Having published The History of Dundalk FC – The First 100 Years, in 2003, JIM MURPHY is soon to launch his second book, C’mon The Town. In his own words, “You ain’t seen anything like this before”.
What - or who - prompted you to compile C’mon The Town?
Last summer, when the club was at its lowest ebb and the future looked bleak, there was a call to arms, and I decided that my contribution would be a fundraising book.
How long did it take you?
Just over a year.
Where did your material come from?
Former players, officials, fans, collectors, and Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
Had you always a flair for writing?
Have I a flair for writing? Thanks, Joe, but I thought you had more sense than that.
What can we expect from C’mon The Town?
You ain’t ever seen anything like this before, that’s what’s different. Think of a family album covering nearly 90 years that has photos, programmes, tickets, statistics, international caps, stories, player profiles - and whatever you’re having yourself. A kind of a ‘liquorice allsorts’. It’s a celebration of the club throughout its history.
Will it have previously unpublished photos?
Not just photos. I reckon only a small fraction of the entire book has been previously published.
Any difficulty in getting material?
Nobody I approached refused me access to their precious mementos. I’m especially grateful to Mick Slevin, Kevin Mulligan and Martin Sharkey, whose generosity in providing material has helped enormously to make this a very special publication. And I’m also conscious that many of the earlier images are the work of photographers like Kevin McArdle, Paul Kavanagh and David Nail.
All proceeds are going to the club?
Yes, and to maximise the benefit for the club, we are running a promotion to raise funds towards the printing costs, and hoping to get advertising, sponsorship and subscribers. For the fans we are offering them the opportunity to have their name included in the book, for which we are asking €10.
This is your second book – is there another one in you?
I don’t think I’d want to go through the process from writing through to launch ever again, but you know what they say....never say never!
The books aside, what has been your association with Dundalk FC over the years?
A couple of years after I retired, at the invitation of Enda McGuill I joined the board of the company and spent three to four years there as Financial Controller, and I doubled up as Editor of the matchday programme. That’s where I developed my interest in the club’s history.
Were you always a follower of the team?
Yes, from the time my father first brought me and my brothers to Oriel Park, sometime in the mid-1940s.
Your memories of the Jim McLaughlin era?
With 13 competition wins in eight seasons (and another seven times runner-up) it seemed to consist permanently of big days. But my abiding memories are of the European nights and Jim’s record in European football, when Dundalk went undefeated in Oriel for eight consecutive games. Unparalleled and never again to be matched.
The Oriel Park game you best remember?
So many, but it’s hard to pass the European Cup game against Celtic. I still can’t figure how they got 20,000 into Oriel that night. Talk about loaves and fishes.
All-time great Dundalk player?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Tommy McConville. Looking back I can’t understand why he didn’t get the opportunity to play on a bigger stage.
Has this season taken you by surprise?
Think of another word for surprise. A place in Europe next year is way beyond the wildest dreams that any Dundalk supporter could have foreseen. At the beginning of the season the target set by realistic fans was respectable survival.
Can the 500 Club succeed where similar schemes in the past have failed?
If the supporters want to see a strong vibrant club, a stadium with modern facilities and a team regularly in contention for honours, with youths and ladies panels, then they simply must support this initiative. The alternative? A stop-start future with frequent ‘squeeky-bum’ season finishes, periodic visits to the First Division and the club living in semi-permanent crisis, facing regular close encounters with the liquidator.
Gaelic your first game?
Yes, we grew up not far from the Athletic Grounds, so every Sunday during the summer we saw all the great club teams of the 40s and 50s - Cooley Kickhams, Ardee St Mary’s, the Irelanders, the Gaels, Stabannon Parnells – and, of course, all the great players,Tom Conlon, Eddie and Sean Boyle, Sean Thornton, Jim Quigley, Jack Regan.
You were a Young Irelands player - win anything?
An Old Gaels Cup medal that I got because I togged out as a sub for every match!
You’d have played with Stephen White and other great Irelanders?
Yes, and we had five of the Irelanders involved in the 1957 All-Ireland success and, of course, the team trainer, Jim Quigley. However, the closure of the Athletic Grounds was a huge blow and it was followed by many years in the wilderness before the club became a force again.
You had another involvement with club?
For a number of years I was the assistant secretary to long-time secretary Larry McCrudden, and I was the club representative on the Minor Board. Along with Dessie Smith and Jimmy Ross, I was involved in the management of the club’s under-age teams for a number of years. We never managed to win anything, but it was a very rewarding time.
Your memory of Athletic Grounds?
The happiest, as a player, a sub, or just training. A great loss to the town. The NACA Athletic Championships on the August Bank Holiday weekend was the closest we ever got to the Olympic Games! I also was a sub, as usual, and got a second half run-out on the occasion of the last Gaelic match played there, when the Irelanders met a team from Dungannon.
Do you have time to read anything other than proofs?
In the last 12 months very little, but I did take time out to read ‘Red or Dead’, the story of Bill Shankley (about a legend), and dip into ‘The Fitzpatrick Tapes’ (about a scoundrel).
Invite four to dinner?
Groucho Marx, Spike Milligan, Jim McLaughlin and Jock Stein. Great comedians and great managers.
Where would the meal be?
Best advice given?
From the late Jimmy Cassidy, professional at Dundalk Golf Club “Swing the club on an in to out plane”. After 40-plus years I’m still trying to figure that one out! But I know I should have listened to him.