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Willie Maley: Memorial group submits plans for Newry statue of Celtic hero

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Willie Maley

Willie Maley

Willie Maley

Plans for a statue of the Newry-born Celtic legend Willie Maley have been submitted to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

Mr Maley, who was born in 1868, was the side’s first and longest-serving boss and is among the most successful managers in the history of Scottish football.

He led the Hoops to 30 major trophies, including 16 league championships and 14 Scottish Cups, during his 43 years as manager of the side.

The plans for the memorial and new paving were submitted on behalf of the Willie Maley Memorial Group.

It is proposed that bronze, life-sized statue be erected at the junction of Camlough Road and Monaghan Row in Newry.

The group has been campaigning for recognition of Mr Maley for many years.

While he was well known in the area and has a local junior football competition and a Celtic supporters’ club named after him, there is no memorial or plaque to him in the city where he was born.

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Celtic supporters met with councillors in 2019 to discuss permission for a statue, with the proposal receiving cross-community support.

Among those who backed the project were Rangers fan and Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor and former Sinn Fein council chairman Charlie Casey.

The Willie Maley Memorial Group set up an online fundraising campaign in 2019. It hoped to raise £15,000 towards the cost of the statue, but the grand total far exceeded that in the end.

The members of the group held a fundraiser at Glasgow’s Celtic Park in April, which included a meal, an auction and live music.

Former Celtic manager and Northern Ireland international Martin O’Neill was among the guests at the event, which raised more than £32,000.

The idea for the statue came about following the discovery two historic documents linked to an older Willie Maley club in Newry.

One is a photograph of the first meeting of the group in 1965, which took place at the Protestant Working Men’s Club on Bank Parade. It was provided by Tony McLoughlin who, along with Tom McKeown and Philip Hughes, is a surviving member of the original club.

The other item is a letter penned by the manager’s son, Charlie, ahead of their 1967 European Cup victory.


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