THE SISTER of the late Ryan McBride has expressed her relief after the decision to rename Brandywell Stadium in his honour was officially ratified by Council yesterday.
It was a ‘bittersweet’ moment for Caitlín and the McBride family when it was confirmed by Derry City and Strabane District Council that the home of Derry City Football Club will now be known as ‘The Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium’.
It’s proved an, at times, divisive, pain-staking process which culminated in a public consultation that saw 71% of the 6,549 public respondents come out in favour of renaming the stadium after the Derry City captain who died tragically 18 months ago, aged 27.
The Brandywell native will now be immortalised at a ground where he spent seven years representing his hometown club just yards from his family home.
“I didn’t think it would ever come to a close but we’re all glad it’s over and that it’s going ahead,” said Caitlin. “His name can now live on at the stadium.
“I think it’s a feeling of relief more than anything else,” she added. “We didn’t know until the very end of the process what was going to come of it.
“It was a long, drawn out process but we’re just glad it’s over and it’s the result we all wanted.
“Some of the comments about the name change were difficult to read. They weren’t nice but there were some lovely comments about Ryan as well.
“It has been a difficult path for everybody but knowing that you have something to look forward to with the Ryan McBride Foundation and knowing you are making that bit of an impact on peoples’ lives eases the blow a bit.
“It’s a bittersweet moment. As much as I would love to go down to the Brandywell to see him play, it’s the next best thing to have his name on it and for people to hear his story and ask who he was.
“It’s such a great complex within the Brandywell where Ryan was born and bred. He played in that stadium from no age and the streets around it and to have his name embedded on it is a great legacy.
“I just want to say a massive thank you to all of those who voted and supported us along the way.”
It's the second piece of good news received by the Ryan McBride Foundation this week following the award of a £10,000 grant through Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All programme.
“Ryan was passionate about working with young people, and going into local schools was a big part of his life, so for us to be able to carry on his work through the foundation is amazing. This project is something he would’ve been part of if he was here so I’m proud that we are improving young peoples’ lives in his name."