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Hillsborough Disaster Appeal
Perhaps it is a reflection of the club’s charitable roots but Celtic and its supporters have never been afraid to lend a helping hand to other clubs in moments of need. There’s little doubt that the Celtic fans are as partisan as they come. But for the vast majority of supporters what makes the club special is as much to do with the original ethos of the club as what happens on the pitch.
Consequently Celtic has consistently been able to put aside sporting rivalry to demonstrate an empathy and support for other clubs during difficult times. Perhaps the most memorable and moving example of this came on at Celtic Park.
The death of 96 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough in the 1989 FA Cup semi-final left an entire city numb with grief. For the players and supporters of the Anfield club devastation does not come close to describing the effect of the tragedy on their club.
As unimportant football now appeared, a return to the pitch would be as vital in the grieving process as it would be painful. Against this sombre background Celtic approached the Anfield club and put forward the idea of a match at Parkhead. The game would not only be a memorial to those who had died, it would provide an appropriate moment and environment for the Liverpool team and supporters to return to football.
The day would be immensely emotionally, the scoreline an irrelevance, with the abiding memory being 60,000 supporters performing probably the most poignant ever rendition of YNWA. Football’s ability to bring people together has often been questioned. Not on this day.
Celtic have continued to offer gestures of hope and goodwill to fellow fans from Lisbon to Liverpool. Cynics sneer about a desperation to be loved. But for most such gestures are merely simple manifestations of everything Celtic – and indeed football – should be about.
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