After 30 years involved with Bantry Bay Rovers, Danny Peters is stepping back. GER McCARTHY caught up with the Dutch native to talk all things Bantry soccer and find out just why he keeps a wheelbarrow behind his house …
DANNY Peters is removing the wheelbarrow from behind his house and stepping down from his chairperson’s role with West Cork League (WCL) club Bantry Bay Rovers following 30 years’ voluntary service.
At a time sports clubs throughout the country struggle to attract volunteers, committee members or even players, the Dutch native’s dedication and commitment to turning Bantry Bay Rovers into one of the most respected WCL and West Cork Schoolboys League club’s in the region deserves recognition.
But what about that wheelbarrow?
‘My family ask me why I always place a wheelbarrow outside our house,’ Peters told The Southern Star.
‘Well, it is because of this. I go down every morning that any matches are supposed to be going ahead in Kealkil (Bantry Bay Rovers’ home ground) and check how much water is in the wheelbarrow.
‘Depending on the level of water in it, I immediately know whether the Kealkil pitches are playable or not.
‘Now that I’m stepping down, I think my wife Margaret and children Ricky, Neasa, Sadhbh and Liam will be delighted to see the back of that wheelbarrow!’
Peters’ home town of Zaandam in the Netherlands is famous for its windmills and where he first began kicking a ball at the tender age of five years old.
He moved to Bantry in 1980 and quickly settled into the area whilst maintaining his love of soccer by playing every weekend with a bunch of friends throughout his teenage years.
As an adult, spells with Clonakilty AFC in the AUL and Drinagh Rangers in the West Cork League required borrowing his father’s car and a ton of mileage before Bantry Bay Rovers AFC was formed in 1990.
Danny got his first taste of being a manager that same year by helping set up Bay’s first-ever youths academy. As well as looking after the club’s U14 squad, Peters took it upon himself to visit every school in the local area and invite as many children as possible to get involved.
Since then, the 55-year old has helped transform Rovers’ fortunes on and off the pitch, culminating in leading out the club’s junior (first) team at Turner’s Cross Stadium at last year’s Beamish Cup final.
In between, Danny brought numerous Bay Rovers teams to tournaments throughout Europe including the U10 Drinion Cup in Brittany, France, the U14 Blackpool Cup in England, the U16 Hasselt Cup in Belgium and the U19 Budweiser Cup in the Czech Republic where Rovers finished fourth despite going up against some of the best academy sides on the continent.
Peters also presided over an unbeaten SuperValu U16 League and Cup double-winning season as well as guiding Bay to the West Cork League U18 Cup.
Not content with helping guide his adopted hometown club to underage and junior success, he was hugely instrumental in helping develop Bay Rovers’ Kealkil playing facilities.
Add to that a 13-year stint on the West Cork Schoolboys League Committee before becoming vice-chairman of the West Cork League in 2016 and you begin to understand how important Peters has been to soccer’s development in West Cork.
‘We started from scratch with just two teams to begin with,’ he recalled.
‘Today, Bay Rovers has teams lining out at every age-grade from U8 right up to adult plus Masters (over-33) level which is absolutely fantastic and testament to all the hard work the various committees have put in.
‘I’m proud to say we also have a ladies team back in action again this season.
‘There have been a lot of highs and lows during the years. Going unbeaten and winning a league and cup with a U16 schoolboys team was special, as was stepping out onto the pitch at Turner’s Cross as manager of the junior team.
‘Another high point, for me personally, was taking the Togher National School from Dunmanway to the All-Ireland Final Ribera 5’s final in Shannon. There is a lot more memories but we would probably be here for another hour going over them!’
Bay Rovers have come a long way since Peters helped get the club off the ground in the same year Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland made history at their first World Cup final appearance in Italy.
Over the past 24 months, Rovers’ U12 squad has reached the last 32 in the country (SFAI National Cup) in consecutive seasons whilst Bantry’s ladies’ team continues to go from strength to strength.
‘It won’t be easy to step away from soccer as I’ve been involved with the sport for nearly 50 years,’ Peters admitted.
‘I think it will be hard to fill my time, not being as involved with Bay Rovers as I have always been, but now I have more time to give to my wife and family.
‘I’m looking forward to that and also just going to games as a spectator rather than having to send out hundreds of text messages and waiting for responses to see if we will have enough players to make up a team.
‘It will be strange but the time is right to step aside having given so much time and effort (to Bay Rovers). There is a good committee there at the moment and I think the next step is to try and secure our own home ground. I didn’t succeed in doing that but the people that are there now are committed and have good plans for the future.
‘I can’t do anymore and have taken the club as far as I can. There is a great foundation here in Kealkil and it is time now for someone else to push it on to the next step.
‘As for my club, I will always follow it and keep up to date with how all of the teams are doing. That will never change. I will always be on the end of a phone line for anyone who needs advice or any kind of help.
I will always be there in some capacity.’
Peters’ wheelbarrow is being moved from the back of his Kealkil home and into the shed. It will still be used and kept busy over the coming years but no longer has to worry about the amount of rainfall it gathers.