If there’s one thing matches between Celtic and Rangers never lack, it’s controversy. To help us look forward to the first clash of the season between the old rivals on Saturday, we have collated a very small section of controversial calls by referees from the past 20 years or so.
In a (probably in vain) attempt to keep the peace, we’ve gone for three decisions that have gone against each side.
David Robertson’s phantom offside
This bizarre incident took place during a classic 3-3 encounter in November 1995. Celtic were leading at Ibrox when Brian Laudrup put David Robertson through on the left. Rather than cross, the left-back advanced closer to the goal and beat goalkeeper Stewart Kerr from a narrow angle. Robertson celebrated, but the goal had in fact been chalked off for a rather bizarre offside call. Though Robertson wasn’t in shot from the main stand camera angle, by piecing the various replays together it was clear he was at least three yards onside, and played on by more than one Celtic defender.
This moment was immortalised by the match commentary as play-by-play man Gerry McNee switched his attention to replays of the goal and missed the fact it had been given as offside. It took a full five minutes for the mistake to be corrected.
Jorge Cadete denied late equaliser
This one comes from January 1997 and a New Year’s derby at Ibrox. Paolo Di Canio had cancelled out a free-kick from Jorg Albertz, though the home side would recapture the lead when Erik Bo Andersen netted.
Celtic piled on the pressure as they sought a late equaliser and looked to have got it when Cadete hooked a volley into the top corner of the net, only for the striker to be flagged offside. Replays showed he was onside, and Rangers would seal their victory when Bo Andersen netted his second of the game.
Hugh Dallas gets head split open then gives penalty
The Shame Game. Not the first or last Shame Game, but certainly one of them. Like the latest edition of FIFA we should attach a year at the end to be sure which one it is.
So, The Shame Game 1999... Rangers are a goal and a man to the good in a match of immense importance at Celtic Park. Win and they’re champions at the home of their greatest rivals.
As Giovanni van Bronckhorst prepares to take a corner, a fan runs on the pitch to confront referee Hugh Dallas. The supporter was obviously still livid with the referee for his decision to send off Stephane Mahe for dissent.
Shortly after the fan was removed, Dallas hit the deck. As the referee looked up, blood could be seen running down his face. He’d been struck by a coin.
After he was patched up, the free-kick was finally taken. When Tony Vidmar went down under the attentions of Vidar Riseth, Dallas - with perhaps a little bit of vengeance in his heart - pointed to the spot. Cue another pitch invader before Jorg Albertz doubled the advantage, effectively sealing a Rangers victory and title triumph.
Barry Robson takes out Christian Dailly
The first of two controversial decisions in the space of two weeks. Rangers looked to have the title within their grasps with eight games of the season remaining. To stand any chance of finishing ahead of their rivals, Celtic needed to win both remaining Old Firm fixtures, which were at Parkhead.
They managed the first hurdle, notching a 2-1 victory after Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink netted an injury-time header. However, Rangers fans believe it should never have got to that stage, with Robson leading with a forearm which smashed right into Dailly in the opening exchanges. Robson was let away with a warning, much to the annoyance of the away players.
Scott McDonald scores offside goal
11 days later the sides were at it again, and once more there was a bit of controversy early in the match. This time it involved Celtic’s opening goal as Scott McDonald raced on to a Vennegoor of Hesselink knockdown and fired past Allan McGregor. Though from the main stand camera he looked onside, replays showed him to be a yard ahead of play, and the action should have been called back.
Celtic went on to win the match 3-2 (and the title) after scoring a late penalty which Rangers disputed because they felt the foul had occurred outside the area. Replays do indicate the referee was right in this instance, though.
Willie Collum has eyes in the back of his head
Rangers are leading 2-1 at Celtic Park in the first Old Firm game of the season. Their victory is then assured when Kirk Broadfoot goes over in the penalty area after seemingly being tripped by Daniel Majstorovic. Replays show that there was minimal, if any, contact and that Broadfoot had gone down very easily.
The positioning of Collum fuelled the controversy as replays showed the official had his back to the incident when it occurred. He was glancing over his shoulder at the time so would have been able to see the two players in his peripheral vision, but that probably wasn’t the best view to give such a big decision. Rangers would covert the penalty, winning the game 3-1 in a year when the title was decided by a point.
Are there any we’ve missed out? Have your say in the comments.