Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 12:47 UK

Rangers convoy hits road to final

Stevie in his jeep
Stevie prepares to lead off the convoy in his brightly-decorated Jeep

The land invasion of Manchester got under way as hundreds of Rangers fans joined a colourful convoy of cars and vans heading for the Uefa Cup Final.

More than 100 vehicles decorated with balloons, flags and scarves set off from Ibrox at 1000 GMT.

The convoy drove through the centre of Glasgow before snaking its way south towards Manchester.

Many fans had travelled from across the world to join the party despite not having tickets for the match.

The convoy had been organised through the Follow Follow supporters' website by a 41-year-old fan who gave his name only as Stevie.

He led off the procession in a black Jeep that had been covered from bonnet to boot in Rangers colours.

Music blared out from its stereo while the huge crowd that had gathered to enjoy the carnival atmosphere outside the stadium cheered and waved.

I couldn't sleep last night. I'm excited like a child on Christmas Eve
Derek Porteous
Rangers fan

Stevie said: "The Jeep is black but there is more red, white and blue on it than black now. It is a big event so we may as well go for it and show off our colours.

"We are heading through town and we are going to pick up some more people at Strathclyde Park, then we are stopping off down in Gretna where there is a big welcome waiting for us, and then we will be going down to Manchester to win the Uefa Cup.

"I thought it would be nice to all go down together and have a good time. It's going to be a very friendly day out, everyone is going to join in and have a great time and hopefully we can come back with the cup."

John Brown, 78, travelled 3,500 miles from Hamilton, Ontario, to Scotland with a group of friends despite not having a ticket for Wednesday's final.

Mr Brown said: "I have supported Rangers since I was eight years old and I wouldn't miss this for the world, even though I don't have a ticket.

"As soon as Rangers reached the final there was never any doubt that we were going to be here - we have come all the way from Canada to follow the greatest team in the world. It's going to be an amazing party."

Traffic congestion

Retired police officer Dick Bruce, 72, from Glasgow, opted to make the journey in a 1984 Reliant Robin convertible.


Rangers fans head off in convoy to Manchester

He said: "I decided to join the convoy because I think it will be a laugh and it saves us buying a map. We have raincoats in case it rains as there's no roof.

"I don't have tickets for the game and will watch from the fanzone but I'm certain it will be sensational. I think Rangers will win 3-1."

Derek Porteous, 34, a mechanic from Glasgow, is driving down to Manchester with his wife.

He said: "I didn't think I would see Rangers in the Uefa Cup Final in my lifetime. I couldn't sleep last night. I'm excited like a child on Christmas Eve."

Strathclyde Police have advised coaches not to travel in convoy-style, warning that it could lead to traffic congestion.

They also warned that officers would be carrying out spot checks at various locations on the route.

Rangers fans from Canada
Alan Campbell, John Brown and Alan Brown travelled from Canada

Ch Insp Andy Orr, head of road policing for Strathclyde Police, said: "We want to make sure the journey down south is a safe one, with everyone getting to the city and the match as easily as possible with plenty of time to spare to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy what will no doubt be a spectacular day."

Network Rail urged fans planning to travel by rail from Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley to only arrive at the stations if they had reserved seats.

It said train operators Virgin and First Trans-Pennine Express had both encountered "huge" demand.

Up to 100,000 Rangers fans are expected to congregate in Manchester ahead of the match against Zenit St Petersburg despite the club only being allocated 13,000 tickets.

Big screens have been put up in the city to allow ticketless fans to watch the game. Every hotel room in Manchester and for up to 20 miles beyond - around 16,000 rooms - is now fully booked up.

The Rangers squad and management are already in Manchester, having flown out of Glasgow Airport on Monday.

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