Six Old Firm dream debuts … and four nightmares

Rangers' Derek Johnstone (left) celebrates scoring the winner in the 1970 League Cup final. Picture: SNS
Rangers' Derek Johnstone (left) celebrates scoring the winner in the 1970 League Cup final. Picture: SNS
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Moira Gordon looks at the best and worst debuts for Celtic and Rangers in Old Firm derbies


Chris Sutton (Celtic)

Debut: August 27, 2000

Celtic 6 Rangers 2

It took only 51 seconds for the Englishman to score on his Old Firm debut. Lubo Moravcik’s corner from the left was touched into the box by Alan Stubbs. Larsson miscued his attempt and the ball screwed to Sutton, who bulleted it low over the line.

That was the first of his two goals and having terrorised Lorenzo Amoruso and Bert Konterman for the intervening period, he then wrapped up the scoring with his second and Celtic’s sixth in the last minute.

Derek Johnstone (Rangers)

Debut: October 24, 1970

Rangers 1 Celtic 0

This was the day a 16-year-old graduated from pre-match curiosity to club legend. Many wondered if a League Cup final at Hampden in front of a six-figure crowd was the ideal platform for a teenager to make his Old Firm debut against Jock Stein’s side, but not only did Johnstone refuse to be cowed, he actually rose the occasion, bulleting home a header from a Willie Henderson’s cross to win the game, main picture.

Lubomir Moravcik (Celtic)

Debut: November 21, 1998

Celtic 5 Rangers 1

Moravcik opened the scoring in the 11th minute and added his second in the 49th but his contribution was about so much more than just goals as he tied his opponents in knots, cutting through the midfield, pirouetting past Sergio Porrini, as he showed delightful ball control and a flair for entertaining. In a match in which Larsson also bagged a double, it was the midfield magician who ran the show.

Erik Bo Anderson (Rangers)

January 2, 1997

Rangers 3 Celtic 1

His Rangers career was not riddled with highlights, his awkward style earning him the nickname Bambi, but he will forever be remembered for his debut Old Firm appearance. It came late in the game, joining the action with 15 minutes left as he replaced Ally McCoist with the score at 1-1. But with two goals in the space of six minutes, he earned a special place in the hearts of Rangers fans.

Kenny Dalglish (Celtic)

Debut: August 14, 1971

Rangers 0 Celtic 2

You never forget your first and although Dalglish, below, went on to amass 27 Old Firm appearances and seven goals, the goal he scored in his debut remains his most precious. It came in a League Cup tie at Ibrox and required nerves of steel. Already one up, the 20-year-old was tasked with the taking of a second-half penalty to wrap things up. Relieved that he had studied which way Peter McCloy usually went, he kept his bottle and netted.

Paul Gascoigne (Rangers)

Debut: September 30, 1995

Celtic 0 Rangers 2

While some wondered if his notorious hot head would be a weakness, Gazza, below, seemed to thrive in the intensity of the Old Firm atmosphere and he used his class to rise above the fury and pull the strings in the middle of the park. To top it off, he showed the desire demanded, running almost the full length of the pitch as Rangers turned defence into attack, getting himself on the end of an Ally McCoist cross and netting his side’s second.


Fernando Ricksen (Rangers)

Debut: August 27, 2000

Celtic 6 Rangers 2

Ricksen must have seen Bobby Petta in his nightmares for a long time after his countryman tormented him during his brief Old Firm debut, skinning him with such ease and frequency that the Rangers full-back was substituted in the 23rd minute, with Celtic 3-0 up and on their way to a rout of their rivals. Manager Dick Advocaat claimed Ricksen was sacrificed simply so they could add extra beef to the midfield but no one, probably not even Ricksen, truly believed that.

Ian Andrews (Celtic)

Debut: August 27, 1988

Rangers 5 Celtic 1

Neither confidence nor reputation was ever really repaired after Andrews picked the ball out of the net five times in what was Celtic’s worst Old Firm defeat in decades. While not wholly culpable, he was far from convincing. With the scoreline poised at 2-1, he misjudged McCoist’s looping header early in the second half to give Rangers the momentum and earn himself scapegoat status. An easy target for the boo boys, he was dropped as soon as Pat Bonner returned from injury.

Michael Ball (Rangers)

Debut: November 25, 2001

Celtic 2 Rangers 1

This wasn’t the worst ever Old Firm performance in terms of on-field play but it stands out for the way Ball threw a tantrum that almost cost him his Rangers career.

Despite keeping his discipline for his 73 minutes on the park, with Rangers 2-0 down and looking for more attacking options, he was replaced by Peter Lovenkrands, leading to a touchline flare-up with manager Dick Advocaat before the defender headed down the tunnel. Lovenkrands went on to score, vindicating the manager and Ball was fined £10,000 for his outburst.

Frank McAvennie (Celtic)

Debut: October 17, 1987

Rangers 2 Celtic 2

The Shame Game was the match in which Celtic new boy McAvennie made his Old Firm debut. The striker got involved in a fracas with Chris Woods and many others after just 18 minutes and was sent off along with the Rangers keeper. That wasn’t the end of it and after the game McAvennie, Woods, Butcher – who was also sent off later in the game – and Graham Roberts were all charged with breach of the peace. Woods and Butcher were found guilty and fined, Roberts’ case was not proven and McAvennie was found not guilty. Oh, and the match ended in a draw.