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28 October 2008

Willie Sherrard

Name: William Sherrard
Born: 22 June 1872, Limavady
Died: 9 October 1895, Belfast (age 23)
Position: Inside-Forward

Representative Honours: Ireland: 3 Full Caps (1895).
Club Honours: (with Limavady) North West Cup Winner 1889/90, 1890/91, 1892/93, Runner-Up 1891/92, 1893/94; (with Cliftonville) Charity Cup Finalist 1894/95.

Club Career:
FA Cup
Derry Olympic
6/ 0
* / 5
 * /11
* all games.

The youngest of a family of twelve, Willie Sherrard was nicknamed “Beg”, a local slang word for the youngest sibling. Elder brothers Connolly, Jack and Joe all played football Limavady and Willie joined the latter two on the field on a number of occasions. While with Limavady he scored twice in five North West Cup Finals appearance, winning three times.

On 3 September 1892 he played for Derry Olympic against Cliftonville in their first match as an Irish League club. In what proved a disastrous experiment, Olympic failed to win in six matches and Sherrard, who played in all of these matches, failed to find the net. Throughout his time with the "regional select" Olympic side, Sherrard continued to turn out for Limavady in friendlies, the North West Cup and the Irish Cup.

Sherrard joined Glentoran in September 1894, scoring 5 goals for them before moving to Cliftonville in November 1894, scoring a further 5 goals for them that season. It was while with Cliftonville that he played in all three games of the 1894/95 International Championship campaign, scoring the consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat by Scotland in Glasgow.

The season ended for Sherrard with an appearance in the Final of the Belfast Charity Cup, a match won 3-1 by Linfield. It was reported that he was suffering from an injured knee, but bandaged the good one, so that the Linfield defence would not concentrate their tackles on the injured one.

It was after a promising start to the 1895/96 season, in which Sherrard scored six goals, that tragedy struck. He was taken ill and died from influenza at the home of his sister, Tilly Oliver, at 17 Lincoln Avenue, Antrim Road, Belfast on 9th October 1895. He was only 23.

Sherrard’s funeral took place in Limavady on 12th October 1895. Cliftonville’s match gainst Glentoran was cancelled and for the match between Distillery and Linfield the players donned black armbands as a mark of respect for their esteemed colleague. The funeral itself was reported as the largest ever to take place in Limavady and was attended by over two thousand mourners, including a number of members of the clergy, several Justices of the Peace, doctors, every member of the Limavady Masonic Lodge and Limavady Cycling Club, representatives of many of the North West football clubs and fourteen members of Cliftonville FC. Chief among the mourners were his brothers Connolly, Jack and Joe and brothers-in-law Thomas Parkhill and Thomas Oliver. Among the many wreaths were those from Cliftonville FC, Linfield FC and Coleraine FC.

The tragedy of Willie Sherrard’s loss was noted in the Londonderry Sentinel which reported that “… it was very moving to see the Cliftonville players openly weeping at the graveside.”

Ireland Cap Details:
09-03-1895 England. A L 0-9 BC
16-03-1895 Wales... H D 2-2 BC
30-03-1895 Scotland A L 1-3 BC 1 Goal

Summary: 3/1. Won 0, Drew 1, Lost 2.

Additions by George Glass. Photograph supplied by Roy Cathcart.

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