Rangers Europa League final: long road home for ‘impeccable’ fans

As hundreds of Rangers fans made their way home to Northern Ireland after the heartbreak of a penalty shootout, authorities in Seville were praising the behaviour of the 100,000-strong travelling support.

By Mark Rainey
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 6:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2022, 6:55 pm

Spanish police were on high alert at the prospect of 90,000 fans descending on the Andalucian capital without a match ticket for the Europa League final, however, despite a painful defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, no arrests of Rangers fans have been reported.

One of the Northern Ireland contingent to make the trip was Portadown businessman Colin Symington.

He said the pre-match festivities were memorable for all the right reasons.

Mark Foster from Belfast in the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville ahed of the Europa League final.

“A brilliant experience and it was great to be there. It was a great journey to be on, through the whole European adventure,” he said.

“For the club to come to a European final, when 10 years ago we were playing Brechin and Elgin [in the bottom tier of Scottish football], is quite a story.

“If we had won it, it would have been the greatest story ever told in football. You couldn’t write the script.

“Like most Rangers fans, I like to think the whole European campaign was a tribute to the late manager Walter Smith, and kitman Jimmy Bell who died recently.”

Billboard tribute to Walter Smith and Jimmy Bell in Portadown, sponsored by local businessman and Rangers fan Colin Symington.

Colin said the fans’ behaviour was commendable, and added: “The Rangers supporters were a total credit to themselves. They went there to enjoy themselves and they were absolutely brilliant.

“No other team in Europe could bring so many fans to one place, and so many without tickets, and there be no bother whatsoever.”

The match went to extra-time, after finishing 1-1 on 90 minutes, with Frankfurt eventually claiming the trophy 5-4 on penalties.

The Scottish Sun newspaper quoted a spokesman for Spain’s National Police confirming that six German nationals were arrested but no Rangers fans.

“I can confirm the National Police arrested none of the Rangers fans in Seville before or after the game,” the spokesman said.

The Scotsman newspaper posted footage online of Rangers fans helping local council workers with the clear-up the morning after the game.

Rangers legend Ally McCoist, who was in Seville covering the game for BT Sport, looked emotionally drained by the time the cup was presented to a jubilant Frankfurt team.

Speaking in a cracked voice, he said: “The boys will be heartbroken, you can see it in the supporter’s faces as well.

“Feel for them, absolutely gutted for them. They put so much into that game. I thought they were the stronger team at the end but it wasn’t to be”.

One of the many fans returning to Belfast, Mark Foster, said the “fans’ behaviour was impeccable,” and added: “It was just a party carnival atmosphere in Seville.

“It was absolutely unbelievable. No regrets whatsoever – just being there to witness a Europa League final was unbelievable”.

Mark added: “Everybody is just happy enough that the players gave all they could give. There is nothing but praise for the team.”

• Video courtesy of Rossco @Rossco5055