Thursday, April 29, 2010

You win again

When I guested on the twofootedtackle podcast last week (what I've done there is use the blog to plug a podcast that I plugged the blog on - nice) I mentioned that I didn't think the Old Firm dominance of the game was a massive problem in Scottish football.

Obviously Rangers or Celtic winning the league every year Is Not A Good Thing. But my point was that it has ever been thus so there's no real reason why even this extended period of dominance should have produced the current default feelings of doom and gloom.

Thinking about it a bit more I decided to do a quick check of the Old Firm dominance through the decades.

In terms of non-Old Firm dominance, the 9 year period of the 16 team format between 1946-47 and 1954-55 was the best:
  • Four non-Old Firm winners in nine seasons
  • No season where the Old Firm finished 1st and 2nd together
  • Celtic had 5th, 6th, 7th (twice), 8th, 9th and even a 12th finish during this period
But what has each decade produced in terms of sustained challenges to the duopoly? Time to go back to the beginning, starting with the first championship in 1890/91 when Dumbarton and Rangers shared the spoils:

1890/91 to 1899/1900: Celtic (4), Rangers (3 - including 1 shared), Hearts (2), Dumbarton (2 - including 1 shared). Rangers or Celtic finish second 6 times.

1900/91 to 1909/10: Celtic (6), Rangers (2), Hibs (1), Third Lanark (1). Rangers or Celtic finish second 3 times.

1910/11 to 1919/20: Rangers (5), Celtic (5). Rangers or Celtic finish second 7 times.

1920/21 to 1929/30: Rangers (8), Celtic (2). Rangers or Celtic finish second 4 times.

1930/31 to 1938/39: Rangers (6), Celtic (2), Motherwell (1). Rangers or Celtic finish second 5 times.

1946/47 to 1949/50: Rangers (3), Hibs (1). Rangers or Celtic finish second 1 time.

1950/51 to 1959/60: Rangers (4), Hibs (2), Hearts (2), Aberdeen (1), Celtic (1). Rangers or Celtic finish second 4 times.

1960/61 to 1969/70: Celtic (5), Rangers (3), Dundee (1), Motherwell (1). Rangers or Celtic finish second 6 times.

1970/71 to 1979/80: Celtic (6), Rangers (3), Aberdeen (1). Rangers or Celtic finish second 5 times.

1980/81 to 1989/90: Celtic (4), Rangers (3), Aberdeen (2), Dundee United (1). Rangers or Celtic finish second 4 times.

1990/91 to 1999/2000: Rangers (9), Celtic 1). Rangers or Celtic finish second 5 times.

2000/01 to 2009/2010: Celtic (6), Rangers (4). Rangers or Celtic finish second 9 times.

In no ten year period (discounting the Second World War years) have the Old Firm won fewer than half the titles, their lowest combined total coming in the fifties when they only snaffled five.

What is more marked now is their domination of the top two places with only six sides breaking into the top two in the last 20 years and only one in the last ten.

Does all this prove anything? Probably not much except to satisfy my own curiosity. And to show that, whatever else is wrong with the game, the problem of other teams not getting much of a look in when it comes to the championship is as old as the league itself.