THEY are on their way. Seville is bracing itself for a red, white and blue invasion and Rangers are preparing for their shot at glory.
Be it by train, plane or automobile, tens of thousands will make the pilgrimage to the Europa League final. Alongside them, a press corps that has reported on every remarkable result during this headline-grabbing campaign may well witness history being made.
From Dortmund to Belgrade, Braga to Leipzig – and four trips to Ibrox in between – this has been a season like no other for those who have followed Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side through the knock-out rounds. The best could yet be to come.
The opportunity to attend and work at a European final is a privilege that will not be taken for granted. A year after crossing off a bucket list item by witnessing Scotland at a major international tournament, seeing Rangers take to the field against Eintracht Frankfurt will represent another box ticked and it would be a wonderful moment, personally, professionally and for the game if Van Bronckhorst’s side can return to Glasgow victorious.
Covering Rangers in recent months has not been easy. Relations between the Ibrox hierarchy and sections of the media are strained in some regards and non-existent in others and access is limited, even on the occasions when Uefa protocols call for press conferences to be opened up to those outlets who are not “official partners” of Rangers.
Pre-match media conferences are still being conducted via Zoom on a one question per person basis and there is no differentiation between the broadcasters and those in the written press. Of all the events that have occurred in the 14 years since Rangers last reached a European final, the way in which business is conducted with the Fourth Estate is a stark example of the changing nature of the game.
Seats on the charter flight with directors, staff and players have not been offered up for a couple of seasons now. As a result, the press pack have once again devised their own routes and picked their own bases from which to cover an occasion – the most significant in half a century – that could be the finest hour in Rangers’ illustrious history.
The deadlines will be tight, the demands from print and digital desks enough to ensure that the heart rate will beat a little quicker, but those seated in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán come kick-off on Wednesday night will be the lucky ones. If the thrill of chronicling history and overseeing sporting achievements that have a societal impact ever wanes, then the job and the game is not for you any more.
The punters and the press will soon be on their way. Time will tell if the players can bring back the silverware from Seville.