Northern Ireland

Loyal Crusaders fans get their reward at Fulham game

Graham Heslip with his father Billy
Image caption Blind supporter Graham Heslip (left), who will open one of Crusaders FC's new stands at the Fulham game, with his father Billy

Loyalty in football is often taken for granted, but on Thursday night one Irish League club will show its gratitude to two supporters who have taken their devotion to another level.

Crusaders FC are set to host English Premiership side Fulham at their north Belfast ground Seaview in the Europa League second qualifying round.

It will also mark the official unveiling of two new stands at the ground which has undergone major refurbishment over the close season.

And instead of getting a famous footballing celebrity to cut the ribbon, the club have decided to reward two VIPs closer to home.

Blind supporter Graham Heslip travels regularly to Crusaders games with the help of his father Billy who provides match commentary.

He will open the West Stand for the European tie which is arguably the biggest competitive game at Seaview since Liverpool were the visitors in 1976.

The other special guest will be another life member of the club, Madge Hunter, who has served tea to players and officials for more than 50 years. She will open the stadium's East Stand.

Crusaders will be hoping for a victory on the night against their London opponents, but win or lose, it appears the club have already scored with fans off the pitch through their gesture.

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