Cliftonville midfielder Barry Johnston says he will fulfil a lifetime ambition when he steps out to face Celtic at Solitude next month.
The Reds have announced a pre-season friendly with Neil Lennon's side on Saturday, July 28 and as he begins counting down the days, Johnston — a Celtic fan all his life — admits he can barely contain his excitement.
“It'll be a dream come true,” he said. “I don't just support Celtic, I absolutely idolise them. I can rhyme off the names of not just their first team squad, but the reserves and the under-19s as well — I know everything about them.
“I've got a Celtic jersey with Scott Brown's name on the back of it, so actually getting a hold of the real thing would be unbelievable.”
The sides last locked horns to mark Cliftonville's 130th anniversary back in 2009, when the Reds shocked their visitors by romping to a 3-0 win in front of a capacity crowd. Next month's Solitude fixture is pencilled in for three days before Celtic contest a Champions League qualifier, so the strength of the team that visits Solitude is likely to depend on the standard of opposition Lennon's men are up against on the continental stage.
Reds Chairman Gerard Lawlor said: “I'm delighted that we will be welcoming a Celtic team back to Solitude for what will undoubtedly prove to be another hugely memorable occasion.
“The game back in 2009 was a fantastic night for our club both on and off the pitch and I'm sure our supporters are already counting down the days until this re-match.”
Meanwhile, Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson has confirmed that Conor Downey has been placed on the transfer list. Downey is now free to talk to other clubs interested in signing the midfielder.
- Rangers owner Craig Whyte is threatening to take the Scottish Football Association to court for defamation. Whyte who has been deemed unfit to hold an official position in the game by the SFA said: “I will be looking at legal options against the SFA. They have a lot to answer for with their defamatory statements about me.”