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Fraserburgh FC to play Celtic in Fundraiser Match for Fraserburgh RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Top Scottish football club Celtic are to play Highland League Fraserburgh in a fundraiser match for Fraserburgh RNLI at the Bellslea Park on Saturday 1 July 2023.

RNLI/Billy Watson

Fraserburgh FC Committee Members meet with full time Fraserburgh Lifeboat Coxswain/Mechanic Vic Sutherland, Deputy Launch Authority John May, and Community Manager Spencer Harris met in the Boardroom to discuss the forthcoming Fraserburgh v Celtic Football Match in aid of the Lifeboat
Fraserburgh RNLI were delighted to hear that Scottish treble winning football team Celtic are to play local Highland League team Fraserburgh FC, nicknamed “the Broch”, in a preseason friendly, which aims to raise funds for Fraserburgh RNLI Lifeboat Station.

Fraserburgh FC Chairman, Finlay Noble, told Fraserburgh RNLI coxswain, Vic Sutherland, the good news and set up a meeting with “the Broch” committee to discuss the exciting plans for the match on Saturday 1 July.

Tickets for the match will be on sale at Fraserburgh RNLI Lifeboat Station on Monday 12 June from 10am to 5pm and Tuesday 13 June from 4pm until 7pm. Tickets are priced at £10 for an adult ticket and £5 for a concession ticket. Unfortunately, there is no facility for card payments, so ticket sales will be cash only. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Celtic, who won the Scottish Premiership, Scottish Cup, and Scottish League Cup in the season just past will travel north to play the game on Saturday 1 July in a match which recalls a previous Fraserburgh v Celtic match played 53 years ago in 1970.

That was the year of the 1970 Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disaster when 5 out of the 6 crew of Fraserburgh lifeboat drowned when the lifeboat capsized 40 miles out to sea while they were on a rescue mission to a Danish fishing vessel.

The manager of Celtic at the time was Jock Stein and he took his multiple trophy winning Celtic team up north to play “the Broch” in a benefit match for the 1970 Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disaster Fund. The fund was set up to help the dependants, five widows and 15 children, of the crewmen who were lost when the lifeboat capsized.

The Fraserburgh lifeboat, the Duchess of Kent, had gone out on the 21 January 1970 to the aid of a Danish fishing boat, the Opal, with six local men on board. 40 miles north of Fraserburgh, the lifeboat capsized with the loss of five crew: coxswain John Stephen, mechanic Fred Kirkness, and crew members William Hadden, James Buchan and James RS Buchan, after they were struck by a 30ft wave.

There was only 1 survivor, John “Jackson” Buchan, who had been flung clear when the wave struck.The community was shocked and the nation mourned.

This had been the second Fraserburgh lifeboat disaster in seventeen years and the third in fifty-one years. In 1953, John and Charles Kennedy, capsized within sight of the harbour with the loss of 6 of 7 of the crew, and in 1919, Lady Rothes, had capsized with the loss of the coxswain and his deputy.

Over 10,000 people attended the mile long funeral cortège of the victims of the 1970 Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disaster in what was a poignant show of respect for their courage and sacrifice and sympathy and support for their families.

Three months after the disaster, it was announced that Glasgow Celtic would play Fraserburgh in a benefit game for the lifeboat dependants and there was excitement in the town.

The Scottish Football season had ended but Celtic had still to play in the European Cup Final. They had become the first British team to win the trophy in 1967 and they’d reached the final again, this time to be played on 6 May 1970 against Feyenord in the San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy.

To keep his players active and grounded in the interim between the end of the season and the final, Jock Stein arranged a couple of friendlies and the match with Fraserburgh was arranged at short notice.

The announcement that mighty Celtic were coming to play Fraserburgh came as a complete and utter surprise and had an amazing uplifting affect on the whole of the community.

Everyone wanted to be there at the match which was to be played on the 28 April 1970, only eight days before the European Cup Final, to see Celtic’s superstars and legends of Scottish Football, play their home town team of builders, plumbers, engineers, tool workers, carpet fitters and so on, and they all had to work on the day of the game.

It was no surprise when Celtic won the game 7-0 but the result was irrelevant. The match was watched by 6,500 crammed into the small and picturesque Bellslea Park, home of Fraserburgh Football Club, and raised £2,000 for the dependants of the lifeboat victims.

It was a gesture which the people of Fraserburgh have never forgotten and often talk about to this day, it went beyond football.

Vic Sutherland, Coxswain at Fraserburgh RNLI, says: 'We’re all looking forward to the Celtic match and hope that everyone enjoys themselves, it should be a great occasion.

'It will of course rekindle memories of how Jock Stein’s great Celtic team played “the Broch” back in 1970 and boosted the Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disaster Fund by £2000, we’ll always be grateful for that. There has been a lot of enquiries already and the tickets will go quickly. All the money raised at the match is coming to Fraserburgh Lifeboat Station and goes to help us to save lives at sea.'

Notes to editors

· Fraserburgh lifeboat station has been operating since 1858. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to:

RNLI media contacts

Billy Watson, Lifeboat Press Officer, [email protected]

Stuart Fenty, Lifeboat Press Officer, [email protected]

Jaye Mackay, RNLI Media Engagement Placement for Scotland, 07929 673286, [email protected]

Natasha Bennett, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland, 07826 900639, [email protected]

Martin Macnamara, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 07920 365929, [email protected]

RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789

RNLI/Billy Watson

The Fraserburgh Lifeboat Memorial Statue commemorates the loss of 13 crew in three Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disasters

RNLI/Billy Watson

The plaque on Fraserburgh Lifeboat Memorial Statue commemorates the names of all thirteen crewmen lost in three separate Fraserburgh Lifeboat Disasters in 1919, 1953 and 1970

RNLI/Billy Watson

All the money raised at the match is coming to Fraserburgh Lifeboat Station and will help us to save lives at sea.

RNLI/Billy Watson

Three months after the 1970 disaster it was announced that Glasgow Celtic would play Fraserburgh in a benefit game for the Lifeboat dependants . Five widows and 15 children, of the crewmen who were lost when the lifeboat capsized. The match was watched by 6,500 crammed into the Bellslea Park, home of Fraserburgh Football Club and raised £2,000 for the five widows and 15 children, of the crewmen who were lost when the lifeboat capsized.

RNLI/Billy Watson

Ex 1970 Fraserburgh FC players and friends who still play regular walking football twice a week 53 years after the Celtic match. George Malley played in the game in direct opposition to Scottish football legend Jimmy Johnstone, who many considered the best outside right in the world at the time. Lewis McKenzie missed the game, it was midweek and he was studying in Glasgow at the time. but almost everyone else was at the Bellslea on that memorable night which is often fondly recalled.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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