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21st Jun 2006: Get Your Kit Out

Pictured at the Bertie Peacock Sculpture launch is, Berties Wife, Mrs Peacock, Berties son, Mr  Russell Peacock and the Mayor of Coleraine, Cllr William King.

Pictured at the Bertie Peacock Sculpture launch is, Berties Wife, Mrs Peacock, Berties son, Mr  Russell Peacock and the Mayor of Coleraine, Cllr William King.

The sculpture which will be a larger than life size bronze cast of Bertie at the peak of his career will be unveiled at the Diamond Coleraine on the 25th Anniversary of the Milk Cup in July 2007.

FOOTBALL fans across the Province are being urged to hunt through their sporting memorabilia in a bid to unearth a Northern Ireland soccer strip from the 1950's.

The nostalgic search is more than a trip down Memory Lane: it could help to commemorate the life and legacy of local soccer icon, Bertie Peacock.

A new statue of the legendary sportsman is to be created by local artist Ross Wilson and, in the interests of authenticity, he's hoping to borrow old team jerseys, shorts, socks . . . even boots.

A committee set up to celebrate the life of Bertie Peacock comprising of representatives from Coleraine Sports Council, Coleraine Football Club, Portstewart Golf Club, Milk Cup Committee and The West Bann Development Group, all of which Bertie had close ties with have agreed after discussion with the Peacock family that the statue is the best way to honour this sportsman turned statesman.

The Statue will be unveiled in The Diamond at the heart of Coleraine in July next year as a centrepiece of the Milk Cup's 25th anniversary celebrations.  Cast in bronze, the slightly larger than life feature will depict Bertie in Northern Ireland strip, at the peak of his illustrious footballing career.

That sporting career spanned a remarkable four decades, during which Coleraine-born Bertie Peacock developed from a schoolboy soccer star into one of the country's best known and most respected sporting heroes.

Bertie played for Glentoran before moving to Celtic where is still lionised as one of that club's 'all time greats'.  He stayed in Glasgow for more than ten years, during which time he earned 31 Caps for Northern Ireland and wrote his name in the annals of Irish footballing history with memorable performances in the 1958 World Cup when Northern Ireland gloriously reached`the Quarter Finals.

He made his international debut against Scotland in 1951 and his final appearance was, as a Coleraine player, against the Scots at Windsor Park in 1961 . . . . sadly a less than glorious 6-1 defeat.

Bertie returned to Northern Ireland as Player-Manager of Coleraine and became International Manager.  Famously, it was Bertie Peacock who gave soccer legend George Best his debut international match against Wales in 1962.

Bertie stepped down from managing Coleraine after twelve years and a Gibson Cup League triumph - but he certainly didn't 'retire' in the conventional sense.  Bertie's wise counsel continued to be sought by fellow professionals and was much valued.  He was Chief Assessor for Northern Ireland in the World Cup Finals in Spain.

His passion for football never waned and his public house at Long Commons in Coleraine was often a gathering spot for major soccer stars.  Bertie devoted much of his time, talent and energy to youth football and remained a pivotal figure in the Milk Cup until his death.  Although he was awarded the MBE for services to football, ever modest he never used the title.

Now his home town is preparing celebrate a life in sport and Coleraine Borough Council recently voted unanimously to support the group in their quest to commission a £75,000 statue - the tribute recommended by Bertie's friends and the town's sporting fraternity. The Bertie Peacock Sculpture Committee must raise the capital for the statue and are appealing to the people and Coleraine and the Sport loving public of Northern Ireland to get behind the project and make it happen.

The statue will be created by Ulster born artist Ross Wilson who brings outstanding artistic credentials to the project.  Previous commissions include a life size bronze placed at The Waterfront Hall in Belfast and a statue of C S Lewis at Holywood Arches in East Belfast.  Commissions include portraits of several Nobel Laureates, while Public Collections of Ross's work are held at the National Portrait Gallery, The British Museum and The Tate Gallery in  London; The Ashmolean Museum at Oxford and Harvard University, USA.

Any soccer fan who may be able to provide Ross with Northern Ireland strip from the 1950's will have  the pleasure of seeing the kit replicated in bronze - and will hopefully be able to attend the ceremony to unveil the finished piece next year. 

Should you wish to contribute to the Bertie Peacock Sculpture Fund please do so using the following details

Bank: First Trust Bank
Account Name: Bertie Peacock Sculpture Fund
Account Number: 07008019
Sort Code: 93-82-46