CLUB SCENE: MY CLUB
By DAIRE WALSH
CITY OF DERRY RFC
EXCITING times lie ahead for City of Derry RFC after it was recently announced that the Ulster Bank League Division 2B club have signed a major sponsorship deal with YouTube sensation Craig Thompson.
Thompson, who has four million subscribers under the name ‘Mini Ladd’ on the video-sharing website, will offer City of Derry a funding package in the region of £400,000, and the club grounds at Judge’s Road have also been renamed in his honour.
Trevor Will’s Derry began life at the Craig Thompson Stadium with an Ulster derby win over Belfast Harlequins, and the club’s Vice-Chairman of Rugby Development, Moss Dineen, is aware of how significant this deal will be.
“Sponsorship is very hard to come by nowadays. You’ve got to be innovative as well. Craig Thompson, he played rugby in Foyle College. He’s from Eglinton, which is a few miles down the road from us. We’ve got a 10-year deal with him, which is worth a lot of money,” explained Dineen.
“It’s an opportunity to promote our club, the game of rugby in our club, and our city all over the world. When he’s vlogging, he’ll be using a City of Derry rugby jersey with his name on it and his logo on it.”
A native of Abbeydorney, Co Kerry, Gaelic football and hurling were initially the sports of choice for Dineen. However, since his move to Derry all of 43 years ago, he has been a driving force on and off the pitch for Derry.
“I come from Kerry originally. I would have played hurling and football. I went to school in Dublin, Belcamp College on the Malahide Road. Then I went to work in Birmingham, and I would have played with Dick Spring (there) actually. We played hurling together.
“Then I met a girl from Derry, and I came to Derry in ’74. I think within about six or seven months, I was playing senior rugby against (Willie John) McBride, coming back from the ’74 Lions tour. I played senior rugby for about 10 years.”
In addition to their sponsorship deal, City of Derry are currently applying for Peace IV funding for a proposed North West Centre for Sport and Well-Being, and Dineen revealed that the club have a plan to bring the All-Blacks to the club – if Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid is successful.
He added: “Our idea was to have a stadium on our grounds that crosses all sports. We’re going to set up a social enterprise company to run the project afterwards. They said it’s going to be called the North West Centre for Sport and Well-Being.
“For the 2023 World Cup bid in November, I’m on the submission from Derry, along with the council and the GAA, to bring the pool stages to Derry. Also to probably bring the All Blacks to Derry. Our new development would be a massive incentive for them to come to Derry”.