“Life is precious.

This week we put football aside and mourn the loss of a young man who has left us too soon.

As many of you know, Gerard ‘Jerry’ Thompson tragically passed away last Tuesday night. A member of the Portadown squad last year, Jerry had a massive impact on many of our current squad members. I never had the opportunity to meet Jerry as our paths hadn’t crossed, but the sadness I see in my teammates eyes & the pain I hear in their voices when they speak of him tell me everything I need to know.

In this time, I feel it is not my place to speak on behalf of Jerry’s life as I cannot truly formulate the words that would properly pay the respect he deserves.

I feel it is better to come from those who shared in the beauty of his life – the ones who I know are suffering the most in these painful times.

“Jerry had a special talent for making people smile. He adored the craic and the banter with the boys. There was never a dull moment when he was around. I enjoyed winding him up when he would walk around the changing room topless – I would tell him it was like I was looking in a mirror. He hadn’t a bad word to say about anyone and always had such a positive outlook on things. If I ever had a bad day he would have said, “Chris, smile” and smiled at me in a way that he knew would wind me up. I couldn’t help but laugh and just like that my day had picked up. Jerry truly was one in a million and will be sorely missed. A true gentleman. May he rest in peace.”

                                – Chris Loughran (Head of Medical)

“Jerry was a great guy, always smiling and always involved in the craic. He would’ve run through a brick wall for the team and never gave anything less than 100% each & every day. No one had a bad word to say about him. I would bump into him regularly at the barbers and we would always speak about how each other were getting on in the football. Saturday mornings won’t be the same – I’ll miss him beeping his horn at me and giving me one of his classic big smiles.

His son will grow up and learn of how good a man Jerry was and be proud he can call him his father ❤️

                                        – Conall McGrandles

“I’ll always remember when seeing Jerry, he would do this terrible Dublin impression of “What’s up bud?!” and we’d both laugh about it. There was never a time I didn’t see him smiling & having a laugh. He was just such a nice, funny lad who will be deeply missed. Rest easy lad.”

                                        – Paul Finnegan

“Jerry was one of those lads who was always up for a laugh and in the middle of it all. Nice lad who always had a quality way about him – always smiling and laughing. Would never have passed you. A warrior on the pitch and never stopped running & working for his team. For the short time I got to know him it was an absolute pleasure – a pleasure to play with & against him. My thoughts are completely with his family & close friends. But they can always be so proud of the man he was. His young son will soon find out what a great man his dad was as he gets older. Rest In Peace Jerry.”

                                        – Paddy McNally

“I had the opportunity to get to know Jerry last season and he was a real good character – always laughing and joking around the dressing room and always had a smile on his face. With Jerry, you knew he’d always be up for a bit of craic. A great young player to have on your team as no matter how we were doing you’d always know you were guaranteed 100% effort from him. He was truly a great player to have around & he will be very much missed.”

                                        – Greg Hall

“I would always carpool with Jerry to training last year and he would always be smiling & laughing on our drives. At training, it was all the same – he just had such a funny sense of humor. He was more than just a teammate – he was a friend. We had some good laughs during our time together. Jerry was a class act on & off the pitch. He was serious player and would run through a brick wall for anyone on his team – I’m glad to say I shared a pitch with him. I’ll never forget his goal against Dundela last season – a half volley from 30 yards, one of the best goals Shamrock Park might ever see. I’ll miss Jerry always, I’m lucky to have known someone as truly kind as he was.”

                                        – Liam McKenna

“At training & games Jerry lit up the changing room – having everyone in fits of laughter & always bringing the team closer together.  The thing I’ll always remember most about him was his big clap and loud laugh you could hear from across the pitch.

When he came to training, he was never down or upset – he was always there for you if you had a bad day or if you were down. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”

                                        – Padraig Robinson:

“Jerry was just an all around great guy. He was the life & soul of the changing room – there was never a dull moment when he was around.  Always had a smile on his face and there for his teammates when they needed him the most. Such a great player with a great attitude – it was an honor to play alongside him.  He will be missed by so many 

– Chris Lavery

“Jerry was an absolutely great lad on & off the pitch. In the changing room he was a loud and cheerful guy who always spread laughter and smiles to the rest of the team. On the pitch, he gave everything he had, each and every time. I’ll never forget the goal he scored against Dundela last year – one of the best I’ve ever seen. He will be incredibly missed. R.I.P skin 

                                        – George Tipton

“Jerry was one of the good guys. He always got on with everyone – no one would have a bad word to say about him. He’d always be laughing and joking about every time I saw him – his positivity & happiness was contagious. Whenever I would see him, he’d shout out & call me “Mawty!” as an inside joke we shared. I’ll truly miss him & it was an honor to call him a friend.”  

                                        – Marty Bradley

“Jerry was a fantastic footballer and whenever I had to take the pitch against him I hated it – he was so strong & stocky and incredibly hard to get around. That being said, I absolutely loved having him as my teammate last year. Every time he took the pitch he gave everything he had & would always manage to sneak in a cheeky cruyff turn regardless of whether it was training or a match.

Off the pitch, he was the life of the party whenever the team was together. The changing room would echo with his classic loud Jerry laugh. He was truly a great footballer & great person who’s career had all the potential in the world. Rest easy mate, there’s only one Jerry Thompson.”

                                        – Adam Salley

Each one of these boys messaged me their remarks of Jerry privately – nobody else saw what others had written. To me, this was the biggest testament to Jerry and who he was as a person. After reading their words, you see how many of the boys all said the same thing – Jerry was a vibrant soul who spread happiness & laughter everywhere he went. To say he will be missed is an understatement.

Football is nothing but a small detail in the grand scheme of life. In times like these, it is important to remember the important things – life & those we share it with. We come together in our shared love of this sport, but at the end of the day, football comes second to the value of life and meaningful relationships we make along the way.

We mourn this tragedy together – but in these times of heartbreak & suffering, we will always remember Jerry as the person he was. Thank you to every single supporter who has shown nothing but class & dignity through these devastating times – you all make me proud to represent this club.

In the words of our amazing supporters – “Was a pleasure Jerry. Fly High.”