RODDY FORSYTH is the Scottish football correspondent for BBC Radio Sport (England) and the Daily Telegraph (England) in Glasgow.

Possibly nowhere in the world is there a rivalry which can surpass that of Celtic and Rangers. There are local or national feuds which come close and, from time to time, exceed the collision of blue and green in Glasgow, but Celtic-Rangers is the oldest and the most durable.

Rangers' history stretches back almost to the beginning of football as a properly codified game. The club was founded in early 1872 by a group of lads from the Highlands of Scotland who settled on a name for their team by looking through a list of English rugby clubs and agreeing on Rangers.

Rangers were by no means the principal club in Scotland during their early years; that distinction belonged to Queen's Park, who were so superior that Scotland sometimes called upon all or most of their players for games against England, Ireland and Wales. Queen's Park also established the passing game in football, displacing the dribbling style of the English pioneers.

But in 1888 the Scottish Football League was formed and the game became professional in Scotland. Queen's Park remained amateur and began to lose status and influence. The year before Celtic were founded by a Marist Brother known as Walfrid, with the main object of raising money for the poor of the east end of Glasgow. The club had deep roots amongst the immigrant Irish community from the start and retains a sizeable support in Ireland, north and south to this day. Celtic played their first game at Celtic Park (sometimes known as Parkhead) on 28 May 1888 and beat Rangers 5-2.

The 2nd episode of the Great Derby series is dedicated to the battle for supremacy between the two great Glasgow clubs, Rangers and Celtic, the oldest Derby in football history. In the June issue FIFA Magazine will take a look at the arch rivals in Rio de Janeiro, Flamengo and Fluminense.
The rivalry gathered pace as Queen's Park stubbornly disdained the professional game (even now they remain the only amateur team in the leagues of Scotland or England) - and Scottish supporters began to seek a 'native' team who might prove a match for a Celtic side which had immediately become a force in the game.

Rangers were the obvious choice. They played on the west side of Glasgow, Celtic the east. Rangers had been founded by Highland Presbyterians and drew much of their support from the Protestant community, Celtic from the growing Irish and Scottish Catholic population. So the rivalry was cultural and religious but it remained friendly for the better part of 30 years.

Many sporting cartoons commented on the money-making capacity of the two clubs, and in 1909 money was at the root of a riot when the pair met in a Scottish Cup Final replay at Hampden Park. But the factions were not fighting each other. The result was again a draw but there was no extra time and this time the 61,000 crowd refused to move. The word spread that the game had been fixed to generate a lucrative third game and the two supports united to storm the pitch, fight the police and set fire to the payboxes. There was no third game and the cup was withheld.

Running battles in Glasgow
After the First World War ended, the Irish war of Independence broke out and animosity between Celtic and Rangers supporters became deep rooted, especially when the mainly Catholic south of Ireland became independent in 1921 and the small, largely Protestant north remained in the United Kingdom.

Founded: 6 November 1887
President: Brian Quinn
Head Coach: Martin O'Neill
Stadium: Celtic Park, 60,506
Honours: 1 European Champion Clubs' Cup, 1 European Champion Clubs' Cup runners-up, 36 national championships, 30 Scottish Cups, 11 Scottish League Cups, 1 Coronation Cup
Great Players: Charlie Tully, Jimmy McGrory, Ronnie Simpson, Paddy Crerand, Bertie Auld, Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill, Jimmy Johnstone, Davie Hay, Danny McGrain, Kenny Dalglish, Charlie Nicholas, Paul McStay, Paolo Di Canio, Henrik Larsson
Famous fan: Rod Stewart (rock singer)
Violence became a byword when the sides met, with running battles in the city after Glasgow derbies. Celtic had always been a club with a distinctly Catholic ethos but never stopped signing Protestant players. Rangers did not knowingly sign a Catholic for 70 years. Sectarianism, however, was undoubtedly good for business and the pair drew colossal crowds at a time when Scotland set world attendance records, with gates of well over 100,000 commonplace.

The clubs dominated Scottish football and then became forces in the wider world. Rangers reached the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup three times between 1961 and 1972, beating Dynamo Moscow in Barcelona on the third occasion. Celtic went one better and became the first British club to win the European Champion Clubs' Cup, overcoming Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon in 1967 under their legendary manager, Jock Stein. Three years later Celtic set a European Champion Clubs' Cup crowd record of 136,505 when they beat Leeds United, champions of England, at Hampden Park. However, they lost the final itself to Feyenoord in Milan.

The mid to late 1970s saw both decline as European powers but bad blood continued between them, culminating in the Hampden Riot of 1980 when fans of both sides fought on the pitch after Celtic had beaten Rangers 1-0 in the Scottish Cup Final. By this time, though, Scotland in general had become a far more tolerant and secular country than half a century previously and the two clubs were roundly condemned for what was seen to be a national shame.

In 1986 there was a revolutionary development when Rangers appointed the former Liverpool and Scotland midfielder, Graeme Souness, as player manager. He immediately exploded the restrictive Scottish wage structure and began to import outsiders. Most significantly, backed by a new chairman, David Murray, he signed Maurice Johnston, a Catholic Scotland striker who had previously played for Celtic.

Rangers so wrongfooted Celtic at this time that for the next twelve years they won every championship but one, which Celtic took in 1998. The pendulum has begun to swing back, though, as Celtic have revived under the former Nottingham Forest and Northern Ireland winger, Martin O'Neill.

19 goals in four games

Founded: February 1872
President: David Murray
Head Coach: Dick Advocaat
Stadium: Ibrox Stadium, 50,500
Honours: 1 European Cup Winners' Cup, 2 European Cup Winners' Cup runners-up, 49 national championships, 29 Scottish Cups, 21 Scottish League Cups
Great Players: Alan Morton, Davie Meiklejohn, Willie Waddell, Willie Thornton, Ian McColl, Eric Caldow, Ian McMillan, John Greig, Jim Baxter, Sandy Jardine, Derek Johnstone, Paul Gascoigne, Brian Laudrup, Ally McCoist, Mark Hateley
Famous fan: Sir Sean Connery (actor)
Non-Scottish players now predominate at both clubs yet, if anything, the derby meetings are even more supercharged than before. This season goals have been scored at a manic rate, almost as fast as red and yellow cards have been brandished. Scottish clubs meet four times in the league each season. Celtic won the first derby 6-2, Rangers replied with a 5-1 victory and in the most recent encounter Celtic won 1-0, but four days earlier Rangers had lost 3-1 in the Scottish League Cup semi final -19 goals in four games.

In the two back-to-back games four players were shown the red card by the referee. There was bound to be an increase in the number of foreign players sent off in the derbies, simply because they now outnumber the Scots. On the other hand, these players arrive with only the vaguest knowledge - if any - of the background to this division, yet in derby after derby newcomers are overwhelmed by the atmosphere and reason flies out the window.

It is hard, even for a seasoned observer, to know exactly what to make of it all. What we can say for certain about Celtic-Rangers is that this volcanic rivalry magnifies everything to do with these clubs. For better or for worse, in sickness and health, this 123-year old marriage of unsurpassed football passions continues to prove that, as the song says, you can't have one without the other.