With a population of approximately one hundred thousand, similar to the total number of people in Derry city, west Belfast makes up a significant percentage of the entire population of the six counties. From Castle Street stretching out almost as far as Derriaghy there are vast swathes of people, homes and communities.
Stafford Reynolds, the former Glentoran chairman and ardent Celtic fan once told me that us Ulster-people never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. When plans were dashed for a multi-purpose stadium at the Maze-Long Kesh site some years ago I knew exactly what Stafford meant.
For over one hundred years footballers have been leaving Ireland to ply their trade in the lucrative leagues of England and Scotland. The fact that we have no Irish football industry and two part-time leagues north and south means that those who want to carve out a living in the game have been forced to cross the Irish sea to seek their fortune somewhere between John O’Groats and Land’s End.