Former Celtic stars Jackie McNamara, Tommy Johnson and Joe Miller will be in attendance for the unveiling of a statue commemorating Willie Maley. The first Celtic manager will be honoured on Saturday 15th April in Newry after a three-year campaign to build a statue for Maley.
Maley was born in Newry Barracks in Linenhall Square in 1868 and joined Celtic in 1888, then 19 years old. Maley became the Celtic manager in 1897. In a 43-year reign, Maley enjoyed great success winning 30 trophies at the helm.
Tommy Sheridan will be in attendance, along with the former players. There will be a minutes applause for ex-Celt Frank McGarvey, who passed away last year. Newry.ie are reporting on proceedings for Saturday’s event.
A memorial plaque will be unveiled followed by speeches from former councillors Davy Hyland and Pat McGinn. A parade will then proceed from Mourneview towards Trevor Hill and on to Monaghan Street before reaching the statue site at the foot of the Camlough Road. Guest speaker Tommy Sheridan will say a few words, followed by a minute’s applause for recently deceased Celtic striker Frank McGarvey.
Designed and sculpted by Tyrone sculptor Barry O’Neil the seven foot statue will be unveiled by Willie Maley Memorial Group chairman Pat McLoughlin. The group was formed in 2020 to raise the necessary costs for the statue, groundworks and associated fees.
McLoughlin spoke of his relief that the huge campaign is nearing its finish and thanked everyone for their support over the last three years. He said: “There were ups and downs the whole way along, but it’s absolutely fantastic to see the finished product and makes it all worthwhile at the end of it.
“Every single person is welcome to the parade on Saturday. It will be a fantastic day out and it will be an honour to see the tribute that we are giving to Willie Maley.
“It’s long overdue and well deserved for Celtic’s first ever manager who put his life into the club and now we’re dedicating a statue to him in his hometown.
“It will be seen throughout the world. It’s been an honour to be involved in this campaign, and on behalf of the committee and memorial group, I would like to thank everyone that has supported the campaign. Celtic fans have made this happen.”
The celebrations will continue afterwards at a sold-out Green and White night in the Canal Court Hotel from 6.30pm. Hundreds of Celtic fans will gather at the event – many from overseas – to mark the permanent tribute to Maley.
Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic will face Kilmarnock on Sunday at Rugby Park.