IN a place far, far away – Aberdeen, to be precise – many, many games ago – 72, to be exact – a referee made a decision to award a penalty-kick against Rangers.
The date was January 18 2022. Remarkably, it was the last time a spot-kick was awarded against the Ibrox side in a Premiership match.
Who would have believed that not a solitary judgement would go against the Govan club over such an extraordinary sequence?
The record books show that there has not been a single infringement in the Ibrox team’s 18-yard box worthy of the ultimate punishment.
Not a single offence in the Rangers penalty box since the Dons game? No holding jerseys, illegal pushing or shoving at deadball kicks? No dodgy challenges? No handballs – even though Connor Goldson has proved he would be quite adept at basketball?
It’s a modern-day fairytale.
HISTORIC STRIKE…Lewis Ferguson sends Allan McGregor the wrong way as he scores Aberdeen’s penalty-kick in the 1-1 draw at Pittodrie on January 18 2022.
Scott Brown was still playing when the historic decision was made by whistler Kevin Clancy.
This is the same Scott Brown, the legendary Celtic captain, who had more than a year as manager of English third-tier side Fleetwood Town, before departing in September.
Lewis Ferguson was the player who netted the spot-kick, the same Lewis Ferguson who spent last season at Serie A side Bologna.
The Scotland international midfielder slotted away the rare award in Aberdeen’s 1-1 draw against the visitors at Pittodrie almost two years ago.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst was the Govan manager, Alfredo Morelos was booked for handball at the stonewall penalty-kick and Ryan Kent saw red after two yellow cards. None of the three is still at the Glasgow outfit.
The Dutch boss has since moved on to be replaced by Michael Beale who has also been removed to make way for Philippe Clement.
Chunky frontman Morelos is now in Brazil while trigger-tempered Kent is plying his trade in Turkey.
YOU NEED HANDS…Connor Goldson pushes away a shot from Carl Starfelt in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox on January 2. Penalty-kick? The referee and VAR thought it was perfectly okay.
Allan McGregor, who went the wrong way at Ferguson’s kick, has disappeared from the scene altogether.
The Dons are onto their third manager since that award. Ex-Celt Barry Robson is now the man in charge following the sackings of Stephen Glass and his short-lived successor Jim Goodwin.
As far as world events are concerned, it would be another month and six days before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Britain has had THREE Prime Ministers – Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak – over that period.
Yes, folks, it’s been a long time since referee Clancy pointed to the spot in the north east.
The Govan outfit safely manoeuvred their way through another unsuccessful Premiership campaign last time around as the only top-flight club not to concede a penalty.
Across Glasgow, Celtic, who dominated most of their opponents on their way to a world record eighth domestic treble, were punished eight times, with seven converted.
In the meantime, the smart money is on the Ibrox team to go two full years without conceding a penalty in the league.
If they avoid conceding a spot-kick against Ross County on Wednesday, Celtic on Saturday and Kilmarnock three days later they will have survived 24 months without one being awarded against them.
It’s often been said – fact is stranger than fiction.
*CQN wishes all our readers the compliments of the Festive season. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year, folks!