The north- west greyhound fraternity have recreated a piece of Derry history as they handed in a petition calling for racing to be safeguarded for future generations.
‘Doggie’ men and women gathered on Shipquay Street yesterday to hand over the ‘Save Greyhound Racing at Brandywell, Derry City’ petition on the exact spot where their predecessors gathered in the 1930s to launch greyhound racing in the city.
Front and centre of the old black and white photograph (inset) and pictured with the black greyhound was legendary local boxer Jimmy ‘Spider’ Kelly. The picture was taken outside the former Palace Theatre (where The River Inn/ Silver Street are today).
In the recreation yesterday, Jimmy Kelly’s great grandson Connor Coyle, himself an Irish international boxer and Commonwealth Games medallist, occupied the same spot.
A total of 3,051 signatures have been collected so far for the petition, Around 2,500 were collected in person, while over 500 signatures poured in from the global greyhound racing network, with support expressed from all tracks across Ireland.
The petition, which features the old photograph on its cover, was presented to Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher, Vice-Chair of Derry & Strabane Council’s Health and Community Committee.
The petition states that “the Brandywell stadium redevelopment must be viable for the Brandywell Greyhound Racing Company to deliver racing in the City of Derry.”
The petition elaborates that ‘viable’ relates to timescales for redevelopment, costs and facilities which enable the retention of decades of greyhound racing to continue at Brandywell, adding that racing has been part of the site’s rich history since 1932, adding: “It is a thriving cross community sport that survived the Troubles and it continues to strengthen community bonds through their passion for the racing greyhound.”
It also states: “Greyhound racing is integral to the cultural experience that this great City offers.”