The Old Firm

Graham Walker looks at how history and sport are interwoven in the sectarian rivalry between Celtic and Rangers football clubs.

Ulster troubles attendant on this rivalry are well known. It is a quarrel the integrity of which seems almost venerable, notwithstanding the violence which continues to surround it.


Glasgow press last year a spokesman on behalf of the Strathclyde University History of Glasgow project, stated that the Old Firm would feature prominently in their account of the development of the modern city.


All in all there seems to be a readiness to approach the Rangers-Celtic feud with the same scholarly apparatus accorded to other phenomena. After all, there is source material in abundance - club records, memorabilia, supporters' clubs documentation, oral evidence - and there are many concepts and hypotheses which historians can apply and test. Such hypotheses, to produce the most interesting results, might attempt to use the Old Firm's turbulent history as an indicator of important trends and changes in the social and cultural life of Scottish society. It would be wrong, of course, to exaggerate its usefulness in this regard; at bottom the Old Firm is primarily about football and there are many followers of both teams who care about nothing else. But, bearing the historian's traditional caveats in mind, there seems much to be quarried, analysed and gleaned.


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