Main content
This programme is not currently available on BBC iPlayer

Different League: The Derry City Story

The story of a community that needed a break and how its football club, exiled for 13 years, was brought back from the dead.

The Brandywell was one of the poorest areas in Europe and home to Derry City Football Club. In the shadow of the civil rights movement and the Troubles, the club managed to keep playing - until the team bus of Ballymena United was caught up in the violence, taken away and burned. Derry City FC was banned from playing at home and eventually went out of business.

In 1984, the city needed a saviour. Tony O’Doherty was a Northern Ireland international who had played against England at Wembley. He teamed up with another international, Terry Harkin, and two other professionals Eddie Mahon and Eamonn McLaughlin, to become the Gang of Four who challenged the status quo. They made it their goal to get senior football back in their hometown.

With repeated rebuffs from the Irish League in Belfast to their requests to gain re-entry, the four lads decided to take their footballing revolution south to the League of Ireland in Dublin.

This film charts the emotional journey of how in 1985, after 13 years in the wilderness, football returned to the Brandywell. The club would go on to lift both silverware and the spirits of the city, unleashing a carnival of hope, pride and optimism.

Featuring interviews with the Gang of Four, rare archive footage and memories of the faithful supporters, the film portrays an inspirational group of people who made their dreams come true. The rollercoaster took the club and community from the depths of despair to footballing nirvana, landing a historic domestic treble in the League of Ireland. It would culminate with the arrival of football royalty with Sven-Goran Eriksson bringing his Benfica team of superstars into the heart of the Bogside for a European Cup tie.

59 minutes

Last on

Tue 11 May 2021 01:30

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:01

    Trad. Arr. Grainger

    Irish Tune From County Derry (Danny Boy)

  • 00:04

    Shooter Jennings

    Are You Ready For The Country

  • 00:09

    The Divine Comedy



Role Contributor
Director Guy King
Producer Rachel Hooper
Executive Producer Mike Connolly
Executive Producer Justin Binding


  • Mon 19 Apr 2021 21:00
  • Thu 22 Apr 2021 23:30
  • Tue 11 May 2021 01:30

Featured in...