Stranraer to take on FC Twente in honour of late fan

Around 500 FC Twente fans are expected to make the trip. Picture: Getty
Around 500 FC Twente fans are expected to make the trip. Picture: Getty
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A football fan’s dying wish has led to a game between a lower-league Scottish club and Dutch giants FC Twente.

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Stranraer will take on FC Twente this weekend in a match which is expected to be attended by around 500 Dutch football fans.

It follows several years of close allegiances between the clubs after Stranraer and Rangers supporter Jim McKie, 42, was asked to source Old Firm tickets for FC Twente fan Dennis van Unen, who was terminally ill, as seeing a Glasgow derby was his dying wish.

Mr McKie and his friend James Hilton, 61, a Stranraer and Celtic fan, got hold of tickets for Mr van Unen and when he arrived in Glasgow for the game they took him on tours of Ibrox, Parkhead and Hampden.

The Stranraer-FC Twente fixture at Stair Park on July 8 marks a decade since Mr van Unen’s death from skin cancer aged 34. Links between the two clubs, some 520 miles apart, have remained strong since.

Iain Dougan, chairman of Scottish League One side Stranraer, said: “The relationship between the two clubs remains extremely close, 10 years since Denis van Unen sadly passed away - so it’s incredible to finally face each other on the pitch.

“The boys are really looking forward to it and even though it’s a friendly, they’re probably one of the biggest opponents we’ve come up against. We’re expecting the stadium to be packed with supporters from both sides, and businesses in the town will benefit as a result.”

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A memorial tournament is played every year at FC Twente in honour of Mr Unen and another fan Boris Dijkhuizen, which Stranraer youth teams regularly participate in.

Jan van Halst, technical director at the Dutch side, said: “It’s fantastic that the Scottish FC Twente supporters have helped to arrange this fixture.

“What started with a last wish from supporter Dennis van Unen has now become a close friendship between FC Twente and Stranraer.

“I met Jim and James for the first time many years ago and it was great to see their passion and enthusiasm.

“As always, Stranraer will welcome fans with open arms and we are looking forward to a very special friendly match in Scotland.”

Romano Petrucci, chairman of the Stranraer Development Trust, said: “Events like this are really important for Stranraer and the local business community is really excited about it.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming the Dutch fans, travelling over 500 miles to see their team play and experience some local hospitality. It will be a great afternoon for everyone and there should be an excellent turnout.”

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