The 25 biggest wins in the Scottish top flight

Celtic defeated Hamilton by a seven goal margin last night, but where does that game fit in the all-time list since the SPL was created in 1998? Craig Fowler found out

Leigh Griffiths netted a hat-trick as Celtic won by seven clear goals last night. Picture: SNS
Leigh Griffiths netted a hat-trick as Celtic won by seven clear goals last night. Picture: SNS

This list could have been a lot bigger but it was decided, to save time and space, to cut it to a top 25. That way we get a celebratory number and manage to include every win that was by a six-goal margin or greater.

As with goal difference in league tables, more goals scored by the winning team decided the tie-break if two games were the same margin of victory, i.e. 7-1 is better than 6-0.

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While this list only includes matches since the inception of the SPL, there are also results after the SPFL rebranding.

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Celtic 8 - 1 Hamilton: Hoops romp to easy win in Accies rout


The first of 11 games that are tied for 15th in the biggest margin of victory list. This result may look a little surprising to those who do not recall, but it occurred in a season where Dunfermline were relegated while Kilmarnock spent a period this campaign running the Old Firm close at the top of the table.

The score was still 1-0 with 24 minutes remaining when the house fell in on the struggling hosts. Ally McCoist netted the sixth goal to polish off the win.

Incredibly, Kilmarnock used the confidence boost from this match to zero effect, failing to win any of their remaining games and being pipped into third place by St Johnstone at the season’s end.

ABERDEEN 0 - 6 CELTIC (11/12/1999)

If you’re an Aberdeen fan, you might wish to stop reading now. Your team appears a further four times in this list and none of them are victories. In fact, they are all defeats against Celtic.

While this defeat may not have been by quite as large a margin as the others, it was at home and Celtic were managed by John Barnes, so it’s still pretty embarrassing. Aberdeen would go on to finish the season bottom of the SPL and avoided relegation through a combination of league reconstruction and Falkirk’s ground not being SPL compatible, saving them from a meeting with the Bairns in a relegation play-off.

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This was the game where Ian Wright did that weird celebration where he pretended to be dead.

CELTIC 6 - 0 ABERDEEN (16/12/2000)

Aberdeen were much improved the following campaign but it wasn’t enough to avoid another shellacking by Celtic.

In fairness, under the guidance of Martin O’Neill, the Hoops were almost unstoppable and on their way to a domestic treble. The same description can also be applied to Henrik Larsson who netted a hat-trick, while Ramon Vega bagged a double on his debut. Future Dons midfielder Jamie Smith completed the scoring.

CELTIC 6 - 0 KILMARNOCK (02/01/2001)

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Another season, another Larsson hat-trick (he scored four this time) and another heavy win en route to another league title for Martin O’Neill’s team.

They would finish this campaign with 103 points, failing to win on only five occasions in the league, though they would watch on as Rangers picked up both cups.

Killie weren’t even that bad this season, finishing seventh.

DUNFERMLINE 0 - 6 RANGERS (01/09/2002)

Claudio Canigga, having not started in any of Rangers’ previous matches this season, stepped in from the cold to bag a hat-trick.

Those goals would prove to be crucial come the end of the season when Alex McLeish’s side pipped Celtic to the title via goal difference.

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Dunfermline, like Killie before them, weren’t actually a bad side that year, going on to finish fifth in the table under the guidance of Jimmy Calderwood.

CELTIC 6 - 0 HIBERNIAN (27/12/2003)

Hibs were giving as good as they got before Derek Riordan was sent off for a lunge on Jackie McNamara before half-time. The walls quickly caved in on Bobby Williamson’s side as they went 2-0 down in the few seconds left before the break and lost another four goals following the restart.

Chris Sutton and John Hartson each bagged a double for Celtic, who would end the season as champions. Hibs finished a dismal eighth.

CELTIC 6 - 0 DUNFERMLINE (12/03/2005)

Having sent out an earlier warning to Aberdeen fans, I’m now thinking I should have done the same with Dunfermline supporters.

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At least there was a happy ending to the season for Pars after this thumping at Parkhead. A 5-0 victory over relegation rivals Dundee went a long way to ensuring they remained in the top flight, avoiding the drop by a single point.

By contrast, Celtic would experience heartbreak at the end of this campaign, losing the title on the final day in what’s widely referred to as ‘Helicopter Sunday’.

RANGERS 6 - 0 MOTHERWELL (12/02/2011)

Just a few days prior to this match, Stuart McCall’s side had given a pretty good account of themselves in a League Cup semi-final defeat to the same side. However, they were well beaten at Ibrox, going down to a Nikica Jelavić hat-trick.

This game also marked the Rangers debut of both Kyle Bartley and David Healy, who netted the sixth.

Walter Smith’s side would pip Celtic to the title by a single point.

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KILMARNOCK 0 - 6 CELTIC (07/04/2012)

Rangers capitulation in the title race, followed by the other two “-ations”, meant Celtic cantered to their first championship under Neil Lennon. While there may have been a lack of drama in the end, they at least won it in emphatic fashion.

The scoring started in the eighth minute and the visitors were 4-0 up by half-time as both Chalie Mulgrew and Gary Hooper helped themselves to a double.

CELTIC 6 - 0 INVERNESS (27/04/2014)

Inverness CT are responsible for giving Celtic not one, but two of the most infamous defeats in their recent history. However, the Parkhead club have enacted some revenge in the time since.

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This wasn’t the only occasion in the last six years where Celtic netted a six-goal win over Caley Thistle, having done so in the League Cup back in 2010 prior to this league victory.

Anthony Stokes (pre-hair transplant) netted a hat-trick and Leigh Griffiths (ditto) got one of the others. To add insult to injury for Inverness, Teemu Pukki even managed to get on the scoresheet.

HEARTS 6 - 0 MOTHERWELL (16/01/2016)

It’s been quite a week for high-scoring wins with two new entries into the top 25 occurring within the space of four days.

Six different scorers put Motherwell to the sword last Saturday as Hearts ran riot. The visitors could even count themselves a little lucky it was only six, as Hearts had two goals disallowed for tight offside decisions.

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MOTHERWELL 1 - 7 CELTIC (21/02/1999)

This is the first of six matches tied for ninth place in the biggest margin of victory list.

It’s another example of a team falling apart as the game enters the closing stages. Motherwell were only 2-1 down with 25 minutes remaining, but once Larsson made it 3-1, with his second of four goals that night, and John Spencer was sent off, the beleaguered hosts had no answer for Dr Josef Venglos’ side.

The Motherwell boss at the time was Billy Davies.

DUNDEE 1 - 7 RANGERS (27/02/2000)

And here we have the polar opposite to the last match. Rangers netted six times in the first half with Rod Wallace netting a hat-trick and Jorg Albertz scoring another of his trademark stunners.

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The Gers went on to win the title easily under Dick Advocaat, while Dundee finished back in seventh place. Clearly not contented with this, the club began signing the likes of Claudio Canigga and Georgi Nemsadze the following season.

RANGERS 7 - 1 ST MIRREN (04/11/2000)

This match was noted for Kenny Miller putting five goals past a St Mirren side who were suffering through a brief stay back in the top flight.

The young striker, who’d signed from Hibs that summer, scored four of them inside 32 minutes, while his fifth was an absolute stunner.

To put that day into perspective, during his one season at Celtic Park he only tallied seven league goals all season. There’s a reason the Parkhead faithful sometimes refer to him as ‘Agent Miller’.

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HEARTS 7 - 1 DUNFERMLINE (24/02/2001)

Jimmy Calderwood had this habit of changing his side into a 2-4-4 formation whenever they went a couple of goals down in a game he felt they still had a chance of winning. On this occasion it clearly didn’t work out.

Stephane Adam, Colin Cameron and Andy Kirk each scored a double, while Robert Tomaschek added the seventh. It could have been worse for the hosts with Hearts also hitting the post and bar, and Kirk missing a sitter from a couple of yards out.

It was a fairly uneventful season for both teams, making this extraordinary result all the more noteworthy.

RANGERS 7 - 1 HAMILTON ACCIES (06/12/2008)

Last night’s result isn’t the only time Martin Canning has tasted a heavy defeat in Glasgow. The current boss was in the Accies back-line for this torrid encounter. Not that he saw much of it, mind, having been sent off on 51 minutes with the score at 2-1.

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Hamilton, boasting James McCarthy, James McArthur and Alex Neil within their ranks, actually took the lead before eventually falling apart at the seams. Kris Boyd’s hat-trick helped the hosts to victory in a campaign that would see them reclaim the title after three successive years of Celtic rule.

RANGERS 7 - 1 DUNDEE UNITED (30/12/2009)

Dundee United had made a strong start to this campaign before boss Craig Levein left to take charge of the Scotland national squad. Peter Houston was the caretaker manager for this result and insisted afterwards that he wouldn’t be taking the task on full-time as he didn’t feel up to it.

Then the players talked Houston into reconsidering and he stayed for the rest of the campaign, which included leading the club to victory in the Scottish Cup Final. The run to the Hampden even included a 1-0 win over Rangers at Tannadice.

Rangers also hammered United 7-1 in the League Cup semis a few years previous, and earned their victory in this league encounter with help from Kris Boyd. The striker netted five goals and passed Henrik Larsson on the all-time SPL scorers list as a result.

ST JOHNSTONE 0 - 7 RANGERS (08/11/1998)

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We now move on to the first of five matches tied for fourth in this list.

This is a pretty shameful result from St Johnstone’s point of view considering they were a pretty good team this season.

As mentioned before, they would go on to finish third in the table and reach the League Cup final (where they gave a much better account of themselves against Rangers, losing 2-1). What made matters worse is that they allowed Stephane Guivarc’h to score twice in one match.

CELTIC 7 - 0 ABERDEEN (16/10/1999)

This is the same season as the match mentioned earlier in this article.

In the 1999/00 campaign, Celtic played Aberdeen five times, including the League Cup final. They won every single match, scored 25 goals and conceded one.

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Larsson and Mark Viduka each helped themselves to a hat-trick in this particular encounter.

CELTIC 7 - 0 ABERDEEN (03/11/2002)

Poor David Preece. The Aberdeen stopper wasn’t even their first choice goalkeeper this campaign, but an injury to Peter Kjaer brought him back into action for the trip to Parkhead, where he once again shipped in seven goals.

This time Aberdeen could be excused since most of their team was suffering from flu.

John Hartson would net four goals as speculation surrounding his future at the club raged on. It was thought the striker was about to leave in January 2003. He ended up staying another three-and-a-half years.

HIBERNIAN 7 - 0 LIVINGSTON (08/02/2006)

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Hibernian’s golden generation of young players – minus Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson through injury – tore apart a Livingston side destined for the drop.

Derek Riordan and Steven Fletcher each nabbed a double, while Garry O’Connor also got in on the act for Tony Mowbray’s side.

Paul Lambert was sacked by Livingston four days later, replaced with the former nemesis of Hibs’ John Robertson. The move wasn’t enough to keep them in the top flight.

CELTIC 7 - 0 ST MIRREN (28/02/2009)

This had the usual ingredients of a Scottish football hammering: away at one of the Old Firm, player sent off early doors, and a Glasgow hero netting himself (at least) a hat-trick.

On this occasion it was Shunsuke Nakamura bagging three goals after Jack Ross had been red carded in the 28th minute. Scott Brown even helped himself to a rare double.

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St Mirren would get revenge the following season, however, dishing out a 4-0 win that would cost Tony Mowbray his job as Celtic manager.

DUNFERMLINE 1 - 8 CELTIC (19/02/2006)

Celtic’s victory last night came exactly one month short of 10 years since they last produced an 8-1 win in the Scottish top flight, and both results are tied for second in this list.

Back then the Parkhead club were battling Hearts at the top of the table. However, this result conclusively proved the title was going nowhere other than Glasgow’s East End.

Maciej Zurawski found the back of the net four times and even Neil Lennon netted a late goal.

Dunfermline would avoid the drop thanks to the ineptitude of Livingston, but the writing was on the wall. They would fall out of the top flight the following season.

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CELTIC 8 - 1 HAMILTON (19/01/2016)

You knew Hamilton were in for an absolute pummelling when they went 3-0 down inside 20 minutes and Leigh Griffiths hadn’t netted yet.

Whether Martin Canning survives this result at Hamilton remains to be seen.

CELTIC 9 - 0 ABERDEEN (06/11/2010)

Here it is! The biggest win in the Scottish top flight since the inception of the SPL way back in the summer of 1998.

Another fun thing to do when you’re looking at one team hammering another, which we haven’t indulged in yet, is to discount the time before the opener and after the final goal is scored. In this instance that removes five minutes from the end and 26 from the start. So, Celtic scored, on average, a goal every six-and-a-half minutes over a period of time in this match.

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Incredibly, Mark McGhee survived this humiliation, being allowed to stay in charge for another two games. When results didn’t improve (he started the same team that got thumped at Celtic Park in the very next game) he was then given the boot.

Gary Hooper scored a hat-trick in this match, which also featured three penalties and a Josh Magennis own goal.