Celtic out to avoid Rangers guard of honour clamour this weekend

Celtic will have to brace themselves for calls to hold a guard of honour for Rangers’ in the event of the championship officially being concluded this weekend.

Celtic's Diego Laxalt and Rangers Kemar Roofe in an aerial challenge during the clubs' last derby, at Ibrox in January. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Should Steven Gerrard’s side beat St Mirren at home on Saturday and then Celtic fail to win against Dundee United on Sunday, the Ibrox men will be confirmed as title winners ahead of travelling across the city for their next Premiership fixture.

A clamour is sure to be created for Celtic to stage a guard of honour in that March 21 derby encounter. It will come as the result of the club’s now-departed manager Neil Lennon expressing his disappointment Rangers did not stage one when the roles were reversed in May 2019. He then stated it was a “break with tradition” and that “we would have done it if the shoe had been on the other foot”. At that time, Gerrard, part of a guard of honour as a Liverpool player before a game against Chelsea in 2016, suggested he was not averse to doing so for the final derby that season - staged at Ibrox - and implied the matter had been taken out of his hands.

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However, there is no precedent for either of the bitter rivals holding a guard of honour to mark a league success by the other in modern times. The only guard of honour between the ancient adversaries chronicled in the post-war era was an impromptu one held by Rangers’ players at Ibrox in March 1964 to congratulate Celtic for days earlier reaching the Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final ahead of their Scottish Cup quarter-final tie.

Acting Celtic manager Sean Fallon wanted to give such an acknowledgement to Rangers when the teams met for the last time in the 1975-76 season after the Ibrox men sealed the title, with police then apparently ruling it out.

In this millennium alone, when all 21 titles have been carved up between the Scottish game’s powerhouses, there have been eight times that the last derby between them has rolled around subsequent to the championship being decided. Seven of these followed league successes for Celtic. Until 2019, there had never even been any talk of a guard of honour.

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