Thursday, 9 April 2015

Helping raise funds to commemorate Patrick O'Connell in Manchester on 10 April

Speaking at a special fund-raising social in Manchester on 10 April for former footballer and manager Patrick O’Connell of Belfast Celtic, Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester United, Ireland, Real Betis and Barcelona. 

On Friday 10 April at 7pm in the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester a fundraising evening will take place with former players from United & City attending. As one of the speakers I will be talking about what it was like to be a footballer in Patrick's time.  

Friday Night outline:

7:30pm Alan Keegan introduces event welcomes all.

7:35pm Alan McClean POCMF explains fund etc

7:40pm Paddy Crerand

7:55pm Ian Sanders

8:05 Auction 1st Item

8:10 Mike Summerbee

8:25 Sue O'Connell

8:40 Auction 2nd item

8:45 Peter Barnes

9:00  Mark Metcalf 

9:15 Fred Eyre/Alan Wardle

9:35 Auction rest of items

Patrick O'Connell was a former footballer and manager who started his career in Belfast at Belfast Celtic moving to Sheffield Wednesday in England for £50. 

Sadly to this day Patrick is buried in an unmarked grave in St. Mary's Cemetery,Kensal Green,London, he died destitute in London in 1959. 

Mr. O'Connell also had the distinction of being the first Irishman to captain Manchester United and also his country Ireland winning their first title the British Home Championship in 1914. 

In the final game against Scotland at Windsor Park Patrick played on with a broken arm for the whole second half as there were no substitutions in those days.
Mr. O'Connell became one of the first thousand pound transfers when being transferred to United, this year is his centenary anniversary 1915.

The Patrick O'Connell Memorial Fund is a small group of football fans from Ireland,England who founded the fund at the Belfast Celtic Museum at the Park Centre in Belfast on the 30th of Aug 2014, Patrick's first club being Belfast Celtic FC.

The main aim is to raise funds to build a memorial at the cemetery befitting Mr. O'Connell's football achievements and we are also working with sculptor John McKenna to have a bust made of Mr. O'Connell and to be presented to FC Barcelona given Mr. O'Connell's interventions at the club during the Spanish Civil War.

Patrick went on to manage a number of clubs in Spain including Real Betis FC who he led to their only La Liga title in 1935.

The club at the time had a ground capacity of 7,000 so an amazing achievement.

Following this Patrick became manager of FC Barcelona and saved them from extinction during the Spanish Civil War, he took the club on a tour of Mexico the monies from this tour were wired to a Paris Account and ultimately saved the club during this period.

On April 10th 7pm at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester a fundraising evening will take place with former players from United & City attending. 
Alan Keegan 'the voice of Old Trafford' will be compere. 

In total over 35 signed shirts have been donated by legends of world football to this fund and are on display at the Belfast Celtic Museum - more details here

Here is the quote from Josep Maria Bartomeu, FC Barcelona President:

"Barça is more than a Club because, among other things, it is a Club with a great history and memory. We like to remember all those people who made FC Barcelona what it is today. Everyone is important. Patrick O'Connell may not be as well-known to younger generations, but he was a brave and loyal coach who gave himself to the Club during a very difficult time here, an epoch of civil war. He left an indelible mark on every club he spent time with, greatly contributing to an increase in the popularity of football.”

On the 5th of February the PFA kindly donated £1,000.00 to the restoration of Patrick's grave our group met Gordon Taylor and the National Football Museum in Manchester agreed to include Patrick in a section for players who played in Britain but also managed abroad.

Patrick's Irish cap from a century ago will go on display as well as his story and a piece on this project.

The project has been endorsed by Sheffield Wednesday FC,FC Barcelona,the PFA,Real Betis FC,Glenda Jackson MP North London,The National Football Museum,Manchester City FPA,Paddy Crerand Man United,Glasgow Celtic FC, Belfast Celtic Society,Maureen O'Sullivan TD(MP), Paul Maskey MP Belfast,Mr. Christy Burke Lord Mayor of Dublin,Dan Mulhall Irish Ambassador to the UK, Mr. Dan Cooney Irish Ambassador to Spain.

Irish National Broadcaster RTE Radio 1 have commissioned a radio documentary on Patrick's life.

Our project has also been covered by The Guardian,Daily Mirror UK,Belfast Telegraph,Irish News,AFP International News agency,BBC NI,The Irish Times,The Irish Independent,D'iario de Sevilla,ABC de Sevilla,United We Stand,Manchester United official Programme & Website,MUTV,Real Betis Website,The Irish Post,GlobeSport USA,TG4,When Saturday Comes Magazine,Marca Spain,Inside La Liga,France 24.

Our ambassador is Gerry Armstrong NI football legend and current Sky Sports La Liga Analyst.

Thanks for your time and hopefully hear from you soon.

Luis Figo FC Barcelona & Portugal - 'Please convey to the family my wishes they raise enough monies to honour their Grandfather'

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