Jon 'Ugg' Clifford's dying wish was to keep memory of Tristar youth Anthony Martin alive

TRISTAR BOY’s Football Club celebrated the lives and legacy of former U11 player Anthony Martin and founding member and ‘mentor’ Jon ‘Ugg’ Clifford at the weekend with the staging of two popular events to mark the milestone anniversaries of their untimely deaths.

Sunday, 5th September 2021, 9:37 pm
Updated Sunday, 5th September 2021, 9:40 pm
The late great Tristar founder Jon 'Ugg' Clifford whose 10th anniversary occurred last weekend.

It’s been 10 years since the passing of Tristar and local youth football legend ‘Big Ugg’ and 20 years since 10 year-old Anthony tragically lost his battle with Leukemia.

And to mark an ‘emotional’ week for the club and their families, the Committee organised the Jon ‘Ugg’ Clifford Cup, a current Tristar coaches team versus past players charity match at Magee University’s 3G pitch last Friday to help raise funds for The Chest, Heart and Stroke Foundation.

That event proved a remarkable success on the anniversary of ‘Ugg’ who was synonymous with football in the city and who formed the Derry & District Youth outfit back in January 1974!

The Don Bosco's U11 team which won the Anthony Martin Memorial Trophy on Saturday.

According to current Tristar coach Ryan ‘Rio’ Horner, it was ‘Ugg’s dying wish to ensure the continuation of the popular Anthony Martin Memorial Cup and so it was fitting his anniversary celebrations coincided with the tournament set up to commemorate the promising young footballer who sadly died in 2001.

The Anthony Martin Memorial was a tournament close to Ugg’s heart and Mr Horner explained the importance of keeping his memory alive with the annual event which was won by Don Bosco’s on Saturday morning following a dramatic penalty shootout win over Oxford.

“Ugg’s final wish on his deathbed was that this tournament continued and as a club we made sure that happened,” explained Mr Horner. “The most difficult one was the first after he died.

“He actually died on the Saturday and we hosted it on the Sunday afterwards and mentally we weren’t in a good place to do it. We were all devastated at his passing.

Action from Foyle Harps v Tristar Colts in the Anthony Martin Memorial Tournament at Magee pitches

"We didn’t expect him to pass but he obviously knew and told us that, no matter what happens, we had to make sure this tournament went ahead as it did when he was alive. We had to do what he requested and keep it going. We decided, as a club, we would keep it going forever and we’re delighted it’s still going strong.

“This year was obviously difficult to organise because of Covid but it’s great that it coincided with the launch of the Jon ‘Ugg’ Clifford Cup, a magnificent World Cup style trophy. And we have the Anthony Martin/Jon Clifford Player of the tournament which was presented to Oxford’s Liam Kelly by former Tristar players Lee Harkin, now of Wolves and Jordan McEneff, now of Arsenal.”

Close friend and former classmate of Anthony, Thomas Carlin was heavily involved in the organising of the event and Mr Horner made special mention of his efforts which helped make the event such a success.

“The turn-out has been good and fair play to the D&D clubs, they support it year in and year out and we’re grateful to those clubs and coaches and the D&D Committee who are always very accommodating for us. It is a big effort for everyone.

“Tommy (Carlin) stepped up massively this week. It’s an emotional tournament for him as he was in Anthony’s class and played in the same Tristar team as him so I would like to thank him for everything he’s done. The whole Tristar Committee all pulled together to make this happen.”

Arsenal youth and former Tristar and Don Bosco's member Jordan McEneff said he was delighted to lend his support to such a special tournament.

"Its good to be here," he smiled. "I haven't been back in a while so it's good to come down. I would've played in this tournament when I was younger and it's good to lend my support."

Wolves U23 player Lee Harkin was also in attendance and said he was keen to help out with the presentation of the Anthony Martin Perpetual trophy and said he had fond memories of playing in the competition as a youngster.

In fact, in the first tournament staged following the death of 'Big Ugg', Harkin finished as top goalscorer for Tristar.

"It was a great tournament to play in as an 11 year-old and I was delighted to help out as a former Tristar player," said the Wolves man who presented the shirt he wore in the EFL Cup last season to the late Anthony's father Manus in a touching gesture after the tournament.