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Fran Ray – the doyen of schoolboy football who has lit up the game!

ROBERT Louis Stevenson said it was better to find a happy person than a five pound note.

He must have been talking about Fran Ray.

THE ‘A’ TEAM: the late Joe Corcoran and his great pal, the legendary Fran Ray who between helped make the DDSL to become the most successful schoolboy league under the FAI’s jurisdiction. Pic: Eamon Scott/STRIKERONLINE

For many years, Fran worked at Crampton’s, not far from Lansdowne Road. He was the life of the building. A word, and a smile, for all. Everybody’s day was better for having crossed his path.

By NIALL SCULLY

And that’s one of his greatest gifts of all – people. How to get on with them. Lifting their mood with a word. Brightening the climate with a quip.

When Fran enters a room, it’s like as if Frank Sinatra has walked in. Everybody wants to shake his hand. To hear his stories. To be in his company. The best company in the house.

And it’s that ever joyful, giving personality that has made Fran the doyen of schoolboy football in this country.

He understands the game. But, more importantly, he understands the people that play it – the youth.

The DDSL, the home of a thousand stars. Footballers that went on to grace Dalymount Park, The Aviva and many other theatres.

But no matter where the game took them, they all remember Fran. “How’s it going, Fran,” would so often be their opening line when they’d meet the great man all the years later.

Still remembering the trips down the country, or across the sea. The sing-songs. The feeling of belonging. Of being wanted. Of being valued.

The words of encouragement from Fran making them feel ten feet tall. Helping them on their way. To becoming better players. And better people.

To become parents themselves. Guiding their own children. Giving their kids a bag of praise. Easing their journey on the long road of life.

The best result of them all.

Fran’s memories stretch across the pages. All across the 15 Acres. The fond days of Rialto. Becoming the champion administrator.

And cheering up every corridor he ever walked down. His stories would fill many books.

His ways are wise. The committee room could be a turbulent place. But where many saw walls, Fran always saw the ladder to climb over them.

And the bottom line was always the players. Providing football for the young people of the city. A city where he has long being a Freeman.

He has seen the League bloom and grow. And he was at the heart of it all.

Running the best show in town. And in the country. Doing it with good old fashioned values and humour.

In recent times, Fran has been up against a formidable, difficult opponent called illness. When a Facebook note went up on Striker wishing him well, the responses poured in. To overflowing.

Reaction came from every corner. The good wishes covering so many decades.

From so many players, managers and people who graced the League. And who appreciate Fran giving them the happiest days of their life.

Football cherishes Fran Ray. And the wonderful contribution he has made to the beautiful game.

The priceless poetry of his presence. And how he has influenced so many lives.

For thousands of children in this city, the DDSL was, and always will be, their Treasure Island.

Fran Ray’s Treasure Island.

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