Lisa Miller: Seville- The Celtic Way raises £21K

The work was done and the stage was set….

After months of blood, sweat and tears, Celtic FC Foundation’s Supporters’ Committee threw open the doors of the Argyll Suite in the Crowne Plaza, Glasgow on May 6 to 320 sombrero clad Celtic fans! Our Seville: The Celtic Way dinner party was finally underway.

20 years on from the UEFA Cup Final against Porto in the Spanish city, we wanted to celebrate our fans who travelled in their many thousands by plane, train and automobiles to support their team. The world had looked on in awe as we turned Seville green and white and created a carnival atmosphere, even in the heartbreak of defeat. We did ourselves and our Club proud and our impeccable behaviour was recognised through FIFA’s Fair Play Award.

This was an event about the fans and for the fans. Our adventures, our stories, our songs and the people we shared them with – all to be remembered and celebrated with affection, pride and a big dose of humour! That meant a jam-packed evening with lots of interaction and participation from all in attendance.

Guests were welcomed in the balloon-decked foyer with a sangria drinks reception, a photo opportunity with the European Cup, a Seville themed football card and a Wheel of Fortune. They could also purchase a specially made cocktail – aptly named the ‘Seville Sour’, because we all know how things went in the Final!

Our fantastic host Alex Fleming got the fiesta started with Beachball Bingo before the dancefloor became a sea of sombreros – many with elaborate decoration – with Viva España serving as the musical backdrop to the dancing!

The most popular game without a doubt was ‘The Bill Penalty Shootout’. Each time The Bill theme blared out without warning, attendees rushed forward to attempt to score a penalty with a beach ball – with a bottle as the prize for each successful scorer!

As our guests enjoyed a delicious Spanish themed meal, we heard from Committee member Stephanie Drew, who told us about the massive difference Celtic FC Foundation makes to the life of her son Sean and to the wider family. A powerful, impactful insight into the Foundation’s work and a reminder of the type of outcomes that the funds raised on the night will be used to support.

Film-makers Chris Martin and Michael Murdoch then joined Alex on stage to tell us about their forthcoming fans-focussed film, ‘Seville’, which is due to start production this autumn. We cannot wait to see this once released in 2024!

Through video messages, we heard from Jackie McNamara, Alan Thompson and Stan Petrov as they talked about how much the incredible support of Celtic fans meant to them all in Seville.

Then it was all about our stories as fans. We received so many – they made us laugh and they made us cry but most of all they made us feel proud of our magnificent supporters.  Fans in the room took to the mic to share their memories before one very special tale was relayed.

Eric Hughes, otherwise known as the ‘Blagger of Seville’, sadly passed away suddenly this January. His mother Catherine and brother Tom joined us as our guests and we were honoured to share his adventure on their behalf. Eric managed, after multiple attempts, to bluff his way into the Estadio Olimpico without a ticket and even rubbed shoulders with Celtic directors and TV presenters! He captured it all on a hand-held camcorder and later released the footage to much hilarity. A total character, who will be sadly missed.

Guests were then able to have a go on our Bucking Bronco. The whoops and hollers could be heard from afar as revellers valiantly tried to hang on for dear life – before being flung to the floor with their dignity in tatters!

Jamie Malloy was the lucky winner of our raffle to win funds for a trip to Seville. Our live and silent auctions saw incredible generosity from bidders who secured a wide and varied range of terrific items and experiences.

Our fantastic singer David McKendrick and brilliant DJ Heather Scott entertained us all into the wee small hours. What a night!

With your incredible support, the event raised a magnificent net total of £21K for Celtic FC Foundation and we cannot thank everyone who contributed to this success enough, including our awesome volunteers Julie and Erin.

Seville: The Celtic Way was dedicated to the memories of Eric Hughes and Erin Henry. Erin died suddenly, aged just 21, four days before the event. Her dad Brian, my good friend, had been due to join us on the night. May Eric and Erin both rest in eternal peace and may both sets of families find comfort in the love and affection shown for their loved ones by so many.

As Chair of the Supporters’ Committee, it is a great honour and privilege to work with such a dedicated group of people who are determined to make a positive difference to the lives of others and who worked tirelessly to put this event together. Julie Duncan, Stephanie Drew, Lorna Shevlin, Paul Lamb, Derek Noonan, Jennifer McGrath and Iain McGovern – thank you from the bottom of my heart for your commitment and effort and for being the incredible people you are. We did it!

Lisa Miller, Seville: The Celtic Way