CELTIC manager, Neil Lennon and rugby legend, Doddie Weir today launched – on behalf of Celtic FC Foundation and the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation – a fantastic fundraising football match, to support research and other initiatives aimed at tackling Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
The Lions’ Roar Charity Match, will take place at Celtic Park on Friday, May 8, 2020 (KO: 7pm) – and will see the worlds of football, rugby and entertainment join forces, United Against MND.
The net proceeds of The Lions’ Roar Charity Match will be devoted to fighting MND through two equal beneficiary charities – Celtic FC Foundation (in memory of Jimmy Johnstone) and the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
The two Foundations will pull together opposing legends’ squads including a number of familiar faces from both football and rugby, and also a few celebrity supporters.
The passion and commitment of the Celtic support will be largely driven by the loss of our Greatest Ever Celt, the legendary Jimmy Johnstone.
Jinky signed for his beloved Celtic in November 1961 and, during an illustrious 14 years, made a total of 515 appearances for the club, scoring an impressive 130 goals. The pinnacle of that was, of course, the European Cup triumph on May 25, 1967 when Celtic beat Inter Milan 2-1.
Lisbon Lion Jinky, however, wasn’t content with just making his mark on that prestigious competition, and on Wednesday, June 7, 1967, in the Bernabeu Stadium, he and his team-mates provided the opposition for the great Alfredo Di Stefano’s testimonial. The legendary Read Madrid player may have been the focus of the night, but it was Jinky who grabbed all the headlines with a breathtaking display that had the Madrid fans shouting ‘Ole!’ at his every touch.
He remained an immensely popular figure amongst the Celtic support who, in 2003, voted him the Greatest Ever Celt. By that time, however, he was suffering from MND. He faced that battle against the toughest of opponents with incredible bravery and courage, always strengthened by the support of his family and the convictions of his faith.
Sadly, Jimmy Johnstone passed away on March 13, 2006, and the Celtic support, as well as the wider footballing world, mourned his passing. A statue of Jinky now stands outside the front of Celtic Park as a permanent memorial and a reminder to future generations of a wonderful player.
And for rugby fans, there is no greater name than Doddie Weir OBE, who is one of the sport’s most recognisable and much loved personalities. He earned 61 caps for Scotland during a successful playing career, represented the British and Irish Lions on their successful tour of South Africa in 1997, and won championships with his two club sides, Melrose and Newcastle Falcons.
A talented, committed and athletic lock forward, Doddie is now facing his biggest challenge. In June 2017 the Scot revealed he was suffering from MND. From the outset, Doddie has been driven to help fellow sufferers and seek ways to further research into this, as yet, incurable disease.
In November, 2017, Doddie and his Trustees launched the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation which aims to aid research into the causes of MND, investigate potential cures and to support individuals suffering from MND.
Agnes Johnstone, Jimmy’s widow said: “Our family is so honoured that Jimmy’s legacy and memory is now being used in such a positive way to help others. Like Doddie, Jimmy faced a huge fight against MND and he tackled his challenge with real courage and determination.
“We would like to thank Celtic and Doddie for all their great work in supporting the fight against MND. Doddie is a true inspiration to us all and our family are watching with genuine admiration. We hope as many people as possible support Doddie and Celtic through this great event, so that so many other deserving people can benefit.”
Doddie Weir added: “It is a great honour and privilege to have the My Name’5Doddie Foundation associated with Celtic and their long-established charity, Celtic FC Foundation.
“We have only been in existence for less than three years, but in that time we have raised over £5m, all of which has gone to helping in the fight against MND, in the shape of funding towards research across the country, extensive drug trials, the purchasing of drugs, and, to directly help fellow MND sufferers and their families.
“For many of us, MND first came to our attention more than a decade ago when Celtic and Scotland legend Jimmy Johnstone eventually succumbed to this horrible condition. Little was known about MND then compared to now, however, in terms of a cure or positive treatment, little has advanced on that front.
“Other high-profile sportsmen have had their lives blighted and ultimately ended by MND, thus far, an incurable disease. However, our fight to find a cure will continue, but to achieve that we must keep MND and our battle against it in the public eye, something this footballing spectacle will achieve.
“What do I know about football? Well, I am very proud about having represented Stow Amateurs as goalkeeper – played one, one clean sheet. And then retirement! But some of those participating in this match carved a career for club and country and I’m sure will show they have lost none of their magic on the night.”
Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell added: “Everyone at Celtic is delighted to be staging and supporting Celtic FC Foundation and the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation in this fantastic event, with two great men in our thoughts.
“Doddie is a true sporting great, a Scotland hero and a man of immense courage. He is someone who is demonstrating such determination and his vision of helping others while facing such adversity is truly inspirational and should be applauded by us all.
“Likewise, our very own Jimmy Johnstone dealt with his own fight with such dignity and humility. Jimmy will always be remembered as our Greatest Ever Player, but also as a truly great man with such strength of character.
“On May 8, we will honour and celebrate the courage and spirit of two great men and at the same time all join forces to make a positive difference to the lives of so many more.
“We hope that as many people as possible join us in supporting this great event, fans of any team across rugby or football, new visitors to Celtic Park, indeed anyone who wants to be part of a wonderful cause and fantastic tribute to two great sporting icons.”
Tony Hamilton, Chief Executive of Celtic FC Foundation, said: “Doddie Weir is a truly inspirational character, he’s shown tremendous courage in the past few years and he’s decided to take his battle with MND head on, in the same way he did throughout his playing career. We’re sadly very familiar with MND and we witnessed our Greatest Ever Player, Jimmy Johnstone, fight the same battle.
“We are delighted at Celtic FC Foundation that Doddie\’s charity are partnering with us for this match in May. It will hopefully provide a platform for both organisations to help other MND sufferers with some of the support that they and their families will desperately need in the coming years.
“I am very grateful to all of our supporters for the way they continually back what we are trying to do at the Foundation, and hopefully they can respond to this match and make it a huge success for everyone connected with Celtic and Doddie Weir.\”
Tickets for The Lions’ Roar Charity Match are now on sale to Celtic FC season ticket holders, on a first come first served basis, priced at £14 for adults and £6 for concessions*.
Tickets will go on general sale from 11am on Monday, March 16.
Accessible Seating season ticket holders who wish to purchase their seats for this match can do so from 11am on Monday, March 23. Subject to availability, Accessible Seating will go on general sale from 11am on Monday, March 30. Tickets are priced £10 wheelchair/ambulant and carer is free of charge.
Tickets are available to purchase online at www.celticfc.net, by calling 0871 226 1888** or by visiting the Celtic Ticket Office. Booking fees apply online/via booking line.
Only Lower Tier Seating is currently available and Rail Seating does not apply for this match.
Premium tickets (£40) and corporate packages (£135) are also available by calling 0871 226 1888** (Option 4) or emailing email@example.com
* Concessions 65+/Under-16s.
** Calls cost 13p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. Booking fees apply online and via our sales line.