v Dunfermline Legends
Dunfermline Legends 2, Celtic Legends 0: Jock Stein was rightly honoured 30 years after his untimely death
IT was a rather perfect day to honour a man who as a football manager was as close to perfection as anyone could possibly get.
For those of us who can remember that awful night in Cardiff 30 years ago when Jock Stein passed away after leading Scotland to a World Cup Finals play-off, it is difficult to comprehend that it has been so long since football lost the great man.
ACTOR James McAvoy swapped the glitz and glamour of Hollywood for the pitch as he took part in the Jock Stein 30th Anniversary charity match. A parade of legends, some more bona fide than others, a sprinkling of actors and, Vinnie Jones for some reason in a suit, took to the field on a sunny afternoon at East End Park to raise money for charity and to remember what Stein did for both clubs, the game in this country as a whole and the effect Celtic’s style of football had on Europe and beyond.
As legacies go, it’s not too shabby.
It can be overlooked, at least by Celtic fans, that Stein’s managerial career began at Dunfermline where he won the 1961 Scottish Cup against the club who just six years later he would lead to immortality in Lisbon.
So it was nice that the Pars got to host a game that itself may not have been in the Stein mould in terms of style and flair, however, the day was respectful, nostalgic, happy and proud. This was just right given the remarkable person all of us were in Dunfermline to honour.
We all know what Stein achieved in the game, but there was one statistic that rather jumped out from the pages of the programme which said everything about how he thought football should be played.
His Celtic team averaged almost three goals every game and the goal-difference at the end of all his years in charge at Parkhead was PLUS 1,132. Jings.
What Scottish football could do with Stein right now. He’d sort everything out. It would take him about two weeks.
And so to the action, if you could call it that; such occasions are rarely about the actual football.
Before the half hour mark, Dunfermline former favourite Stevie Crawford crossed into the Celtic six-yard box for big Andy Tod who was unmarked and yet somehow Jonathan Gould spectacularly kept out his header.
Hand on heart, it was the best save I have ever witnessed Gould make.
As is always the way in these games, the substitutions were odd. Tom Boyd, who won everything as a Celtic captain and is in the Scottish Football Hall of Fame, was replaced towards the end of the first-half by actor Martin Compston, who has now made more appearances for Celtic than Roy Keane ever did.
James McAvoy later came on for Celtic, the cries of shoot went up every time Neil Lennon got anywhere close to the Dunfermline box – he did score twice at this ground believe it or not – and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink had a goal disallowed for offside before an hour had passed.
Rab Douglas saved from Davie Bingham and then for that resultant corner made an even better stop to deny Andrius Skerla. Again, as with Gould, as good a piece of goalkeeping that the big fellah has ever produced.
And then on 66 minutes, Dunfermline took the lead. Celtic’s defence went missing as John Watson, the oldest man on the field, jogged on to a through ball, sent Douglas a dummy and then produced a terrific finish.
Dunfermline wrapped up their win when Bingham placed his shot in the top corner with 15 minutes remaining.
The result was almost an irrelevance. It was enjoyable and those in attendance, the players, staff and the Stein family all felt it had been more than worthwhile.
Celtic FC Foundation announced its share of the proceeds from the anniversary events would be donated to helping people affected by the refugee crisis. The foundation said it had teamed up with the British Red Cross in Glasgow and its Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal.
Tony Hamilton, CEO of Celtic FC Foundation, said: “The British Red Cross is working tirelessly to provide direct aid to refugees across Europe who are in desperate need of our support, and it is an honour to partner with them on this occasion.
“The funds raised on Sunday will have a huge impact on the ground, exactly where it’s needed most.”
Interim UK Director for the Red Cross, David Miller, said: “People are arriving in Europe with very little – some with only a family photo and the clothes they left in.
“We are in the midst of one of the biggest humanitarian disasters of our time.
“Millions of people are being forced to risk their lives in a desperate search for safety as conflicts rage around the world.
“Celtic FC Foundation and their fans’ support will make a real difference to the refugees and communities affected across Europe and in neighbouring countries.”
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