Why Everyone Should Look Forward To The Old Firm
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on September 9, 2016
As most will know, this Saturday is incredible for all sports fans, especially those who are in love with the beautiful game. There are many fixtures going on in Britain, including Liverpool versus Leicester, the Manchester derby and the Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers. Many football fans have been left with a headache of what to watch on Saturday morning, the Old Firm or the Manchester Derby. For myself, the dilemma is not a problem as I will be watching the match at Parkhead, and here’s why you should too.
The rivalry between Rangers and Celtic begun centuries ago, however not so much in Scotland. In the 1800s Scotland was on the back end of a lot of immigration from Ireland and England. Irishmen were moving to Scotland due to the potato famine, they were mainly Catholic and when Celtic were founded in 1888 they fell in love with the Bhoys in Green and White hoops. Englishmen moved to Scotland also in the late 1800s, around the time of 1872 when Rangers were founded. The Englishmen were primarily Protestants. On top of this, the politics in Northern Ireland was very much split between Catholics and Protestants, with Catholics tending to be Republican and Protestants often being Loyalists. This is still reflected in both Rangers and Celtic matches today as Rangers fans being spotted with Union Jack flags and Celtic fans being seen with the Irish Tricolour.
The Rivalry between Rangers and Celtic only intensified when Rangers were sent into administration in 2012 due to unpaid debts, as a result of this Rangers were rebranded and sent to Scottish League 2. Due to this, many of their talented players such as Nikica Jelavic and Steven Davis left the club in order to pursue a higher standard of football. However, after back to back titles in League 2 and League 1, Rangers soon found themselves playing familiar opposition once again such as Hearts and Hibernian. Also, in the Scottish League Cup semi-final, they faced the old enemy Celtic. The game finished 2-0 to Celtic at Hampden. After an unsuccessful season in the Scottish Championship, Rangers had a massive transition period which included the departure of older players such as Kris Boyd and Lee McCulloch and the introduction of exciting players from the English Leagues such as James Tavernier and Martyn Waghorn. Also, Mark Warburton was appointed as the manager at Ibrox as Rangers went on to win the league. However, this did not happen before another Old Firm fixture at Hampden, once again in the Scottish Cup semi-final. This time, Rangers took the glory and bragging rights after Rangers won on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Few games have such an eccentric atmosphere compared to the Old Firm. In fact, the atmosphere is so outstanding that many footballers from around the world have traveled to Glasgow to soak up the atmosphere. This is all because both the Rangers and Celtic fans truly hate each other, so much so that the Scottish Government has had to take action. In 2012 anti-sectarianism in chanting was banned and many fans were given bans from their beloved clubs stadium. However, this has in no means dampened the mood at games. Don’t believe me? Take it from some of the most beloved players to ever wear the Hoops of Celtic or the light blue of Rangers. Celtic icon Henrik Larsson was quoted comparing the Old Firm to the El Classico “El Classico was, of course, big but the Spanish Crowd versus the Scottish fans? No, it was never the same.” Rangers hero Ronald De Boer said “I had played in World Cups, El Classico, and Ajax v Feyenoord – and they’re all crazy. But there is no comparison with an Old Firm game.” Ex Bhoy Ramon Vega describe the Derby as “blood and thunder. The pace was relentless!” Also Rangers icon Brian Laudrup said “Rangers-Celtic is totally mad. I often wondered whether the ball was going to explode because of the intensity of it all.” Finally, who knows an electrifying atmosphere better than Roy Keane? The ex-Celtic captain described the atmosphere as “brilliant … electric. The hatred, I enjoyed all that.”
The Old Firm has also been a significant and exciting match. It sees the top teams in Scotland face off. Before the demise of Rangers in 2012, the last time the top 2 in Scotland was not Rangers and Celtic (in no particular order) was the 2005/06 season. That itself was a freak year as the last time that happened was 10 years ago. On top of this, the last time a team other than Rangers or Celtic won the Scottish first division was in the 1984/85 season when Sir Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen won the league. Rangers have the slight advantage when all of the meetings between the Glasgow clubs are compared as they have come out on top 159 times, Celtic have won 145 times and the remaining 97 matches were draws. The largest ever score was a 4-4 draw in 1986, however, this goal tally has been equaled when Celtic beat Rangers 7-1 in 1957 which remains the biggest win for either of the clubs in this fixture. However, form and recent results are nothing to go by in this fixture. In August 2000 Celtic humiliated Rangers 6-2, although in November of the same year, Rangers thrashed Celtic 5-1. The games have averaged 2.64 goals per game and there have only been three 0-0 score lines in over 400 meetings between the Glasgow clubs. As well as goals, the match is also famous for bone crunching tackles and a few bookings. With players such as Neil Lennon coming together with Barry Ferguson and even Neil Lennon coming together with Ally McCoist and also El Hadji Diouf as a manager, the rivalry is very fierce. Even the upcoming fixture includes some tasty duels, with Joey Barton and Celtic captain Scott Brown being one eagerly anticipated for by many fans.
In conclusion, the Old Firm is still one of the biggest rivalries in the world. Despite the problems that the fixture has not only faced but subsequently created in Scotland, it is a fixture to look forward to for all. The 4-year absence of league meetings between the old foes have been painful for the Scottish game and, although neither of the clubs will admit it, Celtic have missed Rangers and vice versa. So with this all said, there is nothing more to do than enjoyiing the “blood and thunder.” Watch the game.