Archive for December, 2009

Charlie’s Boots

December 24, 2009

charlies_boots

millerI am sure you all recognise former Ranger Charlie Miller, the other picture shows Charlie’s most famous pair of boots. Unfortunately for Charlie he wasn’t wearing them at the time. The boots were given to David Beckham by mistake, and he wore them when he scored from his own half against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in August 1996. The boots Beckham wore that day had “Charlie” embroidered on the tongue, having been made for Charlie Miller.

It’s an example of the status Charlie had at the time and he looked to be heading for a long Rangers and Scotland career. Indeed in the October 1995 edition of Four Four Two, Charlie was one of four featured players in their “The Boy’s A Bit Special”  feature. The heading for each player began with the letter ‘C’, Charlie’s was “Cocky”.

“Superb first Touch. Wonderful close control. An Unnerving ability to flat-foot defenders. Remarkable turn of speed. Great engine. Passes like a dream. Bags of confidence. Cocky. And Adored.”

That was the opening paragraph for the youngster from Rangers Supporters Association Boys Club who had broken into the Rangers side that included Gazza and Laudrup.  Just over two seasons later Charlie was at Leicester City on loan and a short time later moved to Watford for £450,000.

Not a lot of games in two years and then he was back in Scotland with a settled period at Dundee United. After which Charlie decided to try his luck abroad and had a decent few seasons in Norway, a brief stint in Belgium and is now seeing out the end of his career in Australia with Brisbane Roar.

Five league championships, two Scottish Cups, two League Cups, a Norwegian Cup. At one end of his career SPFA Young Player of the Year and then last season the A-League’s Foreign Player of the Year. He gained one solitary cap for Scotland in a friendly international against Poland in April 2001, he was a Dundee United player by that time.

Even though Charlie has had a career that most people could only dream about, I am sure in his quiet moments he must think what might have been.

I couldn’t finish without touching on the others in that “The Boy’s A Bit Special” feature.

“Cute” James Quinn (Blackpool)

Born in Coventry but gained 50 caps for Northern Ireland, James was often in the same Northern Ireland squads as Jimmy Quinn, so people often got them mixed up.

A man of many clubs he was most noted for his spells at Blackpool and West Brom, who paid £500,000 for him in 1998. He also spent a couple of season in Dutch football with Willem II. His last club was Northampton Town and he retired in 2007.

“Curly” Peter Smith (Brighton)

They were stretching the ‘boy’ bit here, as Peter was 26 when he moved from Kent League club Alma Swanley to Brighton. He spent six seasons at Brighton before moving into non league with Woking and Canvey Island.

He was arguably more famous after his playing career when he had a cameo role for three years in Sky One’s football soap Dream Team. Peter is now  working for the PFA’s commercial department.

“Combative” Peter Lipcsei (FC Porto)

Hungarian internationalist midfielder Peter Lipcsei made his name initially at Ferencvaros before Bobby Robson made the move to take him to Portugal.  Another player who failed to live up to his early promise, after a good start at Porto, he spent the next season at Sporting Espinho that saw them relegated.

A further spell at Ferencvaros was followed by a brief stint in Austria at Austria Salzburg before returning to Ferencvaros for a third time where at the age of 37 he is still a registered player. unfulfilled potential perhaps, but he did gain 58 caps for Hungary, in what was admittedly not a golden age for Hungarian football.

Development Teams Take On Aussies

December 18, 2009

With the under 19’s league game against Falkirk at Stirling University postponed it gave me the opportunity to take in the games at Murray Park this afternoon. Rangers under 15’s and Under 17’s took on a touring side from Australia, TY Sports Academy. I’m not sure of the set up but the touring sides were made of a mix of Australians and Koreans. As I tried to keep an eye on both games the reports are a wee bit sketchy.

Under 17’s

Rangers 5 TY Sports Academy2

Rangers began the match with three trialists in the starting line up, a Polish goalkeeper and two strikers who I believe were a Scottish lad and a Finn. The first real threat came from the visitors when the trialist keeper has his attempted clearance charged down, although as the ball spun goalwards he had plenty time to get back and gather the ball. At the other end Anthony Marenghi brought out a fine save from a free kick just outside the box.

Midway through the half the tourists took the lead, the trialist keeper again had problems with his kicking, this time only clearing to the striker at the edge of the box who shot into the empty net. Within five minutes Rangers were level when the other trialists combined to great effect. Good play on the right by Trialist No. 9 (Scotland) saw him Cross for Trialist No. 10 (Finland) to head home.

After another five-minute gap Rangers took the lead, Lewis McLeod sending Trialist No. 10 clear and he calmly prodded the ball past the advancing keeper.  Rangers had the better of the play in the first half and missed a few chances, but only a great interception by Michael Noble kept them ahead as half time approached.

Half- Time:- Rangers 2 TY Sports Academy 1

Early in the second half Rangers increased their lead with a great solo goal from Anthony Marenghi, picking the ball up on the left he cut inside past two defenders and beat the keeper with a right foot shot from just outside the box. Just when it looked like Rangers would take command the visitors reduced the deficit with a powerful header from a corner from the right.

Rangers were then back on the attack and were denied by the keeper on a couple of occasions. They came closer still when Marenghi’s ball in from the left was flicked goalwards at the near post by Robbie Crawford only to see it come back off the post. When they did increase their lead it came from the penalty spot. Mark Taylor’s ball into the box was controlled by Trialist No. 10, who was impeded as he tried to turn and stepped up to blast the ball high into the net despite the best efforts of the visiting keeper and complete his hat-trick.

The scoring was complete when Nicky Main played him through again, this time his cutback allowed Lee Cochrane to score from close range via the keeper’s left hand post.

Full Time:- Rangers 5 TY Sports Academy 2

Rangers:- Trialist N0. 1 (Blair Currie); Ewan McNeil (Lee Cochrane), Kyle McAusland, Michael Noble, Steven Hetherington; Nicky Main, Lewis McLeod (Robbie Crawford), George Scott (Frankie Owens), Anthony Marenghi; Trialist No.9 (Mark Taylor), Trialist No. 10.

Under 15’s

Rangers 3 TY Sports Academy 0

This was played over three thirty minute periods, the visitors were successful in their previous games against Nottingham Forrest and Bolton Wanderers. The Rangers squad included a significant number of under 14’s.

The first period was goalless although Callum McConnell looked likely to score when played through by Blair Munn, but he knocked the ball over the advancing keeper and just wide. Ciaran Summers also came close, gathering a Dylan Dykes cross and shooting across goal and just past the far post. Just before the end of the period the visitors had a great chance and just when it looked a certain goal the ball was deflected over for a corner.

The second period was where the game was won, with all Rangers goals coming in the period. The first coming via the penalty spot, Callum McConnell was played through and the defender seemed to clear the ball for a corner but the referee deemed he had fouled the Rangers player and pointed to the spot, Blair Munn stepped up to confidently score from the spot.

The second came after good play on the left created a scoring opportunity and the keeper made a fine save, but was helpless as the rebound went straight to Blair Spittal who fired home. And it was Blair Spittal who grabbed the final goal, dispossessing the defender at the edge of the box and shooting past the keeper.

There was no further scoring in the final period, the highlights being a fine save low to his right by Liam Kelly when the striker was through, and an equally fine save at the other end after the ball broke to Stuart Urquhart inside the box following a corner, the tourists keeper turning his effort over the bar.

Rangers 3 TY Sports Academy 0

Rangers:- Liam Kelly; Dylan Dykes, Greg Pescizio, Stuart Urquhart, Jordan Wilson (Tom Walsh); Blair Munn (Blair Spittal), Jack Donaldson (Andy Murdoch), Darren McGill (Scott Roberts), Ciaran Summers; Callum McConnell, Danny Hutchinson (Kjeld McIntyre)

Youths Draw In Seville

December 10, 2009

Seville 1 Rangers 1

Following on from the last Champions League week, when VfB Stuttgart brought over a side to taken on Rangers under 15’s, Rangers under 19’s  travelled to Spain to take on a youth side from their hosts Seville. After a lot of investigation we found out that the game was at midday on Wednesday at Ciudad Deportiva Sevilla, Seville’s training ground.

When the teams lined up at kick-off the home side certainly looked a wee bit older and more like an under 21 side than under 19. The opening period saw both sides probe and size each other up and very little happened until the 20 minute mark, when the home side created the first real chance and Grant Adam made a good block at close range.  Three minutes later Kane Hemmings had the ball in the net when Archie Campbell played him through but was flagged offside.

Back to the other end a few minutes later and from a free-kick wide on the left the Seville player tried to catch Adam out with a shot to the near post, but the Rangers keeper made a fine save. Five minutes before the break Kane Hemmings broke down the right and his cross almost caught out the home keeper who just managed to fumble it behind for a corner. From Gregg Wylde’s corner on the right Rangers took the lead, Chris Scott rising to head powerfully past the keeper.

Half-Time:- Seville 0 Rangers 1

Like the first half there was a quiet start to the second period until Seville equalised on the hour mark. The Rangers defence was caught out with a ball inside full-back Gregg Wylde and the home side’s winger advance to coolly beat substitute keeper Mark Weir.

Five minutes later it looked like Rangers had regained the lead when Kyle Hutton rose to meet another Wylde corner, but his header flashed across goal and just past the far post. The home side then missed a great chance when their striker mis- kicked on the six yard line and the ball spun up and over the bar.

With twenty minutes left on the clock Kamil Wiktorski fired a long-range effort just wide. Ten minutes later and the chance was at the other end and the Rangers defence was relived to see the Seville midfielder shoot over from around the penalty spot.

The final chance came with five minutes remaining, a ball through the inside left channel sent the striker clear, Mark Weir making a fine save at close range to ensure Rangers got the draw they merited.

It was a great experience for the boys and a good result and performance against what certainly appeared to be an older side. Rolling substitutions were used and everyone played at least 45 minutes, with the home side using almost two teams.

Rangers:- Grant Adam; Rhys McCabe, Chris Scott, Darren Cole, Gregg Wylde; Gordon Dick, Kyle Hutton, Kamil Wiktorski, Dylan McGeough; Archie Campbell, Kane Hemmings.

Subs:- Mark Weir, Steven Forbes, Max Wright, Kal Naismith, Scott Durie.

Youths Progress In Cup

December 6, 2009

Dunfermline Athletic 0 Rangers 3

Rangers youngsters progressed to the next round of the Youth Cup with a comfortable if unspectacular win against Dunfermline Athletic at East End Park this afternoon. There were three changes to the team that drew with Kilmarnock last week, with Jamie Ness, Kamil Wiktorski and Max wright coming in to replace Dylan McGeough, Scott Durie and Archie Campbell. While the Pars were with out Lee Graham and Jordan White who have moved on loan to Clyde since the last round.

Rangers had an early chance when  Gregg Wylde’s free-kick from the right broke to Chris Scott inside the box but the big central defender fired over. Following a quiet spell Max Wright broke forward onto a Kane Hemmings header and as he made his way into the box an excellent clearance from Harry McGregor averted the danger at the expense of a corner.

On the 26th minute mark a free-kick from the halfway line was headed on by Kyle Hutton and Kane Hemmings just failed to connect with an attempted over head kick and keeper Craig Bald saved. Two minutes later and Rangers took the lead, Kane Hemmings controlled a long ball from Rhys McCabe on his chest and broke clear, as keeper Bald came out he slightly miss hit his shot and it went past the keeper to give Rangers the lead.

Just after the half hour mark Rangers doubled their lead, Kyle Hutton rising to head Gregg Wylde’s corner past the desperate attempt by Rees Smith to clear on the line. Two minutes later and Hemmings broke from midfield to send Kyle Hutton clear but keeper Bald came rushing from his line to block with his legs.

Dunfermline were not out of it and with ten minutes of the half remaining Rees Smith tried his luck from 25 yards and was just too high to trouble Grant Adam in the Rangers goal. Then just before half-time they came closer still, Aaron Scott’s cross from the inside right channel was met by the head of Paul Willis and with Adam beaten the ball rebounded from his left hand post.

Half Time:- Dunfermline Athletic 0 Rangers 2

After a quiet opening to the second half the first real chance came on 63 minutes when Gordon Dick sent Substitute Archie Campbell clear, with the home keeper Bald coming out of his goal to block his shot. Five minutes later and another though ball from Dick saw Kane Hemming get there just before keeper Bald, who caught the Rangers striker and sent him tumbling for a clear penalty, Archie Campbell stepped up to blast the ball straight down the middle to make it 3-0.

On 76 minutes we had the start of a period when Rangers had three chances in as many minutes. Archie Campbell broke down the left and fired in a great shot that Bald tipped over. From the corner Darren Cole headed back across goal and Bald excelled again, touching Hemmings header over. Again Dick’s corner caused the home side problems, this time McCabe’s volley just going over.

In the Final ten minutes The Pars had a couple of near things that almost brought a consolation goal. A cross from the left by Lewis Turner found its way to Ryan Thomson inside the box but he shot narrowly over. Then with six minutes remaining Paul Willis cut in on left and made his way along the byline only to be denied by the foot of Grant Adam at the near post. The final effort of the game came with two minutes remaining and saw a comfortable Adam save from Willis’s effort from just outside the box.

Full Time:- Dunfermline Athletic 0 Rangers 3

Rangers :- Grant Adam; Rhys McCabe, Chris Scott, Darren Cole, Gregg Wylde; Kyle Hutton, Kamil Woktorski (Scott Durie 75mins), Jamie Ness (Archie Campbell 46mins), Gordon Dick; Max Wright, Kane Hemmings.

Not Used:- Mark Weir, Dylan McGeough, Kyle McCausland

Dunfermline Athletic:- Craig Bald; Blair McWhirter, Ryan Thomson, Harry McGregor, Rees Smith; John McDonald (Scott McIntosh 66 mins), Aaron Scott, Lewis Turner, Stefan Scougall (Kevin McHattie 75mins); Steven Leslie (Conner Schivone 59 mins), Paul Willis.

Not Used:- Ryan Goodfellow, Stuart Thomson