Roy Aitken is a Celtic great, no question. He is one of the club’s highest appearance makers and 12 years into his Celtic career, he was rewarded with a testimonial match against Manchester United at Celtic Park.
36,000 braved the cold to attend the game, earning the Celtic captain £100,000 for his ongoing service to the club. The occasion came as a welcome break for Celtic, who had recently exited the Scottish Cup and fell behind in the title race. The excitement of a break from domestic duty with Alex Ferguson’s team crossing the border, created a very competitive affair, as evidenced by Gordon Strachan chasing after the referee in protest when Manchester United were denied a strong claim for a penalty. Whilst the fun of a friendly was still captured, when Liverpool goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelar, was invited to take part in the half time penalty shoot-out for fans!
Just four minutes into the match, Alan McInally gave Celtic the lead. Aitken had started the move, driving from defence before passing to Brian McClair, who split the United backline to put McInally through. As Gary Walsh sprinted out of goal, McInally cooly clipped the ball over the helpless goalkeeper to put the Celts in front.
The match turned into a bit of a scrappy affair, competitive in nature, but by no means a classic. At the end of the first half, Bryan Robson was hauled down in the box but the referee, Alan Ferguson, did not point to the spot. United were enraged and sought to make amends in the second half, when they were by far and away the better side. Nevertheless, Pat Bonner kept them at bay on one of his busiest nights of the season.
That match finished: Celtic 1-0 Man Utd. The ribbons on the trophy donated by local businessman, Tony McGuinness, were green and white.
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