Celtic’s Most Prominent Rivalries: Unveiling the Legacy of Intense Competitions

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Scottish football fans are known for their intense passion, particularly in derby matches. The rivalry between local teams is just as crucial as earning points or advancing in cup competitions for these devoted supporters.

The outcome of a derby match can have a significant impact on fans’ emotions, often dictating the mood for an entire weekend or even longer, depending on the level of intensity. In some cases, it has even led to the dissolution of the closest friendships.

The Old Firm rivalry between Celtic and Rangers is one of the oldest and most intense rivalries in professional sports, but it doesn’t stand alone as the only foe “The Bhoys” have in Scottish football.

With that said, today we’re taking a closer look at the on and off-pitch rivalries that have made Celtics Scottish Premier League tenure one that captivates fans worldwide.

Celtic and Aberdeen F.C. Rivalry

Truly remarkable rivalries develop naturally without the need for explicit promotion. Their importance is communicated through different means. However, when viewed solely from a sporting standpoint, the Aberdeen vs. Celtic rivalry still falls short compared to other prominent fixtures in Scottish football. While there may be occasional intense moments, a few robust challenges, and sporadic displays of aggression, the passion and intensity that typically define a rivalry are noticeably absent.

So, why has the Celtic/Aberdeen “rivalry” made our list? Because despite the lack of hatred between fan bases, Aberdeen has faced Celtic more times than any other team in their history.

The Dons were defeated in their initial encounter at Parkhead in December 1905, but they redeemed themselves with a victory of the same score at Pittodrie twelve weeks later. The highest number of goals scored in this matchup is nine, which occurred in two instances. The first was in ‘49 when Celtic triumphed in a League Cup qualifiers with a 5-4 scoreline. The second instance took place in November 2010. Throughout the years, there have been twenty one meetings where neither team managed to score, including the ‘90 Scottish Cup Final, which Aberdeen ultimately won on penalties in front of 60,000-plus spectators.

And let’s not forget the years when Rangers were absent from top-flight football. Aberdeen stepped up and became Celtic’s biggest threat to the title, specifically between 2014 and 2018.

Celtic and Rangers Rivalry 

An article discussing the rivalries of Celtic football club doesn’t exist with the mention of Rangers and The Old Firm Derby.

The rivalry between Rangers and Celtic is grounded in differing beliefs about religion, identity, and politics, as well as their connection to Ireland, specifically Northern Ireland.

Most commonly, fans of Rangers align themselves with being native Scotsman or Ulster Scots, as well as being Protestant and Loyalist. On the other hand, Celtic supporters tend to identify as Irish Scots Catholic, and Republican. Additionally, Rangers fans often see themselves as pro-British and can be seen flying British flags during matches. In contrast, Celtic supporters are more likely to wave the Irish tricolour.

It’s arguably the most intense rivalry in professional football history, but aggression and disdain haven’t been the lone practices to supporting Celtic or Rangers. Where there’s a football game, a bookmaker isn’t far behind, and with free bets UK stemming as one of the top betting promotions, you can guarantee fans of both clubs will regularly back their side with a wager or two.

With that said, the rivalry has only filled the betting pockets of Celtic supporters in recent years. Since 2022, the clubs have met on ten occasions, and Rangers have just one success during this stretch, losing six to Celtic and drawing three times.

Celtic and Hibernian Rivalry

Celtic and Hibernian share a linked but convoluted past. While a small number of fans have a fondness for each other, the prevailing sentiment between the two clubs is one of apathy or animosity.

Hibs became the inaugural Scottish club established by Irish Catholic settlers in the 19th century, prompting the formation of Irish clubs in Dundee and Glasgow. These included Dundee Harp, Dundee Hibernian, and Celtic.

The frequently voiced allegation is that Celtic drove the original Hibernian out of existence by poaching several top players. This accusation often remains uncontested, yet there are numerous overlooked facts, facets, and inconsistencies when discussing this matter.

While the battles between Hibs and Celtic have been more political than anything, and even though the lending hands each club has presented over the years, ask any true Hibernian or Celtic fan, and they aren’t going to sing the praises of their fellow Irish club.

Celtic and Hearts Rivalry

Many Hearts fans now consider a match against the Old Firm (especially Celtic) a more significant event than the Edinburgh Derby. The strong animosity towards Celtic appears to have greatly increased in the last decade or so, and it has never been adequately explained why the Hearts supporters have adopted the role of being the second most fervent haters of the Hoops, after Rangers.

Hearts shares a continuous rivalry with their city neighbours, Hibs, but why “The Hoops”? Maybe the concept of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” no longer applies.

Fortunately, there haven’t been any negative reactions from fans of either side so far. These teams serve as evidence that rivalries can be enjoyable for everyone involved!

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