The Story of the Celtic-Rangers Rivalry

The Celtic-Rangers rivalry is several years old, and the game they both play is known as Old Firm. In fact, it goes beyond the soccer field!
The Story of the Celtic-Rangers Rivalry

Last update: 04 July, 2020

Did you know that the Celtic-Rangers rivalry is the oldest in the world, and it has a very particular name? Did you know that each team represents a different religious and political ideology? Find out more interesting facts about it in this article.

Meet the teams: Celtic FC

The Celtic FC was founded in 1887, and a year later played its first official match against the Rangers. They’re known as The Bhoys, and their jersey has horizontal green and white stripes. 

This is the traditional team of Catholics and those who want to “separate” from their British past. For this reason, people consider them to be Scottish. Also, they have a great relationship with the Irish people. 

What to know about the Rangers

Rangers FC was founded in 1872 and is known as The Gers.  They’ve won more local league championships than any other team in the world (54). Their uniform consists of a blue jersey and white shorts.

The founders- Four Scots- chose the name “Rangers” in honor of an English rugby clubTheir religion is Protestant. In addition, their fans endorse the British union of the entire island. Also, they support Northern Ireland. Even until 1989, there was an unwritten policy not to sign Catholic players on the team.

A picture of Celtic FC and the Rangers.

The Celtic-Rangers rivalry: centuries of history

Soccer fans have called the Celtic-Rangers rivalry Old FirmIn fact, this isn’t just about sports, but also about religion and politics. That’s because the two most successful teams in Scotland represent different sectors of the city of Glasgow.

Between Celtic and Rangers, they’ve won no less than 69 European Cups and 104 Scottish Premier Leagues. This rivalry started a long time ago in the 17th century, and it had nothing to do with soccer.

The first time Celtic and Rangers saw each other was on May 28, 1888, when the green jerseys won 5 to 2. So far, they have played 420 games, with 182 won by the Blues, 159 by Celtic, and 99 ties.

Celtic’s biggest win was in October 1957, when they beat their opponent 7-1. For the Rangers, their greatest victory was a forceful 8-1.

At first, there were no players from a team going the other way, especially after 1912, when enmity increased. Some soccer players who have worn both jerseys were considered “traitors.”

Ideology and violence in the Celtic-Rangers rivalry

The Celtic-Rangers rivalry exceeds soccer, and the results of this feud have caused violence and even death. Rangers supporters are loyalists (they don’t want to unify the island of Ireland into a single state) while Celtic fans are Republicans (they defend a united Irish republic).

Celtic and Rangers flags.

For this reason, during the matches, it’s striking that there are so few Scottish flags and so many Irish ones (orange, green, and white) or unionist tricolor (with the red, white, and blue colors of Great Britain). Also, we hear this in songs. In fact, lots of songs have been banned because of the violence and message they share.

This has led to several clashes between sets of fans before, during, and after matches at Celtic Park or Ibrox Stadium (the homes of both clubs). Regarding religious, cultural, and ideological intolerance, both teams have developed different “anti-sectarian” campaigns to reduce violence.

Beyond the politics and religious issues, the truth is that nobody can stop watching a game between Celtic FC and the Rangers, the famous Old Firm. It’s definitely a spectacle worth watching! In the words of Sir Alex Ferguson: “There’s nothing to compare.”

Cover image courtesy of Sunday Post.

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