Jock Stein Friendship Cup
Thursday 17th July, Kick-Off 7.30pm
This game was a bit more like summer football. A warm night and a good wee turn out at Rovers’ Cliftonhill ground.
This is the third year the two clubs have played for the Jock Stein Friendship Cup. Stein of course played for both sides during his career.
There were a few murmurs in the ground when it was noticed that Thomas Gravesen was in Celtic’s starting line up. Only a couple of years ago he was playing for Real Madrid and now here he was in Coatbridge. He was joined in the Celtic team by Derek Riordan. Not a regular first team player at any point in his Celtic career but another guy who stood out in the team selection.
Celtic also featured a trialist in goal. A gent beside me muttered that he ‘looked Mediterranean’, and someone else decided that ‘with a tan like that he has to be Italian.’ It turned out that he was Italian right enough. 17-year-old Daniele Giordano.
As for the game itself it was a pretty one-sided contest. The Rovers keeper made a terrible blunder for the first goal. Coming to collect a long ball in the eleventh minute, he missed it completely and Gravesen was left with an empty net to tap the ball into. Celtic followed that up with a scrappy second a few minutes later and as a contest it was as good as over.
A cracking long range effort from Mark Millar for the third goal ended the scoring for the first half.
In the second half I watched the game standing beside a disused tractor that a large number of children were playing on. As a Clydebank supporter I couldn’t help but listen in to the conversation taking place beside me as I realised it was two former players reminiscing about the Clydebank team I grew up watching. As I craned round to see, I recognised them as Tommy Coyne, whose son was wearing no 11 for Rovers and Gerry McCabe, now Assistant Manager at Dunfermline. That Clydebank team were well known for their open, attacking play and McCabe was one of the most gifted wingers I ever saw.
Gravesen was substituted at half-time and Riordan looked more alive in the second half than he did in the first 45. He got his reward by nabbing Celtic’s fourth goal, going round the keeper to slot home. Rovers kept plugging away and got themselves a consolation late on when Pat Walker fired in a belter of a shot.
My full set of photographs can be found on my Flickr page here.
Celtic: Trialist, Caddis, Cuthbert, Monti, Conroy, Gravesen, McGlinchey, Millar, Lafferty, Cawley, Riordan
Celtic Scorers: Gravesen, Lafferty, Millar, Riordan
Rovers: I couldn’t find a listing anywhere for the Albion Rovers line-up.
Rovers Scorer: Walker
Attendance: Decent, but I couldn’t find any official numbers apart from the unofficial Rovers website saying it was a ‘sell-out’.
Speaking to the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, Rovers’ director, Pat Rolink, ‘revealed the gates had to be closed moments after kick-off due to the sheer size of the crowd.’
He said: “We had to turn people away which we weren’t happy about but we felt we had reached our capacity.”
The Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser have some film and interviews with fans going to the game below, as well as some scenes of the crowd, but no actual match footage.