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Rangers' fans turn Ibrox blue.

The biggest crowd of the weekend in Scotland gathered at Ibrox last night ( even though there was no game taking place.

Rangers' championship triumph may have come as a complete surprise to most but ecstatic fans celebrated at an impromptu party at the stadium in such numbers that you would be forgiven for thinking the celebrations had been planned for weeks.

Around 30,000 fans packed out three stands to watch the Bank of Scotland Premier League trophy return to Ibrox following the most dramatic of twists on the final day of the season.

Manager Alex McLeish confessed he was two minutes away from preparing his dignified loser's speech when news of a shock Celtic defeat at Motherwell started to filter through as Rangers held on for a 1-0 win over Hibernian at Easter Road.

But news of a party back in Glasgow ( with the SPL trophy and Rangers squad as guests of honour ( spread quickly and thousands of fans paved the streets outside Ibrox to welcome their heroes.

The more extravagant members of the crowd popped champagne corks and showered the team bus with bubbly, while those who may have indulged in too much alcohol already danced on top of a police van.

Inside, Ibrox positively pulsated to a mixture of party tunes and club chants as the tension of a nerve-shredding, rollercoaster season finally began to drain away, with several fans invading the pitch in the same way the supporters fortunate enough to get their hands on tickets for Easter Road had done a few hours earlier.

Nacho Novo had not found the back of the net in league competition since March 2 but it was his goal which ultimately won the title and red, white and blue waved triumphantly.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 23, 2005
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