Belfast Telegraph

Streets of Brandywell echo to sounds of kids having a ball in memory of Derry City star Ryan McBride

By Donna Deeney

The Brandywell was awash with colour as hundreds of young people remembered one of their own in a day of street football organised by the Ryan McBride Foundation.

The late Derry City captain passed away in March 2017 at his home in the area, where his contribution to football has never been forgotten.

McBride played 177 games for the Candystripes and wore the captain's armband on 57 occasions.

Yesterday his former team-mates joined family members for a day of fun and football - not just for the young people, but for every member of the local community.

Gareth McCay of the Ryan McBride Foundation and brother-in-law of the defender, said the 'Day For Ryan McBride' was one of the most significant events for the family.

He said: "Ryan learned his football on the streets of the Brandywell, when it was allowed to play ball games on the streets.

"We wanted an event for the young people which would capture the way Ryan first played the game.

"The streets have all been closed off and there will be games of five-a-side, the way Ryan would have played.

"The whole idea of street football has been lost because there are so many places that have signs saying 'No ball games' or the children play football electronically on an Xbox, so this is a way of bringing it back to the way Ryan played the game.

"The Derry City team are here and the kids will get a chance to play knockout and penalty shoot-outs against them.

"We organised this for the first time last year and there was such a magnificent response to it, that we decided to extend it to include the whole community this year.

"There are bouncy castles, a music stage and a free barbecue, so there will be a bit of street party feel about it too.

"This is one of the most important days in the calender for Ryan's family because Ryan was a Brandywell man before he was a Derry man.

"He is still idolised in the Brandywell, which was shown by the massive mural they put up of him at the Long Tower."

Later this year the results of a consultation process over the possibility of changing the name of the Brandywell Stadium to the Ryan McBride Stadium will be published.

Derry and Strabane District Council, which owns the stadium, launched an online survey to give the public a say on whether the stadium name is changed from The Brandywell.

As part of this process an online poll was available from April until July to allow people to vote either yes or no on the renaming of the ground.

Derry City and Strabane District Council said that a "report outlining full details of the consultation will come before members of the health and communities committee in the autumn for consideration".

The family have previously stated their dislike of this process.

Ryan's sister Caitlin McBride said: "Renaming the stadium in Ryan's memory has the support of the Brandywell residents and Derry City Football Club, but it seems this isn't enough for the council.

"It is a bit distasteful; it is akin to a popularity contest for Ryan, who isn't here, and we are still mourning his loss."

Belfast Telegraph

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