Sports stars team up for char­ity game trib­ute to Wil­liam Dun­lop

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY STE­WART ROB­SON

SOME of the big­gest names in lo­cal sport came to­gether for a char­ity foot­ball match to hon­our the late Wil­liam Dun­lop.

Ex-play­ers such as David Healy and Keith Gille­spie as well as cur­rent mo­tor­cy­clists fought out a com­pet­i­tive game at Seav­iew yes­ter­day in trib­ute to the Bal­ly­money road racer who was killed while rid­ing last year.

Wil­liam (right) was just 32 when he died dur­ing prac­tice at the Sk­er­ries 100 in July, leav­ing be­hind wife Ja­nine and daugh­ter Ella (2).

A sec­ond daugh­ter, Willa, was born two months later.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple, some in mo­tor­cy­cling re­galia, in­clud­ing T-shirts with Wil­liam’s face printed on them, came from far and wide on a bit­terly cold Jan­uary day to show their sup­port.

The Road Rac­ers, man­aged by Cru­saders FC boss Stephen Bax­ter, came up against Lin­field boss Healy’s Short Cir­cuit Rac­ers, with the for­mer earn­ing a 4-3 win.

The show­piece, an an­nual event, was or­gan­ised by Wil­liam’s cousin Gary, son of leg- endary road racer Joey Dun­lop, along with 2016 Ir­ish Su­per­bike cham­pion Nikki Coates.

Speak­ing to the Belfast Tele­graph just after the fi­nal whis­tle, Gary said the past months had been dif­fi­cult, but the large turnout showed how much Wil­liam meant to so many peo­ple.

“Wil­liam’s fans, you could see them all in the crowd, the ones that meant quite a bit to him. It was great to see,” he said.

Wil­liam was the third mem­ber of the Dun­lop fam­ily to die while rac­ing, after his un­cle Joey and fa­ther Robert.

Seven months on from the ac­ci­dent, Gary said it was still hard to come to terms with the tragedy.

“It’s been ter­ri­ble, but at the end of the day the most im­por­tant thing is look­ing after Ja­nine and the two kids,” he added. “The rest of us just have to suck it up for a while, but it’s Ja­nine that has to wake up ev­ery morn­ing and look at her two chil­dren.”

For­mer Manch­ester United, New­cas­tle United, Black­burn Rovers and North­ern Ire­land mid­fielder Gille­spie opened the scor­ing for the Short Cir­cuit Rac­ers early in the first half with a

right-footed drive, but the Road Rac­ers fought back to earn the win.

“You could see the com­pet­i­tive­ness,” added Gary. “Ev­ery­body out there, they’re win­ners.”

Gille­spie was a friend of the rider. He said de­spite suf­fer­ing from two sore legs, tak­ing part was worth it.

“I played golf with Wil­liam and knew him on a per­sonal ba­sis. It is still hard to be­lieve and hard to get your head around.

“It’s nice to come out here and re­mem­ber him.”

Healy was in­volved in last year’s game and the for­mer striker said manag­ing the Road Rac­ers was a “priv­i­lege”.

Wil­liam will be be­stowed with an­other hon­our this week when he is posthu­mously in­ducted into the Ir­ish Mo­tor­cy­cling Hall of Fame, join­ing his fa­ther and un­cle on the list.

Glenn Ir­win is tack­led by Gary Dun­lopdur­ing the char­ity gameat Seav­iew

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