Larne’s man’s dream comes true at Windsor Park

A Northern Ireland FC fan from Larne has been given the once a lifetime chance to run out at Windsor Park for the last time before the historic stadium is renovated.
Neil Milligan at Windsor Park.  INLT 20-676-CONNeil Milligan at Windsor Park.  INLT 20-676-CON
Neil Milligan at Windsor Park. INLT 20-676-CON

Neil Milligan, 26, got the opportunity to fulfil his childhood dream as part of Vauxhall’s fourth annual Big Pitch competition.

The event was designed to offer fans an insight into life inside the Northern Ireland camp as part of their sponsorship of the national team.

As a surprise on the day of the competition, the two teams found out that they would be managed by Irish legends Gerry Taggart and Keith Gillespie.

And it was Team Taggart who edged the game 4-3 on the day.

The 109-year-old Windsor Park ground is scheduled to under go extensive work this year.

Neil said: “We all know the history of this ground and for me to be part of the last group of players to set foot on it is something I will remember for the rest of my life.

“We were given behind the scenes and to run out of the tunnel was an unbelievable experience.

“And then when the managers were revealed it was just the cherry on the cake of a completely surreal day.

“It’s been dream come true, I honestly couldn’t have wished for anything better”

Former Northern Ireland star turned manager for the day, Keith Gillespie, added: “The players have been fantastic and we’ve all had a magnificent day thanks to Vauxhall.

“I am sure they will all remember this day for a very long time – they’re all now part of the history of this iconic stadium.”

The players , from throughout the province, had taken part in a national competition run by Vauxhall across a number of platforms including their dedicated football website.

Vauxhall Head of Sponsorship, Chris Hornbuckle said; “This is our fourth year of running the Big Pitch competition and we have been completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of entries.

“To fulfil the childhood dreams of Northern Ireland fans is something we are very proud of and the perfect start to what is set to be a fantastic year of football.”