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Annan Athletic’s best ever result?

TEN years ago this week Annan Athletic recorded one of the finest results in their history when they defeated Rangers 2-1 at Ibrox

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By Zac Hannay
Sport
Annan Athletic’s best ever result?
CELEBRATIONS . . . Annan Athletic manager Jim Chapman celebrates his side's win at full-time

A crowd of 34,441, almost four times the population of Annan, made their way into the iconic stadium in Govan for the Division 3 fixture on Saturday March 9, 2013.

Rangers had won two of the three previous encounters between the sides comfortably, and they were unbeaten at Ibrox in the league so far. Annan had, however, managed to snatch a point in a goalless draw at Galabank in September.

The Rangers players were all full-time professionals and their wage bill was the second highest in Scotland.

But this did not deter Athletic from travelling to Glasgow with a game plan; they were not there just to make up the numbers.

The first half ended goalless. Then, moments after the restart, Ally Love back-heeled the ball past Neil Alexander to put Annan in front.

Just eight minutes later, David Hopkirk headed home a cross from David Murray to double the lead. Annan were 2-0 up and Ibrox was stunned.

HISTORIC WIN . . . Ally Love wheels away to celebrate after scoring the opener

Andy Little clawed one back for the home side, and The Gers increased the pressure with half an hour still to play.

But Annan also had chances in the closing stages and the minutes and seconds fell away until referee John McKendrick sounded the final whistle.

The men in black and gold had won 2-1. A result which would go down in the history books and be remembered for years to come.

Players and staff made their way over to the small pocket of elated travelling supporters in the corner to celebrate and take the moment in. They were even applauded off the pitch by remaining home fans as they ventured down the Ibrox tunnel.

Ex-midfielder reflects ten years on

CHRIS Jardine played in midfield for Annan that day and the game is something the former Galabank stalwart will never forget.

However, as a former Rangers youth player and boyhood fan he admits it was ‘bittersweet’.

The result was even more remarkable given the tumultuous run up to the game. Harry Cairney had resigned as manager in December following five league defeats on the spin.

Chris said: “I remember him (Harry) just pulling us in and telling us that he was leaving. I was shocked. But things weren’t really going well on the pitch.”

The club brought Jim Chapman in just under a month later and the new gaffer failed to win in his first seven outings, drawing three and losing four.

But fortunes would soon turn, and the new era at Galabank would kickstart in the most unlikeliest of locations against all of the odds.

No one was really expecting the new manager’s first positive result to come at Ibrox.

Chris said: “I think when you played against Rangers at that time you were looking to get decent results against them when you were at home.

“Going to Ibrox and beating them would be very difficult. I can’t say with any honesty that we thought we had a chance really.

“Rangers at the time were not anything like they used to be or even close to where they are now. They were a bit vulnerable.

“Did we go there and want to win? Of course, because that’s just how you play.

“I don’t think many people expected it to happen. But as I’ve said to people since then it was thoroughly deserved on the day.”

Chris played for his boyhood club as a youth before making the switch to Galabank in 1997 where he would spend the entirety of his senior career.

He said: “I was with Rangers for about four or five years all in and I was full time between the ages of 16 and 18.

“I’ve always been a supporter and my family are all Rangers fans. It’s always special to go and watch your team, so it’s extra special to play against them.

“I was happy to play against them, but I still kind of wish in a sense that Rangers were not where they were.

“I never ever thought I would go to Ibrox and win. It was incredible and special the way it turned out.”

Annan had already tasted the Ibrox atmosphere in December, losing 3-0. But, despite being defeated, that game actually stands out more for Chris.

He said: “Even though we lost, the atmosphere was much better when Rangers beat us. The crowd was bigger and Lee Wallace got sent off, so they were really loud that night.”

Playing in front of so many people was a lot different to what the Annan players were used to, Chris added: “When you play for Annan at Galabank you can hear every shout. You can hear exactly what everybody is saying and what they think of you.

“At Ibrox you can’t hear that because it’s so noisy. You just hope that your first touch is decent, that you get off to a good start and your confidence grows.

“That’s exactly what happened. We started quite well, our confidence grew, and we thoroughly deserved to win.

“It wasn’t like a smash and grab where Rangers battered us for 90 minutes.”

When Rangers got a goal back Chris vividly remembers looking up towards the clock and seeing there was still a while left to play.

He said: “I looked at the scoreboard and I looked at the time. It was more when Andy Little scored Rangers’ goal I looked up and thought there is still a bit of time to go here.

“I remember looking at the clock at that point and thinking – oh deary me! We could be in for a tough 20 minutes or so.

“It was a bit tougher, but we still had chances. It wasn’t as if it was just all Rangers.

“It was a brilliant day and brilliant night; made even better as we had a night out planned in Glasgow afterwards with the boys.

“My family were proud of me, but it was bittersweet. Let’s be honest, Annan shouldn’t be beating Rangers, and as a fan it was sad to see in that sense. But from Annan’s point of view, you’ll struggle to beat that.

“My wife, who was just my girlfriend at the time, she got a canvas made of pictures from the day.

“The pictures that you see of everybody out on the pitch at the end, the disbelief, seeing Jim Chapman’s face and stuff, it was just utter joy.

“A fantastic occasion and one that we celebrated. But again, and I’ll keep going back to it, we thoroughly deserved it.”

On the game being Annan’s best ever result, Chris added: “I think it’s probably the biggest result. I don’t know if best is the right word. At the end of the day the game was only worth three points.

“It’s the one that everybody will remember. Whenever I look back that’s probably the one game and result that will pop up first.

“There’s been more important games than that for the club, it’s just that it was Rangers, and it was at Ibrox.”

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