Peter Bills: Willie John has focus on greater good
They flew in, from all corners of Ireland and Britain, to pay tribute to the great man. Of course, his hale and hearty laughter, that familiar explosion of mirth, warmed the room like some human heater.
But then, that was one of the reasons why they were there. For his 70th birthday celebrations, Willie John McBride was in his usual fine form. "I am like the Queen this year," he joked. "My official birthday is June 6 but I was celebrating it on June 2, the most convenient date."
If ever a man exuded the notion of someone larger than life it is WJ McBride, a rugby player of renown for Ballymena, Ireland and the Lions. His popularity seems to go on, like the great rivers of this land, rolling by, quite unaffected by the changing currents of human behaviour and fate.