David McClarty’s family have spoken of their pride that his legacy will live on through a special new trophy at the Dale Farm Milk Cup.
The Fair Play trophy, which will go to the Ulster County team which has the best aggregated total of sportsmanship points awarded after every game by the referees, is a fitting tribute to the ardent Milk Cup supporter, who sadly passed away last Easter.
“David loved the Milk Cup and was a big supporter of the tournament, this is a fantastic gesture by the organising committee,” his wife Norma told Times Sport.
“A number of groups have been in touch with regards to doing something to remember David by within their own circles. It really is heart warming for us as a family.”
David’s eldest son Alan agreed and said tributes like this by the Milk Cup committee have been a great source of comfort for the family.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by all the tributes and legacies since dad passed away,” said Alan.
“Not many families get that as a comfort when they lose a loved one.
“Dad filled us with so much pride with all his accomplishments. But he was also very proud of the achievements of all his family too.
“My daughters are four and two and there are going to be a lot of things which will be carrying their grandfather’s name and it will be a very special thing for them to remember him by, even though they only had a brief time with him.
“For us it’s very important that the trophy is going to a team from Northern Ireland.”
“Dad was a very proud Northern Irish man. No matter where he went to in the world, or who he spoke to he was always championing our little part of the world, not just the province,” added Colin, David’s youngest son.
“In the political arena though he was all about fair play and keep the peace. It isn’t always easy to do in Northern Irish politics as we all know. But from what people have said since my dad passed away he worked hard to try and achieve it and was successful.
“It was maybe a bit different with dad in the football world though as if it was a penalty for Manchester United it was always going to be a penalty in his eyes no matter how dodgy it was!”
David was a keen football fan and always made time to go to as many games as possible during Milk Cup week.
“He would have got home from work and had some dinner then he would have headed off to a match somewhere,” said Colin.
“The year he was mayor I just spent the week with him at the Milk Cup and it was brilliant just travelling about all over the place with him and going to all the games.
“So the tournament will always hold some very special memories for us because of things like that.”
“He got us roped in to helping out one year at the opening parade,” recalled Alan.
“There was a big replica of Dunluce Castle at The Showgrounds and dad volunteered us to be dressed up as centurions.
“The night before mum and dad had been at a dinner with Craig Brown, who was opening the tournament that year. As we stood there dressed up in these costumes Craig came past and said to us ‘I met your mother last night’.
“We were a bit taken aback by it, but apparently mum and dad had mentioned to him that we would be dressed up as there centurions during the ceremony.”
With David supporting Manchester United and his boys supporting Liverpool there was always plenty of banter in the house.
“Our grandfather got to us first and that’s why myself and Colin started following Liverpool .
“Colin briefly flirted with the idea of supporting United along with dad, but the shame filled me so I did a lot of talking round to make sure he supported Liverpool!
“Although we supported different teams in England, the favourite team for all of us without a doubt was and is Coleraine. Liverpool and Manchester United come second as we are Coleraine men.
“We always went together to the games and one of the best days we ever had as a family was the 2003 Irish Cup final when Coleraine beat Glentoran.
“The day Coleraine did the tribute for dad at the place where he always stood in the ground was very touching for us.
“My self and Colin will always come back to that spot when we go to games.
“I think like us all dad would have loved to have saw the finals night return back to Coleraine, but circumstances at the minute don’t allow that.
“But dad had a good relationship with everyone at Ballymena United too.
“He did a lot of pre-match lunches up in Ballymena down the years so I think there was a lot of mutual repsect between him and the club.”.
Claire Sugden, parliamentary assistant to David,who has now replaced him as an East Londonderry Independent MLA, added: “He loved the competition not only because of its sporting significance but also for the way it brings people from across the
world together right on our doorstep.”