Lives Remembered

Hugh Curran epitomised all that was good about sports fans

With his Derry City drum, Hugh Curran led the Brandywell faithful all over Ireland. Picture by Vinny Cunningham

WHEN Derry City FC played their first home game at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium after the Covid lockdown, regulations dictated that fans should not be present.

However, the rules had not accounted for Candystripes superfan Hugh Curran and nothing was going to stop him watching his beloved team.

Billy Scampton, head of match day operations at the Brandywell, recalled the scene in July.

“As the game started this figure suddenly appeared looking over the wall, all eight to nine foot of it, at the Brandywell Road end of the ground,” he said.

Global pandemic or not, Hugh was an ever-present at Derry City games.

Home or away, in Ireland or abroad, he was there with his famous Derry City drum to lead the faithful.

Lockdown was never going to stop Hugh from watching his beloved Derry City as he scaled a wall to watch their first home game in July. Picture by Billy Scampton

A father-of-three, grandfather and great grandfather, Hugh passed away at his sister Brid’s home on Monday, just months after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

A former special needs bus driver with the Western Health and Social Services Trust, his life revolved around Derry City FC.

He was a founding member of the Brandywell Pride supporters’ club.

And having become known throughout the League of Ireland community for his devotion, messages of condolences have flooded in from around the country and beyond this week.

Hugh was also known for his great kindness.

As Derry travelled to far-flung grounds, he would be the one to drive the fans’ minibus.

When teams came to Derry, it was also Hugh who greeted visiting supporters.

Should they be from Dublin, Cork or anywhere in Europe, he felt it was his duty to make them feel welcome.

He served as supporter liaison officer with Derry City for a number of years, acting as the contact point between the club and its fan base.

No job was too small, whether it was moving advertising hoarding, organising Santa Claus, running a golf classic or the fans’ form; Hugh was always ready to “roll up his sleeves and lend a hand”.

Candystripes manager Declan Devine spoke for the entire city when he said everyone was devastated by news of Hugh’s death.

“He epitomised everything that Derry City FC stands for and Hugh is simply irreplaceable within our club," he said.

"As supporters liaison officer he galvanised our fan base, driving buses full of supporters the length and breadth of the country to follow the team.

“Nothing was ever too much to ask of him."

Hugh’s fame extended well beyond the football family in Derry.

As “Big Hugh”, he presented the breakfast show on the Drive 105 radio station for a number of years.

A spokesman said his “good nature and enjoyment of life” shone through his broadcasts.

Hugh’s sister, Betty, revealed that her brother had asked that his “Derry City friends” wear their club jerseys for his funeral.

Requiem Mass took place at St Mary’s Church, Creggan on Wednesday.

Afterwards, Hugh was laid to rest at Derry city cemetery, appropriately overlooking his beloved Brandywell.

Seamus McKinney

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