Tomorrow (1st Feb) sees the much anticipated return of the old firm derby when Rangers and Celtic will battle it out in the Scottish League Cup. There has always been a sense of hatred between the two Glasgow clubs, mainly from a sectarian aspect, with Celtic being a predominantly catholic club, whilst Rangers fans tent to be Protestant. One study showed that 74% of Celtic supporters identify themselves as Catholic, whereas only 10% identify as Protestant; for Rangers fans, the figures are 2% and 65%, respectively.
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The cross-town rivals first met on the pitch on February 28, 1888. At that point, “none of the 2,000 spectators at the game could have guessed that they were present at a historic occasion, for that evening marked the first of what was to become the most famous, long-lasting – and bitter – sporting rivalry in the history of football” (Murray 4). Almost a hundred years after the inaugural match, the conflict between fans came to fruition when Celtic and Rangers met in the 1980 Scottish Cup Final. Immediately following an entertaining and relatively problem free match, built up tension exploded into violent riots before anyone had even le! ft the stadium. Celtic supporters, excited after the victory, rushed the field to celebrate with their beloved players. Angered by the loss and the expression of joy shown by their nemesis, Rangers fans also rushed the field. However, there was no question of celebration in the minds of the fans who invaded from the West end of the ground. They had violence in mind and no sooner was it offered than it was returned with enthusiasm.
The riots after the 1980 Scottish Cup Final acted as a springboard for the conflict between Celtic and Rangers. Before that game, the extent of the tension between the two groups had gone unrealized. However, the truth behind the violence on the field that day continues to plague the rivalry today.
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