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Friday 29 Dec 2023
New Year Honours: Five NI football family members recognised

Five people have been recognised in The King’s New Year Honours List for their services to football in Northern Ireland.

Michael Boyd, who spent more than 20 years with the Irish Football Association up until 2021, has been awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the Honours List for services to football, to sport, to charity and to reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

Above: Michael Boyd OBE pictured with Pat Jennings CBE at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park

Boyd left his role as the Irish FA’s Director of Football Development in February 2021 to join Sport Northern Ireland.

He now works as a project manager with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. He is also involved with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and Belfast Healthy Cities.

The east Belfast man initially joined the Irish FA as Community Relations Officer and progressed through the ranks to become Director of Football Development in October 2013. In total he spent 22 years at the governing body.

During his time with the association he kick-started the highly successful Football For All campaign which has been bringing communities together through football for more than 20 years.

Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said: “This is a well deserved recognition of the community building work Michael has been leading on for more than 20 years. 

We are proud he is part of the football family in Northern Ireland and we congratulate him on this award."

Another member of the football family receiving recognition is former FIFA and Irish League referee Leslie Irvine.

The Fermanagh man, who now lives in Limavady, is an international referee assessor and has been awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to football.

Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood said: "Leslie refereed four Irish Cup finals with distinction and ascended to the ranks of FIFA.  

He is still highly regarded at international level for his contribution to the development of referees as both an observer and as a trainer. Match officials are seldom recognised with awards so it is particularly pleasing to see Leslie recognised for his sustained and diligent contribution.

William James David King (known as Davy), Eugene McGeehan and David Wheeler have all received the British Empire Medal in recognition of their work in football.

Ballymena man King has been chairman of the Ballymena Saturday Morning League for more than 40 years. And he has been the PA announcer at Ballymena United FC for nearly 30 years.

Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood said: "David has been involved in local football for many years. 

I know him best through his valuable contributions on the Irish FA Junior Committee and the County Antrim FA. However, he is a major figure at grassroots level in the Ballymena Saturday Morning League. He has also volunteered as PA announcer at Ballymena United gamesbringing a smile to people's faces with his unique style. This recognition is well deserved."

Belfast man McGeehan, who is a coach at Santos Football Club, has been recognised for his voluntary service to football in Northern Ireland.

He was the founder of Santos FC, which was established in the New Lodge area of Belfast in 1969 and also trained and played at Antrim Forum before switching to its current home in Carryduff. Its membership is open to everyone irrespective of religion and ability.

Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood said: "I have had the pleasure of knowing Eugene through football for many years.

He is one of those people with a caring nature and a selfless desire to make the best of the beautiful game, using it to develop people. This award is fitting recognition of his contribution over many, many years."

Wheeler has been recognised for services to football in County Fermanagh. The Lisnaskea man has been involved with Lisnaskea Rovers Football Club for more than half a century and is currently chair of the club.

Developing his hometown club’s youth teams has been his forte down the years. He is a huge supporter of youth football in Fermanagh in general and is a former chairman of the Brendan Keogh Youth League.

He previously played for and managed Lisnaskea Rovers and was also the first manager of a Fermanagh team at the Milk Cup (now SuperCup NI) when he coached a U16 county team in 1992.

Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood said: “David has been a stalwart of football in Fermanagh for many, many years, as a player, manager and administrator. It’s great to see his tireless work being recognised in this way.”

Each year The King’s New Year Honours List recognises the achievements and service of people across the UK from all walks of life.