Never mind poor old Evita, cry for Star of the Sea
For those who have long thought Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Dresses Uk music and football should never be allowed to mix – I have only to hear the first Authentic Prada Wallet For Sale Philippines bar of Ally’s Tartan Army to come out in a stress rash – life is about to take a potentially traumatic turn. Andrew Lloyd-Webber has embarked on the composition of a musical about football.
As if that was not dangerous enough, the good lord will also be tackling the subject of politics – not just any politics but the complexities of sectarian Irish politics. Let me guess: the hairs Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Dresses Uk on the back of your neck are standing up, and not with excitement.
Given Lloyd-Webber’s propensity for middle-of-the-road mush and the gross over-simplification of political tales (see Evita), the songs can be expected to be crap and the politics completely wrong. But, credit where it is due, the football element is one of the most remarkable sporting stories for decades. Needless to say, Lloyd-Webber got the idea from someone else, the comedian and author Ben Elton.
The story revolves round a youth club football team in north Belfast known as Star of the Sea which, for a period in the late 60s and early 70s, was run by a man called Liam Conlon.
Conlon, a doctor at Short’s aircraft factory, was a strict disciplinarian when it came to most things but easily his most important rule was that sectarianism was not allowed at Star of the Sea; football scarves and emblems were banned, as was all talk of religion. All-comers were made welcome – be they Catholic, Protestant or, in the case of one player, Mormon – as long as they could kick more about australiaprada a ball.
Conlon’s rule was imposed at a time before the violence fully engulfed Northern Ireland after the civil rights marches but, even so, his youth club outfit was a remarkable outpost of non-sectarianism in Belfast at that time.
Even more remarkably, the football club prospered. On the field they won virtually every trophy they played for, had half-a-dozen players who represented Northern Ireland at youth level and, according to the record books, lost only two games in two years. Off the field the club defied the sectarian tide that was pulling Belfast apart and attracted players from Authentic Prada Outlet Online Usa all communities.
I have a photograph of the team of 1969 that proves the point. In the front row there is a smiling Bobby Sands, who was the club’s left-back but who might be better known to most people as the former member of parliament and Republican hunger striker.
Beside Sands sits another boy who later joined the UVF, the Protestant paramilitary group, and served nine years for terrorist offences. Another former player served time for Loyalist crimes and another’s brother was the victim of a sectarian murder.
Dr Conlon did his best to keep that 1969 team together. For a couple of years he succeeded but, with Belfast dividing into sectarian ghettos at a rapid rate, it proved impossible for any institution to remain neutral.
Former players now speak of the immense pressure they were subjected to from within their own communities for consorting with players from Authentic Prada Shoes Outlet the “other tradition”. Star of the Sea gradually became an exclusively Catholic club.
In the 30 years since that photograph was taken almost all members of the Star of the Sea team have been touched in one way or another by the Troubles. Dr Conlon is now dead, as is at least one former player. Some emigrated to escape the violence. But others are still living in Belfast and they all have a welter of fond memories of the club, among them Raymond McChord.
McChord, a Protestant who stayed with Star of the Sea longer than anyone else after the Troubles poisoned Belfast, embodies everything the club stood for: he has spent his Black Prada Eyeglass Case whole life standing up against sectarian violence.
He is a brave and fearless man, who has survived three attempts on his life, but, when I met him Authentic Prada Shoes Outlet in a Belfast pub Bicester Village Prada Store Number the other day and showed him a picture of the team of 1969, I swear that I saw his eyes Authentic Prada Fairy Bag For Sale Authentic Prada Outlet Online Uk going a little watery.
“I miss the team a lot, you know,” he said. “If we’d stuck together for another five years after that picture had been taken we’d have been the best team in Ireland, no bother.”