The Old Firm

 Celtic 1888-89
 Glasgow Rangers and Canada 1888

 The Glasgow giants played a total of 399 competitive games between 1888 and 2012. Their first League meeting was actually the fifth game between the two sides. Here is a resume of the earliest Old Firm matches...
Game One: 28.5.1888- Celtic 5-2 A Rangers XI
Friendly played at Old Celtic Park. 
Attendance 2000

It is fitting that Celtic's first ever game was against Rangers. Actually it was against a side of Rangers composed from their reserves (The Swifts). The Celtic side was made up of loan players.
Contemporary report from The Scottish Umpire  5 June 1888:

 It would appear as if the newly-formed Glasgow club, the Celtic F.C., has a bright future before it. At any rate, if the committee can place the same eleven in the field as opposed the Rangers last Monday evening, or an equally strong one, the Celtic will not lack for patronage and support. A good team is essential to success, and this fact the committee have not lost sight of. It will be interesting -to many of our readers to know the composition of the team which represented the new organisation in its first club match. Here it is :—Goal, Dolon (Drumpellier) ; backs, Pearson (Carfin Shamrock) and McLachlan (Whitefield); half-backs, Maley (3rd Lanark), Kelly (Renton), and Murray (Cambuslang Hibs.); forwards, McCallum (Renton), Maley (3rd Lanark), Madden (Dumbarton), Dunbar (Hibs.), and Gorevin (Whitefield)—a pretty good eleven. The Rangers were without D. Gow, J. R. Gow, Hotson, Peacock, Allan, and Aird ; but had Suter (Partick Thistle) doing duty—the remainder being drawn from the Swifts. The match was a capital one, fast and friendly—the home organisation playing with a combination which could scarcely have been expected for an opening display. The Celtic retired victors by 5 goals to 2—a result which must be indeed gratifying to their supporters. After the match, over 70 gentlemen sat down to supper in the Hall, East Rose Street, where a pleasant evening was spent. Dr. Conway occupied the chair, and on the platform were also Messrs. M'Fadden (Hibs.), McCulloch (Our Boys), Grant (Rangers), and the Rev. Brother Walfrid. The latter gentleman, who took a deep interest in the origin of the club, has every reason to flatter himself as to the success of the Celtic. Long may it flourish in our midst.

 Game Two: 27.10.1888- Rangers 1- 6 Celtic
The first "competitive" game between these two teams Glasgow Cup 3rd Rd, Ibrox
Attendance 4000
 Rangers:-Nicol, A Vallance, D Gow, Hotson, McIntyre, Muir, Wylie, Whyte, Wilson, Pringle, McKenzie.
Goal:- Wilson .
Dunning, Gallagher, McKeown, W Maley, Kelly, McLaren, McCallum, Coleman, Groves, Dunbar, T Maley.
Goals:- Groves , Dunbar, Coleman, T Maley, Dunbar, Kelly.

 Game Three: 6.8.1889- Rangers 0-2 Celtic
 Rangers & Clydesdale Harriers Sports Cup Final, Ibrox 
Attendance 4000
 Rangers:- McKenzie, D Gow, Hendry, Marshall, McIntyre, Muir, Wylie, Low, J Hamilton, Henderson, Wilkie.
Celtic:- McLaughlin, Reynolds, McKeown, W Maley, Jas Kelly, Gallagher, Dowds, Dunbar, Coleman, Cunningham, Madden.
Goals:- Dowds (2).

Game Four: 6.9.1890-  Celtic 1-0 Rangers
 Scottish CupFirst Round, Old Celtic Park
 Attendance 16000

 Celtic:- Bell, Reynolds, McKeown, P Gallagher, McCallum, W Maley, Madden, Dunbar, Groves, Dowds, Crossan.
Goal:- Groves 43.
Reid, Gow, Muir, Andy McCreadie, Marshall, Mitchell, Wylie, Kerr, Hugh McCreadie, John McPherson, Hislop.

Contemporary newspaper report:
 About 16,000 persons witnessed this tie at Celtic Park, Parkhead. The Rangers had their full team, but the Celts were without Kelly and McLaren. The Celtic won the toss, and played with the sun at their backs. H McCreadie set the ball in motion for the Rangers. The Rangers soon transferred the ball to the other end, where a shot from Kerr just grazed the post amid great excitement.
The Celtic then gradually bore down on their opponents, and from some smart play among the forwards Madden sent a shot into Reid, who caught the ball and threw it out, and then Groves shot over the bar.
The Rangers now opened out, and by some good, wide passing they got right in front of the Celts’ goal through a mistake by McKeown. Hislop had an open goal, but shot past the side of the post. It did not matter much, however, as had the ball gone through, he would likely have been judged offside.
Ten minutes from the start, Groves tipped the ball to Madden, who in turn sent it to Crossan, who headed it through amidst indescribable enthusiasm. To the chagrin of the Celtic supporters, the goal, which was well worked for, was disallowed on the ground of offside.
The Rangers were eager, and so far, if anything, the Celts had the best of it. Some smart work on the part of Hislop and McPherson resulted in the old Cowlairs men placing the ball cleverly into the goal mouth. McKeown was there, however, and saved in the nick of time.
From a throw-in by the Rangers near the Celtic goal Madden got away, but was pulled up by Mitchell, the Rangers captain. The right wings of both teams, Wyllie and Kerr on one hand, and Madden and Dunbar on the other, were putting in some grand work, which their confreres failed to take advantage of. A mistake by Muir allowed the Celtic to become dangerous, but Donald Gow dashed in on two occasions and saved brilliantly.
Madden was the most conspicuous forward on the Celtic side, his centring of the ball being beautiful. The Celtic gained the first corner of the match after 20 minutes’ play from some very clever forward play. Nothing came of the advantage gained, and the Rangers made their way down the field, where, from a regrettable incident in which McPherson was hurt, they gained a free kick, which was fruitless.
The sun in the face of the Rangers greatly troubled the Ibrox men, but all the same they were playing in very good form, and McPherson had a shot which just went over the crossbar.
As the result of some clever play by Dowds the Celtic forwards took the ball down right in front of goal, and, from a free kick, Groves sent it through amidst a wild scene of enthusiasm. The goal was disallowed, however, probably before being kicked.
The Celts were now clearly having the best of it, and Gave Rangers a warm time of it. From a corner Madden placed the ball, and Gallagher just grazed the bar with a shot.
The Celts returned to the attack, and, from a pass by Madden, Groves scored the first goal for the Celts with a rather soft shot, Reid falling in attempting to save just after 40 minutes’ play.
When the whistle blew calling half-time the scores stood – Celtic, 1 goal; Rangers, nil.
On resuming, Crossan and Dowds had a clever run, and the ball finding its way to madden that player forced a corner, which came to nothing. Then Dowds had a beautiful screw-kick from the corner, the ball just grazing the bar.
The Rangers in turn bore down on their opponents, but the ball went behind. After a fruitless run by the Celtic, the Rangers again returned to the attack, and their forwards were coming away in nice style when their progress was stopped by McKeown, and then Crossan had hard lines in not increasing the Celtic score, the ball just passing the right post.
The Celtic forwards were playing well and accurately, and upon the whole were having the best of it. There was some close and exciting play in front of Reid, but he saved very cleverly indeed. After some hot work in front of Reid, the Rangers, through the instrumentality of Hislop and McPherson, got well down the field, when McPherson sent in a quick low shot, which Bell blocked in front of goal, and conceded a corner, which came to nothing. By some exceedingly clever passing McPherson was enabled to send in another quick shot, which McKeown this time saved, and then the Rangers had a corner flag kick. The ball, however, was got away, only to be returned by Donald Gow, and for a time the Celtic goal had two or three narrow escapes.
A miss kick by Reynolds enabled Hislop to send in a scorching shot, which was brilliantly saved by Bell. Reynolds made up for his mistake by subsequently putting in some capital saving. All this time the Celtic forwards were playing with great go and determination, but the half backs were somewhat weak, and had it not been for Reynolds and McKeown there would have been little to prevent the Rangers’ forwards from scoring. What between a corner and other incidents the Rangers’ backs were having a hard time of it, but they came out of the ordeal with flying colours.
There was a feeling that if the Rangers’ forwards did get down they would score, and, coming away in dashing style, Hislop sent the ball through, but the goal was disallowed for offside.
The result of a good, fast, and hard game ended as follows – Celtic, 1 goal; Rangers, 0 goals.


 Game Five: 21.3.1891- Celtic 2-2 Rangers
Scottish League, Celtic Park  
Celtic:- Bell, Reynolds, McKeown, W. Maley, McGhee, Gallagher, Madden, Boyle, Dowds, McMahon, Campbell.
Goals:- Dowds, Campbell.

Reid, Gow, Hodge, Marshall, A. McCreadie, Mitchell, Hislop, Henderson, Kerr, McPherson, H McCreadie
Goals:- A. McCreadie, Hislop.