I’m writing this piece less than an hour after looking into Ryan McBride’s coffin and to say that, in any way, I can get my head round the awfulness of it all would be well wide of the mark.
And wishing that it was back in time before I got that dreadful phone call on Sunday evening doesn’t help either.
Ryan’s untimely – and, at the time of writing, unexplained – death is a tragedy on three levels. First, and most importantly, for his family who will never again have his presence in their home.
Secondly, for Derry City Football Club and its fans where our ‘Captain Courageous’ was the very heartbeat of the team. And, lastly for the city itself which has lost one of its standard bearers.
Our club is unique on this island for its immersion into the very heart of the community and Ryan’s pride in this was so evident in the way he led the youngsters.
He has often been quoted (and, indeed, Tuesday’s ‘Journal’ back page is a prime example) on his dream of playing for City ahead of the Uniteds, Celtics etc. and when he crossed that white line in the red and white stripes, the quiet Clark Kent became Superman as he seemed to grow in stature with every step. No one bullied our youngsters on Ryan’s watch.
Ask any striker in the league which defender they least liked playing against and I’ll guarantee Ryan McBride would be top of the list.
Like all great men in any walk of life his passing will leave a legacy and our skipper’s lasting lesson will be to show the youngsters who will follow in his giant footstep just exactly what it means to play for Derry City Football Club. We will never forget him.
May he rest in peace.