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Tributes paid to Jerry Harris: 'He kept the game alive in the city when it looked like it might be let die'

Harris, who passed away aged 81, devoted over six decades of his life to football on Leeside and was involved with Cork City since the club’s inception.

Cork football legend Jerry Harris.
Cork football legend Jerry Harris.
Image: Cork City FC

TRIBUTES HAVE POURED in on Tuesday from all corners of Irish football for Jerry Harris, the revered Cork football figure who has died aged 81.

Described by the FAI as “a man who gave so much to our game on Leeside”, Harris devoted over six decades of his life to football in his native county, and was involved with Cork City from the club’s foundation and election to the League of Ireland in 1984.

Over nearly 35 years, Harris served City in a multitude of roles including player, coach, kitman and, most recently, club secretary until his retirement following the conclusion of the 2016 season.

“Everyone at Cork City FC is truly saddened to learn of the passing of Jerry Harris,” read a statement by Harris’ former club. “Jerry was involved in Cork football since the 1950s and was involved in Cork City FC from its earliest days.

“Everyone at the club wish to offer our most sincere condolences to Jerry’s wife Rose, his brother Mick and his extended family and friends.”

The club’s COO, Éanna Buckley, added: “This is a truly sad day for Cork City FC, for football in Cork and for the League of Ireland. Jerry devoted his life to Irish football and to Cork City FC in particular. He was considerate, diligent, measured and absolutely meticulous in his work for the club; no task was unimportant when it was for Cork City FC.

“Jerry was not just a mentor and a colleague, but a friend too. It was that kindness that set Jerry apart from many others; he always had time for everybody and always looked out for people.

“I do not think there was anybody, player, coach, staff member, supporter, or anyone else, who came across Jerry who would have had anything but a kind word to say about him.”

Harris had been due to receive the Special Merit award from Soccer Writers Ireland (SWI) this Thursday.

“Due to the ongoing Covid concerns the Soccer Writers’ Annual Banquet had to be postponed”, wrote RTÉ’s Tony O’Donoghue, SWI president, “however the award was voted on by the writers and broadcasters and the beautiful trophy was engraved and on its way to Cork to be presented to Jerry and the Harris family on Thursday.

“Jerry’s contribution to the games since the 1950s was truly remarkable,” O’Donoghue continued. “Glasheen, Rockmount, Albert Rovers, Cork Alberts and Cork United all saw service, and as a player or a coach he always made a major contribution.

However, it was at Cork City where he fulfilled every role; cutting the grass, washing the gear, picking the team and paying the bills. He kept the game alive in the city when it looked like it might be let die and he will be regarded as one of the greats of the game in Cork.

“He was always one of the nicest, kindest people you could meet, a gentleman of the sport.”

The PFA Ireland said in a statement: “We are very sad today to hear of the passing of Jerry Harris from Cork City.

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“Jerry won our merit award in 2009 for outstanding service to the game. He was always a man of integrity and did so much through good times and bad at his club. RIP.”

Former Cork City Players also paid their respects to Harris, with David Meyler tweeting: “Absolutely heartbroken to hear about the passing of Jerry Harris. A true Cork City legend. He will be missed by so many. My thoughts go out to all of his family.”

Kevin Doyle described Harris as “a proper gentleman”, while Billy Woods tweeted: “Loved by everyone that ever played or involved with @CorkCityFC”, also describing Harris as a gentleman.

Mick Ring, Cork City’s current kitman, said of his predecessor: “I experienced immense sadness this morning when I got the call to say Jerry Harris had passed away.

“A stalwart of not only @CorkCityFC but of senior football in Cork for decades. I have incredible memories from our time together that I will cherish. May he Rest in Peace.”

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