A few weeks ago Ian McClurg Learn Perform sponsored a game for the club that my Dad and I played for back in Northern Ireland. The club, Ballynahinch United, is special to my family as my Dad played, managed and served on the committee of the club before we moved to Canada in 1981.
My Dad also sponsored the club through his business McClurg Developments/Patio Pavers and it was the club where I was first given the opportunity to transition into men's football (with several of my other young teammates) at the age of 14.
I am delighted to see the strength of the club's academy program and that they are continuing to put their trust in young players by playing them in the 1st and 2nd teams.
The club recently announced ambitious plans for their new club house and I look forward to visiting the club again shortly to see the new clubhouse.
Keep up the great work everyone. As we saw last Saturday with Wrexham, football clubs play a massive role in their local communities. I look back fondly at my time at Ballynahinch United and consider it a very valuable stepping stone to everything else that I have achieved in the game.
LIKE all sporting clubs Ballynahinch United is most grateful to receive match day sponsorships from businesses and individuals.
However, recently Ballynahinch United received a special donation from Canada in memory of one of the club’s former players, manager and sponsor, Derek McClurg.
The club is most grateful to Derek’s son, Ian, a former Swifts player himself, for his generosity which had more than a touch of nostalgia associ- ated with it.
I am sure that there are many in the East Down area who will remember Derek even though he emigrated to Canada in 1981.
He had been born in Downpatrick on January 11, 1943, and went to Down High School. He rep- resented and captained the school in rugby and cricket, but football was his first love.
He went on to have trials at Stoke City in England and eventually signed for Port Vale before returning home to sign for Glentoran – which, as Ian joked, the family do not mention as they are all Linfield supporters.
A successful local businessman, he set up McClurg Developments and Patio Pavers, the brand synonymous with Ballynahinch United teams of the late 1970s and 1980s.
When Derek retired from playing, he went on to manage the Swifts until the family decided to emigrate to Canada in 1981.
He would go on to run his own business in Can-ada and became an environmental consultant be- fore his retirement but sadly, he passed away in 2019.
Numerous photographs adorn the walls of the Ballynahinch United clubhouse which emphasised Derek’s work and support of the club which with- in a few years would lead to it gaining intermediate status and take over the Millbridge complex which it continues to develop.