Saturday, March 19, 2011

Celtic v Rangers: The League Cup Finals

An Old Firm league cup final.

Celtic v Rangers.

The sponsors dream. Whether that sponsor be Bell’s, Skol, Coca-Cola or, for the last time tomorrow, Co-operative Insurance.

A dream that is oft fulfilled.

For this is a tournament that has enjoyed/endured serious Glaswegian domination. And not just with Partick’s victory in 1971.

History shows that Rangers lead the way. Their 26 wins have come from 33 finals, Celtic’s 14 wins are countered by 13 final defeats.

That’s 40 of the 54 league cups snaffled by the Old Firm.

Rangers set the tone back in 1946/47 taking the inaugural competition with a 4-0 win over Aberdeen.

Strangely it wasn’t until 1956/57 that Celtic reached the final, beating Partick Thistle after a replay.

The following year threw up the first Old Firm final. Celtic stormed it that day, winning 7-1.

They didn’t meet again until 1964/65 when Rangers won 2-1. Celtic reversed that score the following year and won again against Rangers in 1966/67 as part of their annus mirabilis.

The 1970s saw three Old Firm finals and three wins for Rangers, in 1970/71, 1975/76 and 1977/78.

There were three clashes in the 1980s as well. Celtic won 2-1 in 1982/83 before Rangers won 3-2 after extra time the following year. Graeme Souness then won his first managerial trophy with a 2-1 in 1986/87.

1990/91 was the last final to be played in front of over 60,000 people and saw Rangers win 2-1 after extra time.

That was the last Old Firm final of the century. Fast forward to 2002/03 and Rangers again triumphed, winning 2-1 with first half goals from Claudio Caniggia and Peter Lovenkrands.

Henrik Larsson pulled one back for Celtic in the second half before John Hartson missed a penalty to level the scores and Neil Lennon received a late red card.

Two years ago Gordon Strachan’s Celtic won 2-0 after extra time with Darren O’Dea and an Aiden McGeady penalty - following a Kirk Broadfoot red card - getting the goals.

All of which means tomorrow is the 14th Old Firm League Cup final.

Rangers have won eight to Celtic's five in the previous 13.

History is most likely bunkum in this instance. The only theme that develops is that - the 7-1 thrashing handed down by Jimmy McGrory’s Celtic apart - Old Firm finals have been tight affairs.

Nerve janglers in fact.

More of the same tomorrow?