THE trickle very quickly became a river and then within seconds turned into a flood of people.

As soon as the final whistle blew at Hampden Park on Saturday evening confirming that Hibernian had won their first Scottish Cup for 114 years, a few dozen supporters had broken past the overwhelmed stewards and that immediately surged into the hundreds and then thousands in the blink of an eye.

Most of those who made their way on to the pitch - and this was literally seconds after the game ended - stayed in the Hibs half, as it were, but quite a few, certainly in their hundreds, immediately made their way across the grass towards the Rangers end.

And while the majority were merely celebrating, albeit illegally, there were more than a few who had other things on their mind. They taunted the Rangers end with the usual gestures. Some only a few yards from the front rows.

I personally saw Lee Wallace, the Rangers captain, being punched by one man who then disappeared into the throng. Rangers insist more players were attacked, six seems to the general consensus, and members of the coaching staff although I did not see those incidents myself.

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After approximately five minutes from the first fan getting on to the track, you could sense there were Rangers supporters desperate to get involved. Plastic bottles were thrown, one cup full of liquid which came over my head, missed a female steward’s face by an inch, and then despite an increased police presence at this stage, people started to pour out of the opposite stands.

By this time there were easily 5000 Hibs supporters on the pitch, maybe more, and they all-but covered every inch from the centre line to the goal, and those from the Rangers end who got past the stewards numbered a couple of hundred at most.

There was a lot of posturing, people squaring up with not a punch thrown, but I witnessed several actual fights taking places; two dressed in green attacked on man in blue, another Hibs fan was felled from behind from a Rangers supporter who ran from the lower stand to punch him - this drew loud cheers - before disappearing.

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Arrests were being made but there were too many people to deal with. The fights were now taking place all over the pitch.

By the time the mounted police belatedly arrived – the best part of ten minutes after any fighting began - there were a large number of their colleagues on the pitch who had formed a thin blue line which kept the rival factions apart.

At this point, the banned Billy Boys song, complete with sectarian lyrics, was belted out by Rangers supporters – some pyrotechnics went off at the start of the game at that end – and the feeling in the main stand at that moment was that the situation was about to get a lot worse.

However, whether it was the presence of police or maybe it was that people naturally began to retreat, everything calmed down, although there remained thousands on the Hibs side of the pitch. Their fellow supporters chanted for them to get off. This was also the message over the tannoy which came with a warning that the cup would not be presented unless they made their way back to the stands.

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By this time most Rangers fans had left the ground and some 45 minutes after the game finished, the Hibs captain David Gray eventually lifted the cup.

It wasn’t World War Three and the 1980 Old Firm riot was ten times worse, but the idea no Rangers player was hurt and that the Hibs fans did not provoke their opposition – some of whom accepted their invitation for trouble quite happily – is quite simply a nonsense.