WITH the wind swirling and a striking silence having fallen on Glasgow’s South Side, Daniel Haggerty breaks through the mourners and makes his way towards the tributes.

Bending on one knee and carefully laying his scarf next to the others, he stops, bows his head, and waits for the occasion to sink in. By the time he’s finished, a ripple of applause has begun to snake its way through the crowd as football rivalries are cast aside for a city united in grief.

Under the watchful eye of the Copland Road stand and John Greig statue, the 21-year-old Celtic fan has joined those from the other half of Glasgow to pay tribute to Walter Smith, whose death at the age of 73 was confirmed this morning.

Within hours fans had gathered outside Ibrox Stadium to show their respect. Scarves had been laid, flags tied to the famous blue gates, and scores of supporters – lost for words at the death of a man who’d been a constant presence in their lives and their children’s lives – shared in quiet moments of comfort.

And like his friend, the great Tommy Burns, Smith’s death is one which on Tuesday at Ibrox had transcended any Old Firm allegiances.

“He was a legend and a great man,” says Daniel. “A wife has lost her husband as well. 

“He was a great friend to Tommy Burns. A death is bigger than football.

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“He’s a legend.”

Legend is a word which comes up throughout the afternoon as young and old – some of them fighting back tears – try to find the right way to describe Smith.

"Gentleman" is another and it’s one widely used by former players, fans, and even politicians as tributes flowed in from all over the world today.

In Govan, the steady stream of supporters making its way along Edmiston Drive and Copland Road has no end in sight. Some bring flowers. Others Rangers tops and scarves. Some have even worn shirts and ties for the occasion, the funeral mood still hanging in the air.

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One by one the supporters go through the same routine as Daniel, making their way towards the blue gate, bowing their head and leaving their tribute, before rejoining the group. Few speak and most simply stand, hands in pockets and a look of shock etched on their faces, the grand old stadium always lingering in the background.

“You have your Sir Alex Fergusons and your Tommy Burns,” says John Blair, 44, who had come with his brother to join fans in mourning. “These men are unique. 

“Walter Smith was just first class in everything he did and it shows the respect everyone had for him with the Celtic fans here today. 

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“There will never be another Walter Smith.

“Our father passed away seven months ago from Covid. It’s just not often a father and son have the same role model.” 

Trying to define the definitive image from his two spells in charge and his life in general is no easy task for those gathered at Ibrox.

Some mention one from his final game leading his boyhood club in 2011, a tenth Scottish top flight winners medal around his neck, as he blows a kiss to the Rangers fans.

Others suggest Smith, a smile as wide as the Clyde across his face, proudly showing off his team’s treble haul at the end of the 1992/93 season.

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But there’s one image which will last long in the memory for everyone in Glasgow and it’s Smith, fighting back the tears as Ally McCoist breaks down not far behind him, carrying the coffin of Burns in 2008.

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Rivals in the city, the two became best friends off the pitch and will forever remain among the few figures to be as widely acclaimed by both halves of the Old Firm.

“He had respect and dignity,” adds John. “It said everything about the man that he carried Tommy Burns’ coffin at the funeral. He transcended football.”

Others agree.

“Sometimes it goes beyond the colour of the shirt and that was appropriate with Walter Smith,” says Andrew King, also 44. “He was as devastated as anyone when Tommy Burns died.”

Smith, who also managed Scotland and Everton during his career and spent time as Manchester United assistant manager with Sir Alex Ferguson, led Rangers to 10 top flight titles, five Scottish Cups, and six League Cups.

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What began with Graeme Souness and the nine-in-a-row triumph of the 90s ended with his return in 2007 to lift the club from the depths of the Paul Le Guen era and back to winning ways.

“He was a Rangers legend,” Andrew continues. “There are not many bigger than the club but Walter Smith was close to that. 

“He was a manager, he was a father figure. He was everything you wanted and that was his art. 

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“It’s a sad day for the club today. The term legend is used a lot but it’s appropriate today. 

“It feels like I’ve lost a family member. This morning I woke up devastated and was in tears. 

“This is just horrific. The Rangers supporters and football will come together. He was a football man.”

In the days to come, Smith’s legacy, which is never in doubt, will be discussed and admired in the press, the stands, and by everyone in Glasgow.

And in time the question will be asked: what would be the most fitting tribute to the man who is only bettered by Bill Struth in these parts?

“It’s a loss to the game and to Rangers,” Andrew says. “The Copland Road stand should be named after him. It means every game we are at he’ll be with us.”

HeraldScotland: Andrew King was among those to pay tribute Andrew King was among those to pay tribute

For John a stand would be nice but he has something grander in mind.

“The stadium should be named after him,” he says. “A stand isn’t enough.

“I’m just glad he was alive to see 55 and now it would be fitting for the team to deliver 56.”

Smith is survived by wife Ethel, their sons Neil and Steven, and their grandchildren.