Dishing it out to Diouf, bashing Barton and reeling in Morelos - Scott Brown's stirring history in Celtic and Rangers dust-ups

As his glorious 14-year Celtic career draws to a close, in one rarely remarked upon respect Scott Brown has no equals in the club’s annals.

Celtic captain Scott Brown (right) celebrates his strike in front of El Hadji Diouf to give birth to 'the Broony' in his most iconic derby act, after scoring in the 2-2 Scottish Cup draw between the pair in February 2011. (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group).

With seven in total, the inspirational captain and combative midfielder has received more red cards than any other Parkhead player in history. Considering how close to the edge Brown plays, though, a sending off every two seasons is hardly an egregious return. And, as he prepares for his final Celtic showing against Rangers on Sunday, it is remarkable he has been dismissed a mere once across 43 appearances in a fixture forever infused with fight and frenzy.

Brown has always been imbued by the desire to snarl and set-about opponents in the white-hot heat of derby skirmishes. The fact he has been shown 16 yellow cards in these games - 41 of them starts - is evidence of that. However, that he has been able to tread a fine line, and just stay on the right side of it, subsequent to going in the book - often times with a thunderous challenge on an opponent he has been willing to use all means to dominate and intimidate - says everything about his game smarts, his game management. Facets that grew across his career as he became the orchestrator of so many momentous slayings of the Ibrox men.

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Indeed, the one red Brown has received in derby dust-ups proved ill-deserved - Kyle Lafferty guilty of exaggeration that referee Dougie McDonald bought to send the recently appointed Celtic captain straight down the tunnel in Celtic’s 1-0 defeat at Ibrox in February 28, 2010. A reverse that helped hasten the end of Tony Mowbray’s ill-fated brief tenure in Glasgow. Yet, the Englishman’s much-mocked decision to hand the captaincy to a player considered a real loose cannon transpired to be the makings of Brown; both as a player and as a warrior who so often carried his shield in these fabled inter-city scraps. Never mind helping him to a whopping 21 honours in all.

Scott Brown thunders in to win a header against Joey Barton in a famous tone-setting moment in Celtic's 5-1 thumping of Rangers in September 2016. (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group).

Brown holds a record of 22 wins, six draws and 15 defeats in Celtic colours against Rangers. That may not speak of overwhelming superiority in this unique footballing crucible, but the match-up was not one that he immediately found his feet in, while in the past year his team - more than their captain - have lost their way in the confrontation.

As a whirling dervish of a 21-year-old midfielder on joining Celtic in a £4.4m deal from Hibernian in the summer of 2007, he did not possess the nous nor the judgement to boss these encounters as he would later with such aplomb. It was only a year-and-a-half into his career in Glasgow’s east end, that Brown started in a Celtic win over Rangers - a 1-0 victory at home for Gordon Strachan’s men on December 27, 2008. Two months later, he featured in the first of two League Cup final wins over the club’s ancient adversaries, which was delivered courtesy of a 2-0 triumph on March 15. The second such success came in very different circumstances, as Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox side outplayed their rivals but lost 1-0 in the decider of December 8, 2019. In between these two finals - and another in the competition lost 2-1 to Walter Smith’s men on March 15, 2011 - Scottish football was turned inside out by the loss of a Rangers in the top flight for four seasons, as the consequence of the 2012 liquidation.

It was, though, the Celtic captain’s v-shaped arms-wide goal celebration in the face of El Hadji Diouf, in an explosive Scottish Cup fifth round 2-2 draw between the pair at Ibrox on February 6, 2011, that not only birthed ‘the Broony’. It also ensured his most iconic moment in the well as one of two strikes for him in it.

His incessant niggling match with the intemperate Senegalese forward produced not only great theatre then. There was a hangover in the replay a fortnight later, on February 20. It resulted in Diouf completely losing the plot on an evening that led to a government summit as the striker became one of three Rangers players red-carded in a 3-0 thumping for the Ibrox men. This ill-disciplince demonstrated how Brown could get under the skin of those in Rangers’ colours with physical prowess, an unshakeable will to win his personal battles and no small element of gamesmanship.

Celtic's Scott Brown with a typical full-blooded tackle on Rangers' Ryan Kent in the club's Scottish Cup tie won by the Ibrox men a fortnight ago. The English winger is one of those that he has real derby history. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Never was there a more outstanding example of Brown’s ability to psyche out opponents in blue - as he has in more recent years through prompting Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent to lose their composure and find themselves red-carded - than when he faced up to Joey Barton in Brendan Rodgers’ first derby on September 8, 2016. The controversial midfielder, recruited by Mark Warburton for Rangers’ first Premiership campaign following their “journey” through the divisions, had made all sorts of bold pronouncements ahead of his first derby in Glasgow. Brown was not in his “league” and would not be able to live with him if he played well, Barton boasted. A half hour in, Brown gave him the ultimate slapdown by showing such ferocity as both challenged for a header, the Englishman was almost left like a spinning top...never to thereafter stop spinning as the moment proved the catalyst for the opener in 5-1 mauling that would set Celtic off on a 12-game sequence without loss in the fixture, that produced a handful of severe beatings.

With Rangers’ blitzing of the title this season as the quadruple treble winners crumbled in pursuit of their 10th straight title, Brown’s final derby outing has little at stake and so unlikely to produce such pyrotechnics. Brown has never done anything by halves - especially in this face-off - and his desire to ensure the Ibrox side are denied an unbeaten league season is certain to ensure his fuse, at least, will be truly sparking.

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