In 1933, Inverness Caledonian hosted the first floodlit football match in Scotland, marking a revolutionary moment for Scottish football. However, the lights didn’t stay for long as a new phenomenon emerged—the hunt for the Loch Ness Monster. As the crowds flocked to the shores of Loch Ness in search of the legendary creature, the floodlights were dismantled and relocated to illuminate the vast waters of the Loch, aiding in the search for Nessie.
Over 25 years later, in a remarkable display of unity, two brothers, William and Hugh MacDonald, sponsored the reinstallation of floodlights at Inverness Caledonian’s Telford Street ground. To commemorate this event, an Old Firm Select XI, consisting of players from both Celtic and Rangers, was invited to Inverness for a friendly match.
Although a Celtic and Rangers combined team had played before in a testimonial match for Billy Meredith in 1925, the rivalry between the clubs made such collaborations unlikely. Nevertheless, five Celtic players, including Paddy Crerand and Jim Conway, were included in the combined XI. At the time, Scottish League regulations required all players to be signed to a single club, so the Celtic players had to temporarily join Rangers for the match, with the expectation of returning to Celtic afterward.
The historic match took place amidst an air of curiosity and anticipation, drawing a significant crowd. It was a unique opportunity for players from both clubs to come together and showcase their skills. The select team was coached by Rangers manager Scot Symon, and they donned the Rangers’ away kit for the occasion.
As the game unfolded, the players put aside their differences and played with great camaraderie. Jim Conway reminisces about the initial separation of the Celtic and Rangers players on the train journey to Inverness. However, as time went on, the barriers began to dissolve, and the players mixed, enjoying each other’s company. They engaged in friendly activities, such as playing cards, demonstrating that, despite their different backgrounds and affiliations, they were all footballers united by their love for the sport.
The match itself ended with a 4-2 victory for the Old Firm select team, with Sammy Baird scoring a hat-trick and Jim Conway adding another goal for the visitors. Rodwill Clyne and Jimmy Ingram found the net for Caley. For Conway, scoring in that game was a moment of immense pride, and it further strengthened the bonds formed among the players.
The match left a lasting impact on the players, breaking down barriers and fostering friendships that extended beyond the game. Jim Conway reflects on how this experience allowed him to know the Rangers players on a deeper level. Some players, like Bobby King, became close friends, even becoming next-door neighbors when they later played together at Southend United.
Despite Alastair Campbell’s later attempt to organize a similar match, this game remains the last time stars from Celtic and Rangers played in the same team. Perhaps, if such displays of unity were more frequent, the mystique and unique place in Scottish history held by this match, much like the Loch Ness monster, would gradually fade away.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about unity
Q: When did the match between Celtic and Rangers take place?
A: The match took place in 1933 when floodlights were relocated from Inverness Caledonian’s ground to aid in the search for the Loch Ness Monster.
Q: How did the Celtic and Rangers players come together for the match?
A: Five Celtic players joined the Old Firm Select XI for the match, signing for Rangers for the day, in adherence to Scottish League regulations at the time.
Q: What was the motivation behind the match?
A: The match was initially organized as a friendly game to inaugurate the reinstallation of floodlights at Inverness Caledonian’s ground. The hunt for the Loch Ness Monster was also a significant factor.
Q: Did the match have any long-term effects on the players?
A: Yes, the match fostered friendships and broke down barriers between the Celtic and Rangers players. Some players became close friends and maintained those relationships beyond the game.
Q: Was this the only time that Celtic and Rangers players played in the same team?
A: No, a combined Celtic and Rangers team had played in a testimonial match for Billy Meredith in 1925. However, this match in 1933 marked the last time stars from both clubs played together.
More about unity
- BBC Sport: “Old Firm, new friends – the day that Celtic and Rangers played as one”
- BBC Sport: “Old Firm: When Celtic and Rangers played for each other”
- BBC Scotland: “Old Firm combine in Inverness to honour historic match”
- The Guardian: “The day Celtic and Rangers united for a common cause – to search for the Loch Ness Monster”
- The Scottish Sun: “When Celtic and Rangers last played as one team together”