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Tuesday 06 Mar 2018
Former Northern Ireland international passes away

It was with sadness that the Irish Football Association learned of the passing of former Northern Ireland international Arthur Stewart. 

Arthur, who was born in Ballymena, won seven caps for Northern Ireland during a lengthy career which saw him play for his hometown club, Glentoran and Derby County among others. 

The full-back made his debut for Ballymena United in 1958 when he was aged just 16. It was against Bangor in a County Antrim Shield tie.

Arthur was not part of the Ballymena team which reached the 1959 Irish Cup final - they were beaten by Glenavon - but became a first team regular in the 1959-60 season. 

The defender won his first senior medal in 1960-61 when the Sky Blues lifted the Ulster Cup for the first time.

In 1961 he left the Sky Blues for Glentoran where he had a successful spell, winning three Irish League titles, one Irish Cup and various other domestic trophies. He won his first full international cap in April 1967 while at the Glens. 

After seven seasons at the Oval he signed for Derby County in the summer of 1967. He made 35 appearances for the Rams, scoring two goals, before returning to Ballymena in August 1970. Arthur won his six other caps for Northern Ireland during his spell at Derby.

A year after his return to Ballymena he found himself installed as player-manager. He won the City Cup in his first season in charge. In the 1973-74 season he led his side to the Irish Cup Final but they were defeated by Ards. In November 1974, however, the Braidmen captured the Gold Cup.

He was sacked as Sky Blues manager in March 1975. He then turned his attention to simply playing once more and enjoyed short spells with Distillery, Bangor, Cliftonville and the Glens once again. He also spent time playing in the United States. 

Arthur made 372 appearances, scoring 33 goals, in his two spells with his hometown club. And he is one of only three Ballymena players to win the Ulster Footballer of the Year award (1974).

The association would wish to send its sincere condolences to his family at this sad time.