Monday, December 8, 2014
Patrick O'Connell, the Irishman who saved Barcelona
Back in May 2004, Mick O'Keeffe wrote an article in the Irish Independent about a guy called Patrick O'Connell, whom I had never previously heard of.
A Dubliner by birth, he played football for a host of clubs including Belfast Celtic, Ashington FC, Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester United, also captaining Ireland. But it was as a manager that he really made his mark, managing Real Betis, Santander and Barcelona to great success. In fact he is still glorified in Cataluna for saving Barca from extinction during the early Franco years.
Despite this success, he died penniless and was buried in a paupers grave in London. I found the story so fascinating that I wrote a poem about it - probably more song lyrics than actual poetry - posted it on the football poets website and forgot about it.
Evidently, other people have been struck by the story down through the years for occasionally I get requests to reprint the poem, which I'm happy to say yes to.
I got an email yesterday from a guy called Colm Farry in Seville. He is a fundraiser for a new body called the Patrick O'Connell memorial fund which is trying to raise funds for a proper memorial to a great but forgotten Irishman. He asked me was it okay if they put music to the poem and sung it at one of their fundraisers!
Naturally I'm thrilled and delighted. Can't wait to hear it.
Most of my poems die a death. It's so very nice to have one that seems to have a bit of legs in it!