in their short time together. “My first impression of him was that he was a winner. He always gave 100 per cent… maybe sometimes a wee bit too much. That was Fernando, a great lad in the dressing-room and he was well respected.”
Today’s match between Rangers Greats and an All Stars team kicks off at 2pm. Supporters can pay at the turnstiles. Prices are £12 for adults (£8 concessions) and £5 for children. Family admission for two adults and two children is £30.