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25 years at the coalface
Uploaded Thursday, 23rd Apr, 2020 at 09:03

This week saw Sales and Marketing executive Brian Thompson celebrated 25 years working in the Irish league first At Linfield and for the past 18 years at Ballymena United.
Recently in a conversation with Guardian sports editor Shaun O'Neill, Brian recounted a very interesting story in the month leading up to his appointment at Linfield in April 1995.
"I had already gone through two interviews in the selection process and in preparation for my last interview I decided to produce a marketing report to give me an edge. I was a season ticket holder at Rangers and got an interview with Brian Main who worked at Ibrox in the commercial department on March 23. As I approached Glasgow driving on the M77 around mid morning I rang my good friend Bruce McKendry of Sky Sports. Bruce had started his journalism career at the Ballymena Guardian and we had both played together at Steadfast FC in the Saturday morning league. Bruce was incredulous that I was about to arrive at Ibrox as the news had just come over the wires that Rangers legend Davie Cooper had just died from a brain hemorrhage. Parked up and approaching the stadium the floral tributes were already arriving at the front door of the stadium.
I had my meeting with Brian Main who was really helpful and was introduced to Bob Reilly the commercial Director. After an hour or so I returned to outside the stadium. By this time the floral tributes had grown and moved to around the Ibrox Disaster Memorial. It was all very surreal as I watched supporters of all ages leave scarves, shirts and floral tributes. Amongst them all was a Celtic top and scarf,such was the respect Cooper had as a Scottish footballer. I vividly remember a taxi stopped and a kid around primary school age carried over a bouquet. As the afternoon progressed the area became a carpet of flowers. This was not an easy day for many.
For those of a certain age Davie Cooper was a Rangers legend. Like a lot of Scottish legends he plied his trade only in Scotland but his sublime skill was recognised throughout the world. Dutch star Ruud Gullit played against Cooper once in a Friendly and was so impressed he included Cooper in his all time world 11 for the renowned football magazine Four Four Two. Perhaps Rangers Manager Walter Smith summed up in his tribute "God gave Davie Cooper a talent, he would not be disappointed with how it was used."
I completed my report and was offered the position at Linfield. Over the past 25 years I have had many memories and been to Ibrox on many occasions but I will never forget the day at Ibrox when Davie Cooper died. It was raw and it was extremely emotional."
As a postscript Bruce McKendry is now the communications manager at Brisbane airport in Australia and we are still in contact. Motherwell, for whom Cooper played for after his Ibrox career, named a stand in his honour and a statue was unfurled in his home town of Hamilton. Check Davie Cooper out on Youtube under Moody Blue.
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Sympathy is extended to Pamela Anderson wife of sports Bond agent Maurice Anderson. Pamela Sadly lost her uncle Ivan McNeill who a few years ago returned to Northern Ireland from South Africa. Indeed Ivan was a beloved uncle to the McRoberts Family who have four members in sports Bond.
We would also like to correct an oversight in last weeks report where we mentioned the passing of Paul McCormick Snr but had mentioned a wrong surname. We apologise for this error to the family.
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