When you think of great rivalries in world football what do you think of?
Do you think AC Milan and Inter fighting it out at the San Siro? How about Manchester United going for Liverpool's throat at Old Trafford? Or perhaps you're Spanish and you think of Barcelona and Real Madrid fighting for dominance at the Camp Nou?
In my last rivalry I went to Athens to take a look at Olympiacos and Panathinakos, the two Greek powerhouses. This time, I head north to Glasgow, Scotland, to take a look at the Old Firm derby between Celtic FC and Rangers FC.
Anyone who thinks of Scottish football will undoubtedly mention the Old Firm derby. It's one of the most exciting derbies in the world with two of the most successful clubs in Scotland. Between the two clubs, they have won a total of 66 Scottish Cups 93 Scottish Premier League titles.
The Old Firm derby began back in 1888, when Celtic defeated the Rangers, 5-2. Since then, the two clubs have met 380 times. Of those meetings, Celtic have won 136 matches, Rangers have won 152 matches, and they have drawn 92 matches. The last match was on August 31, 2008, when the Rangers defeated Celtic, 4-2. The two clubs meet four times a year and are frequently matched up against each other in the Scottish competitions.
As we all know, any two clubs that's in the same city are bound to bring hatred and rivalries. Let's take a look at how these two clubs have dealt with each other.
The older of the two clubs is Rangers FC. Founded in 1873, the club has the world record for the most league titles, with 51. They also have won more major trophies than any other club in the world. The Rangers have been successful ever since their beginning. They have won 51 league titles, 1 Cup Winners' Cup, 32 Scottish Cup, and 25 League Cup.
Traditionally, the majority of Ranger fans were Protestant and held political views in line with the Unionists of Scotland. However, in more recent times, this has become untrue. While the club is known as The Teddy Bears or the Gers (a slang from Rangers), the fans have been known as Bluenoses. The Rangers' stadium, the Ibrox, was the first stadium in Scotland to receive a five-star status from UEFA.
The Rangers have had a steady stream of stars come through. Among them have been Bobby Shearer, Ian Durrant, and Ian Ferguson. Nowadays, players like Barry Ferguson, Kris Boyd, and David Weirare wowing the Ranger faithful. The club also has two Americans on the squad - Maurice Edu and American legend DaMarcus Beasley.
The current champion of Scotland is Celtic FC. Since its beginning in 1888, the club has won the Scottish league 41 times and the Scottish Cup a record 34 times. They are also the only Scottish club to win the biggest European competition - winning the European Cup in 1967. Other than the European Cup, Celtic have won 42 Scottish League Championships, 34 Scottish Cup, and 13 Scottish League Cups.
Unlike the Rangers, Celtics fans have traditionally been from Irish decent and have been Catholic. However, that has since changed. The clubs official nicknames are "The Bhoys." The fans are some of the best known fans in the world. It's estimated that the club has an army of 9 million supporters world wide with 1 million of them in North America.
In the past, most, if not all, of the players at Celtic had come from within 30 miles of the club's stadium. Players like Tom Boyd, Roy Aitken, and Jimmy Johnstone all came from Scotland and have wowed the crowds. Since then, foreigners have been part of the club. Players like Henrik Larsson, Mark Viduka, and Shunsuke Nakamura have all called Celtic "home." Now, there's a mix of Scot and foreigner in the club. Stephen McManus, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, and Georgios Samaras are all stars happy to call Celtic their club.
Every time Celtic and Rangers meet, you know you're about to get a show. In the past and to some extent now, Ranger fans and Celtic fans have been completely opposites. Ranger fans have been Protestant and are Unionists. Celtic fans have been Catholic and Irish. Nowadays though, these characteristics are not as prevalent. Among Ranger fans, you'll see the Scottish or British flags, but among the Celtic fans you'll see the Irish flag.
Because of the fierceness of the rivalry, it's been very rare for players to represent both clubs. Both clubs have been guilty of a problem called sectarianism and the fans have been guilty of partisan. In the past, neither club would sign players against the ideals of the fan. For example, Rangers would not sign Catholics and Celtic would not sign Protestants. That has since changed dramatically and both clubs are working against sectarianism with fans. In 1996, Celtic began Bhoys Against Bigotry; and in 2003, Rangers began Pride Over Prejudice which has since been renamed Follow With Pride.
The rivalry between Celtic and Rangers is, as many rivalries are, a rivalry beyond football. It is a religious and political rivalry. Ranger fans don't associate with Celtic fans and vice versa. Perhaps though, that is what makes this rivalry so exciting. All I know is that whenever these two giants meet, sparks will fly both on and off the pitch.
For those of you who have missed previouse parts, here it is for your convenience.