Hero Dempsey gets his own Old Firm encounter

The football club with the most supporters spread around the world is not Manchester United, Real Madrid or Inter Milan.

Old Firm clashes are always passionate

Old Firm clashes are always passionate Photo: AP

It has to be Celtic because they seem to have a supporters club virtually every where mankind exists. Celtic supporters have an affinity stronger than any other club out there.

Cayman Islands has a flourishing Celtic supporters club and along with their Glasgow rivals from the blue side of the city who support Rangers, they are joining together for a good cause this weekend.

Celtic-Rangers matches are always known as Old Firm games.

These clashes are so emotionally charged that they supersede any other local derbies, include the two Milan clubs, Arsenal-Spurs and Real Madrid-Barcelona. It’s partly because Celtic have a strong Catholic support and Rangers fans are predominantly Protestant.

The game is to honour a former Celtic director who is leaving Cayman to return to Scotland.

Property tycoon Brian Dempsey has lived here for many years and so respected is he by people who have worked in construction with him that they have organised their own Old Firm match Sunday.

Dempsey, 58, was a high-profile figure in the battle to take over Celtic when the club faced financial ruin in 1994.

He became a hero among fans after standing on the steps of Parkhead with Fergus McCann in 1994 and declaring: ‘The battle is over – the rebels have won.’

He was often seen at matches and meetings dressed in flamboyant green suits.

Dempsey was appointed to the Celtic board in May 1990 but axed five months later.

In 1994, with debts close to $18 million, Celtic came within 24 hours of going bust.

Dempsey repaid a $2m bank loan out of his own pocket and saved Celtic from bankruptcy, ousting the Kelly-White dynasty whose families had ruled Celtic for a century. He became a folklore hero in the process.

But he fell out with McCann and left the club shortly after their takeover but remains a high profile, outspoken fan and has a private box at Parkhead.

Noel Kane, owner of the Triple Crown pub on West Bay Road, is one of the main organisers.

So too is Jim McLean who will referee the game. He said: ‘A committee was formed and several planning meetings have been held. The main purpose is to raise funds for the NCVO – Pines and Miss Nadine’s, two very worthwhile causes.

‘The Old Firm rivalry continues even here in Cayman, especially when the Triple Crown shows the big game live.

‘They also show live Scottish Football each week in the season, in addition to English Premier League and other major football games.

‘The friendly match is for the over 35s – supporters of both clubs on Sunday, 10am kick off at the Dart Pitch, International School.

‘The Celtic kit is being supplied and sponsored by Alba and the Rangers kit by Blue Eyes Granite. The game is being billed as Old Firm or Old and Infirm – you decide!’

Other sponsors are Thistle Construction, Elite Marble & Granite, Ghezzi Mechanical Contractors.

Posters have been produced and tickets are available at the Triple Crown, $10 with the ticket doubling up as a raffle ticket.

Kane said: ‘All the players are selling tickets and endeavouring to secure raffle prizes, all of which will ultimately benefit the worthwhile charity.

‘We already have some raffle prizes but we will welcome more from any donor.’

Kane has worked hard behind the scenes to do all this and he will be hosting post game events .

If anyone wants to contribute more raffle prizes, or deliver them to Kane at the pub, feel free to do so.

Kane said: ‘This match came about with a few of the regular Scottish football supporters and myself having a chat about how we could best honour Brian and thank him for his generosity in Cayman.

‘Whilst living here Brian sponsored the viewing of the Scottish football at the Triple Crown by paying for the satellite feed for those games.

‘He also bought all guys who attended the games breakfast – whether he was on or off island. It was paid for up front so the guys wanted to thank him.

‘This match is the first of what will be an annual game in his honour, for the Brian Dempsey Cup, sponsored by Triple Crown.

‘The idea was put out there and it just developed and snowballed into a big charity event.

‘Lots of bars and restaurants, hotels, stores and dive companies are giving spot prizes and vouchers for the raffle.

‘There will also be an auction for numerous items. All in all it’s a fun family day out with refreshments and drinks back at the Triple Crown by 1pm.’

A showing of the game will be televised and the trophy presentation and raffle etc will commence.

Both teams will have full kits, one green and white and one blue and white with mascots and are been bagpiped onto the field by Scotsmen.

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