Having signed for Derry City Football Club during World War II, Willie Curran has been at the famous Irish soccer club for longer than most can recall.
When he joined the club, Derry City was only 16 years old and now, as the club celebrates its 90th year, it was felt that it was time to honour, recognise, and thank Willie Curran for the contribution he has made to the club both on and off the field of play.
As a football-obsessed schoolboy living in Derry, Willie was spotted as a raw talent and signed by Derry City FC in 1944 as a 14 year old. It wasn’t until William Ross became the Manager that Willie made it into the senior side in the 1950/51 season and started a a period of dominance as Derry City’s centre half.
Willie played for the club during their days in the Irish League and was known throughout the League as a tough-tackling defender who didn’t give an inch and never gave up in his pursuit of victory for his beloved Candystripes. He was soon to win the Irish Cup with Derry City (1954) in the famous three-game Cup Final and, after 13 years as a player at the club, he moved to Sligo Rovers in 1957.
That was far from Willie’s last connection to Derry City though. When his playing career ended, Willie threw himself into voluntary work at the club he has such a love for and he has been there ever since.
At a recent meeting of Friends of Derry City FC, Chaired by Derry City FC Director, Robert Martin, a proposal was put forward to honour and thank the club’s long-serving volunteers and a unanimous vote was recorded selecting Willie Curran as the first recipient of the Lifetime Volunteer Award. At half-time in Derry City’s game against St. Patrick’s Athletic, a humble Willie Curran was surrounded by his family on the Brandywell pitch as he was presented with his Lifetime Volunteer Award in recognition of his services to the club by ex-Derry City player, Liam Coyle.
In addition to those supporting him on the pitch, Willie was given a standing ovation and a round of applause by the 2,000 fans in attendance, many of whom will not buy their match-day programme or their half-time draw ticket from anyone other than the legendary Willie Curran.
The Lifetime Volunteer Award is intended to highlight the appreciation the club and its fans have for the volunteers who have devoted so much of their time to the club over the years so it is very fitting that Willie was the inaugural recipient of the award.
Willie has worked tirelessly for decades on the club’s Development Committee, Programme Committee, in every venture the club volunteers have come up with over the past half-century, and can still be seen selling programmes and draw tickets in the Brandywell today. He is a stalwart of the club, one of the rocks upon which it is built, and without Willie Curran it would not be in as strong a position as it is today.
The Board of Derry City FC, the members of the Friends of Derry City, and all the club’s supporters would like to thank Willie for the enormous contribution he has made to the club.