“Please convey to the family my wishes that they achieve their goal and raise enough money to honuor their grandfather.” - Luis Figo (FC Barcelona, Real Madrid & Portugal)
The initial goals of the Patrick O’Connell Memorial Fund are:
- to raise funds to build a memorial befitting of Patrick O'Connell at his place of burial in Kilburn, London.
- to build a monument of Mr. O'Connell at Belfast Celtic Museum, and in due course at each of the clubs he managed and played for.
The Patrick O'Connell Memorial Fund was launched on Saturday, 30th August at the Belfast Celtic Museum, Park Centre, Belfast.
Glenda Jackson, MP for Kilburn, North London has officially endorsed the project.
Mr. Gerry Armstrong (Belfast) former Northern Ireland, Watford, Tottenham and Real Mallorca striker and current La Liga Sky Sports analyst has agreed to be the Fund's Ambassador. Mr. Armstrong scored the famous goal for Northern Ireland v Spain in their victory at World Cup 1982 and has donated his 1982 World Cup shirt, which the team that beat Spain are signing. The shirt has already been signed by Martin O’Neill.
Sue O'Connell, wife of Don Patricio’s grandson Mike, has written a manuscript on Patrick O'Connell's life which the Fund hopes will be published as a book as part of this project.
This project has been covered by Real Betis Official Website, ABC De Sevilla newspaper in Seville, Inside Spanish Football magazine in Spain, The Irish Post and Kilburn Times in the UK, and The Irish News.
Sheffield Wednesday FC have kindly agreed to a fundraising event at Hillsborough. It will be held in February 2015 (27th February provisional date). The event will see family members and Memorial Fund members attending along with representatives from the clubs Mr. O’Connell played for and managed, and some of the legends who have supported this cause from the outset. Irish singer, Eleanor Shanley will perform 'Boots of Spanish Leather' at the event.
The Memorial Fund is working with Trevor Braithwaite, Communications Manager of Sheffield Wednesday, John Brodie, Sheffield Wednesday’s Historian, and Peter Shaw, Filey Owls Coast SC.
Thanks to Martin Buchan of the English PFA, it has been discovered that Mr. O'Connell was a member of the PFA; an entry exists in their Manchester United members’ ledger. The ledger dates back to 1907. On Mr. Buchan's advice, the Memorial Fund has sent a letter to CE of the PFA, Gordon Taylor looking for their support.
The project has been covered by Real Betis official website and has been given the official backing of the club. On 7th August at The Stadium of Light Sunderland, Julio Jimenez Heras, Real Betis External Relations Director donated a signed squad shirt to the Fund. The shirt was presented to Fund committee member, Simon Needham by club legend, Rafael Gordillo. Maurice Hepworth, Chairman of the Sunderland FPA presented an Irish Legends XI shirt.
So far, the Memorial Fund has received nearly forty signed shirts from some of the biggest names in World football. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to the benefactors. The signed shirts collection will go a long way to funding the revival of Don Patricio’s name. But the story has yet to be told and a great deal of work remains.
To be continued…