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On the fly

On behalf of the players and management, Cliftonville Football Club thanks supporters for their magnificent backing in last night’s goalless draw with Barry Town United in the opening leg of our Europa League Preliminary Round tie.

While we are always grateful to those fans who join us on European journeys and are proud of the distinction with which the Club was represented in Wales, particular commendation must be paid on this occasion in light of the various obstacles that so many members of the Red Army overcame en route to Cardiff.

As well as enduring lengthy delays at various airports, a large number of supporters were struck by last-minute flight cancellations and were forced to make alternative arrangements against the clock. Some booked themselves onto other services and many criss-crossed in the skies to catch connecting flights elsewhere, while some abandoned air travel entirely and opted instead to begin their journey by boat.

Having reached the likes of Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol and a number of other unplanned rendesvouz posts, a valiant mixture of buses, trains, rented cars and taxis combined to ensure that – somehow – the majority of ticket-holders found a way to Leckwith Stadium.

The Club are aware that some of our supporters were, unfortunately, not able to make it to the game but hope that a small measure of comfort could be found in Cliftonville’s performance, which tees up an eagerly-anticipated winner-takes-all showdown with Barry at Solitude next week.

After last night’s match, Manager Paddy McLaughlin paid tribute to the travelling fans, whose magnificent support was acknowledged by a grateful Reds side at the final whistle.

“I thought they were fantastic,” he said.

“I think the airlines did everything they could to stop our supporters from getting here, but they didn’t want to miss out. Fair play to them for that because, after having flights cancelled, it would have been easy to just get in the car and go home but it just shows how much it means to them that they travelled from everywhere to make it to the match and I know the players really appreciate that.”