Everyone at Polytechnic was saddened to learn that our President and former Chairman Sean Harney passed away earlier this week.
In recent months, Sean had been putting up a brave fight against throat cancer. Sadly the onset of Coronavirus restricted his treatment options. He passed away after a short stay in hospital, as his wife Gina sat by his side playing his favourite reggae music.
Born in Bradford in 1961, Sean first started playing for the Poly in the early 90s as one of several players from Bradford University who joined around that time. A commanding centre half with a tremendous fighting spirit, Sean went on to manage the third team for several seasons. As he reached the later years of his playing career he played in successful 5th and 6th team sides well into his fifties.
Off the pitch, Sean served on the Poly committee for several years. With the nickname “Mr Chairman” proudly earned from his antics on tour, it was inevitable that he would eventually take the position officially at the Club. He took over from John Keane in 2008 and was successful in modernising the running of the club before handing over the reins to current Chairman Barry Madigan, whereupon Sean was made Club President.
Last season, Sean embarked upon raising some much-needed funds for the Club with a relaunch of the 1875 Club. Using his own particular brand of magic, he set about his many friends who had an association with the Club until they gave in and completed the direct debit mandate. As Sean himself put it: “the bu***rs have very deep pockets and very short arms” *. The result far exceeded expectations and has allowed us to weather the Coronovirus storm which would otherwise have been a big financial blow to the Club.
* These are not the views of the club – and we are very grateful for your support.
As a result of his many years of service to the Club, it had been decided that Sean would be presented with the John Keane Award for Excellence. It troubles us greatly that owing to the cancellation of this season’s awards night, we were unable to present this to him in person before he passed away.
Everyone at Poly has their favourite Sean story. “The Cat and the Baseball Bat”, “The Blind Dog”, “How much money have you got”, “The Gucci Slip-on” or the more recent “British Airways Business Class” incident being unsuitable for publication here, it was left to the current Poly committee to reflect on their memories of Sean.
4s Manager Max Rushden talked of Sean as a player who could: “head the ball further than most of us can kick it. His commitment to the cause could be seen as he completed 50 laps of the astro pitch before anyone else had arrived at training.”
A leader of men, Sean could always be relied upon to step in if any Poly member was not living up to his high standards, as Fixture Secretary Tom Barbour recalls: “I remember in my first year at the club whining about being subbed off in the clubhouse and saying that I’d leave. Sean overheard and came across to give me a few stern words and put me back in my place! I stayed at the club ever since.”
Treasurer Keith Johnston added: “Sean’s dedication and will to win were unrivalled. It didn’t matter if it was a Cup Final or a five-a-side kickabout, he always held himself and others to high standards of commitment – and made sure it was all followed by a beer or two after. It was an honour for me to have Sean as my best man at my wedding in Mexico in 2013. His speech did not disappoint – with some cutting remarks that have split my wife’s friendship group in two ever since. As well as his friendship over the years I am particularly grateful for his recent help with the 1875 Club.”
Sean is survived by his loving and heartbroken wife Gina. The thoughts of everyone at Poly are with Gina, their friends and family.
Rest in Peace Mr Chairman.