DERRY CITY past players and supporters paid tributes to former skipper, Ryan McBride at the Brandywell Stadium on Friday night, 12 months on from his tragic death.
Described as 'Derry City's Duncan Edwards' - one of the heroes of Manchester United's all-conquering Busby Babes by one fan and a man with a heart 'as big as the Brandywell' by another, City supporters recalled their favourite memories of the courageous defender.
Former City manager and centre half, Tony O'Doherty called Ryan 'a throwback' and a player who played for the shirt while ex-Derry Chairman, Jack McCauley said 'he really fought for the Brandywell, because he was from the Brandywell."
The number five, worn by Ryan with such pride at his hometown club proved significant at Brandywell on the week leading up to his first anniversary as Derry put five past both Limerick and Bray Wanderers to mark their return to the ground.
Against Limerick last Monday the stadium was lit up with the light from mobile phones held in the air in a poignant tribute to the fearless centre half during the fifth minute of the game and Kenny Shiels noted afterwards that it was fitting the first goal scored at the new Brandywell was scored into what he named 'the Ryan McBride End' which backs onto the family home of the late Derry City skipper.
There were five different scorers in the 5-1 win over Bray with Rory Patterson, Ronan Curtis, Aaron McEneff, Ronan Hale and David Hopkirk, all wearing Ryan's name and number stitched onto their shirts, all scoring in the victory which moved Derry into fifth place in the table.
At the half-time interval 'Captain McBride', the charity single dedicated to the defender recorded by Scottish folk band 'The Clelanders' was played over the tannoy as thoughts once again turned to the inspirational gentle giant.
All proceeds from that single go to The Ryan McBride Foundation which was set up last year in the aftermath of Ryan’s death. The foundation, set up by the McBride family, aims to support, assist and inspire the next generation of young players in Ryan's name.
"We got Ryan McBride out of Saturday Morning football, he wasn't academy trained, didn't have all these great first touches but he had something you can't buy - a heart as big as a house. In fact a heart as big as the Brandywell," added Mr O'Doherty.
"A player of Ryan's calibre is very, very hard to replace," continued City supporter, Hugh Curran. "He was a leader and a tiger on the pitch and as everybody knows a complete gentleman off the pitch. Ryan McBride was Mr Derry City and Derry City will never replace Ryan McBride."