THE two remaining members of Derry City’s 1954 Irish Cup winning team, Willie Curran and Charlie Heffron will be special guests at Brandywell Stadium tonight in recognition of their achievements.
And while it will also be a sad occasion as the club remembers the legendary Arthur ‘Mousey’ Brady who passed away last weekend, Derry City supporters will get the opportunity to meet the surviving members of that historic team at a special function at Badgers Bar.
Derry man Curran is a regular on Derry City match days, however, former goalkeeper, Charlie Heffron, who joined the ‘Candy Stripes’ in the summer of 1953, will travel from Cushendall to attend the Derry City v Longford match.
Heffron - who celebrates his 89th birthday next month - was signed by Derry City officials from the long-since defunct Third Division club, Bradford Park Avenue, for a transfer fee of £500.
He had been with the English club for four years, as a full-time professional footballer. Before that, he had spells with Brantwood, Ballymena United, Shorts and Larne.
Born on August 13, 1927 (he celebrates his 89th birthday next month), he was one month younger than his near-neighbour in west Belfast, the infamous ‘Mousey’ Brady.
Both started in soccer with Springfied Amateurs in west Belfast, and when both were playing senior club Gaelic football and hurling with the Belfast O’Connell’s club.
Heffron was back-up goalkeeper for Antrim’s 1946 Minor football team that played Down in the Ulster Minor football championship at Newcastle.
Both Heffron and Brady were kicked out of the GAA,for breaking the once-dreaded Rule 27, for playing soccer.
Fittingly, Heffron coaxed his buddy Brady, who was buried at Hannahstown today (Wed July 13,2016), to follow him to the Brandywell. Brady was signed two months into the 1953/1954 Irish League season, and two months before the legendary Jimmy Delaney joined the club.
From there, it was a meteoric rise by the Derry City team, sensationally beating holders Linfield in an Irish Cup semi-final replay--- during which Heffron was the hero when saving a penalty taken by Blues legend Tommy ‘The Duke’ Dickson.
In the second Cup final replay against Glentoran the catlike reflexes of ‘safe hands’ Heffron played a key role in the winning the the trophy.
Heffron always placed the Derry City revival that season down to the signing of the history making Scot, Jimmy Delaney, who was then 39 years of age when he arrived at Derry City.
The Candy Stripes gelled from near-bottom of the league to the top of the pile.
The Irish Cup run started with a 1-0 win against Ballymena United at the Brandywell, then a 2-0 replay result against Bangor at Clandeboye Park.
This catapulted the unfashionable Candy Stripes into an uphill semi-final contest against the holders Linfield, resulting in a draw and then a replay win at Cliftonville.
Derry City roared into the final on a high, from a 1-0 result against the cast-iron favourites, Linfield - thanks to Heffron’s blinding penalty stop, and a sensational scissors-kick goal by Delaney, from a ‘Mousey’ Brady free kick.