A TRIBUTE match will take place in Turner’s Cross on Sunday (2pm) between Cork City legends and Cork City internationals in memory of the late Jerry Harris.
Harris, who sadly passed away in December, is being honoured for his dedication to and the impact he had on Cork soccer.
Ahead of the game, Jerry’s son Anthony Harris spoke about the event and some of the football memories he shared with his late father.
“It’s a game was something I had discussed with him several times over the last decade,” Harris said.
“He never showed any interest though, as he never wanted to be the focus of attention. He would prefer to help others.
“He never objected but would quietly disengage from the conversation. It wasn’t my place to force it when he wasn’t giving it his blessing, so I let it go.
“When he passed away and Covid cases were high, we didn’t want to bring any hardship on anyone else in his name so we communicated that the funeral was private, and quietly extended a welcome to those who were closest to him should they wish to attend.
“It made the day a little easier for his wife Rose. The guard of honour passing Turner’s Cross was a great tribute.
We were conscious though that we had, perhaps, excluded people and hadn’t allowed people to pay their respects, and that this was not fair, being fair was Jerry’s way.
“His brother Michael led the charge on the testimonial, to his credit, supported by Jerry’s grandson Caen and Greg O’Halloran and we all agreed that the fitting way to honour the man was with a match, followed by some food and drinks in the best of company. That was in Jerry’s view; a good day out.
“The tributes that have been paid to him have been remarkable in many ways, but for me most of all because of their consistency.
“When preparing the eulogy before the funeral I took some time to read some of the messages on rip.ie and Billy Kenny, a neighbour, friend, and another passionate Cork soccer man had stolen the first two sentences of the words I had prepared.
“You see, everyone had the same words to say because Jerry was the same consistent person with everyone, everyone experienced the same honest genuine man.
“So the response to the game being announced has again been consistent. People have been appreciative of the personal call and invitation done in the way that Jerry would have done it.
“Everyone has been delighted to participate. Holidays have been rearranged and in truth; it has most likely been the easiest testimonial ever to organise.
“Jerry and I played in Bishopstown against University of Limerick. The motivation was that he wanted to play in a fifth decade of the Munster Senior League.
“I’m not sure if it has been done before or since, but it was more of a personal goal. Jerry always played to win.
“He was very proud of achieving 100% in his inter-cert maths.
“He didn’t get to do his Leaving Cert until he went back to school at night as his mother died before he finished school, leaving him as the head of the family.
“He won all five available trophies with Glasheen in 1957. He would never preach or dictate to anyone, he preferred to lead by example. He admired that in others too. On that day in Bishopstown, he showed the same quiet resolve.
“He wouldn’t have been content just to tick the box, we were both spoken to by the referee about an incident on the far touchline but in light of the circumstances, there were no cards shown.
“I have many football memories with him. I remember crying myself to sleep with the pain in my arms after spending the day handing down sods of grass from a truck as we were relaying the pitch in Turner’s Cross.
“I was in dressing rooms and dugouts from an early age with Jerry, Noel O’Mahony, and other great Cork names.
“There is a great photograph of him celebrating with Dave Barry after the drawn game with Bayern Munich in Musgrave Park. He spoke about that a lot down through the years. He had the greatest of time for Dave as a player and as a person.
“The Glasheen team of 1957 always filled him with pride and the league win in the RDS against Shelbourne in 1992-93 was, unless I am sadly mistaken, in Jerry’s opinion the best Cork City team of all time.
“One of my own personal favourites that we shared together was with the Cork City reserve team up behind Telecom Eireann against Temple United.
“He was the manager, we had only nine players and we were two down at half time. We had 10 men from around the 50th minute when Jerry got one guy out of work to make up the numbers.
David Ludzik scored two great goals and we had to jog off the pitch at the final whistle in a huddle as we were pelted with stones and expletives.
“There was no trophy for that one but that was a very satisfying moment. Jerry’s philosophy was; you can never win them all but never give up and always keep fighting to the bitter end.
“And if you think you might be injured, think again, you will run that out of you!”