LOCAL residents will join Derry City fans and club directors this evening, Friday, October 14, to show solidarity to visiting fans to the Brandywell ground.
It follows an incident last week when a 60-strong mob of youths attack a Dundalk minis bus as it left the ground following the Co Louth team’s 2-1 win in the FAI Cup semi-final replay.
The symbolic march will take place from Lecky Road to the Brandywell Stadium before the SSE Airtricity Premier Division game on Friday night against Bohemians (kick-off 7.45 pm).
The rally will leave from outside Mailey’s Bar at 7.15 pm.
Local politicians, who met club chairman Philip O’Doherty after the incident, have been invited to join the rally.
During last week’s incident, a teenage Dundalk fan was struck on the head with a bottle and needed medical treatment.
He missed his bus back home to Dundalk and had to get a lift with a radio reporter covering the game.
It was not the first time away fans had been attacked, with a club director warning it could put at jeopardy its future within the Irish Premier Division and cup competitions.
Derry City says it now wants to demonstrate publicly that those behind the violence are unrepresentative of the club and, indeed, the city.
Club director, Tony O’Doherty, who sounded the warning over about Derry’s future if violence outside the ground continued, said he hopes Friday’s “solidarity march” will show the “true face” of Derry City FC and its supporters.
“Visiting supporters the length and breadth of this country and, indeed, further afield, have, over the years, always experienced a warm welcome at Brandywell.
“What happened after the Dundalk game is not typical of the experience away fans get when they come to Brandywell.
“Unfortunately, these are events outside the ground which we can’t control but we still have to find a way of dealing with them.”
Mr. O’Doherty added: “I’m continually meeting true Derry City fans who are telling me that they are sick, sore and tired at the tarnishing of the club’s reputation because of these young people. I can understand that frustration.
“Tonight is an opportunity for them to show the true face of Derry City and its fans – the real alternative to that being portrayed in the media.
“Crucially, the march is also an effort to show solidarity and support to the people of the Brandywell who have to bear the brunt of all this.”
Mr. O’Doherty said he hopes the march will convince League of Ireland clubs that Derry City FC “is still the same club which, year after year, has been voted as having the best supporters in the land.”
He added: “These young people don’t represent us. I want visiting clubs to know that we’ll look after them and Bohs’ supporters travelling to tonigh’s game are more than welcome to join us on the march.
“After all, this isn’t just about our club – it’s about the reputation and good name of our city.”