Drumming up support for Green and White Army

Portadown man Dean McCullough admits he gets more nervous about son Luke's big matches than the Northern Ireland defender probably does.

Saturday, 11th June 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 1:27 pm
Northern Ireland player, Luke McCullough's family are ready to jet off to France to see him play in the European Football Championships. Mum, Shirleen, Dad, Dean and Brother, Scott have passports and match tickets firmly in hand as they look forward to their trip. Photo by TONY HENDRON.

And there’s no doubt that tensions will be running high tomorrow as the Green and White Army take on Poland in their inaugural match at Euro 2016.

Twenty-two-year-old Luke, who plays centre-back for Doncaster Rovers, is in France with the rest of the Northern Ireland squad preparing for the tournament.

Dad Dean, 52, and his wife Shirleen will travel over to Nice today (Saturday), where they will be staying for a week, taking in two of the team’s three matches.

And yesterday their other son Scott, 24, headed out with a crowd of his friends to cheer on his little brother.

The only family member unfortunately not going is 18-year-old Holly, who is in the middle of her A levels at Portadown College.

“We are proud of Luke - but he’s still our son and he still needs grounded, and his feet kept on the ground,” laughs Dean.

“Did I give him any words of wisdom? He doesn’t listen to me anymore! No, we do have our wee conversations, I tell him to keep working hard and stuff like that. This certainly is for him the biggest tournament he has ever played in.

Luke McCullough with his parents, Dean and Shirleen, before heading from Portadown to EURO 2016.INPT23-130 PTFOOTBALL15

“He’s part of the squad which is great, and you just hope that he will get an opportunity to get on the pitch and play in one of the games.”

Dean reveals that Luke isn’t the kind of player to show his nerves, and is fairly laid back in his approach to his matches.

“We probably get more nervous before the games he’s going to be playing in, especially the bigger games with the bigger crowds.

“You feel nervous for him and just hope that everything goes well when he’s on the pitch.

“He’s a defender, so if he makes a mistake it can lead to the opposition scoring, so you just hope that that doesn’t happen.”

Dean’s football mad family booked their flights to the Euros the night the draw was done.

Him and Shirleen, who will actually celebrate her 50th birthday during their week away, are flying to Amsterdam first, then onto Nice.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams we would be booking those flights,” he adds.

Luke McCullough with his parents, Dean and Shirleen, before heading from Portadown to EURO 2016.INPT23-130 PTFOOTBALL15

“I have been a football fan all my life. We’re a football family, myself and my brother played football, and Scott played U16 and U18 for Northern Ireland as well, but has been unfortunate with illness and injury over this last four or five years.

“As for Holly, I think she would like to be coming too, to be part of the whole atmosphere, but unfortunately her exams have to come first.”