OPINION: Derry City Story sets the example

I’m pretty sure you’ve all watched it. The great film by Guy King with the help of Vinny Cunningham and others, “Different League: The Derry City Story”. It was a great documentary chronicling the return of the club to senior football and just some of the people who got them there.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 12:27 pm
The late, great Terry Kelly, captain, Derry City FC, making a presentation on behalf of the club to trainer Dan Watson in recognition of his services to the Brandywell outfit.

I had my own very personal reasons to watch and enjoy it.

It was a story of leadership and ambition, of community and pride.

It was the great Terry Harkin’s idea. Fed up with rejection, ‘if the IFA don’t want us, then let’s head South’ and in the middle of the film, my father’s old partner at centre half, Tony O’Doherty, proclaimed “when you’re told something cannot happen, it’s an invitation to make it happen”.

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But at times our city has an incredible ability to talk ourselves and those around us down.

Too many easily find 100 ways to say something can’t be done rather than exert all energies to find that one way to get it done.

If we are to realise our economic ambitions then, just like the four central characters in the film and others like Martin McDaid, Jimbo Crossan, Fran Fields and countless more, we need to believe, build alliances and celebrate and support those who will make it happen.

People like current Derry City FC Chairman Philip O’Doherty embody the pride and belief so evident in “Different League”; our largest homegrown employer with hundreds of local people enjoying the dignity of work on both sides of the border thanks to his leadership.

The same too for Kieran Hegarty, the Global President of the multi-billion dollar materials processing business of the US owned giant, Terex who last year opened a new manufacturing plant in Campsie.

Others like Paul Diamond and Ian Doherty (both no strangers to Derry City) or Gavin Killeen, George Fleming, Liam Gallagher and Patrick McGonagle have established globally respected manufacturing businesses from their home town. These people have done it in Derry because Derry is part of who they are but they also prove that this is a great place to make great products because we have great people.

No doubt when an investor was choosing a location anywhere in the world to establish an almost exclusively export focused manufacturing business, Derry may not have always been top of their list but our City is now well positioned to finally grab some economic success.

The City Deal investment is getting closer, our infrastructure is finally improving and right now the Brexit Protocol provides us with the unique opportunity to trade goods freely to both the UK and the EU.

There has never been a better time to be loud and proud about what a great place this is to live, work and set up a business. As Eamonn McCann said in the film, “there is a moment when people think, simultaneously in large numbers, we can do this”. Now is the time to believe that we can make it happen so support your local team, support your local entrepreneurs and of course buy your local paper!