PETER HUTTON has described Derry City’s inspirational captain, Ryan McBride as ‘Derry’s rock’ who wore the armband with distinction.
The former Derry City manager and skipper said he was finding it hard to come to terms with the devastating and sudden loss of a man he regarded as a ‘rough diamond’.
Hutton handed McBride the captain’s armband ahead of the 2015 League of Ireland campaign and recalled how he ‘skipped out of the room’ and was beaming with pride when asked him to represent his hometown club.
McBride had said at the time ‘it’s a dream come true’ and Hutton felt he was made for the role.
“The captain’s role was just made for him,” said Hutton. “When I was choosing it there was nobody else, I just had to make sure Ryan was okay with it but I didn’t really need to ask him.
“He was beaming and wore it with pride. I know what it meant to him to lead his team out in front of his family.
“When I said to him about the captaincy he went out of the room skipping. He came in with his tail between his legs thinking there was something wrong but when I asked him if he would be captain, his smile would have lit up the room. He was very proud and honoured.
“It meant so much to him coming from the Brandywell and with his father, Lexie, being a footballer too. He made his family proud.
“He was a lovely lovely lad and it’s just so sad to hear the news. The bigger the challenge he faced he would rise to it. He was just a rock.
“He was Derry ‘s rock and everything was built on Ryan.”
To be honest I’m numb and in shock. It’s hard to fathom. He was a young, fit lad coming into his prime and to be taken away suddenly, it just doesn’t make sense.Peter Hutton
When Hutton was choosing his captain, he was concerned that McBride, a ‘shy and quiet’ man off the field, would be reluctant to fufil the media obligations required by the role but wasn’t surprised when the Brandywell lad tackled it with his typical gusto.
“He was absolutely delighted, he was ‘Derry’ through and through,” added Hutton. “From watching him up close I knew he had the right characteristics for the role.
“In some ways he reminded me a bit about myself. He wouldn’t have been overly vocal person in the changing room. He wasn’t that type of captain. But when he crossed that white line he led by example. He was inspirational in terms of how he went about his work.
“He always lived his life right and was the type of role model you wanted in the team for young aspiring players.
“Given the fact he had a bit of a stammer as well, I spoke to Ryan about that before I gave him the captaincy and highlighted the fact there would be more emphasis placed on him doing interviews with the media and TV appearances and asked would he be comfortable with that?
“I actually thought it might help him and I’m glad he felt the same. It was just typical Ryan, it wasn’t going to hold him back.
“He wanted the captaincy and appreciated he would be doing a lot more of the media work as part of that. His stammer wasn’t going to impact on that at all.
“He really grew into the captain’s role. Again it was typical Ryan at the start when he tried to adjust to the role he went in with one or two rash tackles but that was him trying too hard, trying to impress. He matured a bit more and was really suited to it.
“The family has had a lot of tragedy to deal with following the loss of his mum but even his extended family. He’s a young fella who was very level headed, very grounded and worked extremely hard to improve his game. He was a rough diamond. A class young fella who went about his business in a quiet manner. He led others by example.”
“It’s just absolutely devastating. To be honest I’m numb and in shock. It’s hard to fathom. He was a young, fit lad coming into his prime and to be taken away suddenly, it just doesn’t make sense.
“He was only going to get better in the coming years as he matured. It’s devatastating for him and his young girlfriend, Mairead. They were just starting their lives together, they had plans and it’s just heartbreaking. It’s hard to believe after Mark Farren, and now young Ryan as well, in the mouth of young Josh Daniels family’s tragedy as well. It’s just devastating.”