Old Firm: Paddy Power’s Alternative Guide to Britain’s finest derby

With Steven Gerrard getting ready for his first taste of Rangers v Celtic, we’ve provided a handy guide to the Old Firm for n00bs...



The period between 1872 and 1888 is still referred to as ‘the glory years’ by Rangers fans as the club went 16 years unbeaten by their bitter rivals Celtic.

Although this can largely be attributed to the fact that Celtic didn’t exist until 1887, many of the Rangers faithful’s favourite songs still refer to that period and the glory of winning the Glasgow Merchants’ Charity Cup with a 2-1 win over Vale of Leven.

It is unclear exactly when relations between the two clubs soured, but the century-old animosity is often traced back to 1904 when a Rangers fan allegedly spilled a Celtic fan’s pint and refused to buy him a new one.

Over the years there have been several attempts to cool tensions between the two clubs including Rangers FC’s board ceremonially presenting a pint of Tennent’s to their Celtic counterparts in September 1960, but sadly the pint was again spilled, prompting an argument as to whose fault it was.


Celtic fans learned to be careful what they wish for when Rangers were liquidated in 2012 and had to start from the bottom of the Scottish football ladder.

Celtic gamely attempted to start a vicious rivalry with Ross County but were unable to find any Ross County fans to despise.

In Rangers’ absence, winning the title became such a formality that Celtic’s players were able to spend more time focussing on other hobbies. TV cameras would often pick up a Celtic winger painting a watercolour during a match on an easel perched on the sideline or a goalkeeper resting his notebook on the post to pen a haiku.

Scottish football hit a low ebb when the manager’s role was offered to Ronny Deila, a Norwegian man who had got lost on a stadium tour. A stunned Deila took the job and won the Premiership in 2014-15.

However, in Europe Celtic struggled with the step up in class and other coaches were left baffled when Deila would ask them to explain what 4-4-2 meant or what the offside rule is.

Fortunately, a new club also called Rangers was coincidentally formed just after the other club called Rangers disappeared and quickly rose through the leagues to reach the Scottish Premiership.

Celtic discovered they also hated this Rangers with a passion and a rivalry called the New Old Firm was born, which was later shortened to the Old Firm for convenience, giving both clubs a renewed sense of purpose.


In an attempt to prevent riots between rival fans, the police began to adopt early kick-off times for derbies.

While Sunday’s midday start may seem early enough, for a dark period in the 1980s and 1990s, Old Firm games were frequently forced to kick-off at 9am, 7am or even impromptu during the middle of the night, to prevent fan violence.

However, fans were unmoved by the unsociable hours and many of the abiding images of the period in Scottish football were of fighting fans still in pyjamas and wielding toothbrushes.


Gerrard will need to learn quickly that the referee for any Old Firm clash is biased against one of Rangers or Celtic, if not both.

No self-respecting Rangers or Celtic boss would get through a post-game press conference without alluding to an elaborate conspiracy against his side.

However, after years of in-depth investigations into referee bias, it was conclusively proved that all referees in fact hate Aberdeen.

Celtic are 4/7 to win, Rangers are 4/1 to win, and the Draw is 3/1 on paddypower.com

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