‘Freedom of the City’ for ‘Gentleman Jim’

May 1989; The Derry City manager Jim McLaughlin  lines up along side his team before the start of the Cup Final. FAI Cup Final. Derry City v Cork City. Dalymount Park. Soccer. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
May 1989; The Derry City manager Jim McLaughlin lines up along side his team before the start of the Cup Final. FAI Cup Final. Derry City v Cork City. Dalymount Park. Soccer. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Former Derry City F.C. manager, Jim McLaughlin, is to be conferred with the Freedom of the City following a unanimous decision at a special council meeting in Derry last night.

Mr McLaughlin will now join the ranks of John Hume, Bishops Edward Daly and James Mehaffey and Foyle Hospice founder Dr Tom McGinley in being bestowed with such a high honour.

Jim McLaughlin led Derry City FC to that historic treble back in 1989, when at Dalymount Park the Candy Stripes defeated Cork 1-0 in the FAI Cup final reply. With that success, they also completed the “treble” of domestic trophies that season - the only team to ever do so.

Tributes were paid to Mr McLaughlin’s long and distinguished career during the special meeting in the Guildhall, convened at the request of Independent Councillor Sean Carr, who proposed the special honour. Colr. Carr said: “Jim’s record in League of Ireland football is second to none and he is the only manager to have won the treble.”

Colr. Carr said there was footage showing Mr McLaughlin being carried onto the pitch after the historic achievement, and that he remains in high esteem right through to this day.

Sinn Fein Colr. Christopher Jackson said he and his party were “proud” to support the proposal “in recognition of his achievements on the football pitch” and also for the “sense of pride” he brought to Derry.

He added that the extended family were also “tremendously proud that Jim’s achievements were being acknowledged” and were very much looking forward to the official ceremony.

Formally seconding the proposal, SDLP Colr. Brian Tierney said: “People in this city and on this island will know the high regard in which Jim McLaughlin is held. This is a fitting tribute to him. Literally thousands travelled the length and breadth of Ireland to watch the team he was in charge of.”

Independent Colr. Warren Robinson said Jim McLaughlin’s achievements remain unrivalled before or since “and for that alone Jim deserves special recognition.” He added that feedback from the men who played under Jim during his time with Derry indicated that they were fully behind the accolade being conferred.

Mayor Colr. John Boyle agreed that the accolade was “entirely appropriate” for such a sporting hero, with the date of the special ceremony to be fixed in the coming weeks.