Today was one of our saddest days, but also one of our proudest.
There was a heavy mist, as heavy as our hearts, and even the sky was shedding a few tears at Roselawn. But all at once it was a truly uplifting experience as we recalled the life of our club legend – Stevie Milburn.
The church was bursting at the seams as people from different aspects of Stevie’s life – family, work, university – turned out in huge numbers. But the attendance of more than 60 coaches, players and committee members, past and present, from Carryduff Colts was stunning.
Most turned up in club regalia and formed a guard of honour as Stevie’s remains were brought into the little church and it was a sight that will live long in the memory.
His son Aaron, a former player who was with the club for many years, daughter Claire and Stephen’s brother John had the congregation alternatively in floods of tears and laughter as they recalled the life of an inspirational character.
‘He never said a bad word anyone’, ‘he was always laughing and joking’ ‘he was a great coach, a teacher’ ‘he was the reason I play football ‘ were just some of the comments. ‘I haven’t played football for years since I left the Colts but after today and seeing the way everyone came together to remember Stevie might just inspire me to come back’ was another.
Winning, having our own pitch, being the biggest club in Belfast are all nice objectives. But today showed what Carryduff Colts is all about. It is about people and a community and even a family – and there is no greater tribute we can pay to Stevie Milburn than to say he brought us all together today and highlighted what we are all about.
He would have been so proud of our club today. He would have been so proud of Geraldine, Aaron and Claire and his brothers John and Andrew and their families. And what a send off. For John to come up with the idea to get the congregation to lift their right hand and give Stevie the red card as his remains disappeared from view could hardly have been more fitting – funny and inspirational, just like the man himself.
Rest in peace Stevie – and thank you. We will never forget you.