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Bray’s Jack Vance was a talented footballer and an absolute gentleman

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The late Jack Vance.

The late Jack Vance.

The late Jack Vance.

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The death has occurred of Jack /Jackie Vance of the Putland road in Bray. He passed away peacefully on August 3 with his family by his side. He will be greatly missed his loving wife of 55 years Rosaleen (née Martin), sons Seán, Rory and Ciarán, daughters-in-law Nicola, Audrey and Niamh, grandchildren Isabella, James, Billy, Henry, May, Julia and Evie, brothers Pat and Willie, sister Ena, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, extended family and a large circle of friends.

A Bray native, Jack grew up in Ardee street, off the Dargle road. A very talented goalkeeper, he played his schoolboy football with St Joseph’s Boys in Sallynoggin then a fledgling schoolboy football club in south Dublin. He was among the first at St Joseph’s to represent his country at schoolboy and youth international level, and was a trialist with Arsenal at the age of 15 in the late 1950s, when, in the words of one of his long time pals at St Joseph’s, “going on trial to England was a very big deal”.

He was seen off on the bus from Bray by his family and relatives. He travelled by boat and train to London on his own, a profound and character-building experience for a young teenager. The family has a lovely memento that one of his sons found fading away in the attic. It’s a signed letter from Bill Shankly from 1960, the then Liverpool manager, stating that if Arsenal were not interested in signing him, then Liverpool certainly were. Like many young footballers in the past who travelled to England, Jack was homesick and ultimately returned to Bray and continued his footballing career with Bray Wanderers, Shamrock Rovers and T.E.K.

However, his football legacy did live on. His son Rory represented Liverpool at underage level and like his dad before him was also approached by another Liverpool legend, Kenny Dalglish, to put pen to paper for the club but ultimately decided that that journey wasn’t one he wanted to take. Jack’s grandson Billy has been capped several times at underage level and is currently playing with St Patrick’s Athletic.

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An avid and general all-round sportsman, Jack joined the Bray Golf club in the mid 1970s and was very proud to captain the club in 1991. A well-known and much-loved figure in the golf club for many years, his family were very touched and grateful for the Bray Golf Club guard of honour formed at his funeral.

His working life began as a printing apprentice in the Bray Printing company, he learned his trade there before moving to Lithographic Universal in the town in the 1960s. However Jack was a born sales man and while he didn’t leave the printing trade, he joined the multinational print and chemical company 3M as one of their first sales representatives in Ireland in 1970. Jack’s great ability to connect with people ensured a very successful sales career. With a deep entrepreneurial spirit, in 1981, in the heat of a tough recession, he co-founded Novacolour, a successful print supplies business headquartered in Blackrock Co Dublin.

His business and sporting life gave him great opportunities to meet and forge long lasting friendships which he cherished all his life.

Those friendships were evident in the outpouring of best wishes and condolences the family received on hearing the news of Jack’s death.

‘An absolute gentleman’ - the overwhelming sentiment the family received after Jacks death. He had an extraordinary ability to make people want to be in his company, a very rare gift.

Jack was one of life’s great competitors, whether making acrobatic saves as a goalkeeper, or winning the next business sale, he fought no greater fight than with his own health. Supported by his loving wife, Rosaleen, she was a rock of support for Jack and saw him through some tough medical challenges over many years.

He finally succumbed to a bout of pneumonia in August but not before he amazed the nursing staff in St Vincent’s with his good humour and fighting spirit. In his own inimitable words- “I gave it a real lash”.

Jack is survived by his wife Rosaleen, sons Sean, Rory and Ciaran.


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