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Tommy Cassidy (1970/71 to 1979/80)

Tommy Cassidy
Tommy Cassidy
Bth 18/11/50 Belfast N. Ireland
P/H/W Midfield 5ft 11in
Jnd. 26/09/70 Glentoran £25,000
Debut 07/11/70 Southampton (A) D1
Dep 15/07/80 Darlington £30,000
App/Gls 225 (14) 28

Tommy Cassidy was the only player to feature in every season of the 1970s. He had been attracting a lot of attention whilst playing for Glentoran and impressed Harvey when Newcastle played a couple of pre-season friendlies in Northern Ireland saying: "He was a big lad but very skilful."

Harvey signed him to strengthen their first team squad with a view to using him as a back-up striker, but it soon became clear that he was more suited to a midfield role.

Initial problems with homesickness, lack of confidence and weight limited his appearances at first. However, Joe Harvey was convinced he would make it, if he improved his diet and lost some weight to give him another yard of pace so he could beat players.

Although he worked hard at his game and came back for extra training he continued to struggle. Harvey believed he was lacking in self-discipline and Tommy was transfer-listed at £25,000. However a year passed by without a single enquiry.

Believing he needed a little guidance at home, Harvey decided to give him one last chance and bring his parents across from Belfast. Cassidy admitted that the move saved his career. Harvey said: "I knew that Tommy had a lot of talent and, with a little application, he could make it big. He has more skills than most players at the club".

Despite his size he had subtle skills. great close control, could hold the ball and use it well. He rarely gave the ball away.

Strong in possession he was often at his most menacing when coming through from midfield. He possessed a good long range shot and was quick to see an opening for snapshots that caught goalkeepers out of position.

He was one of the few players who stayed at the club following relegation and he remained until leaving for Burnley, with a blast for Bill McGarry, at the age of 29.

Despite being out of the side for 30 months after a dispute, Tommy won 24 caps for Northern Ireland in total.

Season by Season

Tommy Cassidy
Tommy Cassidy

1970/71 (3/1)

Made his debut in the goalless draw with Ipswich and admitted that he was quite glad to be taken off with the crowd generating an antagonistic atmosphere. He was a surprise addition to the Northern Ireland squad for the Home Internationals and made his debut against England. This was a great confidence boost for him as he admitted that "lack of confidence has been my trouble since I left Glentoran".

1971/72 (6/4 - 3)

Despite being a Northern Ireland squad member was rarely called upon. Joe Harvey was convinced he would make it: 'but only if we can get some weight off him. He drinks a lot of lemonade so we'll have to try and dry him out'.

1972/73 (2/3)

Transfer-listed, he started pre-season training a couple of weeks early to shed some weight and ensure he was in the best possible condition in the hope of changing Harvey’s mind. Barrowclough’s injury in January allowed him a reprieve, but Burkinshaw demanded that he shaved his bushy beard off. However he remained well out of the picture as he fought unsuccessfully to get his weight down and there was not a solitary enquiry for him. At the end of the season he impressed in Ollie Burton’s testimonial and Harvey decided to give him another chance and got him to bring his parents over from trouble-torn Belfast to stop him worrying and make sure he ate properly.

1973/74 (46/1 - 6)

Broke through into the first-team, firstly as an emergency centre-forward before dropping back into a midfield slot where he held off competition from Jimmy Smith and Stewart Barrowclough. His form won him a call-up to the Northern Ireland team.

1974/75 (16/2 - 2)

Hardly figured due to a number of injury problems.

1975/76 (32/1 - 3)

Tommy was trying to regain both his form and fitness after his injury lay-off. and he spent nearly all the first half of the season in the reserves. But he got a good run in the New Year largely because of Nulty's absence.

1976/77 (41 - 2)

With Nulty dropping back into defence Tommy established himself as the anchor man in midfield and he had one of his most productive seasons for the club.

1977/78 (21/1 - 5)

Cassiddy was dropped by Dinnis who accused him in the press of “not giving 100%” after the home defeat against West Ham. Dinnis claimed it was an attempt to motivate him, but the Irishman responding angrily. "I'm no cheat ...I was shocked by the way the manager talked about me publically. The words hurt me as an individual, not as a professional. As a pro I know they were rubbish". He returned to the side but missed the last three months due to a severe groin strain.

1978/79 (21 -1)

Troubled by groin and instep injuries, he lost form and confidence and was barracked by home supporters during the goalless draw with Orient. Tended to mix his undoubted skills with momentary lapses of concentration.

1979/80 (31/1- 6)

More a less a regular in the side Cassidy was recalled to the Northern Ireland set-up after a thirty-month gap. "I didn't care if I never played again after a dispute I had with the manager. I have since realised I was far to hasty". Sold to Burnley at the end of the season for £30,000.


Painting by Piotr