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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
NI village remembers penalty inventor
By Johnny Caldwell
BBC News website

Planning permission has been granted for a permanent memorial to the County Armagh man who invented football's most controversial rule, the penalty kick.

In 1890 Milford resident and businessman William McCrum submitted a proposal for what has since become a bane in many a manager's life to the Irish Football Association.

Within a year it was approved by the International Football Association Board.

Gareth Southgate after missing penalty in Euro 96
Gareth Southgate curses William McCrum after missing penalty
The memorial to Mr McCrum, on which work is due to begin later this year, will consist of a memorial plinth and bronze bust.

It will be built on the actual site off William Street in Milford where he devised the penalty kick.

However, as local historian and Milford Community Development Association member Joe McManus explains, its future was not always secure despite its major importance in the world of football.

"About five years ago the field where William McCrum invented the penalty kick was under threat as a housing development was to be built there. There was very little we could do about it as planning permission had already been granted some time prior," said Joe.

Hopefully it'll become a major tourist attraction putting Milford firmly on the map as the home of the penalty kick
Joe McManus
"It was just one of those things nobody seemed to know about until it was almost too late.

"But after about three or four years we came to a compromise with the developer and the houses, which are known as Linen Green, were built around the site in a fallen football post shape if can you imagine that.

"Around the bust in what we're calling McCrum Park there will be information boards, explaining all about the penalty kick and William McCrum, and hopefully it'll become a major tourist attraction putting Milford firmly on the map as the home of the penalty kick."

The McCrum family cashed in on the linen boom, bringing the industry to the Milford area and as such were responsible for the development of the settlement, which is approximately three miles outside Armagh City.

"There are also plans to build a museum in Manor House where the McCrums lived, focusing on the linen industry and the penalty kick," continued Joe McManus.

"Interestingly, William McCrum, who died in 1932, died a pauper. So it's also a real rags to riches and back to rags again story, which of course only enhances the story we're trying to tell."


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