HOUSTON Stripes have agreed a deal for Bannsiders’ midfielder Ruairi Harkin before the transfer window.
Coleraine fans have no need to worry though as the deal only applies to Harkin’s 2013-14 away shirt! The Houston Stripes in question are in fact Andrew Sanders, his wife Heather and son Ruairi who live in the the Texan city, but hail from the UK originally. When the 2013-14 Shirt Sponsorship Scheme launched Andrew emailed the club immediately to register his interest in one of Ruairi Harkin’s shirts and managed to secure the midfielder’s away shirt for his small but loyal Supporters’ Club!
“My wife Heather is originally from Coleraine,” he explained. “We met in Edinburgh in 2002 when we were both studying and got married in Portrush three years ago. I’m a lifelong Hearts fan and her family are all big sports fans. On her mother’s side, her Uncle Terry used to play for Portstewart and her cousin Ritchie and Uncle Ian are both season ticket holders at the Showgrounds.
“There is also a connection on her father’s side - her grandfather John Lynn was a big supporter of the Milk Cup during his time with the Milk Marketing board and her late father Robert was also a patron of the Milk Cup and a member of Coleraine Rugby Club.
“So that’s a decade of following the Bannsiders through highs and lows. Hearts have also been through the mill during that time - cup wins and near bankruptcy - so it’s fair to say that I don’t take the easy road when it comes to sports teams!
“The reason I asked to sponsor one of Ruairi’s jerseys is twofold: my son is also called Ruairi and Ruairi is the guy that I back to score first! Ruairi Sanders is the only Ruairi in Houston, we’re sure of it.
“I hope to get along to share some stories with Ruairi Harkin about how Texans pronounce his name at the end of the season!
“The Irish League is a great competition. I think the performances of Cliftonville and Crusaders last season should motivate the boys this season and I don’t see any reason why we can’t build on sixth to press for a Europa League spot this season. “