WEST Belfast is in mourning after the death of sporting community stalwart Michael 'Mickey' Mervyn, who passed away following a battle with cancer.
The 65-year-old Lenadoon man died peacefully in hospital on July 7 and was laid to rest in Milltown Cemetery on July 9.
Originally from the Lower Falls, Mickey moved to the Stewartstown Road area in his younger years and later on to Lenadoon.
He would go on to become part of a long footballing dynasty with strong ties to the Oliver Plunkett Football Club, where he played as a teenager. Later, as a father and grandfather, he would see many of his family members follow in his footsteps by pulling on the club's famous black and white jersey.
A student of Slate Street Primary and the CBS Glen Road, Mickey went on to serve time as an apprentice upholsterer at McGurk's furniture store in Andersonstown.
After leaving his apprenticeship for a brief stint in New York, he returned to Belfast where, being a hard worker by nature, he found work as a shipyard painter, a labourer, a black taxi driver, and as delivery driver for A'Town Meats (Tucker's).
Speaking to the Andersonstown News this week, his son, also named Michael, remembered him as a "joker and a slegger".
"My da was very well got - everybody knew him," he said.
"He was always telling jokes and carrying on no matter where he worked in life or where he went. People were saying to me that even when he was getting picked up in the morning to go to a job that the craic would start as soon as he go into the work van.
"Even on the sites he was always messing about and they'd had to say 'Frig sake, Mickey, would you stop messing about, we're getting nothing done here' – he was always up for a bit of craic."
A keen boxer, Mickey fought for Dominic Savio ABC in his youth and had a spell during the 80s and 90s as a boxing coach at Oliver Plunkett ABC, where he dedicated much of his energies to the perceived underdogs at the club.
"He treated everybody like they had the same standing in the club," Michael recalls.
"There were obviously people in the club who everybody looked up to, but he always made everybody feel like they were part of the club and that they had as much of a role to play in the club.
"He always put a lot of time and effort into the younger kids, including the kids who maybe thought they weren't big enough characters - that was the type of person he was."
He continued: "He was always one for giving advice to young ones and trying to keep them on the straight and narrow.
"If you ever needed help you would never have been afraid to ask him. He always had good rapport with younger people and all of our mates, because he was always so friendly and outgoing.
"Don't get me wrong, he was a discipline man and he had his rules, but there was always time for craic and banter and carrying on."
Mickey was later a member of Donegal Celtic Sports and Social Club, where he enjoyed socialising with family and friends.
Above all else, Mickey was a family man.
"He has left a big void for all of his family and he'll be missed by everyone," his son Michael added.
St. Oliver Plunkett FC said in a statement: "The Committee, coaches, players and families of St Oliver Plunkett FC deeply regret the death of Michael Mervyn Snr and wish to extend our deepest sympathy to his loving family.
"Our sincere thoughts are with Michael, Rab, Brendy, Alanna, and all of Michael’s grandchildren and wider family circle who are prominent amongst our Black and White Family.
"The Mervyns are an integral part of our club and have been throughout its history, they bleed black and white, and while they may feel hurt at this time, our entire club hurts with them."
Oliver Plunkett ABC said it was a "sad day" for the club, describing Mickey as a "big character and long-time supporter of local boxing."
"He will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him," the club said.
Donegal Celtic Sports and Social Club said: "Very saddened to hear of the passing of our good friend and member Michael Mervyn. You will be sorely missed by everyone at the club."