Celtic vs Rangers: Choccy’s Five Old Firm Favourites

Having enjoyed four seasons at Celtic Park Brian McClair knows a thing or two about encounters with Rangers and talks us through some of his more memorable matches, both as a winner and a loser in this most monumental of fixtures.
Brian McClair  |  27th December 2019

Celtic 2 Rangers 1, September 3rd, 1983 

This was the first Old Firm game that I had the pleasure of being involved with having managed to secure a place on the bench in my debut season at Celtic Park, and despite being relatively new to the whole experience of such a huge encounter I didn’t let the occasion get to me. 

Coming on as a second half substitute I even managed to “create” a goal for Roy Aitken by standing in an offside position, in a game which we eventually came from behind to win 2-1. Not only was this a baptism of fire which I would never forget, but the win also overshadowed the fact that Ally McCoist scored after just 33 seconds of his Rangers debut! 

 

Rangers 3 Celtic 2, 26 March 1984, League Cup Final

This was my first major cup final for the Hoops and it happened to be against arch rivals Rangers, who took the lead through a somewhat dubious Ally McCoist penalty before he doubled the lead early in the second half after a defensive mix-up between Pat Bonner and Roy Aitken; meaning we had a mountain to climb and little to lose.

On the Friday Tommy Burns, who was a great player, comic and all round top dude, came up with a free-kick routine that we practiced a few times so after he was brought down when clean through on goal we had the chance to put the plan into action. With me in the wall, he flicked the ball up and I spun round to score, exactly as we had practiced the previous day to make it 2-1 before a late Reid penalty sent the game to extra-time. However Roy Aitken’s misery was compounded when he conceded another penalty late-on which McCoist converted for his hat-trick and the winning goal.

 

Rangers 1 Celtic 2, January 1st, 1985 

Traditionally the biggest, most lauded game in Scottish football, so it’s unimaginable today to think that not only was the match not shown live on TV there but also that there is no decent footage of it in the archives as far as I know other than some pretty grainy video on YouTube; meaning there is little evidence of one of the most strange goals I ever scored for Celtic.

In the 55th minute of what was a pretty poor game, I decided to take a shot, though you can barely call  it a shot as it was such a pathetic effort with no power behind it whatsoever. So imagine my surprise when, as I turn away, there is a roar from the Celtic faithful behind Peter McCloy’s goal and I see that somehow the ball has crossed the goal line –  it barely even have the momentum to reach the back of the net but I didn’t care, a goal is a goal!

 

Rangers 4 – 4 Celtic, 22nd March, 1986

This has to be one of the craziest old firm clashes that I’ve ever been involved in on a wet and windy day at Ibrox back in 1986. Rangers, who were probably the better side in the early stages of the match, found themselves 2-0 down within half an hour after Mo Johnston and myself both scored, but the game changed when Willie McStay was sent off for a foul on Ted McMinn after just half an hour, which allowed Fraser to bring the Gers back into the game almost straight away.

Just two minutes after the restart Tommy Burns grabbed our third only for Rangers to score three goals in 11 mins through McCoist, Fleck and Fraser to take the lead once more; but we refused to give in and a great 30 yard drive from Murdo MacLeod levelled the scores and an epic encounter eventually finished in a 4-4 draw.

 

Celtic 3 – 1 Rangers, 4th April, 1987

A game I will always remember as it was my last ever Old Firm clash, though I’m a big believer in saving the best until last so I made sure I went out with a bang by scoring a couple of goals on my farewell to Celtic Park against Rangers in a game marred by 155 arrests and over 200 injuries as trouble flared outside the stadium in the build-up to the match.

I opened the scoring in the 30th minute from the penalty spot after a handball on the line and just six minutes later another foul in the box gave me the opportunity to double my tally and take my total to 36 for the season, but not before the ball had been blown off the spot by the wind and a Rangers fan ran onto the pitch and started running towards me. He stopped, screamed at me, and then jogged off before eventually being caught by the stewards. Unfazed I smash the ball past Chris Woods again for the second time and we eventually go on to win the match 3-1, in what proved to be a pretty memorable afternoon.

 

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