Everybody at Newry City AFC extends their deepest sympathy to the Family Circle of Paddy Durkan, who passed away in his 90th year on the 12th March at a nursing home in Eastleigh, South of England.
Paddy was a magnificent defensive stalwart for Newry Town in a period of six years from 1948 to 1954, when the club played in The Irish Intermediate League.
A native of Crossmaglen, he came from a footballing family (His younger Brother Walter was an outstanding goalkeeper in the Irish League with Glenavon for a number of years). After a spell in Youth Football, Paddy began to make a name for himself in the Dundalk & District League with Avenue Celtic F.C. After a short period he signed for Dundalk FC and made his first team debut in the League of Ireland during the 1942-43 season. He continued to perform with distinction for Dundalk, winning two League of Ireland runners up awards in the 1942-43 and 1947-48 seasons plus a Shield winner’s award during 1946-47.
At the beginning of the 1948-49 season Paddy signed for Newry Town and made his debut on the 21st August 1948 when Linfield Swifts were visitors in the Irish Intermediate League. This game was a real gala occasion for The Town as it signaled the official opening of The Showgrounds as the club’s new playing venue. Prior to that Newry had lost their spacious superb playing pitch known as The Marshes and had used their compensation to develop the new adjoining ground at The Showgrounds.
Continuing as a top class central defender (He actually favoured the full back position) Paddy was voted Town Player of The Year at the end of the 1949-50 season by the club’s fans. At the Prize Presentation he was described by a spokesman for the fans as “A very loyal, dedicated and magnificent player. A player who plays without wages despite being a professional and who could step back into senior football at anytime, but prefers to continue playing for The Town”. When Bob Bryson, the ex Linfield and Shamrock Rovers pivot took over as Newry Player Manager during the 1950-51 season, he and Paddy formed a terrific defensive partnership in the Intermediate League.
Paddy’s great efforts were rewarded by The Town at the end of the 1953-54 season when the club organized a testimonial game for him at The Showgrounds against a full strength Linfield. The special Newry Town selection included his younger brother Walter who had been starring for Glenavon as a goalkeeper and a host of big names from The Irish League and The League of Ireland.
During his lengthy spell with The Town, Paddy’s teammates had included a host of top class players, names like George Chambers, Albert Parkes, Jimmy Richardson, Harold Martin, Alex Reid, Tom Hagan, Gerry Fegan, Eddie McNeill, Teddy McNeill, Stanley Kidd, John Ruddy, Dickie Greer, Jack McKee, Bothwell Vennard, and Vincent Gilmore.
Soon after his testimonial game, Paddy emigrated to England, where he continued to play for a few more seasons in local leagues with Works teams, before retiring and taking up refereeing duties.