Ally McCoist calls for calm over Old Firm ‘frenzy’

Ally McCoist has made an early call for common sense to prevail after Saturday night’s League Cup semi-final draw set up the first clash between Rangers and Celtic for nearly three years.
Ally McCoist: Frenzy for fixture. Picture: SNSAlly McCoist: Frenzy for fixture. Picture: SNS
Ally McCoist: Frenzy for fixture. Picture: SNS

The Rangers manager was reacting to the news that the Old Firm derby will make a re-appearance, welcome or otherwise, on either 31 January or 1 February next year at Hampden Park. They last faced each other in April 2012, when Celtic ran out 3-0 winners at Parkhead.

At the time, Rangers were suffering from the financial crisis which forced the club to begin a trek back up the leagues after liquidation. This led to hostilities between the pair being suspended, to the relief of some. McCoist contends that “99.9 per cent of the Scottish public wanted to see this game”. He has, however, made an appeal for calm with the clash not scheduled to take place for another three months.

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McCoist was involved in a post-match confrontation with then Celtic manager Neil Lennon after a Scottish Cup replay in March 2011. There were three red cards, 13 bookings and 34 arrests inside the stadium. The chaotic scenes led to a so-called “Old Firm summit” being called by the First Minister, Alex Salmond.

“It is only right that we make an early appeal for calm,” said McCoist yesterday. “Common sense has to play its part in all of this.

“I believe there has been a frenzy for this fixture in some quarters,” he added. “I understand that, I get it. But for me it’s probably been a little concerning as well especially considering the game itself is three months away.

“From a sanity point of view we are talking about a game that is still three months away. It’s the first Old Firm game in almost three years and I hope all the fans can come along and enjoy. But let’s remember we have a duty and a responsibility here.

“We should look forward to the occasion – players, supporters, the clubs, the managers. We have missed these matches and all eyes will be on us once again. We must remember we have a responsibility to conduct ourselves in the proper manner. We all want to win but we all want to ensure it’s an occasion and a match to remember.”

In contrast to the scenes in the home dressing room at Celtic Park following news of the draw on Saturday evening, McCoist said the Rangers players had greeted the match-up with a “quiet nod of the head” after the Ibrox side’s Scottish Cup win at Dumbarton.

The manager added that thoughts then turned immediately to tomorrow night’s rearranged Championship clash against Cowdenbeath at Central Park. “We were in the dressing room listening to the draw on the radio,” he said. “And unlike the Celtic dressing room there was no hollering when it was made.

“What there was was a quiet nod of the head from some. That will do for me. I said, ‘great lads, that’s the draw and that’s who we are getting but we’ve got Cowdenbeath on Tuesday’. They all nodded in agreement.

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“Listen, I know the experience I have. With all due respect to everyone involved in this game, I have more Old Firm experience than anyone at the two clubs.

“We’ll keep our feet on the ground, I will ensure that. I’ve been involved in a few Old Firm games down through the years. There is nothing in the next three months that will surprise me or shock me.

“You don’t need to tell me or my players what this game means. I’m fortunate to have been through it and I’m fortunate to have the likes of McCulloch, Miller and Boyd. These boys have been over the course. I looked at the three of them when the draw was made. There was no whooping or hollering or high-fiving. There was just an assured nod of the head and that will do for me.”

Rangers currently occupy second place in the Championship and Ronny Deila, the Celtic manager, has already commented that he was glad he didn’t get the Premiership pair of either Aberdeen or Dundee United in the draw. “There were three good teams there and I think we didn’t get the best one,” he said.

On the feeling that the Dundee United v Aberdeen clash in the other semi-final has already been overshadowed, McCoist said: “Listen, 99.9 per cent of the public wanted to see this [Old Firm] game. They wanted to see the return of the Old Firm derby. I understand that.

“I also understand Aberdeen and Dundee United players having their noses out of joint because of the interest that will surround our game. There is no doubt about it, everybody is talking about the Old Firm game and everybody is already looking forward to it. But I have to sympathise with the two clubs that Ronny have said are better than us. They have a game to look forward to as well but that fixture has been overshadowed.”


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