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FIERCE HOLY WAR IN A VIOLENT CITY
Hugh McIlvanney
January 15, 1968
Glasgow citizens love a fight, and nothing stirs one quicker than a confrontation of Celtic-Rangers fans, especially when these two soccer teams meet to start the New Year
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January 15, 1968

Fierce Holy War In A Violent City

Glasgow citizens love a fight, and nothing stirs one quicker than a confrontation of Celtic-Rangers fans, especially when these two soccer teams meet to start the New Year

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On a dead, muddy field before 75,000, Celtic, playing without four of the 11 who won the European Cup, were still generally too mobile and inventive in the first half for a Rangers' side that was ponderously physical in defense and had only Willie Johnston to suggest penetration in attack. John Greig, the Rangers captain, set a dubious example with repeated fouls on Jimmy Johnstone, Celtic's marvelously elusive right winger, and when Sandy Jardine chose to give Johnstone similar treatment the punishment was a free kick that led to a goal.

At the beginning of the second half Rangers appeared almost resigned, and the jubilant Celtic support were giving voice with "We're off to Dublin in the green, in the green...." They were silenced abruptly by the first of Fallon's moments of eccentricity. He contrived to permit a moderate shot to go through his legs, and at once Rangers found new vigor. Celtic began to labor, an unusual plight for a team considered one of the fittest in the world. Bobby Murdoch, a hero of Lisbon, brought reassurance when, with his back to goal, he controlled the ball in the air with his right foot and pivoted to hook a wonderful left-footer high beyond Rangers Goalkeeper Erik Sorensen. Still, Fallon was to have the final say. When Rangers Danish right back, Kai Johansen, moved up and mis-hit a shot from rather more than 25 yards it seemed that someone in the stands would have had time to get down and save the skidding ball. But Fallon, arching his body conveniently, dived over it and gave Rangers a draw. Two minutes later the match was over, and the red-haired goalkeeper was making an embarrassed sprint for the tunnel.

"Tonight he won't have a friend in the world," someone said solemnly in the press box.

He had quite a few friends in "The Snug" bar at Bridgeton Cross, where a bunch of Rangers fans were soon dancing frenetically in a circle like Indians who had just heard about their team's performance at the Little Bighorn. They were brandishing their scarves ( Rangers and Celtic diehards are among the few people who wear woolen scarves all year round) and pint glasses crunched under their feet as they chanted, "Aye, aye, yippee, the Pope's a———-hippie."

Outside a news vendor was saying that it had been a quiet one. There were only four arrests in the ground. "Aye," said a customer in a green scarf, "I'll bet Fallon wishes there had been a break-in at half time."

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