09/08/11 - 18:30 To Celtic Park to see the game between Celtic and Manchester United Legends being played as the John Kennedy testimonial and to raise funds for the famine in Africa, young Kennedy's football career was lost through injury and last night he donated all the proceeds of the game to the African appeal, there were almost 60,000 people there and they were bursting with pride and rightly so as they sang the praises of this remarkable young man who still to this day: several years after his injury ordeal shows no resentment or self pity, a real gentleman, a credit to his family, his club and Scotland.
The players included old favourites, some younger favourites and a smattering of celebrities, by far the most impressive guy on show was the astonishing Henrik Larsson, at the age of 39 he looked exactly as he always did: like a butchers whippet and just as hungry. He was up against the formidable frame of Dion Dublin and the two of them staged a personal battle which was worth the money to get in on its own, these two: still superbly fit old pros. treated the crowd to every trick in the book as they tried to get the better of each other, it was fun and great entertainment to watch. After about an hour the slightly younger and much lighter and quicker Larsson vanished over the horizon and Dublin never got within ten yards of him after that as the Swede scored a hat trick and ran the Man. U defence ragged.
Patrick Keilty? the Irish comedian was in goal for United and he stunned everyone by putting on a great performance, I actually thought he was an ex pro. Until someone told me who he was, he lost 5 goals but stopped a cricket score. One of United's best players was Ralph Little who plays Joe Royle's son Anthony in the 'Royle family' TV comedy and this guy really can play and he is very fit, another celebrity was Paisley boy and Hollywood star Gerard Butler who for some unfathomable reason was greeted by screaming girls every time he touched the ball he also has played a bit and his level of fitness was good as he tried his heart out, he played with a grin as he is apparently a big Celtic fan. Celtic won 5-2 but the important thing was the hundreds of thousands of pounds raised for a very worthy cause. The game also produced what for me was a collector's item, when any incident happened the giant screens showed the players involved in close up and on one occasion we looked up to see the unmistakeable face of Roy Keane wearing a huge grin and laughing, something that I and I suspect many Man U fans have never seen before, not only that but he didn't commit a single foul or square up to anyone all night, remarkable.
I am not a fan of friendlies but I am so glad that I went to this one, I think everyone involved went home feeling a warm glow for being part of it, the beautiful game came back with a bang last night and it was for the right reasons this time, no fights: no outrageous wage demands: no scandals and a big sum for a great charity. I went with my big cousin from Chicago Arthur Kelly who is here on holiday and whose dad my uncle played for the hoops just after the war and I think he might well need surgery now to get the smile off his face.
THIS CAUSE CAN BE EASILY HELPED BY SENDING MONEY TO OXFAM MARKED FOR THE AFRICAN FAMINE APPEAL – WHAT'S STOPPING YOU?