|Ballymena United Shirt Tribute for Don Stirling|
|Uploaded Sunday, 4th Sep, 2022 at 15:19|
|BALLYMENA United chairman John Taggart has confirmed that Don Stirling's name will adorn the Sky Blue first team shirt across the 2022/23 season.|
|The touching gesture will serve as a tribute to one of the Irish League's most popular and well known administrators who passed away aged 83 last month.|
|Don's signature and the dates of his life (1939-2022) have been added to the nape of the United home shirt which was worn for the first time on Saturday.|
|John Taggart said it was a "fitting tribute" to the club's vice chairman while Don's partner Marlinda Orr thanked the club on the Stirling family's behalf.|
|"Not everyone will have noticed but on Saturday every Ballymena United player had Don's signature and name on their shirt," said John.|
|"As a club we wanted to do something special in his memory and we felt it was fitting to have Don's name on the Sky Blue home shirt across the season."|
|Marlinda Orr, who was presented with a framed version of the new-look Ballymena United shirt on Saturday, said she was "blown away" by the gesture and the club's support in recent times.|
|"I can't thank Ballymena United enough and to have Don's name on the shirt means so much because he loved this club and considered the Showgrounds home," she said.|
"I have many photographs of Don on holiday, sitting on the phone dealing with club business or signing players for Ballymena United. This club and the people here meant a lot to him.
"We will miss him so much but it has been touching to see and hear how much he was loved and appreciated by so many people, not only at Ballymena United but further afield."
|A minute's applause was held for Mr Stirling, who played an influential role at Ballymena United since the 1970s, prior to Saturday's Danske Bank Premiership fixture with Linfield.|
Marlinda, the Stirling family and grandson Lucas Stirling, who led the teams out, were all in attendance, while a collection was held for Macmillan Cancer Support.
John Taggart described Saturday's first home fixture after Don's passing on August 26 as a "very difficult day, both on a personal level and for Ballymena United as a club".
'" found it difficult when I didn't see him emerge somewhere down the first team corridor because he would always have been there," he said.
"The Showgrounds was very much a home to Don and the present committee and everyone associated with the club will miss him dearly.
"We have been inundated with messages of sympathy over the course of the past 10 days and the term that has been used repeatedly to describe Don was 'gentleman'.
"As a club, that's how we viewed him; as well as a tireless worker who went about his business in a quiet and humble but effective way. He was highly regarded by so many people.
"We were pleased to have Marlinda and the Stirling family with us on Saturday and I know Don would have been very proud of his grandson Lucas leading the two teams out."
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