1979-05-21: Celtic 4-2 Rangers, Premier DivisionThis is a featured page

Match Pictures | Matches: 1978 - 1979 | 1978-1979 Pictures


  • Match has been dubbed: "Ten men won the league"
  • The legendary game where Celtic had a man sent off after a few minutes into the second half, and were one down only to come back fighting and win the game.
  • Celtic dramatically won the league title in their last game of the season.
  • Billy McNeill's first league title as Celtic manager in his first season (Jock Stein had "left" at the end of the prior season)
  • Low attendance of 52,000 is disputed by some, but there was a bus and rail strike in Glasgow that evening and some people found it difficult to travel thus keeping the gate down from the 60,000 expected.
  • This game was actually a postponed fixture from January 6th.
  • YouTube video of the goals


DR - 10men
(below article is taken from LonestarCeltic.com)

THERE are few events in Celtic history which can arouse the passion of the fans quite as much as those which involve Rangers. There have been cup finals won and lost against our old rivals of course, and the idea that at the end of the day there will be only one winner, adds to the spice of the occasion. Elsewhere in these pages, you will no doubt read about some of those cup finals, and quite correctly we remember them fondly.

However, in modern times, the romance of the cup does not carry the same imperative as the winning of championships. With the winning of a league title comes passage to the top European competition, the prestige of carrying the country's flag abroad as the best on offer within our shores, and the opportunity for our fans to remind their opposition counterparts fifty-odd times the following season that "We ARE the champions".

Championships, though, are never a sprint. They are won and lost over the course of a long season. In Scotland at least they never regularly go to the wire, instead tey tend to be over earlier than most lovers of keen competition would like.

Consider then a championship that depends - after a season of two main protagonists' matching each other's achievements - on just one game. Consider further that the two main protagonists are Celtic and Rangers. Even better, put yourself in the old Jungle at Celtic Park at around seven o' clock on Monday 21 May 1979.

This was Celtic's last game of the season, although Rangers still had two games afterwards. A Celtic win meant that Rangers could not gain enough points - as Celtic would be five ahead of them. A draw, however, would leave Celtic three points ahead and Rangers would have the opportunity to get those points from their final two matches. In short, they only aneeded a draw, we needed to win.

The event itself was surrounded by political conditions not of football's making. Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government had been elected only weeks before, and the industrial unrest which had pertained in the UK over the last year was still manifesting itself in all aspects of life in this country. As the crowds made their way up Janefield Street behind the Jungle, a television mast was being removed due to a snap strike by TV technicians. The upshot was, unknow to most of the fans at the match, the event was not recorded for posterity.

As the match itself began, the tension was tangible, everyone aware that the next 90 minutes would decide who was the Best Team in Scotland.

After nine minutes, and in Rangers first attack of the match, the Jungle was silenced when Alex MacDonald - so often a thorn in Celtic's side - gave Rangers the lead. Celtic soon had another mountain to climb when John Doyle was sent of for retaliating to a tussle with MacDonald of Rangers.
This situation remained until half time, despite Aitken's header which rebounded from the bar to deny Celtic an equaliser. It seemed to be an impossible task for the remaining ten Celtic players. They were a goal down, a man down, and there was the certainty that unless they could muster up at least two goals from that position, the league was lost.

To make matters worse, this was in the days of standing room only terraces, and there were around 25,000 Rangers fans preparing to celebrate a famous championship victory at Parkhead - a feat they had hitherto failed to achieve.


What went through our minds was too awful to imagine, and perhaps that was how the players felt also, because Celtic galvanised themselves, and with a mighty effort and no lack of skill, they took control of the game, and equalised through Roy Aitken in 66 minutes after a pass by Davie Provan. In 74 minutes, bedlam. George McCluskey, a forward with a great deal of skill and flair, an eye for goal and sense of the big occasion, put Celtic ahead with a shot from 12 yards after Aitken's original shot had been blocked by a defender.

The roller coaster ride was not over though. Celtic theatre is never simple, and perhaps that is the reason so many football lovers the world over are drawn to the club. From a position of having done enough to claim the championship, disaster struck again.

Two minutes after McCluskey's goal, Rangers were awarded a corner, and to the collective dismay of the assembled Celtic multitude, Bobby Russell's speculative shot from the clearance clipped the post and went in. Now it was Rangers who were again looking at greatness and a place in next season's European Cup - Celtic ten men seemingly having given all that they could be seriously expected to. After all, there were only some thirteen minutes remaining, and it would have been understandable if Billy McNeill's side begun to wilt after their brave efforts.

At this point perhaps, some pause is required. On so many occasions throughout our rich history, Celtic have again and again re-invented the wheel of fantasy. It is a necessary component of the Celtic mindset that the green and white phoenix continually finds itself in ashes, only to be re-born moments later. It's about last minute rescue, impishness in the face of adversity, and the knowledge that achievement echoes through generations.

It was time for Billy McNeill's ten men to write themselves into the history books, and etch their names and achievements into the hearts of Celtic fans for the next hundred generations.

Incredible though it seems, a Roy Aiken-inspired Celtic pushed hard for the winner, and Aitken himself almost scored when his goal-bound header was brilliantly saved by Peter McCloy in the Rangers' goal. The courage of the team was not to go unrewarded however, and with five minutes left, cross by McCluskey was cut out by McCloy. Unfortunately for the Girvan Lighthouse, he only succeeded in touching the ball onto the head of his colleague Colin Jackson, and the ball rebounded from the Bomber's Bonce and into the back of the net.

At this point the tension became even thicker. We were still aware that another Rangers goal against our ten heroes would be disaster. We willed the referee to blow his whistle. Rangers had a corner. The ball ended up bouncing around in the Celtic area, before being humped unceremoniously into the waiting arms of ten thousand of us in the Jungle. We weren't quick to give it back. Now a shy to them, ("Please God BLOW THAT WHISTLE" or some rather more prosaic words to that effect).

The ball is thrown goal-wards, and Rangers commit their men forward in search of a last minute equaliser. Te ball is once again blootered up the park by the Celtic's Tom McAdam. Murdo MacLeod, bough earlier that season from Dumbarton for a club record of ?120,000, controls it and looks up. He sees the goal. More importantly, and in the knowledge that there are seconds left, he sees 25,000 Celtic fans behind the goal in the Celtic end of the stadium. He decides to hit the ball as hard as he can in that direction, knowing that if the ball goes into the crowd, he will have used up valuable seconds. He urges his tired legs to give it the ball one last lung-bursting

There is a brief silence. The ball, guided by history, projects itself into the postage stamp corner of the Rangers' goal, evading the grasping fingers of the goalkeeper. You could almost hear the rustle of the net. That was the last sound most of heard before our eardrums ruptured as a consequence of the demands placed on them by the indescribable cry of joy which erupted from two-thirds of the stadium. Players - from both teams - were on their knees. The Rangers players, who in truth had contributed little to the match other than their ridiculous good fortune, had sagged earthward due to despair. The Celtic players, seemingly, led in prayers of thanks by skipper Danny McGrain.

The singing and dancing after the final whistle were unbelievable. The players and fans were truly like different parts of the same family. Joy was bursting from every smile or grin. Bellows replaced lungs as the cry of, "We 've Won the League Again - Fly the Flag" was born. It was sung constantly and continuously throughout the night. Even the absence of highlights on TV were not enough to dampen spirits, and speaking of spirits....

Many an attendee at that occasion has dined out for decades on the story, the pictures of which were denied to the generations by the TV strike. For those of us who were there, pictures are not required. We knew then as we know now, that we had witnessed first-hand, one of the truly seminal chapters in the incredible story of this football club.

To most of us forty-somethings, there are two Celtic occasions which are head and shoulders above almost anything else. Lisbon of course is up there, but the night that Ten Men Won the League is THE tale worth telling!!!


"....the 4-2 game against Rangers, that was some atmosphere. I try to explain to folk the feelings when we went into the dressing room after the final whistle and then to come back out to what seemed about 90,000 fans. I tell the young boys I work with now and they don’t believe me, they say; “But the stadium only holds 60,000!” Not in my day son, they were all sitting around the track, it was great. Real Madrid away was a great game, even though we lost, so was the home tie as well. I had a great time at Celtic and worked with a great bunch of lads, we all enjoyed ourselves which is what I wanted to do."
Peter Latchford (Mar 2012)


Celtic team:
Latchford, McGrain, Lynch, Aitken, McAdam, Edvaldsson, Provan, Conroy (Lennox), McCluskey, MacLeod, Doyle Sub: Davidson
Celtic scorers : Aitken (66), McCluskey (74), Jackson og (85), MacLeod (90)
Sent Off: Doyle 51 mins.

Rangers team
McCloy, Jardine, Dawson, Johnstone, Jackson, A MacDonald, McLean (Miller), Russell, Parlane, Smith, Cooper Sub: J MacDonald
Rangers scorers : MacDonald (9), Russell (76)

Att : 52,000




1979 Celtic 4-2 Rangers match report

1979-05-21: Celtic 4-2 Rangers, Premier Division - The Celtic Wiki
1979 Celtic 4-2 Rangers report

When 10 men won the league

By: Joe Sullivan on 21 May, 2012 09:44

IT was 33 years ago today, on May 21, 1979 that Celtic triumphed in the ultimate Roy of the Rovers derby scenario when 10 men came from behind to beat Rangers 4-2 on the final day of the season and lift the league championship

The league had looked beyond the Hoops since Christmas. In March, the Celts were still six places off the pace with no games being played between December 23 and March 3, but they clawed their way back into contention.

One of the postponed matches was the New Year game against Rangers and, as luck would have it, the clash took place as the final game of the season on a Monday night.

Rangers only had to draw, Celtic had to win – here is the Celtic View match report on what unfolded.

“Celtic got the win they required at Parkhead on Monday night against old rivals Rangers to clinch the Premier League title and a place in the European Cup next season.

“However, the manner of the Celtic win will live in the hearts of all Celtic supporters who witnessed it for the rest of their lives.

“Trailing from a goal scored by Rangers in virtually their first attack of the match, Celtic were faced with a mountainous task to get the two points they required to win the championship.

“That goal came very much into the preventable category and the Celtic defence were badly at fault as MacDonald scored from a Cooper pass.

“Despite almost continuous Celtic pressure, including a magnificent Roy Aitken header which came back off the crossbar, Celtic were unable to grab the equaliser and at half-time still trailed to that single goal.

“Twelve minutes into the second half the Celtic uphill task reached Everest-type proportions when Johnny Doyle was ordered off following an incident involving Alex MacDonald.

“Quite undaunted, the 10-men Celts set about their work again and in the 66th minute, Roy Aitken scored the equaliser they so richly deserved from a Davie Provan free-kick.

“Even more incredibly they took the lead eight minutes later after a Roy Aitken shot was blocked, George McCluskey crashed the rebound into the net.

“The Celtic joy was short-lived, however, because just two minutes later they failed to clear a corner kick and Bobby Russell equalised with a first-time shot through a ruck of players which went into the net off Peter Latchford’s right-hand post.

“Incredible though it seems, Celtic stormed back again and Peter McCloy brought off a fantastic save from a Roy Aitken header that looked a certain scorer.

“Then with only five minutes remaining Celtic raided on the right wing and George McCluskey’s hard cross was touched by keeper McCloy on to the head of Colin Jackson and into the net to give Celtic the lead once again.

"Not satisfied at that, Celtic attacked again in the last minute and Murdo MacLeod scored with a screaming shot from about 20 yards to complete a night to remember.”

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