He Once Gave 'Arrogant' Advocaat the Fright of His Life. So Rangers Would Be Wise Not to Repeat His Mistake and Write off Pat Fenlon

Daily Mail (London), December 8, 2011 | Go to article overview

He Once Gave 'Arrogant' Advocaat the Fright of His Life. So Rangers Would Be Wise Not to Repeat His Mistake and Write off Pat Fenlon


Byline: EXCLUSIVE by BRIAN MARJORIBANKS

SHOULD Pat Fenlon mark his full Hibs managerial debut by causing an unlikely upset at Easter Road on Saturday, the tremors would ripple out of Leith and across Scotland.

Even such a noteworthy triumph, however, would still pale in comparison with the Irishman's first encounter with Rangers as a player; a UEFA Cup qualifier which for a long time looked like producing a shockwave lurching off the Richter Scale.

On a warm summer's evening in Tranmere in July 1998, new Rangers manager Dick Advocaat found his expensively assembled side staring at the worst European humiliation in the club's history as they fell 3-0 down to Shelbourne after 58 minutes at neutral Prenton Park.

Robbed of home advantage due to fears over fan trouble, the League of Ireland side were fired up by 'arrogant' Advocaat dismissing Shelbourne as 'amateurs' and Fenlon pulled the strings as the Dubliners went for Rangers' throats.

Rangers ultimately avoided a defeat to rival their historic nadir, a Scottish Cup exit against Berwick Rangers in 1967, with five goals in the last 32 minutes from Jorg Albertz (two penalties), Gabriel Amato (2) and Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

But it was a real fright night for a Rangers squad featuring one player with a new World Cup winner's medal -- French substitute goalkeeper Lionel Charbonnier -- while Rino Gattuso would conquer the planet in 2006 and van Bronckhorst reach the final in 2010.

And, as the new Hibs manager prepares to lock horns with Rangers for the first time since that night in 1998, his former manager at Shelbourne, Dermot Keely, believes Fenlon will harbouring thoughts of revenge.

'I'll never forget that night against Rangers in Tranmere, and I'm sure Pat Fenlon won't either,' 57-year-old Keely told Sportsmail. 'We were 3-0 up after 58 minutes and Pat was at the heart of the action, setting up our second goal for Mark Rutherford.

'It was my first time in charge of a European match and I just couldn't believe my eyes. We really tore into Rangers that day.

'I remember looking over at the scoreboard and looking at the Rangers manager appearing crestfallen and thinking: "F*** you!" 'Dick Vodka as I have always called him ever since -- I can't stand Advocaat as a drink or a person -- was so arrogant towards us before the match.

'He didn't even pretend to play the game of respecting us. He was just so dismissive of "the amateurs" and that really wound us all up.

'Sadly, we were like rabbits in the headlights after that and Rangers were inspired by Gabriel Amato.

'But it was still a terrific performance from us and Pat was in the middle of it.

'My dressing room at Shelbourne was obviously full of Celtic fans and Pat was one of the biggest. He was a die-hard Celtic fan and he was always getting the ferry over to Scotland to go to Parkhead. He's Celtic through-and-through and playing Rangers meant a lot to him.

'Losing 5-3 was tough to take and I'm sure Pat will have that at the back of his mind when he faces Rangers this weekend. LURED MARTIN to snap up Jim Henry The 59-year-the Northern Aston Villa 13 months, ill-fated Henry backroom Light, arrivals 'So Rangers would do well not to repeat Advocaat's mistake and write a Pat Fenlon team off again.' For Shelbourne, the second leg in Glasgow a week later saw the Irish side beaten 2-0 for a 7-3 aggregate loss that was less comfortable for Rangers than it appeared on paper. …

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