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GAA kit-maker O'Neills praised for Remembrance Day football jersey


Design: The Hartlepool United outfield (left) and goalkeeper’s shirt made by O’Neills

Design: The Hartlepool United outfield (left) and goalkeeper’s shirt made by O’Neills

Design: The Hartlepool United outfield (left) and goalkeeper’s shirt made by O’Neills

An Ulster Unionist MLA has welcomed the production by leading GAA kit manufacturer O'Neills of a striking Remembrance Day jersey for an English football club.

The Hartlepool FC commemorative strip features a wartime RAF Spitfire emblazoned across the chest and back, with the O'Neills logo in a prominent position. It costs £39.99.

The Irish firm's main factory here is in Strabane and it has a history of close links to the GAA stretching back to the early years of the last century.

Unveiling the new shirt, the club said: "Hartlepool United are delighted to launch the 2020 Remembrance shirt which this year will show our gratitude to the service personnel who gave their lives in the Battle of Britain fought over the summer and autumn of 1940, 80 years ago."

Acting executive director Martin Jesper added: "This is a tradition that deserves its continuation so we can show our respect to all service personnel.

"Our respect goes to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. After initial consultation with supporter group representatives it was agreed that this year the club should recognise the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and it seemed appropriate the representation of the RAF fighter was front and centre of this year's kit."

The jersey got a mixed reaction on social media, with many fans pointing out the Spitfire was not a jet fighter, and that it was unusual for a Remembrance Day souvenir kit not to feature a poppy emblem.

But Doug Beattie, a decorated former serviceman, reckons the unique shirt is a winner.

"O'Neills should be congratulated on producing such a fine shirt for Hartlepool United to mark Remembrance weekend," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"There are fewer more stirring sights and sounds than a Spitfire, and 80 years on from the Battle of Britain, Hartlepool will proudly be sporting that iconic image on their shirt.

"It is particularly fitting that the shirt should be made by a Northern Ireland company, given that the last surviving Battle of Britain fighter pilot is an Irishman, John Hemingway, born in Dublin in 1919 and who is now living in a retirement home back in his home city.

"The shirt is a tribute to the heroism of men like him and his comrades and keeps the memory of their bravery alive."

O'Neills were contacted for a comment on the new Hartlepool United jersey, but the firm had not responded by the time of going to press.

Belfast Telegraph