Coming soon - the name of the 15th Linfield player to be awarded the prestigious Torrans Trophy

Posted : 13th May 2022 at 07:52:20

The Torrans Trophy, an award presented annually to a Linfield player deemed by the club's directors to have achieved legendary status, will be presented this weekend for the 15th time since the introduction of this prestigious award.

The announcement of the recipient and the presentation of the award will take place at the scheduled awards presentation evening at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in South Belfast on Saturday evening.

The award is the equivalent of a player being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame as one of the All Time Greats in the entire history of the club.

Although the previous presentation took place only as recently as February this year, this was in fact the award for last year which was delayed due to the restrictions arising from the corona virus pandemic.

A few years ago a wonderful octogenarian and a grandson of one of the founder members of our club way back in 1886 presented a special trophy to the management committee with the expressed wish that annually they should present it to a player, past or present.

Given that the donor was John Torrans, a name that became iconic over the first thirty five years of our club's history, the committee decided that the trophy should be awarded to a player who had also become an icon or a legend in the proud and illustrious history of Linfield Football Club.

Noel Bailie became the first holder of the Torrans Trophy and in many ways mirrored John’s great grand-uncle Sam who had captained Linfield for 17 years and had won many honours in the game. Having played 1013 games for his one and only club, Noel is a true Linfield all-time great and richly deserved the MBE award.

Another Linfield great was the second recipient of the Torrans Award. With a tally of 57 goals scored in the 1984/85 season, Martin McGaughey earned the coveted European Silver Boot award which he later donated to the club for display in the trophy cabinet.

The management committee then decided to bestow this honour upon another star striker in Glenn Ferguson. Glenn won countless medals in his time at Windsor Park and "Spike", the current Head of Youth is a legendary player at this club, having scored over 250 goals for Linfield.

This prestigious honour was next presented in memory of the late, great Tommy Dickson. "The Duke of Windsor" was the captain of the legendary 1961-62 Seven Trophy Winning team and he ranks in the opinion of many privileged to have seen him in action, as the greatest player ever to wear the famous royal blue jersey.

The Torrans Trophy was then presented to Peter Rafferty, a great centre-half and captain from the hugely successful Roy Coyle era of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The "Raff" or "Bald Eagle", as he was affectionately known, was one of the great characters of the local game. He was an instantly recognisable figure and a fearless and inspirational leader on the pitch.

Nine years ago Alex Russell became the first goalkeeper to win this award. He served Linfield with distinction between 1946 and 1960. A few years ago the Kop stand was re-named the Alex Russell stand in honour of the modest 'Sandy' who died in 2014.

Eight years ago the Board of Directors decided that the Torrans Trophy should be awarded to Isaac Andrews, the Shankill Road right-half who achieved legendary status through his exploits in the Seven Trophy Season of 1961-62 and Linfield’s epic European Cup Winners’ Cup battles against Manchester City in 1970.

Seven years ago the Board of Directors decided that the eighth recipient of the Torrans Trophy should be George Dunlop, the colourful and stalwart goalkeeper who achieved legendary status through his achievements in 570 games in the Linfield jersey through the glory years under manager Roy Coyle during the late 1970s and early 1980s during which he picked up nine Irish League winners and two Irish Cup winners medals.

Six years ago the Board of Directors decided that the the Torrans Trophy should be awarded in memory of the late Bobby Braithwaite who achieved legendary status as a star member of the 1961/62 Seven Trophy Winning Team and who sadly passed away the previous October. Bobby was one of a select few to have won all seven medals in that never to be forgotten and glorious 1961/62 season.

Five years ago the award was presented to Billy Murray who signed for Linfield in November 1977 and made 390 appearances (65 as sub) scoring 131 goals. Before leaving in August 1988, Billy won 7 Irish League Winners medals and Irish Cup winners medals.

Billy was one of the most gifted players to have graced the Irish League scene. A wing wizard on the pitch and a real extrovert star player who could turn a game and who will rank among the greatest ever to wear the royal blue jersey.

Four years ago the honour was bestowed on Sammy ‘Save us’ Pavis the legendary centre forward from the 1965-70 era who scored 225 goals in 260 Linfield games.

East Belfast man Sammy went on to enjoy success on the snooker scene and when he received the Torrans trophy he was also presented with his Life membership ticket - the highest honour this club can bestow on one of its loyal servants. Since then Sammy has sadly passed away.

Three years ago the honour was awarded in honour of the one and only Joe Bambrick, the legendary Linfield and Ireland centre forward from the 1920s and 1930s.

Head, heel or toe, slip it to Joe, from Roden Street remains an immortal in the history books of this club through his goalscoring exploits in royal blue. To this day his 6 goals for Ireland against Wales at Celtic Park on February 1, 1930 remains a record for a British Isles player in international football.

Two years ago the award was bestowed on one of the Seven Trophy winning legends, Ken Gilliland.

Humble full back Ken had passed away months earlier and in his will, he left all seven of his 1961-62 Seven Trophy winning medals to be displayed proudly by the club he served with great distinction, as one of the immortals who brought glory to the club.

Last year’s award presentation took place in February this year and the 14th recipient of this prestigious award was Dessie Gorman.

Dessie ‘the Dundalk Hawk’ enjoyed a successful spell at Linfield between 1992 and 1997, winning two League titles and two Irish Cups (against Bangor and Carrick) and he will always be associated with the huge European games against Copenhagen.

Dessie played in a flamboyant style that endeared him to the Linfield support and team mates from that successful period and in April 1994 he scored one of the goals in the 2-0 win against Glentoran which, when combined with the dramatic 2-2 draw between Portadown and Glenavon, secured a famous League title for Linfield.

There are so many great names in the proud and illustrious history of this great club and all of them would be worthy winners of this prestigious award. There is no doubt that the 15th name to be unveiled on the prestigious Torrans Trophy soon will be revered by generations of Bluemen and women for his terrific achievements in Linfield's cause.

The presenter of the trophy, John Torrans ’junior’, followed the Blues from a distance. He spent a match day at Windsor Park in May fifteen years ago and returned with the new trophy a few months later. Sadly, he passed away on February 5 fourteen years ago, after a brief illness. He was a man of great courage and charisma and he impressed all who met him with his quiet modesty. He served with distinction in the RAF during the second World war and was shot down over France in 1943 to be rescued by the French resistance and hidden for some six months, before finally ending up as a prisoner of war.

We remember his life and it is a huge honour to have the Torrans Trophy at this club.
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