SPORTING stars of the past six decades gathered at Bangor Grammar School on Tuesday evening for the launch of its new Sporting Wall of Fame.
No fewer than 32 faces appear on the Wall, beginning with rugby international George McIldowie, who gained four caps for Ireland between 1906 and 1910, and ending (for now) with current international Stuart McCloskey, who recently gained his second cap in Ireland’s 23-20 win over Fiji.
Nineteen of the Wall ‘inductees’ attended the launch, along with Byrom Bramwell, great nephew of Thomas Bramwell, another rugby player, who appeared for Ireland against France back in 1928.
The Wall was conceived and funded by Bangor Grammarians, the past pupils association, and was brought to fruition over recent months in co-operation with the School itself. The aim was to collate and celebrate those sportsmen who had gained full senior international honours in their chosen field.
No fewer than 10 different sports are featured on the Wall of Fame: rugby (12), cricket (4), sailing (4), hockey (3), golf (3) and football (2), with one each from rowing, squash, swimming and tennis. In advance of the formal proceedings, the ‘inductees’ were taken on a guided tour of the sports department where the Wall of Fame is located.
The main speaker was Olympic Gold Medal winner Stephen Martin who said there was a rich history of sporting success in the school and it was important that future generations of pupils should be reminded of their achievements.
“School sport was very important to each and every one of us,” he stated, “and that passion for sport continued long after we left Bangor Grammar. Indeed our experiences helped shape how we live our lives today.”
He added: “We were all blessed to have teachers with the knowledge and enthusiasm to guide and encourage our talents in both sport and academic lessons.
“On nights like this we can take great pride in our achievements and remember the positive influence Bangor Grammar School had on all of us.”
Former Northern Ireland and Arsenal captain Terry Neill, who had flown over that morning from London, rubbed shoulders with Dick Milliken, who captained the first Schools Cup-winning team in 1969 (before going on to play for both Ireland and the British Lions). Golfers Brian Kissock and Garth McGimpsey, cricketers John Elder, Brian Millar and Mark Hutchinson, and hockey Olympic Gold and Bronze Medallist Stephen Martin all joined in the tour.
Other rugby stars in attendance included Roger Clegg, David Morrow and Kenneth Hooks, Olympic sailors Bill O’Hara, Conrad Simpson and Stephen Milne, while squash, rowing and tennis were represented by Jeff Hearst, David Gray and Peter Minnis respectively.
Completing the line-up were Bill Whisker, the school’s only sailing World Champion (the GP14 class in 1975), and swimmer Steven McQuillan, who set seven new Irish individual records between 2008 and 2010.
There were apologies from 10 past pupils who were unable to attend – David McManus (hockey), David Feherty (golf), Michael Rea (cricket), Don Whittle (rugby), Mark Cummings (swimming), Mark McCall (rugby), Keith Gillespie (football), Kieron Dawson (rugby), Chris Cargo (hockey), and the aforementioned Stuart McCloskey.
In many instances they were represented by family members and all expressed the desire to view the Wall for themselves during a future visit to Bangor Grammar School.
Proceedings back in the Atrium commenced with introductions by Board of Governors chairman Paul Blair. He thanked the Grammarians for providing the funding and all those who had made the evening possible, also the school’s jazz band, pupils who had helped with the tours to view the Wall, and the catering staff. There was praise too for the “unsung” work of the sports coaches, past and present.
He also mentioned the forthcoming Alumni Project, stressing the important role played by Alumni in inspiring current pupils and supporting the school.
Grammarians chairman Terence Bowman commended his predecessor, Geoffrey Miller, for proposing the idea of the Wall of Fame and explained that while every effort had made to ensure the accuracy of the information, thanks to the sterling efforts of recently retired BGS Archivist Barry Greenaway and historian Trevor Gray, the Grammarians fully intended to update the Wall in the event of new details coming to light or new internationals emerging.
It was also their intention in future years to develop further Walls of Fame around the campus to recognise other areas where past pupils have brought great honour to the school.
Concluding, he told in brief the story of George McIldowie, who was not represented at the launch. He had a very famous cousin, the Holywood actress Dame Angela Lansbury, while in his working life he had served as Resident Engineer on the Silent Valley reservoir construction project in the Mournes back in the 1920s and 1930s.
Refreshments were served during which visitors were also taken on conducted tours of the Sporting Wall of Fame.
Terry Neill returned to his old school yesterday morning (Wednesday) for a Question and Answer session with pupils.
Who is on the BGS Sporting Wall of Fame?
- George McIldowie, rugby, 1906-10, 4 Ireland caps
- Thomas Bramwell, rugby, 1928, 1 Ireland cap
- Hugh Greer, rugby, 1942, 1 Ireland cap
- David McManus, hockey, 1970-71, 6 Ireland caps
- Terry Neill, football, 1961-73, 59 Northern Ireland caps
- Brian Kissock, golf, 1962-68
- Roger Clegg, rugby, 1973-75, 5 Ireland caps
- Dick Milliken, rugby, 1973-75, 14 Ireland caps, 4 Lions Test caps
- Bill Whisker, sailing, World GP14 Champion 1975, Irish Helmsman Champion 1980
- David Feherty, golf, 1980-92, Ryder Cup team 1991
- John Elder, cricket, 1973-85, 37 Ireland caps
- Stephen Martin, hockey, 1980-92, 135 Ireland caps, 94 Great Britain caps, Gold and Bronze Olympic Medallist
- Peter Minnis, tennis, 1983, Davis Cup v USA
- David Gray, Ireland rowing, 1980 Moscow Olympics
- Kenneth Hooks, rugby, 1981-91, 6 Ireland caps
- Jeff Hearst, squash, Ireland, 1982-89
- Bill O’Hara, Olympics, sailing, 1984 (Los Angeles), 1988 (Seoul)
- Garth McGimpsey, golf, 1985-2005, Walker Cup teams
- Michael Rea, cricket, 1985-94, 52 Ireland caps
- David Morrow, rugby, 1986, 3 Ireland caps
- Don Whittle, rugby, 1988, 1 Ireland cap
- Conrad Simpson, sailing, Irish Olympic Team, 1988 (Seoul), 1992 (Barcelona)
- Mark Cummings, swimming, Ireland team, 1990
- Mark McCall, rugby, 1992-98, 13 Ireland caps
- Brian Millar, cricket, 1992-95, 20 Ireland caps
- Keith Gillespie, football, 1994-2008, 86 Northern Ireland caps
- Mark Hutchinson, cricket, 2005, 1 Ireland cap
- Kieron Dawson, rugby, 1997-2003, 21 Ireland caps
- Stephen Milne, Ireland Sailing, 2008 Beijing Olympics
- Chris Cargo, hockey, 2009-, 167 caps
- Steven McQuillan, swimming, 2008-10, set 7 new individual Irish records
- Stuart McCloskey, rugby, Ireland, 2 caps