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Omagh Town: The Rise and Fall – Playing in Europe

For the past three weeks Ulster Herald sports reporter Tommy Nethery has been telling the story of ‘Omagh Town: The Rise and Fall’ by interviewing the club’s former secretary Pat McGlinchey.

Omagh Town went out of business in June 2005 and in nearly 15 years in senior football experienced many highs and lows.

It’s a fascinating history that includes hosting the glamour games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea in 1999, winning the 1991 Budweiser Cup and twice representing the Irish League in Europe.

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The lows included a number of relegations, financial difficulties and accusations around the money that was raised for the Omagh Bomb Memorial Fund following those glamour games.

Lask week McGlinchey reflected on Omagh’s European adventures in Slovakia and Belarus and this week he shares his thoughts on bringing the likes of Roy Keane, Michael Owen, Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Gianluca Vialli and many more of the greatest stars of the world game to St Julian’s Road.

Playing in Europe was a thrilling experience for Roy McCreadie and his merry men and McGlinchey also tells a couple fascinating stories of ‘Big Roy’ attempting to sign Paul Gascoigne,  of Derry man Ray McGuinness being deported back to London because he had produced a wrong passport at Budapest airport, of being asked to sing the National Anthem in Belarus and of a visit to an orphanage.

On the trip to Belarus he said, “There were a couple of functions every day for our group, we were treated royally.

“On the day of the match (against FC Tauris) I went to collect our party who had been attending a reception hosted by the local council. Food was provided, the drink was flowing and everyone was having a good time.

“There was man going around with the party with a guitar and generally entertaining people by singing.

“Before heading to the stadium this guy sang the Belarusian National Anthem and then he asked us to sing the Irish anthem.

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“ Nigel Nixon, one of our travelling party, was a bit of a musician and he nudged me and asked me to ‘give him a hand’.

“As we walked up onto the stage I was wondering what national anthem Nigel was going to sing, was it going to be The Soldier’s Song or is it going to be the Queen.

“At that stage the rugby anthem Ireland’s Call hadn’t been invented.

But I needn’t have worried, from that day to this the local councillors of Minsk could still be under the impression that the Irish National Anthem is infact Status Quo’s ‘Rockin All Over the World’!”

There was also a serious side to that particular trip. On the Sunday afternoon the party, accompanied by Reuben McKelvey representing Omagh District Council, visited a local orphanage which McGlinchey said was a truly moving experience.

“Instead of going to a local bar Roy took the players and everyone else to the local orphanage on the Sunday. The players clubbed together and bought sweets to a total value of 50, 000 roubles to give to the kids.

“It was a heartbreaking trip and the players were brushing away tears. They gave away t-shirts, shorts and other paraphernalia.”

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