Documentary shows how sport has power to cross sectarian divide

Journalist Olenka Frenkiel reminisces with Raymond McCord, Willie Caldwell and Dessie Black, former players with the Star of the Sea football team.

Journalist Olenka Frenkiel reminisces with Raymond McCord, Willie Caldwell and Dessie Black, former players with the Star of the Sea football team.

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WHEN Olenka Frenkiel came to Northern Ireland as a reporter in the late 1970s, she heard about a photo of a youth football team taken in 1969. The team was based at the Star of the Sea youth club near Rathcoole; it didn’t matter what religion you were, you just needed to be a good player.

In 1983 an unremarkable photograph of the team was the starting point for Olenka’s ground-breaking documentary, Old Scores. By then everything had changed for Northern Ireland and the members of the football team. Three of the players were involved with paramilitary groups. One of them, a young Bobby Sands had become a Republican hunger striker and MP. Two others had served time for loyalist paramilitary offences..

In Old Scores players spoke for the first time about how their utopian dream team had been scattered and shattered by the arrival of the Troubles.

Now nearly 30 years on, What Happened Next - Old Scores, the reporter Olenka Frenkiel revisits Rathcoole and looks back at Star of the Sea, a team she believes showed how sport had the power to cross Northern Ireland’s sectarian divide.

Three former Star of the Sea players revisit their old haunts, travel back to the pitch where they played, remembering their friends and the good times when they had no thought of politics or religion.

What Happened Next - Old Scores will air on BBC One Northern Ireland on Monday, July 2 at 10.35pm.