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Celtic, Brisbane show how tour should be done

COMMENT: Sunday afternoon at Suncorp stadium was just like a day out at Parkhead. The stadium was a sea of green and white, which even had Brisbane Roar captain Craig Moore, the former Rangers skipper, admitting the experience had him pining for a return to Scotland.

There was plenty of backslapping among Celtic officials last night - and not only because Tony Mowbray's first game in charge had ended in victory.

Not since David Beckham's LA Galaxy visited Sydney and delivered over $20 million to the local economy has a football tour made such an impact on a city. Working with the tour's organisers and Suncorp stadium, Celtic didn't see the visit as a simple smash-and-grab.

Tony Mowbray took his squad to a local Celtic supporters club for a training session and saw over 2,000 fans flock to see the players go through their paces. A function for over 500 state government and local celebrities included Celtic handing over a $20,000 cheque to a Brisbane charity. Local businesses enjoyed a huge boost as Celtic supporter clubs from as far as Scotland, Canada, Hong Kong and the USA all made the trek to Brisbane for yesterday's game.

Suncorp, in partnership with a committed Celtic, showed how a tour should be organised.

There was no big-name like Beckham to build the tour around. Of course, Celtic's fans will tell you the club's name is enough. But in a city where football is strictly third best, everyone involved had to be committed to the cause - and they were.

This included Mowbray and his players, who were determined to give fans their money's worth.

Contrast this to the attitude down the road at Gold Coast United. While Danny Murphy, the Fulham captain, tried his best to hype up the game and help the organisers, his Gold Coast counterpart Jason Culina chose play it down, running down both the event and Fulham. Is it any wonder less than a third of the crowd Celtic drew attended Gold Coast's coming out party?

Celtic now leave with good memories and the desire to do more business with Brisbane - and the fans yesterday left Suncorp with a rare taste of what happens every home game at Celtic Park. It was a special day, which could only have happened through the willingness of everyone involved to make it a box-office event.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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