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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
All eyes on Old Firm
Henrik Larsson skips past Barry Ferguson
Celtic v Rangers is live on the BBC on Sunday

There will be hymns of praise in a place of worship in the east end of Glasgow this Sabbath. Let us pray that it doesn't all end in an unholy mess.

The Old Firm meet for the first time this season in the live BBC game - which incidentally will be transmitted UK wide - and all chance of a lazy Sunday afternoon will go right out the window... stain glass or otherwise.

And of course all sense of reason will follow on as the supporters of Celtic and Rangers assume the tunnel vision position which dictates that nothing, but nothing, in this world matters as much as stuffing the other mob.

It is a glorious example of small mindedness.

Forgotten will be the numbing defeats in Europe, the now shelved ambitions to leave for the English Premiership and the financial quagmire.

This is tribalism in the raw.

Peter Lovenkrands and Johan Mjallby
Let's hope for an entertaining match
For decades we have claimed this to be the biggest derby match in the world. It possibly is, but probably not.

The Egyptian league match between El Ahli and Zamalek, the Cairo derby, is by all accounts quite an affair.

So intense in fact that they now import a foreign team of referee and linesmen, which on three occasions has been Scottish.

But there is no denying the Glasgow game's atmosphere, at the same time evil and invigorating.

It is a peculiar feeling to assume the neutral position at an Old Firm encounter because much as I abhor the bigotry and the hatred, it is undeniable that the atmosphere is electrifying.

As a Glaswegian I was brought full in the street wise knowledge of what this fixture is all about and even after covering countless games it still takes my breath away.

This time though there is a special responsibility, because the nation will be watching on terrestrial television.

People who have never before seen an Old Firm game will have the pictures beamed into their front rooms on the BBC.

Retired colonels in the Home Counties, sheep farmers in the Welsh Valleys will be watching.

And like it or like it not these people will be making a value judgement on Celtic, Rangers, Glasgow and the Scottish way of life.

And several club chairmen in the Premiership will reflect that it may or may not be a good idea after all to have the two Scottish giants present in their competition.

I care not who wins and neither will the victors be assured of the championship although it is certain that the team who wins three out of four SPL encounters will take the title.

But I do care about the image of my city and the behaviour of the players.

I make no excuses for repeating my oft preached plea about the responsibility of the stars in this fixture.

Lorenzo Amoruso sees red in the Old Firm derby
Passions will run high on Sunday
Every hot-headed moment of lunacy on the park has huge repercussions with the shock waves spreading through the night to the accident and emergency wards of local hospitals where doctors and nurses are left with the real work to do.

The game will be played a breakneck speed with the adrenalin pumping.

The tackling will be fierce and the fire will be blazing... but still there are no excuses for losing the plot. More than ever the hot-heads must be told to cool it.

Yet it is not without hope that the game can be a classic. Both sides are far from the finished article, but there are class players around who can light up any occasion.

Rangers will be happy to emerge from the cauldron in the east end with a point, especially in the wake of a much more demanding European fixture than Celtic's walk in a Lithuanian park.

As it happens, I think they can get it.

But I would be much more happy to forecast a peaceful Sabbath...

See also:

22 Sep 02 | Scotland
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