Celtic vs Rangers: Biggest Rivalries in Football – Old Firm

The Celtic vs Rangers ‘Old Firm’ rivalry is one of the most intense rivalries in football history. The two Glasgow giants enjoy a heated rivalry, to say the least.

The rivalry is not just about football, it is about religion, politics, and history. The Protestant community traditionally supports Rangers, while the Celtic are supported by the Catholic community. The rivalry is so heated that it has sometimes led to controversy both on and off the field.

The first meeting

The first game between the two teams took place on May 28th, 1888, with Celtic winning a friendly game 5-2 at Parkhead. The match was just the start of what was to become an annual battle both on and off the pitch for supremacy between the two clubs.

Who has enjoyed more success?

When it comes to Scottish football, Celtic and Rangers are the undisputed powerhouses of domestic football. They have had a stranglehold on the game in Scotland, with very few breaks in their dominance.

When it comes to the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers, it’s not a one-sided affair like many other local rivalries where one team is more successful than the other. It is very close in terms of silverware won.

Despite a short absence from the Scottish top-flight through financial issues, Rangers have edged it when it comes to Scottish titles won in their history, as the Gers have won the Scottish league title on 55 occasions. In comparison, Celtic have claimed the league 52 times. As you can see from the below table, there is little difference in the number of domestic trophies the two clubs have won.

Number of domestic trophies won

Celtic Competition Rangers
52 Scottish top-flight titles 55
40 Scottish Cup 34
21 Scottish League Cup 27
113 Aggregate 116

Neither club has been massively successful in European football in recent decades. However, Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup in 1967, when they defeated Inter to win their one and only piece of European silverware.

Rangers’ only European success came five years later, as they defeated Dynamo Moscow 3-2 in the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Head-to-head record

Competition First meeting Matches played Celtic Rangers Draws
Scottish top-flight 1891 330 114 126 90
Scottish Cup 1890 53 25 18 10
League Cup 1940 51 25 24 2
Total 434 164 168 102

The Old Firm derby is one of the most played local derbies in British football, with the first meeting between the two teams coming way back in 1888. The fact that there are just four wins between the two teams in the overall head-to-head shows that there has never been a massive gap between the pair when they met.

Both teams have had their dominant periods in the Scottish top flight over the years. However, like with silverware, there is no great distance between the two teams in the meetings between the pair.

Managerial records

Many famous names have managed in Old Firm derbies down the years. However, the most successful boss in terms of win percentage in the Glasgow derby was Brendan Rodgers, who had a success rate of 77 per cent as Celtic head coach between 2016–2019. That included recording ten wins in 13 matches against Rangers.

Martin O’Neill enjoyed a win success rate of 65 per cent rate as Celtic boss between 2000 and 2005, winning 16 of his 27 derbies against Rangers.

The third most successful head coach in the history of Old Firm derbies was Steven Gerrard, who, as Rangers boss, had a 64 per cent success rate between season 2018 and 2021, having recorded eight wins in 13 games in derbies.

Player Records

Many big-name players have featured in the Old Firm derby down the years, too, making their mark on the clash. However, the player who has made the most derby appearances is Alec Smith, who, between 1894 and 1913, incredibly made 87 derby appearances.

The next closest player is Celtic icon and midfielder Paul McStay, who appeared in the Glasgow derby on 70 occasions, with his 54 appearances in the league being a record.

In terms of goals, Rangers legend Ally McCoist leads the way in derby day exploits, as the forward scored 26 goals in 55 Old Firm games.

The Old Firm derby will always be fiercely contested

The Glasgow derby will forever be one of the most fiercely contested of its kind. The game is about more than just football to everybody associated with the club. The rivalry runs deeper than just the kicking of a ball, which means winning and losing means more to the two sets of fans.