Clutha charity football match raises thousands

Comedian Jelly Bean Martinez. Picture: PA
Comedian Jelly Bean Martinez. Picture: PA
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COMEDIANS from across Scotland have rallied to show support for victims of the Clutha bar tragedy, taking part in a nine-goal charity football match and performing at a sell-out benefit gig.

About 100 spectators were at Glasgow’s Toryglen National Football Centre at noon for a full-blooded encounter between two teams of comics. It was followed by a comedy gala at the city’s O2 Academy last night.

Yesterday’s game pitted Celtic and Rangers supporters, as Old Firm United, against other Scottish comedians, billed as the Rest of the World XI.

The line-ups included veteran Janey Godley; former Scottish Comedian of the Year Mark Nelson; Sharon Rooney, who won plaudits for her role in E4’s My Mad Fat Diary, and comedian and actress Anna Devitt, soon to be seen in the new series of BBC Scotland’s Rab C Nesbitt.

The teams traded jokes as well as tackles, but there was also some surprisingly adept play, not least by comedian and actor Rob Kane, a stand-out at No 8 for Old Firm United.

At the interval, Santa Claus mingled with supporters, selling raffle tickets for prizes such as trips to New York and Paris, signed Rangers and Celtic tops, and pantomime tickets.

Godley, who used to own a pub in the city, said the Clutha had a special place in the hearts of every Glaswegian, adding: “It’s the kind of place where everyone knows your name, one of the real community pubs.

“It’s great to show support by playing this game and raising the rafters with laughter.”

In the second-half, Fraserburgh comedian and writer Wray Thompson, a defender for the Rest of the World, lobbed the ball from 20 yards over his keeper and into his own net.

Standing on the sidelines, Bob Doolally, the veteran comic and well-kent figure of Scottish football, said: “That was the best own goal I’ve ever seen.”

A weary and red-faced Thompson lifted his hand skywards in ironic celebration.

Later, Kane went on a mazy dribble before scoring the goal of the game. Moments later, however, he became the villain after complaining to the referee over a full-blooded challenge. The official showed him a red card and, as he traipsed towards the sidelines, a cry went up from event organiser, Alan Anderson: “Kane! Your wean’s greetin’ over here!”

When the final whistle blew, Old Firm United emerged victorious, by six goals to three. The players, laughing if breathless, gathered in the centre circle as Kane was presented with the inaugural Clutha Cup.

Mr Anderson said the event, which saw Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Football Association provide venue hire and strips free of charge, had raised more than £1,000, and he hopes it will become an annual fixture.

He said: “Glasgow has shown great unity following the Clutha crash and it seemed only right that a united comedians team of Old Firm fans compete against comics from the rest of Scotland and beyond.”

Fred MacAulay, Des McLean, Bruce Morton and Godley were among the comedians due to perform at the “Stand up for Clutha Comedy Gala” last night. Some £20,000 has been raised through the gig beforehand and, after raffles and competitions, it was hoped to double that figure.

Mr Anderson said families of the Clutha victims and the pub’s regulars were among those planning to attend the event. “It will be a highly emotional evening,” he said. “But I hope we can make people laugh and let them know they have our support.”

The Lord Provost’s Clutha appeal fund has already raised at least £220,000 for the families of the ten victims of the tragedy on 29 November.