Stars come out for Arthur’s big night

Ballymena football coach Arthur McClean's exploits will be celebrated at a function this week.
Ballymena football coach Arthur McClean's exploits will be celebrated at a function this week.

The efforts of one of Ballymena’s best-known sporting ‘star-spotters’ will be recognised this week.

Football coach Arthur McClean has been responsible for launching the careers of former Northern Ireland stars such as Michael O’Neill, Michael Hughes and Steven Penney, as well as current Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

Arthur has been involved in local football for more than four decades as player, coach, manager and administrator.

And his dedicated service will be officially recognised at a special function in Ballymena’s Adair Arms Hotel this Wednesday night.

Among the guest list will be Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill, currently on the crest of a wave after the country’s impressive start to the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Hughes and Penney are also due to attend but Brendan Rodgers won’t be present - the event clashes with the small matter of Liverpool’s Champions League game against Real Madrid at Anfield!

The function also has the dual role of celebrating the 15th anniversary of the formation of the Ballymena Invitational Mini Soccer League.

Arthur has coached Star United teams since the competition’s inception and he is also the chairman of the popular league, which gives primary school children in the Ballymena area their first taste of football.

Arthur’s contribution to Ballymena’s sporting circles was recognised earlier this year when he won the Services to Sport category at the annual Ballymena Sports Awards.