Scottish Premier League - 8,000 fans turn Celtic-Rangers U17 match into disgrace

A vast crowd turned up at Celtic Park to turn what should have been a fine occasion into a sectarian nightmare.

Scottish Premier League - 8,000 fans turn Celtic-Rangers U17 match into disgrace

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Chaos at Celtic v Rangers U17 Glasgow Cup match as fans run riot at Celtic Park (via Twitter)

Football fans in Glasgow have been starved of an Old Firm clash for a long, long time.

In fact it's two years to the day on April 29 since Rangers and Celtic last met in the Scottish top flight. That match was won 3-0 by Celtic, and came a couple of months before Rangers were liquidated before being forced to start again in Scotland's fourth tier due to a string of financial irregularities at the club.

Rangers have since won two promotions, but still need one more next year to get back to the top table of the game north of the border.

But fans have long since decided that they can't wait that long to stoke up their fierce rivalry, and the Rangers and Celtic 'fans' have seized every opportunity to watch the two clubs go head-to-head at lower levels of the game.

Trouble at such matches has been far from uncommon - with one youth level match this season being played behind a closed-door policy so strict that even the players' parents were refused permission to attend.

Rangers released a statement confirming they could not meet the Police costs associated with that match: "After consultation with Celtic, Police Scotland and the SPFL the decision has been taken to play the forthcoming home and away SPFL Under 20s League matches against Celtic behind closed doors.

"This is primarily due to the high level of police presence dictated by Police Scotland and the resulting costs of such required policing."

Last night's Glasgow Cup final appeared to take things to a new high, however, as 8,000 people turned up to watch Celtic's U17s take on Rangers' U17s. That was a bigger attendance than THREE of the six matches played in the Scottish Premiership over the weekend. But the appetitite was not for football or Celtic's 1-0 win.

What was the real result? Sectarian chanting, violence, chaos and vandalism, with smoke bombs thrown and over 100 seats ripped out, despite a huge police presence both inside and around Celtic Park.

The Daily Record's Gordon Parks attended the match, and paints a grim picture in an extraordinary article penned in the wake of Celtic's 1-0 win.

"Faces contorted by hate, two sets of fans baiting each other and using the occasion of a kids game to vent their bile and make the most of what was the rare chance to air their differences," he wrote.

"For me it was a football first in many respects. I've never worked at a game where Police have advised reporters to seek sanctuary in the safety of the press room.

"It's was also a first in witnessing the bulk of two sets of supporters paying little more than a passing interest to what was happening on the pitch and preferring to stand sideways to spout sectarian abuse at one another.

"There will be some who even today would struggle to tell you the score…

"It wasn't just the revolting language being aired in the verbal tennis being exchanged across the stand from both sets of the village idiot brigade which turned the stomach, it was more the step back in time.

"A human wall of Police being formed between two sets of supporters who hurled religious abuse at each other is proof sectarian hatred remains very much in the present despite hope it had been consigned to history…"

This should not be surprising to people familiar with certain aspects of life in pockets of the west of Scotland. Last year at Firhill, the Daily Mail's John McGarry painted a similar picture when over 6,000 washed up at Firhill - home of Partick Thistle - to watch the same Glasgow Cup final with flares thrown, seats ripped up and a pitch invasion.

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