School friends are reunited after 60 years

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Former Lurgan man Pat McAtasney enjoyed a step back in time last Saturday as he returned to Mourneview Park for the first time since 1955.

Pat and his wife Mary, son Niall and his partner Chris were special guests of Glenavon Football Club.

Pat, pictured centre, looks at the old school picture of the young Lurgan Tech pupils along with Jim Gregson left and Jim Hewitt.

Pat, pictured centre, looks at the old school picture of the young Lurgan Tech pupils along with Jim Gregson left and Jim Hewitt.

There was also a surprise in store when two of his former class mates from Lurgan Tech also arrived with a school photograph of the young men back in 1952.

Jim Gregson and Jim Greer had not seen Pat since those days in the Tech.

Pat was born in Sloan Street and at the age of 17 he joined the Navy after spotting an ad in a newspaper.

After finishing his service he settled in Southampton with his wife Mary.

“It certainly has changed a lot since I was last here,” remarked Pat who blamed all the focus of attention on his visit to Lurgan on his brother Bosco.

“Meeting my old school mates was a pleasant surprise and our shared memories were full of fondness. The old school photos really did dig up the past.

“The boardroom reception was full of warmth and friendship. My sincere thanks to the chairman and committee for the wonderful hospitality. We were made to feel special and felt honoured. My wife Mary, son Niall and Chris loved the way we were looked after.

“The ground and stand are highly improved since my early days...there is even a press box now.”

Pat may not have got the result he wanted with Glenavon losing 7-3, but he still enjoyed the occasion.

“The players on both sides play the game with much more sportsmanship, without the theatrics of diving and delaying tactics I see in the English game,” added Pat who is a season ticket holder at Southampton FC.

“The referee has an easier time as the players are not in his face all the time.

“We sat among Crusaders staff and had amicable exchanges of points of view, without any rancour, something that just could not happen in England these days.

“Back in the boardroom after the game, I was invited to have photos taken of me holding up the Irish cup, one of the oldest cups in football history. A perfect finish to the day.”