Rivalry in football is one of the most exciting aspects of the game. Everything that football and football fandom stands for can be exemplified by a heated derby game. passion, love, adrenaline, and atmosphere seem to be heightened and excessive when it’s time to face the rivals.
The beauty of derby matchups is that when it comes to match day, the league table becomes unimportant. There is no other context except the context of the day’s victory. The teams don’t play for three points; they play to claim and proudly say that the city is theirs.
It’s always the first date that the fans mark out on their calendar when the fixture list comes out.
A derby is a really important occasion, and one such derby that we will discuss is the one that takes place in Scotland.
Rangers vs Celtic – The Old Firm derby!
Origin of the name
Rangers and Celtic are dubbed as the Old Firm and their match-up is called the Old Firm derby. Now there are two possible origin stories for that name.
The two teams were set to face off against each other in the 1904 Scottish Cup final.
In the run-up to the game, the magazine, ‘The Scottish Referee’ created a satirical cartoon depicting the two rivals, admitting the monetization of their high-profile matches, which drew enormous audiences and ardent support. In one panel of the comic, a man held a sandwich board that read, “Patronize The Old Firm: Rangers, Celtic Ltd.”
Another hypothesis holds that the word was coined by match commentators who described an early meeting between the two sides as “like two old, firm friends.”
However, Celtic fans nowadays don’t like to call this match-up the old-firm anymore.
This is due to the financial collapse of Rangers in 2012 which has led them to be run by a new company.
Instead, the Celtic fans nowadays prefer to call it the Glasgow derby. But the Ranger fans continue to believe in the Old Firm.
The Celtic fans as banter, refer to Rangers fans as zombies, because of their death and rebirth amidst the financial collapse in 2012.
The cause of the rivalry
Rangers and Celtic are the two most successful clubs in Scotland, but that is not the only reason for the rivalry.
Instead, this feud in Glasgow has a deep-rooted context for it to exist.
Their antagonism stems from disagreements over religion, identity, and politics, as well as their relationship with Ireland, particularly Northern Ireland.
Rangers supporters have traditionally identified as native Scots or Ulster-Scots, as well as Protestant and Loyalist, whilst Celtic supporters are Irish-Scots, Catholic, and Republican.
Rangers fans also tend to be more pro-British, waving Union Jack flags at games, whereas Celtic fans are more likely to be seen flying the Irish tricolor.
Henrik Larsson, a striker who has been subjected to both, the El Classico with Barcelona and the Old Firm derby with Celtic believes that there is no match to the ultimate fixture in Scotland. His exacts words were,
“I never experienced anything, either before or after, that compared to my Old Firm games in Scotland. That was the best atmosphere and those were the most fierce encounters I ever played in.”
It’s also a brutal environment for players to find themselves in the midst of, with Rangers legend Brian Laudrup calling the clash “terrifying”.
Laudrup further described,
“As soon as you join one of these clubs, from the very first minutes you are told about this game,”
“To play in one was terrifying. It was a bit scary but on the other hand, it’s tremendous to be involved in one of the world’s biggest derbies.
“For these players it’s tremendous. They have read about the derby and heard about it from those who have played in the game but to actually be part of it is completely different. It’s something they will never forget.”
Whether or not some people want to call it the Old Firm derby, no one can dispute it’s the biggest game in Scotland!