The saying goes that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun. Add Celtic and Rangers supporters to that list.
At least it was for a good cause. The Cayman-based fans of the two biggest football clubs in Scotland replicated the Old Firm match at the Dart Football Field to raise money for charity on Sunday.
It was also the inaugural running of what will be an annual match for the Brian Dempsey Cup.
Businessman Dempsey is a life-long Celtic supporter and former director of the Glasgow giants. A Cayman resident for many years, he is returning to Scotland and this was a fitting farewell from Celtic fans to Dempsey who used to pay for satellite TV feed into the Triple Crown pub so that they could watch Scottish Premiership matches. He also paid the breakfast bill too.
The match was organised by Noel Kane, owner of the Triple Crown pub along with fellow Celtic supporter Drew Rogers. Other organising committee members were Steve Roughead and Wayne Sives who happen to be Rangers supporters.
The Celtic kit was supplied and sponsored by Alba and the Rangers kit by Blue Eyes Granite. The game was billed as Old Firm but Old and Infirm was more appropriate.
Sponsors included Thistle Construction, Elite Marble & Granite, Ghezzi Mechanical Contractors and Triple Crown as the main sponsor.
The raffle prizes and items for auction, included a weekend stay at Morritts Tortuga Club in East End in an oceanfront suite and a two-night stay in Grand Cayman Beach Suites also in a oceanfront suite.
There was also a weekend stay at the Marriott Courtyard with dinner for two in the Mangrove restaurant.
Also on offer was a signed picture of Paul Gascoigne scoring the winner against Scotland in 1996 and a limited edition Heineken Champions League clock.
A kilted bagpiper led the teams onto the pitch and it kicked off at 10am but the sun was already out and blazing into the players’ skins. By the end of the game everyone was soaked in sweat – and that was just the onlookers!
A good crowd turned out and fittingly, Celtic won 1-0, from a close range shot by Garry Lynch early in the second half. It was supposed to be an Over-35s match but Lynch despite his bald head looked borderline.
Had Rangers not wasted numerous first half chances the scoreline would have been completely different.
The match was to raise money for two worthy charities – Miss Nadine’s and The Pines. The organisers did a fantastic job in getting great prizes for raffle and Roughead even secured a kichen hood worth $15,000 from Bill Ghezzi of Ghezzi Mechanical to auction.
Everyone packed into the Triple Crown after the game to quench their thirsts and to cheer Dempsey, 58, who will be sadly missed – even by Rangers fans.
Kane said: ‘A huge crowd turned up at the Triple Crown to see Brian off. His friend Terry Burke said a few words before Brian came on stage to thank everyone for all their efforts.
‘He was overwhelmed by this experience and thanked each and every sponsor, player and participant who came by to watch the game. It was fantastic considering we only had five weeks to prepare for it.’
Dempsey said: ‘I’ve had a fantastic day and this was a very humbling experience for me to see all my friends and even people I don’t know, come together and do this.’
Kane added: ‘We raised $13,000 on the auction and the tickets sales. Everyone had a great day and it was all fun, with two great causes benefiting.
‘It was nice to say a big thank you to a good man with a big heart and for a very worthwhile charity, the NCVO. Both were winners on the day.’
Roughead took defeat in good spirits. He said: ‘The kitchen hood went for $5,000. Brian was very grateful to everyone involved in the event.
‘As for the match, if it had been a boxing match the ref would have stopped the fight it was so one-sided – especially in the first half.
‘But it’s goals that win games and the Celts indeed scored the goal, even though the circumstances were a bit suspect; the age of the scorer and he only appeared at half time when all the other players had wilted in the heat of the day.
‘I’m looking forward to doing it all again soon with January being the preferred time of year when it’s not quite so hot.’