Ostan Gweedore will have a worldwide audience on Monday evening when it beams out The Paddy Crerand Show live on Manchester United’s own television channel, MUTV.
The 1968 European Cup winner enjoyed an illustrious career with United and Celtic and is now a popular commentator and presenter with the Premier League champions’ dedicated station. The link with Gweedore is due to the fact Crerand’s mother, Sarah Tim Boyle, was from the area and his cousin Hugh Tim currently manages to hotel in Bunbeg.
“My mother is from the area and my late uncle Hughie Tim Boyle played Gaelic football for Donegal and Ulster,” Crerand recalled yesterday from Bilbao, where he had just landed before Manchester United’s last 16 second leg Uefa Europa League tie against Athletic Bilbao this evening. “He won five our six county championships with Gweedore as well. Half of Manchester, when I moved over here first, knew him and he knew the other half!
“I played a bit of Gaelic football myself. I remember playing for Gweedore against Dungloe one day in Magheragallon - we played for half-an-hour and then a football match broke out. It was in about 1955, when I was about 16 or so.”
Crerand was born in the Gorbals in Glasgow. After losing his father Michael, a native of Portstewart, Co Tyrone, during World War II, he joined Celtic as a teenager and played 120 games for the Parkhead side between 1958 and 1963, before making his way to Manchester United.
“The Gorbals were full of Donegal people, especially from Gweedore and the Rosses,” Crerand continues of his childhood in Glasgow. “Once you go anywhere, you tend to go to places where people you know are and that’s what it was like in Glasgow. Everyone looked after one another in the Gorbals - Scotland was a long way from Donegal on those days.
“I used to spend about six weeks of every summer in the area, sometimes Christmas as well. I got that Derry boat so often it was untrue. It was about 140 miles, an overnight journey of maybe 12 hours and then we used to get something to eat in the Gweedore Bar in Waterloo Street in Derry and then go onto Gweedore on the bus.
“That took another two or three hours as it stopped absolutely everywhere. It was a long drag. The roads in Donegal weren’t great. I’m not sure they knew what tarmacadam was. I was never abroad till I joined Celtic but loved every minute of my time in Gweedore.
“West Donegal is a really strong Celtic supporting area but United have got in there lately. Growing up Celtic was always my team but from the English ones, it was certainly United, as far back as when Johnny Carey was the captain. He was from Dublin and my mother was pro anyone who was Irish.”
Crerand helped United to the league championship in 1965 and 1967 and won winners’ medals in the 1963 FA Cup Final and European Cup. As a pundit, he covered Manchester United matches on local radio in the 1980s and early 1990s before joining the club’s official television station.
“When I left Celtic the people running the club didn’t know what day of the week it was,” he adds. “Jock Stein wasn’t in charge of the first team. When I was there he looked after the reserve team and he was brilliant, away ahead of his time. I left before he came back as manager. If he had’ve been taken on earlier I might never have left.
“I made my decision then to go to United and I had a great life there. After playing for them I am now part of the television channel, MUTV. We get to travel with the team and see the world. We’re in Bilbao and the Wolverhampton for Sunday’s game against Wolves and then from Belfast to Gweedore on Sunday night.
“We’re going to do a bit of travelling with the show. About three years ago we went to Malta for a show an couldn’t believe it when there was about 1,000 people. I mean, in Malta, it’s not much bigger than Arranmore!
“So we went to Dublin the Christmas before last and I think we should so more shows from the west of Ireland, from places like Galway or Mayo, like Cork of Kerry. Manchester has a massive Irish population and they’re nearly all from the west of Ireland. We might do that but this week is all about Donegal and that’s what we’re looking forward to now.”
MUTV has an audience of 18 million viewers in 68 countries.
Tickets, priced at €15 for the event on Monday, are now available from Ostan Gweedore. Call the Ostan on (074) 9531177. Former Northern Ireland international Norman Whiteside is the special guest on the show, which starts at 6.30pm.