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'It's what Ryan would have wanted, he was very much a community person'

A motion to name Derry’s new stadium after their late captain has been put to the local council.

A banner in tribute to late Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who died tragically last March.
A banner in tribute to late Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who died tragically last March.
Image: Presseye/Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

IT WAS CONFIRMED today that a motion has been brought to name the redeveloped Brandywell after Derry City’s late captain Ryan McBride.

McBride, who captained Derry in four unbeaten games at the start of the 2017 season, died suddenly last March, prompting countless tributes from former team-mates and friends.

A foundation has since been set up by family and friends, and it is that organisation who are behind efforts for the player to be honoured by naming the Candystripes’ new stadium after him.

Local representatives in the Derry/Strabane area — Councillors, MLAs and MPs — have all been consulted, and all bar one party have supported the proposal, with the motion set to be heard at today’s council meeting.

There is a family connection too, as the proposal is being put forward by Ryan’s auntie, Patricia Logue, who is a local councillor in the area.

Conor Loughrey, Project Coordinator of the ‘McBride 5 Foundation,’ is hopeful the motion will be passed

“It’d be fitting if that turns out to be the case,” he tells The42. “From our initial understanding, support has been (garnered from) all but one party — and the elected representatives who wouldn’t give us support for the proposal only hold two seats in the chamber today.”

Loughrey feels McBride’s legacy deserves to be recognised in this fashion not just for his performances on the pitch, in which he made over 100 appearances for the Candystripes and featured in their 2012 FAI Cup final win over St Pat’s, but also for his contribution to life in the city away from the football pitch.

It’s important to remember, while you can look at the Derry City element of Ryan, he was a huge community figure,” he says. “He lived in an underprivileged area. His house is literally 25 yards from the gates of the stadium.

“In that area, Ryan was not only seen as a Derry City footballer — he was a role model for all the kids. Those kids suffered greatly with low self-esteem and low self-worth. It takes someone like Ryan to show them with his career — never giving up, coming through (into the Derry team) late, captaining his hometown club, the passion, the leadership, the skills he’s shown.

“But not just that — how humble and down-to-earth Ryan was throughout his career. It’s paved the way for those kids to do it too and give them hope (despite) the levels of deprivation in the area.”

Meanwhile, Mark Farren, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer who also died tragically last year, is set to have a stand named after him, with the new stadium expected to be ready in time for the start of the 2018 League of Ireland campaign.

“It is no longer a multi-purpose stadium, which local schools might have used for a sports day,”  Loughrey adds. “Now, it’s going to be a football-specific stadium.”

Ryan McBride Ryan McBride made over 100 appearances for Derry City before dying suddenly last March. Source: Presseye/Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

Furthermore, to have it named after as popular a figure as McBride would make it extra special.

“The guy was an absolute colossus in that area — he is their boy, a Brandywell boy, what he’s brought to the area, what he’s delivered in the area in his playing career. So it’s only fitting that it would be the centrepoint of this whole community.

“The Brandywell stadium is the only pitch in that area. It’s the only thing they have — bar a community centre, there’s nothing else. When the whole new complex opens up, they’ll have a play park and whatever else, but what’s more fitting than to have a football stadium named after the Derry City captain?”

Should the proposal be agreed upon, it would be poignant for Loughrey in particular, as he was close friends with McBride, with the pair growing up together in Derry.

“We grew up playing and going to Derry City fun camps and all the rest,” he recalls. “Having known him through the youth clubs, we were great friends, we’d go on family holidays together.

“The foundation’s been set up by Ryan’s friends and family. His team-mates, the manager Kenny Shiels and Derry City legend Liam Coyle have been involved in the process.”

In the hands of all these dedicated individuals, the project has thrived and in itself, amounted to a fitting legacy for the late skipper.

“The amount of people who want to get involved and continue to build Ryan’s legacy has been so much so that they’ve had to bring me in as a coordinator for the whole programme.

“We’re linking in with local schools now, we’ve given opportunities to young kids with goalkeeping masterclasses being run by (Derry City goalkeepers) Gerard Doherty and Eric Grimes.

“Next week, we have a fully subscribed Halloween camp. We’ve actually had to cap our numbers, because we’ve had so much interest. We have up to 70 kids being coached by Derry City players, and this is all in Ryan’s name and because of Ryan’s legacy.

It’s what Ryan would have wanted, he was very much a community person. I think he got that from his late mother Noreen, who was a community worker. The efforts that have been put in have been befitting of the man and there are big plans for the year ahead.”

For more information on the McBride 5 Foundation, click here.

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