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WHATA FAN-TTASTIC GAME; Celebs line up for the Rangers Man Utd clash.

Byline: BRIAN McIVER

IT'S the battle between two of the biggest teams in the world and some of the most famous footballers in the country.

But when Scottish champions Rangers meet Manchester United on Wednesday, the match won't just be followed in the stands and the pubs.

Going by the number of celebrity fans following each team, the game is just as likely to be debated and argued about in celebrity hang-outs like The Ivy Bar in London as in The Horseshoe Bar in Glasgow.

As two of the best-supported sides in Britain, both clubs havea huge army of famous fans who will be crowding round the TVs in hospitality bars and VIP tents to watch the big game if they can't get their hands on the precious tickets for the game.

From golfer Colin Montgomerie to sexy newsreader Kirsty Young, a wide range of Scots celebs will be lining the Ibrox stands or watching the game from home.

And they will be joined by Irish-born fans such as race driver Eddie Irvine and actor director Kenneth Branagh, as well as English chat show host Clive Anderson in cheering the Gers.

But the famous bluenoses will face staunch opposition from the team which has arguably the most famous fans in the world. From every field of celebrity, including TV, radio, sport, movies and music, Manchester United have a huge famous fanbase.

And they even have a token Scot in their side Radio Oneand MTV star Edith Bowman, from Fife. But the Scots team shouldn't be too worried Gers fan Robert Carlyle's famous Begbie character could wipe the floor with Man United-supporting Steve McFadden's TV hardman Phil Mitchell.

Bluenose Clive Anderson is definitely funnier than Angus Deayton, Kirsty Young sexier than Zoe Ball and Kenneth Branagh has had more Oscar nominations than Steve Coogan will ever see in his life.

And don't even mention Mick Hucknall versus Lulu.

So are those celebs clued-in die-hards or glory hunters? Here are the teams for the Battle of Britain Celebrity Trial.

RANGERS CELEBRITY ELEVEN3. GORDON RAMSAY

THE controversial chef famously played for Rangers reserves as a youngster until he tried his hand at cooking and made it to the culinary first team.

He will be one of the few celeb fans who actually go to the games and is never afraid to show his true colours.

Verdict: Die-hard

1. COLIN MONTGOMERIE

THE successful golfer is the most temperamental sportsman in either list and has spoken about his passion for Rangers.

The Glasgow-born golf star is also fond of Leeds United, but insists his first team will always be the Gers.

Verdict: Die-hard

2. KENNY LOGAN

HE may be Down Under with the Scotland rugby squad for the big game, but the keen fan will be keeping an eye on the score.

May spend too much time with a funny-shaped ball to be a real football fan, but the star sportsman does his best.

Verdict: Die-hard

8. KENNETH BRANAGH

THE Belfast-born actor and director is another unlikely footie fan, but the London-based star insists he is dedicated to hometown side Linfield, local club Spurs and Rangers.

Hardly ever at a game, the classical actor is more a fair weather fan.

Verdict: Glory Hunter

5. ROBERT CARLYLE

LIKE a lot of Glasgow celebs, the Maryhillborn star onceclaimed to support Partick Thistle, but has since admitted to being a bluenose.

He's seen at the odd game, but his filming schedule will keep him away from Ibrox most of the season.

Verdict: Die-hard

4. CLIVE ANDERSON

THE comedian and chat show host seems an unlikely bluenose, but has always followed his Glaswegian father's beloved Rangers.

An Arsenal fan as well, Anderson is very proud of his Scots football heritage.

Verdic: Glory Hunter

6. EDDIE IRVINE

THE playboy Formula One driver spends too much time chasing fast cars, yachts and women to concentrate too hard on the beautiful game.

Still, he often talks of his passion for Rangers.

Verdict: Glory Hunter

11. KIRSTY YOUNG

HER affections for the Govan club may have been altered by her split from Kenny Logan.

But she is definitely one of the sexiest Gers fans around.Verdict: Glory Hunter

10. LULU

ANOTHER unlikely supporter, tiny Scots songstress Lulu is a well-known Gers fan whose family especially son Jordan all go to the games.

She has been seen at Ibrox now and again, but is hardly a week-in, week-out kind of star.

Verdict: Glory Hunter

9. MARTI PELLOW

SOME fans thought Wet Wet Wet were wearing their hearts on their shirts when they sponsored local side Clydebank back in the nineties. But the band, and especially Marti, were mostly Rangers daft. Pellow was a regular at Rangers dinners and charity events and even took out a full-page tribute advert in the club paper when manager Walter Smith left in 1998.Verdict: Die-hard

7. ANDY GRAY

THE former Scotland star has become one of the best-known pundits on TV for his work on Sky but he still holds his old club dear to his heart.

Well known for his enthusiasm, he will love being part of the Sky coverage for the big game this week.

Verdict: Die-hard

MANCHESTER UTD CELEBRITY ELEVEN

9. ZOE BALL

LIKE her pal Sara Cox, Ball claimed to be a Man United fan at the peak of the Euro 96-inspired football mania which influenced most of today's crop of celeb fans.

As someone who built a career as a self-styled ladette, the biggest team in the country are the natural team to claim to support - even if she admits to not knowing a thing about the offside rule.

Verdict: Glory Hunter

7. EDITH BOWMAN

ALTHOUGH born in Anstruther in Fife, the Radio One DJ claims to have been a lifelong fan of the Manchester giants. Old Trafford is a long way from Anstruther.

Verdict: Glory Hunter

11. SHANE RICHIE

ANOTHER soap star Red, the EastEnders star professes to be a huge Man United fan even though he was born in north London.Verdict: Glory Hunter

6. RICHARD ASHCROFT

THE former Verve lead singer is football mad and wanted to play for his Old Trafford heroes until he started singing at age 13. Not necessarily as regular an Old Trafford goer as some other famous fans, Ashcroft is still a genuine supporter.

Verdict: Die-hard

8. KYM MARSH

THE former Popstars winner and solo artist may look like a dizzy pop starlet, but is also a genuine United fan.

She goes to as many games as she can fit in, and was at their European Cup quarter-final defeat in Madrid last year.

Verdict: Die-hard

10. ULRIKA JONSSON

FIRMLY in the fair-weather fan category, this TV presenter's most famous football connection is sleeping with Sven Goran Eriksson.

But she says she's a Red.

Verdict: Glory Hunter

4. EAMONN HOLMES

LIKE almost every other Irishman who doesn't support Celtic, Holmes is a rabid Manchester United fan.

As well as bleating on about his club as often as possible on GMTV, he does actually go to games when he can, so is not as bad as some famous Reds.

Verdict: Die-hard

5. STEVE COOGAN

THE comic actor is one of the most committed of the celebrity Manchester United fans.

Actually coming from Manchester is a good start, but the lifelong fan regularly travels from his home in Brighton to watch the games and his brother Brendan works for the club satellite channel, MUTV.Verdict: Die-hard

2. ANGUS DEAYTON

THE presenter spends more time scoring with women than watching his heroes do the same at Old Trafford.

He may be just another bandwagon jumper.

Verdict: Glory Hunter

1. STEVE McFADDEN

HERE'S one of the stereotypical, London-based Man United fans.

McFadden is rarely seen at Old Trafford apart from big games.

Verdict: Glory Hunter

3. MICK HUCKNALL

ANOTHER one who takes it very seriously, the singer claims to have named his band Simply Red after his beloved team and is a regular at Old Trafford. Hucknall takes part in all sorts of charity and club events and is a keen follower.

Verdict: Die-hard

CAPTION(S):

Verdict: Die-hard
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 20, 2003
Words:1348
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