Ryan McBride: A Derry City legend who always gave 100%

A tribute left to Ryan McBride
A tribute left to Ryan McBride

Ryan McBride is painted onto the walls of his native Brandywell.

His expression is determined, much like his performances as a gritty centre back who always gave 100%.

A tribute to Ryan McBride

A tribute to Ryan McBride

He took his place among the sporting greats immortalised as street art in this proud but hurting community.

The message on the wall reads, poignantly: "Brandywell past and present. You are the future."

It is a district made famous by the exploits of its club, Derry City.

The Candystripes have been playing in Republic of Ireland competitions for three decades.

They withdrew from Northern Ireland's Irish League in 1972 after fellow clubs voted against a proposal for Derry City to return to play home games at the Brandywell ground.

Security concerns the year before had led them to playing home matches in Coleraine along the North Coast.

Derry City became the first to win the League of Ireland's league and cup treble in 1989.

Today, Ireland's president Michael D Higgins has expressed the condolences of the nation.

Former Republic goalkeeper Shay Given and current international James McClean are among those paying tribute.

But in Brandywell this was a very personal tragedy.

Close family of Mr McBride gathered in silence outside his terraced home a few yards from the ground's Brandywell gate.

When asked for comment they just stared in silence.

Mr McBride was a brother, a son, a partner.

A leader on the pitch, and a barman in one of the city's most famous pubs off it.

A legend to fans who have followed the club for decades, through good and bad times.

Hugh Curran from the Brandywell supporters' club said: "The word legend is bandied about an awful lot but Ryan is a Derry City legend.

"He is an absolute giant of a man, an absolute giant of a player, and an absolute giant of a leader on and off the pitch."

Mr Curran has followed Derry City since the 1960s.

"Ryan will be very sorely missed by all connected to Derry City.

"He was the captain but above all of that if you ask any of our younger players and any of the young guys about Derry City they just look up to Ryan.

"Ryan was just naturally a leader, on the pitch."

Mr Curran added: "Off the pitch he was a very shy and quiet family man but put the red and white shirt on him and he turned into an absolute lion."

Mr McBride worked at Peadar O'Donnell's bar in the city centre.

Mr Curran said: "He was very popular as a barman - very popular in everything he did."

The ground itself has been churned up by workmen carrying out an extensive renovation, and the team has been forced to decamp to nearby County Donegal for home fixtures.

But near the Brandywell gate a team jersey has been pinned, and tributes will pile up over the coming days.

Derry City manager Kenny Shiels said the players loved Ryan and he was the perfect example to any young player coming through.

"Ryan never gave 99%."