Following the transfer of Stephen McLaughlin relations between Derry City FC and the cross channel club have become so strong that Nottingham Forest have agreed to bring their Under-19 team to compete against the best that the Foyle Cup can offer.
Tournament Chairman Michael Hutton, in expressing his delight at the entry of Nottingham Forest is thrilled they have again renewed contact with the city. “When this competition was in its infancy in the early 90s, the local Nottingham Forest scout at that time, Billy Nelis, brought Nottingham Forest to the city to compete in the event and the likes of Mel Hackett, recently retired Academy Director, became a life long friend of the Derry & District Youth FA.
“In fact I had a telephone call on Christmas morning from Mel wishing all in the Association a happy Christmas and informing me that recently Forest have appointed Billy Nelis’ son as a part time scout to cover Northern Ireland, so it great to see the ties continuing. With Stephen McLaughlin transferring from Derry it has reawakened the club’s desires to visit the city and I am assured that Forest will bring a team determined to win the event.”
It has also been confirmed that Premier league team Norwich City will compete in the event as well.
“Norwich was one of the cities competing with Derry for the honour of being City of Culture 2013 and we felt it appropriate to invite them to compete in this year’s event,” added the chairman. “I made contact with Chris Hughton, a former Republic of Ireland international, and he was delighted to be asked and able to confirm that Norwich would be honoured to travel to Derry to represent the city in the UK City of Culture Foyle Cup event.”
The latest Scottish club to participate in the event is Aberdeen FC. Manager Craig Brown was special Guest of Honour at the event five years ago and this year’s entry will increase the number of Scottish clubs competing in the event. In 2012 Celtic FC, Hearts FC, St Johnstone FC, Kilmarnock FC and Hibernians FC all competed in the tournament and all clubs are expected to return for this year’s festival of football.
The popularity of the Foyle Cup event continues to grow as the organizers confirm that this year the event will cater for 200 teams. In 2011 there were 132 teams competing and last year 164 teams competed. The increase does not surprise the Tournament Chairman who pointed to the atmosphere created at the opening parade and said this carnival atmosphere, together with the local welcome, the high quality of entrants and quality of playing surface is what attracts so many entrants.
“I always take great pleasure in watching the parade through our city centre each year,” said Michael Hutton. “This parade brings together so many of our youth under the banner of sport – kids from the Shankill, kids from the Falls, kids from the Fountain, kids from the Bogside - kids of all colours, creeds, nationalities, all parade together under the banner of sport, happily marching across our Peace Bridge, onto Derry Walls on their way to the Guildhall Square, to be welcomed to the city by our Mayor.
“It will be great to welcome so many visitors to the city especially the four teams travelling from America and Canada to compete in the event. N Ireland needs much more of this experience. “
The Foyle Cup tournament is supported by Derry City Council, Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, Sport NI, Dept for Social Development, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Limavady Borough Council, Strabane District Council, The Culture Company, Hughes Insurance, PSNI, E & I Engineering, Brunswick Superbowl, Seagate and Derry Credit Union.