Belfast Telegraph

Brandywell may be renamed in 'perfect tribute' to tragic Candystripes captain Ryan

By Donna Deeney

A proposal to rename Brandywell stadium after tragic Derry City captain Ryan McBride is to be discussed by councillors.

The 27-year-old defender - considered one of the most gifted players to ever don the Candystripes' jersey - died suddenly in March.

He joined his hometown team in 2011 and starred for the club alongside Republic of Ireland player James McClean.

Ryan played 177 games for Derry City, wore the captain's armband 57 times and won both FAI and League Cup winners' medals.

The idea of naming the ground in his honour came from the Ryan McBride Foundation, set up by his family to create a legacy for the footballer.

The proposal will come before Derry and Strabane Council later this month and is expected to be widely supported.

The Brandywell is in the middle of a £7m redevelopment and is expected to reopen in the next few months.

Gareth McCay, the late footballer's brother-in-law, said changing the name of the stadium that meant so much to Ryan would be the "perfect" tribute.

Mr McCay told this newspaper: "We approached all the political parties on Derry and Strabane Council, as well as the independents, about the possibility of renaming the stadium after Ryan.

"We had a very positive response from across the political divide supporting our call, which we were delighted about.

"We are approaching a new era for the stadium and it made sense that somewhere within the new stadium Ryan would be recognised. He was the club captain when he passed away, but as well as that he grew up in the shadow of the stadium and walked past it every day.

"We don't want Ryan to be forgotten. Unfortunately, that happens too often when people die young.

"The hope is that in 50 years' time, when kids are going to the Brandywell with their fathers, they will ask, 'Why is it called the Ryan McBride Stadium?' And the story will be told again."

The proposal will be brought to the council by Sinn Fein's Patricia Logue, who welcomed the suggestion.

"I, along with all other councillors, received an email from the Ryan McBride Foundation asking for support for their call for the new stadium to be named in memory of Ryan," Mrs Logue said. "I spoke to Ryan's father and he is delighted that this is being brought forward.

"I am honoured to do this on behalf of the foundation. It will certainly be a fitting tribute to Ryan, and I know the whole community will be appreciative of this."

A series of meetings between various political parties and the foundation will be held before the council debates the renaming proposal.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton added his backing. "We are very supportive of the Ryan McBride Foundation," he said. "We know they are doing really good work and whatever we can help them we will be happy to do it."

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