With the battle for the championship hotting up, all eyes will be on Steven Gerrard’s Gers when they travel to Rugby Park
Kilmarnock v Rangers, Wednesday 12 February, 7.15pm, BT Sport 1 HD (CH 527)
The race for the Premier League title may be a foregone conclusion, but that’s definitely not the case in the Scottish Premiership. Rangers and Celtic are currently locked in an almighty scrap for the trophy – and right now it could go either way.
It’s taken a while for them to get there, but Rangers, who are looking for their first top-flight title since 2011, are back scrapping for the right to be called Scotland’s finest. With Stevie G at the helm, the Gers are giving their Old Firm rivals a run for their money this term, and up next is a clash with Kilmarnock live on BT Sport.
Scottish football knows a thing or two about incredibly close title races, and it’s likely we’re going to see another frantic finale to the campaign this time around. But will the conclusion of this year’s championship be as nail-biting as these five from years gone by? If so, we may all need a good lie down afterwards…
1. Dundee United make history (1983)
Yes, once upon a time Dundee United were crowned Scottish champions. Don’t look so surprised. Three teams were in the hunt for the title going into the final day of the 1982-83 season: United, champions Celtic and Aberdeen (managed by a certain Alex Ferguson). United led the Bhoys and the Dons by a single point, but there was a major hurdle standing in the way of their first ever top-flight championship: a derby against Dundee.
Jim McLean’s side eventually got over the line with a famous 2-0 triumph, kick-starting a three-season spell in which neither of the Old Firm clubs got their mitts on the top trophy. Fergie’s Aberdeen would win the next two titles, earning him the attention of the board at Old Trafford in the process, before Rangers and Celtic reasserted their dominance.
2. No ten in a row for Rangers (1998)
Not content with having won nine consecutive league titles, Rangers were desperate to make it a record-breaking ten in the 1997-98 season. Celtic, for so long in their neighbours’ shadow, had other ideas.
Both teams showed plenty of nerves during a twisty run-in, but it was Celtic, managed by Wim Jansen, who pipped Walter Smith’s side to the championship. The Bhoys had a narrow edge over Rangers on the last day of the campaign and kept their cool long enough to beat St Johnstone at home, ending a ten-year wait to call themselves champions.
3. Goal difference settle it (2003)
Securing a league title on goal difference can be ecstasy (just ask Manchester City’s 2012 Premier League winners). Losing one can feel like your world has fallen apart (just ask Manchester United’s nearly men of 2012).
Level on points and on goal difference at the start of the 2002-03 season’s final day, Rangers stood atop the table by scoring one more goal than Celtic throughout the campaign. A last-day goalfest provided drama of the highest order, as Rangers, who thrashed Dunfermline 6-1, wrestled the trophy off Celtic, who defeated Kilmarnock 4-0, by a single goal.
4. Helicopter Sunday (2005)
On the final day of the 2004-05 campaign, defending champs Celtic topped the table by two points and travelled to Motherwell. Rangers, meanwhile, had to beat Hibernian away and hope their rivals slipped up against a team the Bhoys had already beaten three times in the league. Surely not?
With just minutes remaining before the curtain fell on a thrilling season, both Rangers and Celtic were winning their matches 1-0. Had things stayed like this, Celtic and manager Martin O’Neill would have retained their crown. Then everything went bonkers, with Motherwell scoring two late goals to hand the title to Alex McLeish’s Gers. The helicopter taking the trophy to Easter Road was forced to make a swift change of direction for Fir Park on a day known since as Helicopter Sunday.
5. Rangers hold their nerve (2011)
Another Old Firm ding-dong, with Rangers once again coming out on top on the final day. But only just. The Gers ended up losing one more game than Celtic throughout the campaign, yet it was Walter Smith (now in his second spell at Ibrox) who steered Rangers to a dramatic title victory.
Just one point ahead of Celtic at the beginning of the afternoon, any anxiety Rangers may have been feeling was soon dispelled, as they scored three goals in the opening seven minutes against Kilmarnock before running out 5-1 winners. Celtic battered Hearts 4-0, but it didn’t matter. The top honours belonged to Rangers.
When is Kilmarnock v Rangers on TV?
You can watch the game live on BT Sport 1 HD (CH 527) on Wednesday 12 February at 7.15pm.
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