The ‘Forgotten Rover’ back in Ballymena

BALLYMENA man Vic Marcus, one of the founding members of the Irish Rovers was back in the town last week reminiscing about his time with the Showband.

Thursday, 28th July 2011, 3:18 pm

Born in Ballymena, Vic moved to Canada when he was 18 with his Aunt and Uncle were emigrating.

Once in Toronto Vic met two lads from Northern Ireland, Where else but in the local legion on a Saturday night?

One of them was George Miller also from Ballymena, before long the drink started to flow and Vic, George and Jimmy Ferguson of Belfast began singing songs.

With the usual selection of folk tunes in full swing, they happened to be overheard by the organizer of the Legion’s upcoming variety concert who insisted they perform.

They had two weeks to practise and they used George’s grandparents house in Toronto and as Vic had the only car, he would pick Jimmy up.

No prizes for guessing which song they opened with, of course it was “The Irish Rover” from which they took their name.

The practise paid off as the organisers booked the trio again, the newly formed Rovers then played a number of small gigs around the area.

The venues began to improve with a two week stint at larger venue, the Poor Alex and a local convention, Vic said: “Those were two of the wildest days of my life, I never wanted to hear that song, ‘The Rover’ again, but it was the only song they wanted to hear.

“In fact they had us parading up and down the halls singing at the top of our lungs.”

With new members added to the group, Vic became a bit disillusioned with the band’s future. He made the decision not to move to Vancouver with the rest and remained with his wife.

However the memories are reward enough for the retired police officer, he said: “I often wonder how my life would have been, if I had stayed with the boys, but I have no regrets of the route I took. I had a very rewarding career and extremely fond memories of the origin and early days of the Irish Rovers.”