STALWART Rangers supporter Timothy Webb had the night of his life last month when he was chosen to be one of the flag bearers at a cup game in Ibrox Stadium.
Timothy, a member of the Co Armagh Rangers Supporters Clubs, had the surprise sprung on him shortly before he settled down with dad Ivan to watch the match against Falkirk.
The 23-year-old has been going to Ibrox since he was six but had never before been out on the pitch on in the tunnel area, not to mention waving the Scottish flag to the roar of 25,000 fellow supporters.
Said Timothy, “My dad asked me if I wanted a programme and as I was flicking through it I saw my photo and a piece about me and my ‘big night’. It was a real surprise and great to get the opportunity.”
Timothy was one of six flag bearers - his dad being another - and their role was to wave the Rangers, Union Jack and Scottish flags before the game. They also formed a guard of honour, three on each side of the tunnel, while the players walked out into the pitch.
Said Timothy, “It was just like a dream, something I have wanted to do for years. I always wanted to walk out on the pitch although I felt a bit nervous when the players were coming out.”
But Timothy was soon put at his ease, with a number of the team going out of their way to greet one of their biggest Northern Ireland fans. Said Timothy, “Ian Durrant, first team coach, goalkeeping coach Jim Stewart and assistant manager Kenny McDowell came over to wish me all the best.”
Timothy, who lives in Beechwood Avenue, Portadown, is no stranger to being a ‘star’ at Ibrox. One of his greatest memories is making a Corcrain True Blues Rangers Supporters Club, 1995/1996 Player of the Year presentation to Paul Gascoigne, during which Gazza excused himself, went to the Rangers dressing room and came back with his training jersey as a gift.
Among other players Timothy has had the privilege of meeting are Barry Ferguson, Lorenzo Amorusso, Jorg Albertz, Andy Goram and many others.
Timothy is the only person from Northern Ireland who is a season ticket holder in The Rangers Disabled Supporters Section, and has attended all finals that Rangers have reached since 1996/1997 season including the 2008 UEFA Cup Final in Manchester, when he travelled with 14 members of the supporters club and had an unforgettable three-day stay.
His dad Ivan said, “He met some Russian fans over from Saint Petersburg and they swapped badges and scarves. Everybody, even the staff on the ferry, knows Timothy. He very rarely misses a home game and is away every fortnight and even mid-week depending on the cup draws.
“He has got to know some great people - Ben Harrison or Bangor Ben as we call him, and Davy Nightingale from Newtownards are just a couple of them - while Richie Porter, chairman of the supporters clubs, has done so much for him. There is always great banter on the bus and ferry. On one occasion, when the players were coming over to Northern Ireland, Richie arranged for the mascot, Broxi Bear, to stay at our house so Timothy could look after him.”
And just a few weeks ago, the new owner of Rangers, Charles Green, spotted Timothy in the crowd and went over to shake hands with him. The photo appeared in the Scottish Sun.
It was through his late Uncle Denver that Timothy got the bug and affection for Rangers, as Denver was a season ticket holder and encouraged him to travel.
Said Richie, “Timothy is very popular among the supporters at Rangers Football Club on the ferry and in the stadium, and is on first-name terms with quite a few of the Rangers staff.”
And one crucial person to Timothy’s regular trips is mum Karen who gets up at 4am to help Timothy get ready. Very much a team effort in the Webb household!