Ron ‘Yorkie’ Manley, Glentoran goalscoring legend of the 80s
Irish League football legend of the Eighties Ron Manley, who passed away suddenly on Thursday, was more than just a Glentoran hero.
Ron, who was aged 56, remained part of the fabric of the club over the three decades since he hung up his goalscoring boots due to a recurring back injury.
Educated at Grosvenor High and east Belfast born and raised, he rarely missed a match at The Oval, supporting the club as a boy, progressing through the youth team ranks to become a celebrated league and cup winner and recently, when the club fell on hard times financially, insisted on paying through the turnstiles even though he held a club membership giving him free admission.
He was also a passionate defender of the club on supporter internet forums.
A popular character, as well as a brilliant goalscoring talent, the lorry driver was known throughout the Irish League as 'Yorkie'. The nickname came from the trucker featured in a 1970s TV advert for Yorkie chocolate bars.
A prolific goalscoring centre forward, Ron made his first team debut as a 17-year-old substitute in a 2-1 Ulster Cup victory over Portadown at Shamrock Park on August 28, 1979, scoring his first two goals that November in a 4-1 home win over Larne.
He finished his Glentoran career 13 years, 376 appearances and 138 goals later on February 8, 1992 in a 5-1 home win over Glenavon.
His medals as a Glens player included two league championships and four Irish Cups. He finished his playing career at Cliftonville, where he was also a very popular figure.
In a tribute on the Glentoran website last night, director and lifelong admirer Ian Clarke said: "There are some players you just identify with more than others. Ron Manley was one of mine and I'm sure for lots of my generation. He was part of so many great days in his 13 years as a first teamer that it's impossible for anyone of our generation not to feel a real sense of loss.
"I once saw him score five goals in a game against Bangor.
"My absolute favourite memory, though, was a hat-trick in a nine-goal home hammering of Larne in 1983, possibly the most complete Glens performance I've ever seen, with Yorkie leading the way."