They haven’t always had it so easy and history is littered with examples of close calls (1986 and 2005 spring to mind) and here, Retro Football Blog looks at the thrilling 1967/68 Scottish league season where they really had to work for those medals during a period when Scottish clubs were a force in football.
It wasn’t anything to do with events on the pitch, though. No, across Glasgow, inside Rangers’ Ibrox home, Aberdeen had come from behind to score a last-minute goal to all but hand Celtic the First Division title on the final day of the 1967/68 season.
"That's the best result I've heard at Hampden," Stein joked, as journalist Hugh Taylor noted in The Scottish Football Book no.14 (1968).
Celtic were not playing - they were due to play Dunfermline a few days later - so Stein ran off to find his players who were watching the Cup final and tell them the good news.
It was just another twist in what was, according to Taylor, “one of the most exciting, dramatic two-horse races in the history of Scottish soccer."
The title had been Rangers’ to lose and that’s exactly what they did because not only was the Aberdeen match their last of the season, it was also their FIRST defeat.
Rangers fans were angry and booed officials and players at full-time. Hopes for the season had been high and focus was firmly fixed on wiping those huge smiles off of Celtic faces.
Stein's men had completely dominated the previous season when they hoovered everything up, including the European Cup and another year like it couldn't be allowed to happen.
As a result of that clean sweep, it is often forgotten that Rangers ran their bitter rivals close; finishing three points behind in the league and reaching the Cup Winners Cup final.
Things were actually looking rosy as early as the second game of the new campaign when they beat Celtic, but then the bizarre decision was made to get rid of manager Scot Symon in November despite Rangers being top of the league.
Even a man who had guided them to six titles, five Scottish Cups and four League Cups across 13 years wasn't safe in the club's desperation to match their Glasgow rivals at home and abroad.
And to top it off Symon was informed his services were no longer required by the club accountant.
During this time Celtic's fixture list became congested. They had a League Cup final to focus on and then travelled to South America for the World Club Championship. They lost that, but did manage to retain the Cup.
Rangers made sure they took advantage and opened up a lead at the top, putting pressure on their neighbours.
A 2-2 draw in front of 75,000 people furthered their claim to the crown given that this was the last Old Firm league meeting of the season. Would Rangers really lose to anyone else? Celtic were the better team in this game, but still couldn't win, so it appeared doubtful.
But following that draw, Celtic began putting together a series of wins and March saw them score 32 goals in seven games. It was all they could do and then hope Rangers slipped, which they did at the start of April in a draw with Dundee United.
Now a point separated the Glasgow clubs and before the month was out, Rangers dropped another when they drew with Morton. There were two games left to play, but Celtic were top on goal average (goals scored divided by goals conceded).
Then, in the penultimate game of the season, a moment of confusion and miscommunication had Rangers fans on cloud nine. They had beaten Kilmarnock and supporters were ecstatic because of a rumour about the result over in Parkhead. Had Celtic really drawn with Morton?
“The news spread like wildfire. There was pandemonium. Party songs were sung,” Taylor wrote. “The fans danced with each other. Banners and flags were waved jubilantly.”
Except there were still seconds remaining and that was long enough for goal machine Bobby Lennox to pounce and make it 2-1 to those boys in green.
It meant Celtic were still topped the division on goal average going into the final game. "No one knew it yet, but Celtic would now win the league without kicking another ball," Hoops historian David Potter wrote in Classic Season: Maintaining Excellence.
So after Rangers' loss to Aberdeen where they had twice taken the lead, fans could only hope that Scottish Cup winners Dunfermline beat Celtic by a considerable amount in their final match of the campaign three days later. Spirits had been broken and this really was wishful thinking.
Taylor ended with this: “So it was a triumph again for that great manager, Jock Stein, and his brilliant team – but again it was a tragedy for Rangers, who to be fair, had performed so well for so long, but who were still under the shadow of their bitter rivals, Celtic.”