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SIMPLY THE BETS; Gers fan nets a cool pounds 90k from bookies after Celtic collapse.

Byline: By Charlie Gall

BLUENOSE binman Rob Rice netted a cool pounds 90,000 from a pounds 20 bet - thanks to Celtic's last-gasp SPL collapse.

Rob had a long-shot punt on correctly naming the winners of the eight senior leagues in Scotland and England.

It lay in tatters as Motherwell trailed Celtic 1-0 with just two minutes to go on the last day of the season.

But the sensational two-goal turnaround at Fir Park had the exiled Scot jumping for joy as his beloved Rangers seized the title in a thrilling finale.

And Rangers' league victory clinched Rob's 4499-1 punt, bagging him a whopping pounds 89,974.43 return.

His previous seven selections had all already come up.

Last night, the 39-year-old insisted it was loyalty to his side that let him beat the bookies.

He said: 'Despite the odds, I could never back against Rangers.

'I'd have been delighted for Rangers on Sunday even if I hadn't made a penny.

'I'd still have been jumping for joy at Rangers winning the league - but perhaps not quite as much.

'It's my biggest ever win. A few years ago I won pounds 12,000 when Sunderland went up.'

Rob added: 'I watched the Celtic game on TV and thought my bet was down the pan.

'When McDonald's overhead kick went in the back of the net I screamed.

'I was singing 'Rangers, Rangers' and was hoping they would not let me down by losing a goal against Hibs.

'That would have been heartbreaking.

'But Rangers won, and Motherwell scored a second.

'I was shaking.

'I thought I had lost the lot, so it was the perfect day.

'Rangers were a bit lucky, but I'm not complaining.'

Rob, from Blackburn, Lancashire, left Glasgow as a baby when his family moved south.

Bookmakers William Hill said Rob's return was their largest small-stake football pay-out of the season.

Hill's spokesman Rupert Adams said: 'Rob must have been biting his nails on Sunday as the whole lot was riding on a Rangers win and a Celtic loss. 'With 88 minutes gone, it looked bad with Motherwell trailing Celtic 1-0.

'But then the miracle struck, with Motherwell scoring two goals in two minutes - sinking both Celtic's title hopes and William Hill's bank balance.

'Rob's win is the biggest football return from small stakes this year.'

Last night, Rob was still waiting to pick up his winnings as his local bank didn't have enough funds to cash his cheque But the father-of-two said: 'I won't be retiring yet. I work for myself cleaning wheelie bins.

'It's not a big business. It's like a window-cleaning round.

'My girlfriend, Betty, knew about the bet and kept rubbing it in my face.

'She kept saying Rangers were going to let me down.

'Even my little girl came up to me and said, 'Dad, Celtic will win.' I don't know where she's got that from. I was watching the Celtic match in the bedroom.When I saw the overhead kick going towards the goal I couldn't focus.

'I was just jumping for joy, running out of the room.

'My eight-month-old son was crying because I scared him and my little girl was saying,'Dad, it's only a football match.' ' Rob intends to treat himself to a new car,and pay for driving lessons and a run-around for Betty.

He added: 'I don't want anything flash though, I'm not that sort of lad.

'Betty asked for half my winnings but I've told her she can have her driving lessons and a car, if she passes her test.

'The rest will go towards my little lad and my little girl.'

Rob keeps in touch with Scottish football. His dad is a Rangers fan but his mum follows Celtic.

Girlfriend Betty is English and Rob said: 'Every time we fall out she puts her England kit on to wind me up

CAPTION(S):

PRIZE GUY: Rob waves his old Rangers strip in joy
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 25, 2005
Words:659
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