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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Celtic here we come: junior side set to play at Parkhead

A SUCCESSFUL Barrow junior club are about to follow in the footsteps of a long line of footballing legends who have graced Celtic Park.

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HAIL THE CELTS Barrow Celtic Under-11s will be playing a friendly match at Celtic Park, Glasgow, tomorrow. The squad are pictured with some of their sponsors: Hornby and Co, The Wellington Hotel, The Red Lion, Red River Club and South Lakeland Consultants HARRY ATKINSON REF: 50044539B001

The aptly-named Barrow Celtic under-11s will play at the home of the Glasgow giants tomorrow when they take on a Hoops junior side.

The 68-strong Barrow party – made up of 22 players and 46 proud family members – will make the trip, with their exciting itinerary kicking off with a tour of the world-renowned stadium.

Barrow will then play two 20-minute, nine-a-side games against junior-select Celtic teams, and their dream weekend will not end there.

That is because the wide-eyed youngsters will be put through their paces by Celtic’s youth coaches on Sunday at Glasgow’s plush Emirates Stadium, which will be a Commonwealth Games venue next year, before they take in The Bhoys’ Scottish Premier League home clash with Dundee in the afternoon.

Barrow Celtic should head into their daunting double-header with confidence as they are flying high in the Barrow and District Junior Football League, having gone unbeaten in friendly competition during the previous two seasons, while they also field a side in the Kent Valley League on Sundays.

But boss Lee Smith said: “We try and win as many games as we can, but the most important thing is that the players come off that pitch with big smiles on their faces.”

The trip has been organised through the football contacts of John Sharples, whose business interests include owning Sharples Estate Agents in Dalton, while his son Callum is Celtic’s skipper.

The games were arranged after the former Dalton United player, from Barrow, was put in touch with Celtic’s youth coach Greig Robertson.

It’s not the first time the mighty Glasgow Celtic have locked horns with a team from Barrow, as the Bhoys’s senior side took on Barrow AFC at Holker Street to help mark the club’s 100-year anniversary at the ground in 2009.

“All the lads and everybody involved is buzzing about the trip,” said Sharples. “I think Celtic’s under-16s team played at Holker Street about 10 years ago and that was supposed to be a brilliant event. One of their guys, Willie McNab (Celtic’s football development officer and youth academy coach) was telling us that we’re playing against the best team in Scotland.

“He also said that Manchester City went up to play them before Christmas and beat them 2-1. I replied, ‘that’s all right, we’ll probably beat you 2-1 as well’. We’ll probably get stuffed 40-0 now!

“But it won’t be about the scoreline, it’s about the kids playing against brilliant opposition, taking in a wonderful stadium and the whole experience. It’s something they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Sharples and Smith were also keen to praise the players’ parents, individuals and companies who have helped the club raise a ‘phenomenal’ £2,500 in three months to cover the cost of the trip.

The club’s fundraising partners and donators include: Tesco; Asda; John Poole (Ulverston Property Lawyers); Paul Hornby, of J F Hornby and Co, Ulverston; The Red River Club; Nigel Atkinson, from Snap-on Tools, Barrow; Tony Dale, from Abbey Road Garage, Dalton; The Red Lion and The Wellington pubs; plus team secretary Caroline Smith and Theresa Lawrence.

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