United charity match to raise funds for We Love Manchester

James Nesbitt and fans. Picture: Contributed
James Nesbitt and fans. Picture: Contributed
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LEGENDS of Manchester United and Scotland are expected to turn out at a charity football match in the Capital tomorrow.

Former stars Brian McClair and Jim McCalliog will join fans for the first ever game between supporter branches Edinburgh Reds and Glasgow Reds.

Organisers raising money for the Manchester bombing victims also hope managers Sir Alex Ferguson and Gordon Strachan might make the Ainslie Park fixture.

“If both those guys come it might be interesting as they don’t get on,” said organiser and Edinburgh Reds chairman Peter Wood, 49.

“I haven’t told either the other might be coming but Brian [McClair] knows them both so he can sort it.”

Self-employed tiler Peter started organising the event after a chance conversation on the way back from the Europa League Final in May.

“I was on the way back from Stockholm which was only a couple of days after the bombing and got talking to a guy called Yusaf Ghulam of the Glasgow Reds,” recalled Peter.

“We’d talked about getting together and having a game of football and there seemed no better time to raise money for this horrific event.”

The response has been “incredible”, said Peter, with players asked to raise £50 each through sponsorship – but some bringing in as much as £1,000.

Raffle prizes on the day include signed shirts by club greats and a match-ball from United’s glory night in Stockholm, donated by a UEFA official.

Spartans FC have donated the hire of their Ainslie Park home for free, with bumper bar taking expected. “Trust me, that won’t be a problem,” said Peter.

Fans are expected to make the trip to Pilton from all over the UK, with Peter looking to raise over £20,000 on the day.

And aside from bragging rights, the team’s will be competing for a replica Champions League trophy Peter picked-up for £500 and sponsored by an anonymous businessman.

“We’ve got a very good squad and I believe they have as well,” said Peter. “We’re fundraising but we’ll be taking it very seriously.”

Former Scotland international Brian McClair – who spent 11 years at the Old Trafford club and now lives in Stockbridge – has offered to bring his boots.

Also pitchside will be fellow United veteran Jim McCalliog, best remembered for scoring the winning goal for Scotland at Wembley against then World Champions England in 1967.

Spartans FC hosted a Manchester United XI for a friendly to mark the Pilton club’s 60th anniversary in 2011.

A crowd of over 3,000, still a record for Ainslie Park, watched the minnows dismantled 7-1.

The United team that day featured a fresh-faced Paul Pogba who five years later became the world’s most expensive footballer when United bought him back from Juventus for £90 million.

andy.shipley@jpress.co.uk