By Bill Heaney
Helensburgh and Dumbarton were well represented amongst tens of thousands of Rangers fans in Seville including the grandsons of club legend Walter Smith.
Zac Smith, 11, his 10-year-old brother Tom and their twin 14-year-old cousins Jack and Adam are lucky enough to have tickets to the game.
Walter Smith, who played for both Dumbarton and Rangers, and who managed the latter, died last year but the boys said their grandfather would have been “having a blast” among the Rangers fans at tonight’s final against Eintracht Frankfurt
Zac said: “Obviously my papa made it to the final and didn’t win it – we’re trying to make up for that today.”
Proud grandma Ethel Smith will, of course, be cheering on the Ibrox team.
Meanwhile, Rangers stand on the brink of glory in the Europa League, and five Africans are looking to create history with the Scottish giants.
Defenders Calvin Bassey and Leon Balogun and forwards Joe Aribo, Amad Diallo and Fashion Sakala could all be involved in tonight’s final against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Can either of the three Nigerians, the Ivorian or the Zambian be the man to end Rangers’ 50-year wait for a European trophy when they meet German side Eintracht in Seville?
In the club’s first European final since 2008, when Rangers were beaten by Zenit St Petersburg in the Uefa Cup final, Bassey and company are looking to emulate the side which lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971-72.
A win over Eintracht offers the added bonus of direct entry into next season’s Champions League group stage – something Rangers last achieved in 2010.
“This team has an opportunity to immortalise themselves in Rangers history,” BBC Sports broadcaster Steven Thompson said.
“It’s not very often Scottish teams reach European finals, and it’s been a long time since a team’s won one [Aberdeen in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1983].
“So it’s just such an incredibly huge game for the club and for the players. They would never have dreamt that they would be in this position at the start of this campaign but they’ve grown with confidence.
“There’s a real togetherness about this Rangers team. If they were to do it, that’s them with an indelible link in the history of the club.”
Thousands of additional police have been drafted in to bolster the security operation around the match at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán tonight.
The Ibrox faithful have travelled by any means necessary to reach Southern Spain and local authorities say they are “prepared” for the mass influx of supporters.
Around 20,000 are expected to attend the match itself, while others flocking to La Cartuja on the outskirts of the Andalusian capital to take in the occasion on a big screen.
Around 3,000 officers – including 1,700 ‘specialist national police’ – are to patrol the city over the coming days.
Outdoor bar terraces and construction sites will be closed off on Wednesday evening ahead of kick off, while more than 100 portable toilets are to be placed a ‘strategic points’.
An additional 200 litter wardens are to be on site to “wash down streets” and remove waste from high-traffic areas.
At a press conference, officials said trains heading to the city from the likes of Madrid and Malaga were sold out.
Additional transport services have been put on to ferry fans to both the 42,700 capacity stadium hosting the match and 57,000-seater which will be home to the live feed.
Meanwhile, large numbers of fans have been enjoying themselves at the official Rangers ‘fanzone’ at Parque del Alamillo which opened at 11am today.
Chief Superintendent, Andres M. Garrido Cancio, told reporters: “On Wednesday we will close terraces on bars and construction sites. We are not worried [about confrontation] but it’s possible. The police are prepared to prevent any trouble.”
So far, so good. Most of the fans appear to have been heeding the plea from Rangers’ legends Graeme Souness and Richard Gough to enjoy themselves while respecting Seville and its citizens.