The Liam Miller tribute match, due to take place on Tuesday looks destined to comfortably exceed the existing record for the biggest ever attendance at a soccer match in Cork, according to Cork soccer historian Plunkett Carter.
The match at Páirc Uí Chaoimh will feature Man Utd Legends XI and a Glasgow Celtic/Republic of Ireland selection and 45,000 spectators are expected.
The record is currently held by the 1972 League of Ireland clash between Cork Hibs and Waterford when some 27,000 crammed into Flower Lodge, now Páirc Uí Rinn, to see Waterford win a 3-2 thriller, Mr Carter said.
While derby games involving Cork Hibs and Cork Celtic often drew crowds of about 20,000 – far exceeding the 9,000 and 12,000 who turned up in 1976 to see George Best line out for Celtic – one of the other biggest draws was a tribute game in 1964 for former West Ham player, Jackie Morley.
"There were well over 20,000 at that game between an International XI and a League of Ireland XI," Mr Carter said. "Noel Cantwell lined out for the International XI and he brought a lot of his Man Utd team-mates like Tony Dunne, Pat Crerand, Maurice Setters and Denis Law, as well as Man City's Bert Trautmann. "
While international games such as Ireland vs Hungary in the Mardyke in 1939, Ireland vs Spain in Flower Lodge in 1985, and Ireland vs Belarus in Turners Cross in 2016 all failed to breach the 20,000 mark, Liverpool's visit in 1986 did see a crowd of more than 20,000 cram into Flower Lodge.
"The game had been scheduled to go ahead as part of Cork 800 in 1985 but had to be rescheduled because of the Heysel disaster," Mr Carter said. "Liverpool put out a strong side with Jim Beglin, Mark Lawrenson, Ronnie Whelan, Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush all starting and they proved a huge draw."
Meanwhile, Lord Mayor of Cork, councillor Mick Finn, has urged anyone who bought tickets but is unable to attend the Liam Miller tribute match to pass them on to friends and relatives to ensure a full house.
“I know there have been a lot of tickets changing hands recently because of people not being able to go because of work commitments but I would encourage anyone with tickets who can’t make the game to pass them on to people who can go so we have a full house at Páirc Uí Chaoimh,” he said.
“It will be great to see a capacity 45,000 crowd at Páirc Uí Chaoimh because it will help show off the stadium at its best and it’s all for a good cause for Liam Miller’s family as well as Marymount Hospice where he tragically passed away in February, so it promises to be a special sporting day in Cork.”
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who signed Liam Miller from Glasgow Celtic, will not be able to attend on medical advice after undergoing surgery earlier this year for a brain aneurysm but he will be represented at the game by former United and England captain Bryan Robson.