Page last updated at 20:30 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 21:30 UK

Story of the game with the fans

BBC Scotland's Phil Goodlad is in Manchester for Rangers' Uefa Cup final. He is keeping a regular diary of the story on the ground with the fans.

WEDNESDAY EVENING - MATCH TIME

2136 BST - Full-time. The Uefa dream ends for Rangers for this year.

2135 BST- More heartache as Zenit score their second goal.

2116BST - Despair for Rangers fans as Zenit go one goal ahead.

Konstantin Zyrianov of Zenit celebrates his team's second goal
Konstantin Zyrianov of Zenit celebrates his team's second goal

2058 BST- A good old-fashioned stramash gets the Rangers fans all excited.

2048 BST- Second half kicks off.

2041 BST- Still no word on whether the 12,000 Rangers fans in the Piccadilly Gardens have got their screen back.

2032 BST- Half time. Let's all contain ourselves.

2026 BST- An announcement is made that the fan zone bar will be closing at half-time. Groans ring out.

2004 BST- Disaster strikes. One of the big screens at Piccadilly Gardens has gone blank.

1959 BST- Fans at the Cathedral Gardens fan zone find it difficult to see the screen because of the setting sun.

1945 BST- Kick off. Fans give the biggest cheer of the day.

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON - PARTY TIME

Portaloos in Manchester
There are 300 portable toilets in Manchester city centre
1431 BST - So, you're probably wondering what happens when 100,000 fans need the toilet.

Well this is your answer - Portillo Avenue.

300 toilets have been set up in the city for tonight.

Yes, I know, 300 into 100,000 really doesn't go.

1255 BST - The heat is really beginning to bite. Forecast to be 21C but feels hotter.

The police say they are a bit concerned at the prospect of fan de-hydration.

Perhaps somebody should tell the blue army that drinking eight pints of lager isn't the sort of thing doctors advise when advocating drinking plenty of liquids.

Topless fan
This man is charging to put his t-shirt back on
1214 BST - With 100,000 fans arriving money is definitely to be made.

Our friend here has devised an ingenious way of taking money from the Rangers faithful.

No, not charging a fiver for a flag but taking money from people to put his t-shirt back on!

Sadly it seems he's not made enough.

WEDNESDAY MORNING - THE CITY IS BLUE

1117 BST: Spare a thought for the Scots who moved here from Glasgow.

Rangers fans at the Manchester Wheel
The Manchester Wheel was a dry zone for fans
The guy who's just served me coffee is a native of Partick. He arrived down here just four weeks ago for a "fresh" start.

"I never thought I would see another bottle of Buckfast again," he said. How wrong he was.

1053 BST: A big attraction for fans is the Manchester Wheel in the city centre. For the cost of many pounds you can see the city from up high.

All they will see though is the throng of blue, red and white pouring in.

Unfortunately for my fellow countrymen, the Manchester Wheel is a dry zone. The stack of carry-outs waiting for their owners' return next to the gate is quite something.

Morning after
The party on Tuesday night looks like "quite a caper"
1018 BST: Where are all these people coming from? All shapes and sizes, styles and accents.

In the fashion stakes, the Union Flag wrapped round as a skirt complete with Rangers top appears to be 'in'. And the clown wigs coloured blue, red and white are also popular.

I wonder how the midday sun will treat such artificial barnets?

0837 BST: At last I spy some Russian fans. These gentlemen are wandering around taking in the sights. I have to say they look rather bewildered. Forget the Red Square... Manchester City Centre is blue.

Not sure what Russian is for 'Aaaright big man, fancy a swally?'

Sure we'll find out before the day, indeed the morning, is out.

0703 BST: D-day. Its arrival is met with piercing sunshine and clear blue sky.

Really don't think it matters though to the growing blue army here.

Zenit fans
Finally Phil finds some Zenit fans
For some I don't think the weather is even registering.

My first sight on reaching the fan zone was seeing a blue, red and white character slumped over a crash barrier re-acquainting himself with breakfast! My eyes are innocent no longer.

Our vantage point for Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme gives us a great view of the fans walking to the fan zone... and it's a never ending flow.

It's like a scene from 28 Days Later! Perhaps many of them were at the party last night, which, as the picture shows looks like quite a caper.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON - JAUNT TO PRESTON

What is it they say about best laid plans and all that? You find me sitting at Preston railway station, en route back to Glasgow.

Except I am now not going to Glasgow. The reason? My journey with the Rangers fans is off.

You'll remember from my early posting, I was travelling back to Glasgow to ride the Uefa Cup wave with an Ibrox bus making for Manchester.

But with a waiting list as long as your arm for seats "the baa has well and truly burst!"

Preston station
Phil travelled as far as Preston

Still it gives me a chance to hear the chants and see the colour of Rangers fans travelling through Preston to their date with destiny.

Being in a mischievous mood I confess to amusing myself by saying to one fan on the platform that tomorrow's game is cancelled.

"Nah chance big man. Wir gonnae win it!" Big man? Granted I'm 6ft 1in and carry evidence of one or two overly indulgent nights, but big? I'm shocked. I won't be playing this game again!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON - SOMBREROS AND SUN CREAM

Amazing how familiar a city gets after a couple of days. I swear more Rangers fans have arrived since I was last here three hours ago.

I'm worried for them. Not for violence or anything sinister. It's the weather. Absolutely roasting. Meant to be 24C but it feels much warmer.

Rangers fans
Rangers fans feeling the heat in Manchester

Already a number of the bald heads and chest lines are beginning to look rather lobsterish. Some are taking precautions such as this character, William who has flown in from Colorado complete with Sombrero.

I wonder if sun cream rather than a ticket should be the most important thing for the Ibrox faithful?

TUESDAY MORNING - EARLY START FOR FANS

One of the things you learn when following a big football match is that you'll see things you wouldn't believe. Take these characters who pitched up at the fan zone at 5am this morning!

They'd just come off the overnight bus from Glasgow. Notice the lack of suitcases. No room for things like clean clothes and a wash bag when you've a huge carry-out to contend with!

So after a hectic morning doing pieces into our home stable, BBC Radio Scotland and Five Live, the morning team are taking a break.

My colleague Geoff Webster and our engineer Eric Smith are off to find food. I'm confident they'll succeed. Eric can sniff out a bacon roll at 20 paces!

And Geoff is the master of all he surveys. Annie McGuire is on her way to add some glamour to the radio car. Sadly I'll miss her.

While an estimated 100,000 Rangers fans are on their way here, I'm heading in the opposite direction.

"Be great to have you travelling down with the fans," my editor said.

What he didn't tell me was that I'd already be in Manchester and have to face another gruelling train journey up to Glasgow to then meet up with the minibus early on Wednesday morning. I think I must have offended him in a previous life!

MONDAY EVENING - LANGUAGE BARRIERS

So, remember I said earlier that the best sight I'd seen in Manchester so far was the face of a security man guarding the Uefa Cup from a pensioner?

Fans with police
Fans have a bit of banter with the local constabulary

Well forget that - much better has just happened. The look of the police woman on the right of the photo when one of the fans said to her "aaright hen" was simply a picture.

Once the Glaswegian lingo was explained the ladies of Manchester's finest seemed to be as amused as the fans.

So here we are, 48 hours from Rangers destiny or Rangers despair. The city is braced for the blue invasion which will begin in earnest tomorrow.

To be honest I've not heard one negative word from anybody about the estimated 100,000 Ibrox fans that will take over this city. Well that's not strictly true.

The lady in a well-known coffee shop I was in this afternoon had to ask me three times to repeat what I was saying when I asked for a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin.

"I knew I wouldn't understand you Scots." Coming from a woman with the thickest Mancunian accent I have heard so far I didn't know whether to laugh or cry!

MONDAY AFTERNOON - FIRST SIGHT OF THE CUP

So this is what it's all about. The Uefa cup has gone on display in the town hall which overlooks Albert Square, one of the Rangers Fan Zones.

But so far no long queues to see it. In fact only 68-year-old Peter Ball is ogling it. And well he might - without a ticket for the match this is the closest the Glaswegian will get to the cup.

Fan and UEFA Cup
Rangers fan Peter Ball with the UEFA Cup

Have to say, best thing I've seen in Manchester so far was the look on the security guard's face when the pensioner took out his scarf and Rangers flag to drape over the display cabinet.

"Don't do that - you'll trigger the alarm."

Wonder how effective that advice will be when tens of thousands file to see it in the coming days?

MONDAY MORNING - ALBERT SQUARE BECKONS

Behold Manchester Town Hall. It overlooks Albert Square (not Phil Mitchell's 'manor'), one of the Rangers fan zones.

About 10,000 supporters will watch the match on a big screen not yet erected and will drink and (hopefully) be merry.

But do the maths - around 100,000 coming down, 15,000 of which have tickets.

SUNDAY EVENING - EVENTUALLY ARRIVE IN MANCHESTER

How difficult can it be to operate a train? I was due to arrive at Manchester Piccadilly at 1605 BST. At 1823 the replacement train limped in to Manchester Victoria.

Manchester Town Hall
Manchester prepares to welcome the teams and their fans
Standing for an hour with laptop and radio satellite equipment tangled around my shoulders was no fun. But being packed into the carriage meant sardines in a tin had nothing on my arrival to the 2008 UEFA Cup final host city.

The party is already in full swing! Not Rangers fans this early (although I'm sure that will start soon) but rather fans of Manchester United.

Flags out of car windows, horns blaring and red shirts being swung in the air. I take it another league title is heading to Old Trafford.

But here's a question: Why in such moments of sheer joy is it only those who are obese and can consume 10 pints of lager that feel the need to take their tops off? I'm shocked and a little worried.

I sometimes enjoy a pint. Soda water for me this evening.

Phil Goodlad will also be reporting on the build-up on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland from 0600 to 0900 BST.


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