Peaceful football match a fitting end to Twelfth week

Morning View
Morning View

At the end of a week when the July 12 celebrations were the most peaceful in memory, it was fitting that last night’s Champions League football tie between Linfield and Glasgow Celtic also passed off almost without incident.

Supporters flocked to Windsor Park to watch the Irish Premier League football champions lose 2-0 to the Glasgow giants in the first ever competitive fixture between the two clubs.

A last-minute development yesterday afternoon saw Celtic supporters who bought tickets on general sale placed in a segregated area of the ground behind one goal but even then the atmosphere was boisterous but not over the top.

But that a small number of Celtic fans were accommodated with few issues perhaps heightened the sense of what might have been around the staging of the fixture and the decision of the Glasgow club not to take up their official ticket allocation.

Had Celtic fans been able to travel in their thousands to Northern Ireland, watch the game and enjoy Belfast’s hospitality before heading back across the Irish Sea, it would have added significantly to the sense of occasion.

Why Celtic did not accept their ticket allocation was the subject of a frank exchange between the PSNI and Celtic themselves this week, and perhaps we will never know the truth of the discussions held in the lead-up to the game.

Celtic claimed the PSNI said they could not guarantee the safety of their travelling supporters, while the police were equally adamant that they were not responsible for the Scottish club not taking up their ticket allocation.

Whatever the truth is, an impressive modern stadium like Windsor Park, and surely Belfast in general, were capable of hosting thousands of travelling Celtic supporters without significant incident.

Last night was a great occasion but perhaps it could have been even better.