LURGAN is preparing to welcome a very special visitor next month.
Thanks to a chance email from the secretary of the local Manchester City Supporters’ Club, the Premier League trophy is coming to town on Thursday, October 11.
Walter Mitchell, secretary of Gilford MCSC, explained how it came about: “City sent out an email to all affiliated clubs about bringing the trophy on tour to supporters’ clubs as part of the ‘City In The Community’ scheme,” he said.
“I chanced my arm and emailed Kevin Parker, who’s the head of the Amalgamated City Supporters’ Clubs, asking if there was any chance they could stop off in Lurgan.
“Kevin emailed back and asked where Lurgan was and I told him it was just off the motorway and would be an easy stop off. When he replied to confirm they could make a visit to Lurgan I couldn’t believe it.”
Gilford MCSC is the oldest affiliated Man City supporters’ club in Ireland. It began in Banbridge but has since been relocated to the Institute in Lurgan.
Chairman of the club Ian Uprichard said: “This is a big coup for the club and for Lurgan. We’re having the trophy the night before a big dinner in the Glenavon hotel in Cookstown to celebrate winning the league. The trophy will be there too.”
Ian continued: “This trophy is the ‘Real McCoy’, not some replica that you see on Match of the Day. It’s being delivered by Securicor and there will be bodyguards to look after it.”
Walter added: “This is the first and probably the last time the Premier League Trophy will be in Lurgan.”
Also attending the event in the bottom lounge of the Institute will be Gary Owen, a City star from the seventies, and Kevin Parker.
Walter commented: “What started out with me chancing my arm has turned into a huge event.
“There’s a supporters’ club coming from Donegal. The trophy will be here for a couple of hours and there will be a PA system so speeches can be made from the guests.
“Afterwards Ronnie Mac will be providing the entertainment. The plan is to make a real night of this.”
Ian commented: “This is not just for City fans. It’s open to all football fans.”
The trophy will be in the Institute from 8pm on Thursday, October 11. The event is not ticketed and people can come along on the night and be signed in to the club which is usually members only.