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The Old Firm: if you know your history then you will realise that it means more to people than a game of football

You can't complain when your team's beaten by the better side... as much as you'd like to, says Eamonn McCann

Published 20/04/2016

Ronny Deila
Ronny Deila

The salt in the wound of Celtic fans on Sunday was that not only did Rangers prevail in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden, it would have been a travesty if the result had gone any other way. Although the Light Blues' victory came via the penalty shootout route, they had been the better side over 120 minutes.

Coming away cursing from a game you've lost on account of a referee who should have been wearing the other side's jersey is an essential element in the full football experience. It confirms that there's a cruel world conspiring against your team, endlessly alert for opportunities to trip you up.

By the same token victory - when it comes - is all the more glorious for having been accomplished against rigged odds and evil machinations.

There is no more sour experience than having to concede that the reason you were hammered is that the other side played better. To be deprived not only of bragging rights, but of the right to be resentful.

Then again, there was already a clamour under way for Celtic manager Ronny Deila (below) to be given the heave-ho.

That's another way football people can console themselves: dwell on the fact that you had seen this coming months ago and if only the dunderheads on the board had listened this demoralising episode need never have happened.

By such means do the vanquished find vindication.

One Saturday afternoon long, long ago, myself and Dermie were slouching despondently out of the Brandywell after the City had been beaten by Distillery or some other equally embarrassing outfit when we came across a member of the board. "Well," Dermie greeted him. "I hope you're satisfied now."

We may have lost the match, but Dermie had extracted a bit of grim satisfaction from the debacle.

Or you can retreat into reverie about greater days gone by, the way a Ukipper might sigh for Amritsar. Or you can call to mind previous periods of gloom compared with which the current difficulties scarcely register.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: A general view during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: A general view during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the game during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers is tackled by Dedryck Boyata of Celtic during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers fans wave flags during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers scores the opening goal of the game during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers scores the opening goal of the game during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers' Kenny Miller scores his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' Kenny Miller scores his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' fans during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Celtic fans sing ahead of the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the game during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Singer Rod Stewart looks on during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers Chairman Dave King looks on during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the game during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the game during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Celtic fans let off a flare during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers' Kenny Miller celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the game during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Rangers' Kenny Miller celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: James Tavernier of Rangers puts pressure on Leigh Griffiths of Celtic during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Rangers' Kenny Miller celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: The Celtic team huddle ahead of the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers holds off the challenge of Dedryck Boyata of Celtic during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: James Tavernier of Rangers puts pressure on Leigh Griffiths of Celtic during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Barrie McKay of Rangers holds off pressure from Stefan Johansen of Celtic during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers' Kenny Miller scores his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers holds off pressure from Dedryck Boyata of Celtic during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the game during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the game during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Erik Sviachenko of Celtic celebrates after scoring their first goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Erik Sviachenko of Celtic celebrates after scoring their first goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Erik Sviachenko of Celtic celebrates after scoring their first goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Erik Sviachenko of Celtic celebrates after scoring their first goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers' manager Mark Warburton (right) and Celtic manager Ronny Deila during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko (right) scores his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' manager Mark Warburton during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko scores his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: James Tavernier of Rangers vies with Leigh Griffiths of Celtic during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers manager Mark Warburton reacts during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: James Tavernier of Rangers vies with Leigh Griffiths of Celtic during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Scott Brown of Celtic receives medical attention during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Celtic's Scott Brown gets treatment on the sideline during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers is tackled by Nir Bitton of Celtic during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Stefan Johansen of Celtic holds off pressure from Andrew Halliday of Rangers during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Stefan Johansen of Celtic holds off pressure from Andrew Halliday of Rangers during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Kenny Miller of Rangers is tackled by Nir Bitton of Celtic during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Scott Brown of Celtic clears the ball during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Dean Sheils of Rangers goes down under pressure during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko tackles Rangers' Dean Shiels (right) during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's manager Ronny Deila during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko tackles Rangers' Dean Shiels during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Patrick Roberts reacts after a missed shot during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Patrick Roberts reacts after a missed shot during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Patrick Roberts of Celtic reacts after missing a chance during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Patrick Roberts of Celtic reacts after missing a chance during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Patrick Roberts of Celtic reacts after missing a chance during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Rangers' Dean Shiels and Celtic's Kieran Tierney battle for the ball during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' Kenny Miller celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' Kenny Miller and Celtic's Scott Brown (left) battle for the ball during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Nir Bitton of Celtic holds off pressure from Kenny Miller of Rangers during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers' Kenny Miller celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Celtic fans let off a flare during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Celtic' Scott Brown during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Dedryck Boyata (left) and Rangers' Jason Holt (right) battle for the ball during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers fans wave flags ahead of the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers manager Mark Warburton celebrates after winning the penalty shoot out during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebrate after winning the penalty shoot out during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers manager Mark Warburton celebrates after winning the penalty shoot out during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebrates after winning the penalty shoot out during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Rangers' Wes Foderingham (right) and Martyn Waghorn celebrate victory after the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebrate after beating Celtic in a penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebrate after beating Celtic in a penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers' Nicky Law scores the winning penalty during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' manger Mark Warburton celebrates victory after the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' James Tavernier misses a penalty during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Callum McGregor reacts to a missed penalty during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' manager Mark Warburton during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Tom Rogic (hidden) scores his sides second goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Tom Rogic (not pictured) scores his sides second goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic manager Ronny Deila during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' Barrie McKay scores his sides second goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic manager Ronny Deila during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Barrie McKay of Rangers celebrates team-mate James Tavernier after scoring their second goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Barrie McKay (R) of Rangers celebrates with his team-mates after scoring their second goal during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Barrie McKay (R) of Rangers celebrates with his team-mates after he scoring their second goal during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Barrie McKay (R) of Rangers celebrates with his team-mates after he scoring their second goal during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Barrie McKay (R) of Rangers celebrates with his team-mates after he scoring their second goal during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Rangers' Wes Foderingham makes a save at the feet of Celtic's Leigh Griffiths (right) during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Barrie McKay (R) of Rangers celebrates with his team-mates after he scoring their second goal during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Barrie McKay (R) of Rangers celebrates with his team-mates after he scoring their second goal during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Barrie McKay (L) of Rangers celebrates with team-mate James Tavernier after scoring their second goalduring the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers' Barrie McKay celebrates scoring his sides second goal with team mates during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' Barrie McKay (not pictured) scores his sides second goal past Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' Barrie McKay (second right)scores his sides second goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' Barrie McKay (right) celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Erik Sviatchenko scores his sides opening goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' Barrie McKay (right) celebrates scoring his sides second goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths heads the ball during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' Lee Wallace holds his face during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths reacts during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Scott Brown during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Erik Sviatchenko of Celtic scores during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
Celtic and Rangers' fans during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Erik Sviachenko of Celtic scores their first goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Erik Sviachenko of Celtic celebrates after scoring their first goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers' players mob goalkeeper Wes Foderingham as they celebrate victory after the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebtate after beating Celtic in a penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebrate after winning the penalty shoot out during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebtate after beating Celtic in a penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebrate after winning the penalty shoot out during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
Rangers' goal keeper Wes Foderingham as he celebrates with team mates after their victory during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebrate after beating Celtic in a penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers' goal keeper Wes Foderingham as he celebrates with team mates after their victory during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebrate after beating Celtic in a penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Dominic Ball and Rob Kiernan of Rangers celebrates after winning the penalty shoot out during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Martyn Waghorn of Rangers celebrates after winning the penalty shoot out during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty IMages)
Rangers' goalkeeper Wes Foderingham and manager Mark Warburton celebrate after the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Tom Rogic misses his penalty during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Tom Rogic misses his penalty during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers manager Mark Warburton celebrates victory at the end of the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic players looks dejected during the penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers manager Mark Warburton celebrates victory at the end of the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebrate after beating Celtic in a penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebrate after beating Celtic in a penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Rangers goal keeper Wes Foderingham celebrates victory after the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' players mob goal keeper Wes Foderingham as they celebrate victory after the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers celebrate winning the penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' players mob goal keeper Wes Foderingham as they celebrate victory after the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers celebrate winning the penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Jeff Holmes/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: Rangers players celebtate after beating Celtic in a penalty shoot out during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 17: James Tavernier of Rangers celebrates after winning the penalty shoot out during the Scottish Cup Semi Final between Rangers and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 17, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty)
Rangers' players mob goal keeper Wes Foderingham as they celebrate victory after the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Rangers' players mob goal keeper Wes Foderingham as they celebrate victory after the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 17, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Rangers. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

On Lone Moor Road in Derry on Sunday night one grizzled aficionado described the current Celtic front line as "the worst since the Sorrowful Mysteries".

Among those nodding heads in agreement were some whose parents, much less themselves, are unlikely to have been around when the Five Sorrowful Mysteries notched up one goal between them from play in the first nine matches of the 1948/49 season. We've been through worse. We bounced back. We will again.

Alternatively, contemplation of days of giddy achievement can be made to overwhelm all present feelings of failure. No matter how far we fall, we'll always have Lisbon.

There are always ways to ease the pain. Bittersweet is the defining flavour of football fandom.

The first time I saw Celtic play was also the first time I saw Derry City. The Bhoys were over for a pre-season tour, which included a gig at the Brandywell.

My uncle Tommy had travelled with them from Ardrossan, where a considerable community of New Lodge emigres had settled. He had a position of some sort in the supporters' club. My cousin Adelaine was later chairperson of the federation of supporters' clubs. I mention this to establish my credentials.

The Celtic 11 that graced the Brandywell included Bobby Collins, Bobby Evans, Sean Fallon, Willie Fernie. I was standing no more than 10 yards away when Charlie Tully scored direct from a corner. The ref ordered him to take it again. He scored again. You don't forget things like that easily, or at all.

The other thing I recall is that, even though Derry was the home side, half the crowd, minimum, was cheering for Celtic. I was puzzled then, but I think I understand it now, although I am not sure I approve, not entirely, not anymore.

The Celtic-Rangers rivalry is one of the longest-running and the most jagged-edged in all of sport. It arose as a reflection of the material reality of Glasgow in the 1870s and 1880s, when the clubs were formed. Glasgow, little more than a generation previously, had been the most Protestant city in the Empire. But the Catholic Irish had been pouring in in huge numbers in the aftermath of the Famine. Catholicism in Scotland developed relatively suddenly and as an almost exclusively Irish phenomenon.

Religious and national rivalries thus combined to explosive effect. And has persisted unabated. If the Old Firm relationship was an expression of the reality of life in central Scotland at the outset, it has arguably since become the main source of separate, hostile identities.

Marx called this "the relative autonomy of ideology" - the material basis of a social relationship may have gone, but the phenomenon lives on, generating its own reality.

Directors, managers, players come and go.

Only the fans go on for ever, hopes of happiness hitched to the fortunes of the teams sent out uniformed to represent them on a Saturday afternoon.

At least, it should be a Saturday afternoon.

Football was specifically created for Saturday afternoons.

We must come back to that.

Belfast Telegraph

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