Tributes have been pouring in this week following the death of local soccer legend, Johnny Magee.
Former and current devotees of the game in the Ballymoney and Coleraine area have been paying their respects and the Mayor of Ballymoney, Alderman Bill Kennedy, said Mr Magee was an institution who not only made an indelible mark on football but also in community well being in the Borough.
“Johnny was a man who devoted his life to helping others principally in football, as well as playing a leading role in the Glebe community where he lived.
“He worked hard to bring better social conditions to the area and earned the respect of all those with whom he came in contact with,” the Mayor said.
Mr Magee, who was in his late 70’s, passed away on Friday last and was buried on Monday following Requiem Mass in Our Lady and St. Patrick’s Church. Past footballing colleagues including senior members of Coleraine Football Club and junior clubs in the North Antrim area attended to pay their respects to the ‘wee man’ who never had an unkind word to say about anyone.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret, children Dominic and Juliana. He was also a grandfather and great-grandfather.
A Facebook tribute from Talk of the Toon, Football Crazy said: “We were saddened to hear the news of the passing of one of Ballymoney’s true gentlemen and someone who left his mark on the careers of many of the finest footballers to come out of the Ballymoney and Coleraine/Triangle areas.
“Johnny was one of the top coaches, notably in local junior and youth football, spotting and nurturing young talent and encouraging them to fulfil their full potential.
“Alongside his good friend John Hart, they were probably ahead of their time in bringing players through in the days before football academies.”
“Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Magee family. Johnny will always be fondly remembered by the footballing fraternity in Ballymoney and beyond.
Former Coleraine player Frankie Moffatt said: “A great football man who will be sadly missed. A quie man who was never rude to anyone.”
A picture accompanying the tribute included nine players who went on to compete for Coleraine.
Frankie added: “Johnny taught them well. Take a bow son.”
Another local junior player, Benny McGarry said: “Sad to hear. Think he was one of my first coaches.”
Amongst his many achievements one of Johnny’s proudest moments came when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Ballymoney Times Sports Awards. It was fitting recognition for all his work down the years.