HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to one of Bangor’s ‘true gentlemen’ and Glentoran ‘legend’ Brian Waters following his sad passing aged 77 years.

A celebration of Brian’s vibrant life was held at St Gall’s Parish Church, in Carnalea, on Thursday, April 13, with Glentoran Football Club players forming a guard of honour for this life-long fan and club volunteer at Roselawn Crematorium.

Brian passed away peacefully at Dundonald’s Ulster Hospital after a short illness on March 31, and he is greatly missed by his family Julie, Kelvin and Grace, as well as Peter, Claire, Alexis and Lewis and Aaron, Barbara and Junior.

Family and friends rallied in support of Brian during his brief hospital stay, with Glentoran Club captain Marcus Kane only too happy to take time out of his busy training schedule to spend time with this avid supporter.

A minute’s silence was held in memory of Brian before the Glentoran versus Portadown match on Saturday, April 1st, but ultimately he would have been overjoyed at the 5-1 victory to the Glens and the three points in the bag.

Amongst the hundreds of tributes, Brian was described as an ‘absolute gentleman’ and a ‘giant of a Glenman’ who was ‘always smiling’ and ‘with his laughter and big character’ was part of the fabric of the East Belfast club.

Known fondly to many as ‘Big Brian’ – at 6ft 3 inches tall, Brian George Waters was big in stature and big in volume, often heard before he was seen, particularly on the Oval terraces.  Whistling, clicking his fingers as he walked about, he was always on the move, always on the go.

Born on March 12, 1946, in the end terrace of Eastleigh Crescent, Ballyhackamore, to parents Geordie and Ena Waters he was the beloved brother of Vera, Maureen and Finlay.

Brian’s obsession with Glentoran Football Club, began when he was just a child when his dad used to lift him over the turnstiles at the Oval. A former chairperson of Glentoran Internet Supporters Club, Brian was a dedicated volunteer at the Glentoran Superstore and the Monday Club, tidying the ground after the home matches. 

It was a proud day when Brian scooped the Glentoran Volunteer of the Year award just last year for his outstanding efforts and he made front page news of his weekly newspaper the County Down Spectator that he had loyally read for the past five decades.

With a keen mind for maths and science, Brian went to Annandale Grammar School, before pursuing a scientific career stretching over 46 years, firstly in the Water Office and then at the Plant Testing Station at Crossnacreevy where he made so many friends for life.

Brian met the love of his life, his late wife Moyna, in 1968 and he asked her to marry him on the first night that they met – he also asked her if he could borrow a fiver. They were such a good looking couple the wedding photographer put a massive photo of the happy couple on display in his shop window.

The couple made their family home in Newtownards before moving to Bangor West in 1976, and Brian’s children would certainly say their dad had some interesting parenting techniques.

If they were playing out in the street and their Dad wanted them to come in for their tea – he would stand at the front door and let out the loudest whistle they had ever heard in their lives. He was so loud they could hear him in Rathmore School’s playing field, and once they heard that whistle, they knew it was time to come in.

Glentoran indoctrination was high on their dad’s parenting priorities; any time they drove past the Oval football ground, their Dad would repeatedly toot the car horn and they all had to salute as they drove past.

Brian found his spiritual home at St Gall’s Church where he served as glebe warden and on the church vestry for decades. Brian was the noisy heart of the Wheel of Fortune stall at the popular St Gall’s annual summer fete, and as if he wasn’t loud enough, he would use a megaphone to unashamedly harass people into buying tickets to win a prize.

A dear friend from church described Brian as ‘a great big bear of a man which is apt considering that the bear is the symbol of St Gall’s’. He said: “In many ways Brian epitomised the very essence of the St Gall’s spirit.

“His larger than life presence, his booming voice and ready laughter and his unfailing cheerfulness even in adversity, his willingness to tackle any task and to help others wherever possible made him known to all, appreciated by all and loved by all.”

Even a diagnosis of a rare blood condition called polycythaemia vera back in 2020 could not slow Brian down. He was always on the move, things to be done, places to go, people to see and football referees to hurl abuse at.

Brian’s family would like to thank Dr Moulod El-Agnaf, who Brian held in such high esteem, for his compassionate care over the past three years and they will forever cherish the kindness shown by the dedicated nursing staff at Ward 6A in Dundonald’s Ulster Hospital.

Thanks to the generosity of Brian’s friends from all walks of life, £1,805 has been raised for MacMillian Cancer Support in his memory. Forever in our hearts. Le Jeu Avant Tout.