Honouring our Harry

Coleraine Academy players Ben, Rhys and Kaleb get to meet the legend behind the "Harry Gregg Foundation" hear some of his stories and touch some mementos of his amazing career.''photo:Derek Simpson'Mandatory Credit
Coleraine Academy players Ben, Rhys and Kaleb get to meet the legend behind the "Harry Gregg Foundation" hear some of his stories and touch some mementos of his amazing career.''photo:Derek Simpson'Mandatory Credit

Next week, Coleraine Academy will launch a special link up with a man who grew up just yards from the Showgrounds - Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend, Harry Gregg MBE.

Harry is a proud Coleraine man, and he never forgets his roots, growing up at Windsor Avenue in Coleraine.

As a survivor of the Munich Air crash, the former goalkeeper escaped with a bloody nose, but went back in to the wreckage to pull out those that were trapped. This included a 20 month old child and pregnant woman.

Harry wasn’t keen on the idea of a statue to mark his achievements in Coleraine Town centre, wishing instead to help others, particularly young people within in the Coleraine area.

The University of Ulster, Coleraine will host the official launch of the Harry Gregg Foundation next Thursday, February 19.

Speaking to Times Sport last week, Harry (82) insisted that the link wasn’t about him, it was about progressing young people from the Coleraine area and beyond.

The great grandfather, 
who lives in Castlerock gushed about the Coleraine Academy, praising the community 
work that they do with ‘children and young people from all backgrounds and all abilities’.

“This Foundation is not about me,” said Harry.

“It’s about the young people of the area.

“Getting them as far as we can in life, and encouraging them to follow their dreams.”

Looking back on his childhood, Harry said: “There were no bibs or cones, no keepers back then, you played on the streets in the wind and the rain, night and day.

“Back in Windsor Avenue we used the entries as goal posts, there were no fancy systems and if you weren’t picked you were left sitting on the wall to watch,” he joked. “But that’s all different nowadays. The Academy is about the community.”

Andy Alcorn, Chairman of Coleraine Academy said that they were ‘delighted’ to have Harry involved.

“The people of Coleraine have long been keen to mark the achievements of the former Northern Ireland and Manchester United goalkeeper, who was also a successful coach in the game after he retired from playing.

“Harry’s exploits are the stuff of legend, but the man from 34 Windsor Avenue has always eschewed the limelight, and any notion of a statue being erected in the town to mark his endeavours.

“But the idea of having a foundation dedicated to community involvement projects, and in particular developing young people and encouraging them to fulfil their dreams, was a perfect fit for a man whose passion for the game and his home town remains undimmed.

”The aim of the foundation is to further develop and facilitate the engagement of youth and wider community through the association of the glorious game and to encourage participation in football and various other health, lifestyle, educational, heritage and social inclusion activities.”

A host of stars from the world of Northern Ireland sport, politics, show business and commerce will attend the launch of the Harry Gregg Foundation.

Another proud Coleraine man, former international mid fielder Steven Lomas, whose pathway to professional football was influenced greatly by Harry, will be among a host of famous footballing figures attending on the night.

Harry’s daughter Linda added: “Dad didn’t want a statue in his honour. I hope that all who have dreams can be inspired by Dad, for he made his dreams come true.”