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Celtic brought all their big guns to the Broch for lifeboat tragedy fundraising match

Billy McNeill in 1967.
Billy McNeill in 1967.

The impact of the Fraserburgh lifeboat tragedy in January, 1970, had an impact across the rest of Scotland.

Just three months later, a star-studded Celtic team, packed with members of the Lisbon Lions who had won the European Cup three years earlier, travelled to Bellslea Park for a charity fundraising match in honour of those who had died.

It was a poignant occasion and Celtic’s renowned manager, Jock Stein, was determined to pay proper respect just a few days before his side were in European Cup final action again at the imposing San Siro stadium.

His team was littered with stars, including Billy McNeill, Jimmy Johnstone, Bobby Lennox and Bobby Murdoch, as they prepared to meet their Fraserburgh counterparts.

A freezing gale-force wind whipped in off the North Sea while 6,500 people braved the elements to see the Broch take on the Glasgow giants at Bellslea and, in the process, raise around £2,000 for the benefit of the disaster fund.

Understandably, there was never any doubt about the outcome, with Celtic recording a comprehensive 7-0 victory against their Highland League opponents.

But Stein spoke movingly afterwards about how he and his players had been determined to honour the fallen men of the Duchess of Kent lifeboat.

Fraserburgh v Celtic 1970 In Aid of the Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disaster Fund Pre Kick-offFilmed by local man James Whyte, Plumber.In 1970 3 months after the Fraserburgh Lifeboat the “Duchess of Kent” capsized with the loss of 5 volunteer crew members Jock Stein took his legendary Celtic team to the Bellslea. Celtic were one of the best teams in Europe at the time, having won the European Cup in 1967 and had again reached the final in 1970 by beating the English Champions Leeds United home and away in the semi-final 13 days earlier.Only 3 days before the Broch match at the Bellslea Celtic players David Hay and Jimmy Johnstone had played for Scotland in a 0-0 draw with England at Hampden. Possibly the best left back in the world at the time Tommy Gemmell who was due to play at the Bellslea was injured against the English and stayed in Glasgow for treatment. The match against Celtic is still fondly remembered by locals of that generation and took place 9 days before Celtic's appearance in that season’s European Cup Final at the San Siro in Milan.Some of the all time greats of Scottish Football took part in the game which Celtic won 7-0.More important than the score however was the fact that a crowd of 6,5000 raised £2000 for the 1970 Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disaster fund.A magnificent gesture that was very much appreciated and will never be forgotten.The teams that day were:Fraserburgh:Elrick, Roger, Stephen, McCann, Milne, Malley, Fordyce, Duthie, Noble, W. Bruce (G. Bruce 58), Reid. Celtic:Williams, Craig, Hay, Murdoch, McNeill, Brogan, Johnstone, Callaghan, Lennox, (Hood 58) Wallace, Auld, Hughes (Chalmers 70)For short clips of the 1970 Fraserburgh v Celtic game and an interview with Jock Stein at the Royal Hotel see the Fraserburgh FC Website

Posted by RNLI Fraserburgh Lifeboat on Wednesday, 17 May 2017

He described them as “heroes” and he and his team stayed after the contest to meet those with a family connection to the disaster.


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