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Rangers v Celtic

Updated Wednesday, 1st December 1999

How did the bitter rivalry of the Old Firm teams come about?

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Rangers and Celtic badges Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Production team


Celtic Park Creative commons image Icon Tom Brogan under CC-BY-ND licence under Creative-Commons license

The origins of Celtic go back to the early 1880s – linked to an influx of poor Irish Catholics coming to Glasgow to escape the Potato Famine. A monk named Brother Walfrid set up charitable institutions to support the Irish community settling in Glasgow's East End and formed Celtic as a means to raise money. Very quickly the team became successful, turned into a business concern and started on a course of dominating the Scottish football scene – a domination which was shared only with their Glasgow neighbours, and rivals, Rangers.<br>

The association with the Irish-Catholic community, and early disputes over where the Scottish national side should play – at Parkhead (Celtic's ground) or Ibrox Park (Rangers' ground), go quite some way to explaining the deep-rooted rivalry between the two Glasgow clubs. But any out-and-out hatred between rival supporters has been mainly linked to small groups of extremist bigots.

Celtic's high-point was their memorable triumph in the 1967 European Cup, when they defeated Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon under the outstanding managership of Jock Stein. The team were totally homegrown and from within a 30 mile radius of the ground – a feat never likely to be achieved in Scotland, or Britain, again with so many foreign players on the modern scene.


Rangers badge, on the wall of Ibrox Park Creative commons image Icon TonioMora under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license

The other half of Glasgow's famous ‘Old Firm’ rivalry is Rangers football club. It was started in the 1880s by rowers at the Glasgow Green Rowing club as a sporting sideline to help them keep fit. Like Celtic, Rangers soon became very successful. Their support base in the early 19th century grew strength from the workers in the Govan shipyards and links were also forged with Glasgow's Protestant community.

Consolidation as a successful business after the second World War was brought about by introducing an air of rigorous discipline throughout the club – both on and off the pitch. Rangers nurtured a notion of corporate image before this particular baby was even out of its cradle in most other business areas.

The high-point in Rangers' illustrious history was the legendary victory in the 1972 European Cup Winners Cup when they defeated Moscow Dynamo 3-2. Like Celtic, this victory was achieved with a pool of home-grown players.

Throughout the 1990s, Rangers have dominated the Scottish football scene winning 9 league championships in 10 seasons. Like Celtic, much work has been done to rid the Rangers-Celtic relationship of hatred and bigotry, but the 1999 resignation of vice-chairman Donald Findlay, after being caught on video singing anti-Catholic songs, shows that Old Firm divisions die hard.

Further reading

Celtic web site

Rangers web site





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