Man Utd fans (and others): recognise this 1970s picture?

Author seeks information on photo on book cover Author seeks information on photo on book cover
By Caoimhe Quinn

THE author of a new book on Manchester United has appealed to Andersonstown News readers to help him gather information on a picture used on the cover of his latest work – which he believes may have been taken in West Belfast.

John White, who recently launched his book ‘Kicking Through the Troubles’, said his searches have revealed possibilities in Belfast or perhaps even Derry.

“I thought I had it nailed down, that it could be the Oldpark Road area, but then I was told at the start of the week it could be the Ormeau Road area or somewhere else off the Shankill Road,” he said, unsatisfied but not discouraged.

“A lot of people think it’s the New Lodge area but it’s hard to work out the writing on the wall whether it says IRA or not, something which would indicate that that it’s a nationalist area.”

John has also expanded his search to his contacts in Manchester, reasoning a lot of people moved to the city from the north during the 70s.”

From growing up in the Short Strand to befriending Alex Ferguson, the greatest football manager in the history of the game, John’s story is extraordinary. Hemmed in on all sides by Protestants in an area patrolled on a daily basis by the British army, John and his neighbours soon learned to make light of the searches, patrols and threats of attack by neighbouring communities, even accepting regular interruptions to games of street football as a daily occurrence.

It all began with George Best, a hero to every schoolboy in his native Belfast. The greatest player in the world regularly turned out for the Northern Ireland team in the most infamous city in the world at the height of the Troubles and these were the first big football matches John watched as a child. From there it was logical to follow Manchester United’s fortunes and a lifelong romance was born as he joined the fortnightly exodus of Irishmen from both sides of the community to Old Trafford.

“We bought the image but there was no history with it although it appears to date back to 1972. I don’t know if the photographer or soldier would still be alive, but I suspect the kid would be. In the image the school boy is wearing a parka and they were associated with ‘big school’ so he could be in his late 50s or early 60s.

“Originally I had planned on naming the book ‘Man Utd, George Best, Sir Alex and Me,’ but my publisher pointed out it I was kicking a football about when soldiers were patrolling the streets and therefore this should be addressed as a key focus and thus the title and image were selected.”

John founded the cross-community Carryduff Manchester United Supporters’ Club in 1991 with the express aim of uniting Catholics and Protestants and their shared passion for United. It was in this role that he began hosting charity dinners in Belfast and befriending many United legends, foremost among them The Boss, Sir Alex Ferguson. John’s found the private ‘Fergie’ to be a million miles away from his firebrand media persona. Ever willing to help Irish charities, Sir Alex was a regular at John’s events and eventually placed his trust in the Carryduff MUSC to help promote his own charity, The Elizabeth Hardie Ferguson Charitable Trust Fund, named after his late mother. Sir Alex became a regular visitor to John’s home in Carryduff and even visited John’s father’s regular haunt, the local bookmakers shop in the Short Strand.

“It would mean a lot to me if I could identify not only the street but the people in the photograph as well.”

Enlisting the help of our readers he added: “Everyone recalls the street that they grew up in and whilst streets have changed dramatically across the city I am optimistic that someone, somewhere will recall this particular street.”

If you have information that could help John contact him via https://www.facebook. com/kickingthrough/
John’s amazing story can be pre-ordered before its release from https://www.amazon. co.uk or http://www.empire. uk.com/kicking.html

Please follow and like us: