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Saturday 10 December 2016

Dad pens poignant poem for Northern Ireland fan Darren Rodgers who died at Euro 2016

Ann W Schmidt

Published 06/09/2016 | 09:42

Darren Rodgers died at Euro 2016
Darren Rodgers died at Euro 2016

The father of a Northern Ireland football fan who died at the Euros earlier this year has published a poignant poem to memorialise his son.

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Darren Rodgers, nicknamed Dar Dar, died 12 weeks ago after falling from a promenade in Nice, France.

The 24-year-old from Meadowvale, Ballymena, was there to see Northern Ireland play at the European Championship finals and had watched their opening match against Poland hours earlier on June 12.

Darren was the only son of Paul and Jacqueline Rodgers.

To commemorate his son's tragic death, Darren's father wrote a poem and posted it to Facebook yesterday.

"Twelve weeks today we lost our beautiful son," he wrote.

"It seems like 12 years since we've seen him and looking back on where and why it happened I wrote this little poem, knowing he's not here to cheer on the green and white army as they start another campaign is oh so hard."

The poem talked about the promenade where Darren fell, the devastation at his loss and his constant support for his favourite football team.

Paul wrote in the poem: "A lonely figure at your grave/ Looks to the sky so blue/There's not a single day goes by/I'll shed a tear for you.

"We only had you for a while/ Before you went away/We only hoped you'd come back home/ The same you'd went away."

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He posted the poem as the Northern Ireland team started its qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Wakehurst FC, which Darren used to play for, also shared the poem on their Facebook page.

They wrote: "A beautiful, poignant tribute to Darren Rodgers written by his father Paul. RIP Dar Dar."

After Darren's passing, fans in France wore Northern Ireland shirts with 'Dar Dar' written on them and the number 24 on the back to mark his age.

Others wore shirts with the number eight because that was his number when he played for Braid United in the Ballymena Saturday Morning League.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill paid tribute to Darren and players wore black armbands out of respect during their game against Ukraine days after his death.

Fans from both sides gave Darren an ovation in the 24th minute of the match.

A banner with his name on it was also held up at the ground.

In a show of solidarity, Republic of Ireland fans showed their support during their match against Sweden by singing Stand Up for the Ulsterman and applauding Darren.

Hundreds of football fans left flowers, scarves and flags at the spot where Darren had fallen more than 20 feet.

Friends of the football fan said he was living his dream by cheering on his team at the Euros.

Darren's funeral took place at St Patrick's Church of Ireland in Meadowvale on June 24.

The service was held just hours before Northern Ireland played Wales in the last 16 of the tournament.

Northern Ireland lost the match 1-0.

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