THE DEATH of Arthur Bartholomew ‘Mousey’ Brady, a legend of Irish League football, means two players survive from the famous Derry City team that won a marathon three-match thriller against Glentoran, to decide the 1954 Irish Cup final.
The players are outstanding goalkeeper Charlie Heffron, who lives in retirement at Cushendall, County Antrim, and Derry city local hero and centrehalf, Willie Curran.
The 1954 Irish Cup decider is also known as the ‘Jimmy Delaney’ final, named after the flying Scot who won Cup final medals with Glasgow Celtic and Manchester United before inspiring the Candy Stripes to glory.
Brady, the smallest player in the final, was a key winger in the team that also included players such as Harry ‘Digger’ Smyth, Clifford Forsythe, Con O’Neill, George Toner, Bobby Brolly, and team skipper Tom Houston.
One of the most colourful characters to grace Irish League football, Brady died on Saturday, July 9.
Born on July 12, 1927, at Springfield Avenue in west Belfast, he started in soccer as a schoolboy. From seven years of age, he moved with his family from Springfield Avenue to live nearby at Colinpark Street, and virtually next door to his great friend Charlie Heffron’s home at Conlinward Street, off the Springfield Road.
They joined Colin United, and later Springfield Amateurs.
At the same time, both were rising hurling and Gaelic football prospects with the once-mighty O’Connell’s GAC, whose top adult players included Antrim stars Kevin Armstrong, Paddy O’Hara, Sean Gibson, Eddie Spence, and ‘Red Dog’ Harry O’Neill.
Brady, whose father Freddie Brady was a part-time professional flyweight boxer in Belfast, won a county Senior hurling championship medal when O’Connell’s beat Loughguile in the 1945 final, at Corrigan Park.
The tearaway winger then won a county Senior football championship medal in 1947, when O’Connell’s beat Belfast Rossa in the Antrim final at Corrigan Park.
During 1945 and 1946, the 5’ 3” Brady played in Antrim Minor hurling teams that contested the All-Ireland semi-final, losing on both occasions to Dublin - the first at Croke Park, and the 1946 clash at Corrigan Park.
In 1946, he was also a winger in the Antrim Minor football team that lost to Down in an Ulster championship tie at Newcastle.
In 1947, it was enforced game-change time for the versatile Brady, a top handball player who also boxed amateur flyweight for the Belfast Star club under fabled fight coach Akkie Kelly. The wee wizard was ‘nabbed’ by Antrim vigilantes - and banned under Rule 27 from playing Gaelic games.
He focused on soccer, signed for Belfast Celtic in late 1948, but never managed to get a game, because the famous club folded. Instead, he returned to Springfield Amateurs, then moved to senior clubs such as Crusaders, Derry City, Ballymena United, and back to Crusaders for a very rewarding time. He also had player stints with Larne FC and League of Ireland club, Drogheda United. He was also assistant manager at Drogheda United.
In 1973, he moved with his late wife Joan out of Belfast, to settle at Hannahstown.
Speaking on behalf of Crusaders, chairman Stephen Bell said: “He was and is a legend at Seaview and will be sadly missed by everyone at the club.
“‘Mousey’ as we all knew him came to virtually every match at Seaview and stood at the same spot each week right beside where the old players tunnel used to be.
“There are many wonderful stories about Arthur that have been told, and a lot of them came from the man himself, but his character and smile will sadly no longer been seen around the ground.
“Arthur was one of the first to be inducted in the Crusaders Hall of Fame and we also have the players lounge named after the man.”
Arthur was also the final signing of Belfast Celtic before the famous club pulled out of the Irish League in 1949.
The Belfast Celtic Society also described Mr Brady, who lived in Hannahstown in west Belfast, as “a giant of Irish football”.