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Eulogy for Ryan

Chesham United manager Andy Leese was honoured to be asked to speak at Ryan's funeral. His Eulogy for Ryan is below.

I stand here today proud and honoured to have been asked by John, Lorraine, Chloe and Verity to pay tribute to Ryan. Their strength dignity and courage in dealing with Ryan’s illness in the last 9 months has been inspiring. Having seen the love of his family and friends, work mates and football colleagues at close quarters in the last 9 months, it made my answer easy. It seemed fitting that John asked me just as pre season training at Chesham was about to start. Pre season training was something Ryan did ritually every year at his various clubs, but especially last year when he was in remarkable physical shape and looking forward to the new season. Little did we know it would be his last season, and that he would need all that physical strength to fight the biggest battle of his life. I was privileged to have picked him to play his last few games, including his last. His performances will live long in the memory. As professional and as awesome as they had been over his career. 

We are all here today having all lost a fantastic friend. A witty, caring, talented, honest man who loved life. His football was a huge part of his life, and the game has lost a talent way way too early. Through his early days at Comet, and Wormley and into LutonTown as an aspiring young professional. Many of us in the game believe he had the ability to make it as a professional. It did not work out as it doesn’t for lots of young players, but Ryan took the disappointment manfully, and set out on a long and illustrious career in the semi professional game. Unfortunately not long enough. He was a top class player at St Albans, Boreham wood, Braintree and most recently at Chesham. All top clubs. In excess of 500 games behind him. Promotions, FA Cup runs but always a team player. It was never ever about Ryan. Unassuming as ever. When he was diagnosed last year he asked me not to tell the players at Chesham. We were having a bad run of results prior to Xmas and Ryan asked me to tell the lads about his illness. He said “Gaffer, let them know, it might help inspire them to a few decent results”. It certainly did. We almost got promoted for him.

As honest as the day is long, never letting anyone down. Team mates, Supporters, Chairmen, but especially the Managers who signed him. They will all vouch for him. He was always a major signing for any Manager as he was for me. A proper player as we say in the game. You never signed Ryan to be a squad player. A great sense of humour, which would light up any dressing room. He engaged with players of all ages, popular and as well liked as anyone could wish to be. 

Anyone who knew Ryan in football also knew that he fancied himself as a goalkeeper and would often take up the keeper’s gloves on a Sunday morning or in training! Well schooled in the art of goal keeping by his dad John. The season before last, St Albans played at Banbury. St Albans keeper gave away a penalty and got himself sent off in the process. No substitute keeper on the bench and while the keeper protested his innocence to the referee Ryan had already started removing the keeper’s gloves and jersey! Ryan took up his position in goal to face the penalty and dived to his left to pull off an incredible save….typical of the man.  Always the team before himself.

At Chesham I am the regular victim of the practical jokes in the dressing room. The first person I asked for an explanation was the senior player Ryan Moran. “It’s got nothing to do with me gaffer……” are words I heard often as he laughed his way out of a situation.

We should all remember Ryan that way. His love for his family, for life and for the game he loved. I did not realise quite how much he loved football until recently. He was always telling me about opposition we were facing, players we should look at signing, players even to release! 3 days before his passing he was still guiding me to build a squad to get promoted.

When the big man upstairs opens heavens gates to the training ground in the sky tomorrow morning what will he see? He will see Ryan. The signing of the century standing there with a cheeky smile on his face as he waits for the balls to come out. Secretly hoping there are no long running drills! God will see a proud man. A mentally strong, committed, brave courageous centre half before him. A real man. Ryan won’t have to show him what he can do. One look will say it all. And when God asks Ryan if he can head it and kick it, he will simply say “Yes Gaffer”.   I’ll be ringing God along with his other Managers here today and telling him that he has just signed a player with much much more than that. Much more. The team in Heaven just got themselves a talented composed brave clever ball playing leader of men. I’d like you all to remember him that way.

Fans of football clubs at all levels revere players they really like. Ryan always gave fans of the clubs he played for something to sing about. Crucial goals, clearances, with the ball like a magnet to his head.  That’s not luck. It’s talent. ………...Football fans have a song to recognise a player who they like. You will know the song. Its words say they are walking in a wonderland with that player.

There is only one Ryan Moran.

There is a line in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Act 1 scene 2 where Hamlet says to Horatio “He was a man, take him for all in all, (we) will never see his like again...."

Rest easy big guy. We will always remember you. There is only one Ryan Moran.  A great man.