My Top Three Most Memorable Old Firm Derbies

My Top Three Most Memorable Old Firm Derbies…

Gary Hooper celebrates scoring the last ever goal in an Old Firm match.

The Old Firm rivalry between Celtic and Rangers was one of the most intense and storied rivalries in world football. These matches ended in April 2012 and since 2016 the Glasgow Derby matches have been pivotal in the Scottish Premiership, often unpredictable through Scottish Premiership odds, thrilling, and filled with unforgettable moments. In days gone by, the significance of the Old Firm derbies could not be overstated either, as they encapsulate the passion and intensity of Scottish football, and contributed to shaping the sport’s history in the country, until the fixture ended in April 2012 as Rangers FC headed towards liquidation.

Here is a reminder of three classic Old Firm fixtures that many Celtic supporters will recall with fondness.

1. Celtic 4-2 Rangers (May 1979)

On Monday 21 May 1979, Celtic faced Rangers in their final match of the season, knowing that a victory would see them become Premier League Champions in Billy McNeill’s first season as manager. Rangers would be happy with a draw as they had one further fixture to fulfil and having won the League Cup and with a Scottish Cup final replay against Hibs to come they were very much eyeing a Treble.

And they took an early lead through MacDonald to the delight of the huge away support. That was the only goal of the first 45 mins, before early in the second half Johnny Doyle was shown a red card for retaliation after a foul by the Rangers goalscorer.

Rallied by Roy Aitken, the ten men responded with The Bear himself equalising ten minutes later. Then, quite unbelievably on 74 mins George McCluskey put Celtic ahead but the joy was short lived as Rangers made it 2-2 when Russell’s shot from the edge of the area found the corner of Latchford’s net.

Celtic pushed forward and on 85 mins, relentless Celtic pressure forced an OG from Jackson. Rangers desperately searched for another equaliser that would effectively deliver the title to them but it was Murdo MacLeod who sealed the victory and the title win for Celtic with the goal of the season with effectively the last kick of the game.

Ten Men had won the League. The legend of the 4-2 game was born and Celtic were the Champions!

2. Celtic 6-2 Rangers (August 2000)

On 27 August, 2000, Celtic hosted Rangers in a match that would become also legendary. This was Martin O’Neill’s first Old Firm match as the manager of Celtic, and it set the tone for what would be a highly successful season.

Celtic started the match incredibly, scoring three goals within the first 11 minutes. Chris Sutton opened the scoring, followed by goals from Stiliyan Petrov and Paul Lambert, leaving Rangers shell-shocked.

The highlight of the match was Henrik Larsson’s spectacular chip over Stefan Klos, a goal that is still remembered and celebrated by Celtic fans. Larsson’s brilliance on the pitch was complemented by the overall dominant performance of the team. Celtic’s 6-2 victory was not just a win, it was a statement that they were the team to beat that season. This match is often recalled for its excitement and the sheer quality of football displayed by Celtic.

Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton, and Stiliyan Petrov were standout players in this match. Their contributions were key in securing this emphatic victory and setting Celtic on the path to a domestic treble-winning season.

3. Celtic 3-0 Rangers (April 2012)

Celtic formed in 1888, won the first ever match against Rangers so perhaps it was fitting that in what was the last ever Old Firm clash, a Celtic player worn the number 88 shirt while scoring the last ever goal in an Old Firm match.

Celtic won the game 3-0 (the goals coming from Mulgrew on 17 mins, Commons on 31 mins and Hooper after 54 mins) but that score could have been doubled given the nature of the occasion as Rangers, still with a team full of internationalists, failed to turn up.

The Celtic support revelled in the the title triumph and the emphatic victory but most of all in the financial collapse of Rangers FC with the club already in Administration and heading towards liquidation after David Murray’s days of over-spending, dodgy EBT schemes with secretive side contracts and massive, unsustainable bank borrowing meant that the club formed in 1873 was heading to it’s death.

The win put Champions Celtic 21 points ahead yet the Ibrox support reckoned it was a tainted title because they had been deducted 10 points for gong into Administration on Valentine’s Day, 2012.  Afterwards the Celtic manager Neil Lennon responded to that saying: “The only way a title is tainted is if you’ve won it and you cheated to win it.”

A Celtic supporter summed it all up perfectly saying: “Dominated, humiliated, soon to be liquidated. What’s not to like about that?”

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