45,197 last night at the bounce game.
I for one am on record as saying that I have given up friendlies as you get nothing out of them but an empty wallet and a feeling of disappointment at the quality and pace of the game.
But 45,197 disagreed with me last night and I take my hat off to them.
The size of the crowd is absolutely amazing. Midweek, mid-season and in the midst of a snow-laden, sub-zero cold spell in deepest mid-winter. Add to that the fact we bought no new players in the transfer window, sit behind our rivals for the 4th consecutive season, have no superstars of our own in the team, are in financial melt-down, and it just gets even more amazing that so many turned up.
Yes, the opposition have a few world-class players, but remember they only came 5th in the league last season and failed to qualify for the lucrative Champions League this season, and sit 6 points behind great rivals Inter in Serie A this season.
I hear time and time again arguments against us extending the capacity of our stadium to at least match that of our rivals across the city. Surely last nights attendance proves that if you give the punters what they want, they will come, even at over the top prices.
But where are these bears at other, far more important matches? The attendances for non-season ticket games recently have been disappointing in comparison to the kickabout against Milan. This season we have had 34,847 for our CL qualifier against Kaunas and 32,083 against Hamilton in the CIS cup QF.
Last season included 33,000 and 35,364 against Zeta and Red Star in the CL qualifiers. Domestic games included 34,024 for East Stirling in the Scottish cup where prices were slashed, 33,837 for the SC replay against Hibs, 36,724 for the SC QF against Partick Thistle.
We only managed 6 more people to the Panathanaikos match than the Milan friendly.
Hopefully we can atttract some of the many fans last night who were attending their first match, or at least their first match in a long time, back on a more regular basis. If that happens to work out, we can call last night a great success.
Were you one of the newcomers last night?
Did you make an effort to take along family members, nephews and nieces, for a special treat?
Why not do it again? kids tickets for the upcoming match against Kilmarnock are only £6.50. An adult and juvenile ticket for £29.
The club are making an effort to get more people along to the games, especially kids. The reduction in junior season tickets for 208-09 was most welcome, and hopefully will be continued next season.
If these newcomers really enjoyed the experience last night, make sure it is not a one-off just to see the opposition, get along and become a member of the Rangers family.
Rangers are for life, not just glamour friendlies.