‘A hard game ended, Celtic three goals; Rangers, nothing’ and a first Championship Flag is all but won

Celtic beat Rangers 3-0 on this day in 1893 to effectively wrap up the Scottish League Championship for the first time, there would be plenty more to follow as Celtic established itself as Scotland’s most successful club.

The Celtic Wiki, writing about this game had this to say:

CELTIC v RANGERS – This League match, which was looked upon as likely to decide the Championship, was played at Celtic Park before 14,000 spectators. The Rangers had their full team, but the Celts were minus the services of Reynolds and Maley. Dunbar played right back, while Gallagher filled the vacancy at half, and forward the Celts introduced Scott, of the Aidrieonians on the left with Campbell. Madden reappeared on the right with Blessington.

The Rangers lost the toss, and the Celts, aided by the wind, made great progress. After many attempts Kelly scored the first goal of the match with a splendid shot. The Rangers almost equalised. The Celts strove strenuously to add to their score, but failed.  At half-time the result was :- Celtic, two goals; Rangers, nil. McMahon scored the second goal. On crossing over the Celts were the first to attack, but the Rangers’ custodian saved again and again.

After half-an-hour’s play M’Mahon scored a third goal for the Celts. A hard game ended :- Celtic three goals; Rangers, nothing.

The Dundee Courier reporting on 1 May, 1893 had this to say about the 3-0 home win for Celtic over Rangers.

While the Glasgow Herald had this report from the match.

And here’s The Scotsman’s report from 1 May 1893…

We also asked David Potter, the eminent Celtic historian about this match…


The League had gone into a sort of hibernation over the winter months with all the Cup commitments, not to mention a few games postponed because of bad weather, but things resumed on 18 March 1893 with a 5-1 win over Dumbarton at Celtic Park. There followed away victories over Renton and Third Lanark (McMahon scoring a hat-trick in the 6-0 defeat of the Cathkin side) and then came the decisive victory over Rangers on this day, 29 April.

It was a nice, bright but breezy day at Celtic Park with about 14,000 present. Rangers had a big support with them but it is important to realise that the great rivalry had not yet developed.

Rangers represented the west of Glasgow and attracted men from the shipyards, but there was as yet nothing sectarian about them. Football was far more important than religion!

Yet, even at this early stage we find Celtic frequently referred to in newspapers as “the Irishmen” and it was perhaps only natural that the supporters of the only team big enough to challenge them would begin to look on themselves as “the Scotsmen”.

Celtic won the toss and played with the westerly wind behind them. They were two goals up at half time, their goals coming from fierce shots from a distance from James Kelly and Johnny Campbell. Rangers supporters might have expected a revival in the second half when they had the benefit of the wind, but Celtic played the ball around sensibly and scored a third point near the end through Sandy McMahon.

This result left the Rangers “downcast”, according to the Press and more or less won the Scottish League for Celtic.

They were still however behind for they had 25 points from 14 games whereas Rangers who had played 17 games had 26 points. (18 games to be played and 2 points for a win). But three of Celtic’s remaining games were at home against St Mirren, Leith Athletic and Third Lanark, and the other game was at Clyde.

CELTIC TEAM – Cullen, T. Dunbar, Doyle, Curran, Kelly, Gallacher, Madden, Blessington, McMahon, Scott, Campbell
CELTIC SCORES – McMahon, Campbell, Kelly

David Potter

Celtic picked up where they left off on against Rangers in the next match played on 2 May, beating St Mirren 4-1 at Celtic Park before making the short journey to Shawfield to play neighbours Clyde four days later and coming away with a narrow 2-1 victory. That set Celtic up to officially win the Championship for the first time on 9 May with a 3-1 win over Leith Athletic  with goals from Davidson (2) and Madden.

Five year old Celtic were Scottish Champions for the very first time!

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

Comments are closed.