It was difficult to forget recent history as I was driven away from Brandywell the other night. With a couple of days to go before an election, the police had a road block checking on vehicles coming from the stadium in case dissident Republicans gunmen wanted to cause trouble.
Down town the police station was a fortess of steel and surveillance cameras, and some of the vehicles were armoured. The next morning I took a stroll on the banks of the River Foyle along with many joggers, and looked at the historical markers. A tribute to the shipping industry, although none had been build here since 1922. Shirtmaking was also a big employer, 18,000 women worked there in the 1920's, and during the war large fighting ships came to bring sailors for shore leave, both American and British. At the end of World War II on May 8th 1945 the German navy surrendered its U boat fleet here in the loch and they were all sunk.
The very solid walls of Londonderry, built in 1688-89 are 20 meters thick and you can walk round and admire the views the guns, the towers and take in the historical markers. The walls were never breached-so the city nickname is 'The Maiden City'. Also its often called Stroke City, due to the Derry/Londonderry name. In Irish, as a get the bus back to Dublin it's called DOIR. Despite a population of 85,000, the second largest in Northern Ireland and 4th in the island of Ireland, road and rail links are not brilliant, but new cheap flights from Derry Airport are popular, unless the volcanos in Iceland erupt!!
Three of the largest manufactures are American companies in icluding DuPont who make Kevlar. Violence was never as great as in Belfast, but on 30th January 1972 British troops fired on marchers and this day of infamy is called 'Bloody Sunday'. It's a big shopping city with The Foyle Centre, Richmond Centre and many independent shops and the Derry Tourist Office on Foyle Street is first class and informative. The Giants Causeway is only half an hour away and the superb Antrim Coast, plus islands with ferry connections and wildlife such as Aranmore, Tory Island, and the Inishowen peninsula,
Michael Hutton is the Chairman of the Foyle Cup and it's supported financially by the local council and the local Derry & Districy League enter their select teams. The finals are held at Brandywell www.foylecup.com. Michael is a local primary school teacher who has raised 7 children, all graduated from university, mostly Queen's Belfast. They are barristers, business men, doctors and one is head of Red Bull Racing in Italy. He is proud of the fact that all local referees in the league do so without payment. Visiting referees are welcome at the Cup, with a £30 per diem to help with their accommodation. We had a drink together after the Derry City match in Da Vinci's a brilliant bar in the Ramada Da Vinci hotel on Culmore Road.
The tournament started with just 8 teams playing for six hours in just one day in 1992. Last year a highlight was the U14's divsiion where Linfield FC of Belfast were defeated by Celtic of Glasgow. The week long tournament will be from July 19-24 this summer, a big tourist event for the city and accommodation at the university and many hotels.
Besides Derry City in the League of Ireland, Institute FC, nicknamed 'Stute, play in the Premier division of the Irish League in the Derry suburb of Drumahoe in their sky blue jerseys.