Manchester United fan appeals for help in identifying street for front cover of book about growing up in Belfast

John White is hoping readers can identify the street or the people featured in the image, which will be on the front cover of his new book. Picture from Empire Publications

A MANCHESTER United fan is appealing for help in identifying a street pictured on the front cover of his forthcoming book about his journey as a football fan growing up in Belfast.

John White looks back at his childhood in the Short Strand and how he set up a cross-community football supporters' club during the height of the Troubles, later becoming friends with one of the greatest managers of all time.

'Kicking Through the Troubles, How Manchester United Helped to Heal a Divided Community' tells the story of how Mr White's love of football and the world famous club helped bring together supporters from across the political divide.

Growing up in the 1970s, Mr White lived in an area often under attack by neighbouring communities and patrolled by the British Army. But he was spurred on by watching footballer George Best and began to following Manchester United Football Club.

Establishing Carryduff Manchester Supporters' Club in 1991 with the aim of uniting Protestants and Catholics with a shared love of the team, he began hosting charity dinners in Belfast and befriending United legends, most notably the then team manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Sir Alex, who became a regular at Mr White's events and often visited his home in Carryduff, later gave him the role of promoting his charity - the Elizabeth Hardie Ferguson Charitable Trust Fund - set up in memory of the football legend's late mother.

"The book is about me growing up in the Short Strand in the 70s and how and why I fell in love with Manchester United," he said.

"I had never written a book about why I loved the club, but this tells that story.

"It looks at why I set up the supporters' club and why it was important it wasn't about religion and was only about support for Manchester United. It was about bringing both sides together."

But while the book may be complete and due to be published in October, Mr White is still in the dark about the front cover image.

The picture, which was obtained for the book by Empire Publications, features an armed soldier on patrol close to where a young boy is playing football. The street appeared to have a number of derelict houses.

Ahead of the publication, Mr White is appealing for anyone who can help identify the location of the street or perhaps the people featured to get in touch.

"When I played football as a child, I played it out on the street and I think that's why the publisher chose this particular photograph," he said.

"But I'm totally intrigued as to where the photo was taken. I'm almost certain it's not the Short Strand, I was thinking it might be the New Lodge or perhaps Derry.

"It's a really iconic photograph and I'm really interested to see where it was taken or if anybody recognises the two people in the photograph."

Mr White hopes that Irish News readers can help solve the mystery of the identity of the street and those pictured. If you have any information, please contact Mr White through or email

The book is available for pre-order from

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