Newry City become first club in Northern Ireland to establish Past Players Association
Newry City AFC are proud to announce the establishment of their Past Players Association – the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.
The group aims to bring past players from the club – from any era, irrespective of the amount of appearances they made for The Showgrounds side – together in an informal and relaxed setting to play matches, but more importantly maintain the connection between those who have worn the blue and white stripes in the past and the current club.
The idea for the group was borne out of the two recent Newry City Legends fundraising matches against their counterparts from both Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC, the Association.
Dean Holmes – Irish FA Club Development Officer
“We’re here to help the club in any way we possibly can. We’ve recently gone through a restructuring in terms of the IFA Foundation, and club development is going to be a major part of what we do going forward. We’re looking at the wellbeing of current and past players, making sure that as soon as you become part of a club that you’re always going to be part of that club.
“It’s fantastic that Newry are doing that and becoming the first club in Northern Ireland to do it. What we hope to do it to use Newry City as a model of best practice and replicate that across Northern Ireland.
“What these guys have done on the pitch, the current first team players and Youth team players can gain a massive amount form it.
“There seems to be a common misconception that as soon as you finish playing on a pitch that you’re done with a football club. Newry City are showing that is very much not the case.”
‘You have lads there who maybe haven’t been around the club in a while or haven’t seen the team play and now they’re back involved.
“It’s hugely important from a mental health and social point of view. Whilst you have legends like Ollie Ralph and Harry Fay involved, you have people like me – 1990 Reserve Player of the Year! You’re going from one extreme to the other. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’ve kicked a ball for the club and want to be involved then we want to have you there.
“There’s a massive void once you stop playing football. I noticed that myself. I jumped from playing straight into coaching and then management. That was great for me and a great substitute for playing, but other people don’t always have that.
“It’s knowing that there’s an outlet for people to come along and meet up with familiar faces. Whether you’ve played one game or 100 games for the club, it doesn’t matter. It’s inclusive and there isn’t an onus on people to be involved in everything that goes on – but it’s to know that there’s something there for them.
“It’s about players’ wellbeing. There’s a vacuum after you stop playing and coaching or managing, so it’s great to meet up with old friends and be associated with the club again and deliver something to the club. It has a universally positive effect on everybody.
“The club has always been very welcoming to past players in an informal way. Now, they can hopefully support us in our games. We’d like to replicate that and do things for the club in some capacity.
“It’s great to the club to be proactive with something like this.”
“This club has always been known throughout Northern Ireland as a community club and this brings it to another level and shows what they’re still prepared to do for past players.
“The two Legends matches we played, against Liverpool and Manchester United, it was incredible to meet so many old friends, colleagues, past team-mates and even players who I played against for other teams. It’s a special feeling to be among those people you played with.
“I would encourage any past Newry players to come down and get involved.”
The Newry City Past Players Association was officially launched recently with past players from different eras meeting up, joined by Irish Football Association Club Development Officer Dean Holmes.
The Newry City Past Players’ Association will play a charity fundraising match at the Newry Showgrounds this Saturday, October 21st at 6.15pm against a Banbridge Town Legends team, with all proceeds going to Southern Area Hospice Services.
CONTACT: For more information or to join the Newry City Past Players Association, email firstname.lastname@example.org
PIC 1: Newry City Past Players at the launch of the Past Players Association at The Showgrounds
PIC 2: Newry City Past Players, along with IFA Club Development Officer Dean Holmes and NCAFC Committee Members Pat Craven, Paddy McGrath and Vice-Chairman Gary Wilson at the launch of the Past Players Association at The Showgrounds.