DERRY City has been served by many loyal supporters down through the decades but, in Sally McKeever (pictured), the “Candy Stripes” can be thankful for a woman who was a very special mother figure.
Sally, who lost her devoted husband, Billy, back in 1998, passed away on Thursday of last week, March 21st. She was 80 years old.
Born and reared in the Pennyburn area of Derry, the former Sally Kerr developed an early interest in football and, indeed, it was at the Brandywell where she met her life-long companion, Billy.
Both ardent followers of Derry City when the club plied its trade in the Irish League, Billy and Sally’s love for the Brandywell club was rejuvenated back in 1985 when, led by Jimbo Crossan, Derry returned to senior football under the auspices of the Football Association of Ireland.
Billy and Sally regularly travelled the length and breadth of the country following their favourite football team, thoroughly enjoying the social life which has always been associated with those away trips.
Of course, they never missed the Brandywell and, while Billy’s passing certainly took its toll on her, Sally re-grouped and returned to her favourite pastime, regularly making her presence felt to managers and club directors alike.
In recent years, Sally was to be found on the periphery of the Press Box in the old Glentoran Stand where it was my fortnightly duty to supply the official team-sheet or, indeed, face the wrath of a wonderful lady who regularly supplied the Press benches with sweets.
Sally was a highly popular member of the Northside Derry City Supporters’ Club and relished the companionship and friendship she received for so long within that grouping.
Small in stature, Sally had a bit heart. In times of trouble within the club, she baked her cakes and auctioned her wares on behalf of her beloved ‘Candy Stripes’, firm in her view that Derry, without the representation of senior football club, would be a very lonely place.
Sally brought joy and laughter to her fellow supporters in the Northside club and, while she doted on the club’s playing staff, a few leading officials can atest to being on the receiving end of a bit of a tongue-lashing during times of tension.
Sally’s Requiem Mass took place at St. Joseph’s Church, Galliagh, on Saturday last. Wearing her Derry City jersey and with club memoribilia decorating the inside of her coffin, she was laid to rest beside her husband Billy in the City Cemetery.
Sally leaves behind a daughter, Sandra, and two sons, Brendan and Paul, to whom the sincere sympathy of the community is extended.
May she rest in peace. A.D.