The Old Firm Derby is deeply embedded in football culture in Scotland. For Glasgow residents, it’s a defining part of local identity. Gers or Bhoys? Ibrox or Celtic Park?
Some fans can divide the city geographically by fandom—there’s even a sliver of Glasgow carved out for Thistle fans (allegedly). There’s also a ‘New Firm’ for those who think Aberdeen and Dundee hold a candle to the Rangers or the Celtics. But no Premiership rivalries or clubs scrapping for a way back into the Premiership can compete with the fame of the Old Firm.
Not only do the Gers and the Celts bring in huge sums of money for the Premiership, Glasgow, and Scotland as a whole, but the fandom surrounding the infamous rivalry is enough to rile the city. It’s clear that, for Premiership fans, the Old Firm Derby is one of the biggest events of the year.
Though most are looking for their team to land a spot in the Champions or Europa League, some would prefer a strong performance in the Old Firm faceoff—which benefits players. Throughout club association play, elite teams face fixture congestion as they juggle domestic, league, and international cups. But matches like the Old Firm Derby (and even the New Firm), which are tacked onto regular season play, don’t involve long flights or jetlag. And, even better for fans, the annual event takes place at either Celtic Park or Ibrox.
And sure, the Celts may have more blowout wins, but Rangers have the overall edge with a total of 166 wins out of 425 total meetings. This year’s May faceoff saw the Gers sweep a 4-0 win, which comes off the heels of an October 2020 2-0 win. But the 2020 victory was one of the most unique. For the first time in the Old Firm Derby, the Rangers’ starting lineup didn’t feature a Scottish outfield player (Scott Arfield is allied to Canada). Before the times change too much, let’s look back at the best Rangers’ wins in recent history.
Scottish Cup Comeback
May 2002 / Rangers 3-2 Celtic
The Old Firm Derby runs by a few unspoken rules. One of the most important is this: never, ever give up. While scrapping for the 2002 Scottish Cup, Gers star Peter Lovenkrands managed to nail a diving header crossed in from Neil McCann to quash the tie right before overtime was set to commence. To be more specific, Lovenkrands headed the goal with one second remaining, and right as the Sky Sports commentator asked, “Is there going to be a twist in the tale?”
November 2000 / Rangers 5-1 Celtic
Everyone remembers ‘what happened’ in August 2000 and remembers ‘certain photos’ from Celts player Henrik Larsson. Fast forward three months to November, when the Rangers were out for blood.
The Gers’ Claudio Reyna nabbed an early goal, which was answered by Larsson. But the Rangers momentum couldn’t be stopped, as Lorenzo Amoruso, Tore Andre Flo, Ronaldo de Boer, and Michael Mols took turns netting goals.
March 1992 / Rangers 1-0 Celtic
The Rangers have faced tougher challenges (like financial implosion and a rise back to the Premiership) than winning a 10-man game. But the Gers’ had to play a full 84 minutes when David Robertson was handed a red card for a body check only minutes into the game.
What followed was a grueling battle to set up Ally McCoist to sink one into the net, and then spend the second half of the match defending their lead.
Winning in Enemy Territory (aka The Shame Game)
May 1999 / Rangers 3-0 Celtic
Only those who were there can truly remember this frenzied match. First, the event took place on a Sunday evening, which meant the crowds were raring to go. Second, Celtic’s Stephane Mahé refused to leave the match after being presented a second yellow card. Third, one fan got a bit ‘out of pocket’ with referee Hugh Dallas.
The match was a big one given the ensuing bedlam from the stands. The Rangers’ win wasn’t surprising for pundits and fans after their strong season, but the fizzing (and a tad anarchic) environment won’t be forgotten anytime soon.