PICTURE shows Delwyn Derrick receiving the BBC Wales get Inspired Unsung Hero Award 2019 from Wrexham AFC legend Mickey Thomas.
MANY football fans in North Wales will have heard of Bellevue FC by now. But if you don’t know much about them, you certainly should!
That’s because the Wrexham-based team is one of the most diverse and welcoming clubs in Wales and, most likely, the United Kingdom also.
Over the years, since forming in 2017, Bellevue has featured players from a multitude of backgrounds, including refugees and migrant players.
They were the first league-registered, multi-ethnic and inclusion-specific football team in Wales.
Their ethos is to encourage community cohesion, including working alongside Football vs Homophobia, Show Racism the Red Card, North Wales Police, and Football Association of Wales Trust.
Coach Delwyn Derrick, 33 years old and from Wrexham, is a huge inspiration to many having won several awards for his efforts to promote inclusion in football. As well as that, he’s overcome sepsis and had a tumour removed over the last year during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Talking about the journey to date, Derrick said: “From a club point of view, every new step is a proud one for me. To look back at where we came from to where we are now, I am immensely proud of everything. If I was talking personally, in the last year I’ve survived sepsis and had tumour removed from my head, my proudest moment is yet to come. I am hoping to get back on to the pitch after all of that and hopefully get a few minutes playing alongside some of the finest people I’ve ever met and essentially use the club I created for the purpose I created it for, to help and support people like me who need a bit of normality in their lives.
“We’ve had players from everywhere. I apologise to any I’ve missed out here but we’ve had players from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Hungary, Albania, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Namibia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Venezuela.
“I have to give a special mention also to a lovely guy called Lee, who while on holiday here in Wales from Australia, heard about the club and signed on to play one single game for us, just to say he had. Such a great guy and an amazing moment for us as a club. I’ve definitely forgotten some countries there, so I will apologise again.”
Derrick, affectionately known as ‘Sheep’, stopped playing regularly due to injuries some years ago, admitting that he has a “heavily repaired left leg from a serious injury” and adding that he was “never really top of anyone’s transfer targets” due to that.
As such, Bellevue FC has been his first real journey into senior football. And what a worthwhile and brilliant journey it’s been to date.
Despite victories for the club being few and far between (and I can sympathise with that as manager at Llandegfan!), it’s the work behind the scenes to promote inclusion and the generosity of all involved which has really caught the eye of so many people.
Both Bellevue and Derrick have won several awards for their efforts over the years, including:
- North Wales Police and Crime Commissioners Community Award for Equality and Diversity
- North East Wales Football League Secretary of the Year
- Wrexham County Borough Council Sport Awards Volunteer of the Year
- FAW Grassroots Awards Story of the Year for North East Wales
- Offa Community Council Citizen of the Year
- BBC Cymru Wales Get Inspired Unsung Hero
Just last month, Derrick was awarded the Culture and Sport prize at the prestigious St David’s Awards to add yet another accolade to that ever-growing list of highlights.
Talking about being honoured with such awards over the years, he said: “I don’t feel like I’ve won any personally. Anything I’ve won has been through the club and so they all belong to the club. It is quite the list of achievements and truly humbling to sit here and list them. There is so much more that we’ve done or been part of without a trophy to show off that we’re equally proud to be part of. It’s just been so much, so quick, we haven’t had chance to catch our breath between them all yet.
“The St Davids Award is obviously the biggest thing you could be considered for in Wales as you literally can’t get higher than Welsh Government. As I say, being shortlisted was such a huge thing for us, but then to hear that our little club had actually won it, I was astounded. I’m proud of everything we’ve done as a club, but this is a whole new level. To sum it up in a word, it’s insane. It still hasn’t sunk in, so I’ll have to get back to you again!”
Bellevue FC has been a member of the North East League since 2017/18 and will participate in the newly-formed North East Wales Premier when football returns.
They have just recently added to their management team with Christopher Leaney, Gaz Parker, Jimmy Wright and Nathan Hauton set to join Derrick on the sidelines in future.
Bellevue, who also set up a Ladies team in 2020, were initially set up to save the pitch at Bellevue Park from being decommissioned due to a lack of use.
Derrick said: “Obviously the club has grown well beyond that initial goal, but that’s only a good thing for us really. Looking back now, the reason we set up looks so underwhelming for the impact we’ve made.”
A truly inspiring club and one that reminds us, particularly with what’s gone on over the past week in the world of football, what the real beautiful game is all about.