The First Time That I Applied to Manage Ireland

October 24, 2007 at 2:08 am 3 comments

As the FAI stumble comically into their constantly exploding clowns’ car to start the search for yet another new manager, let me tell you about how I applied to manage Ireland the year Jack Charlton accidentally got the job. Four years earlier, Eoin Hand had replaced John Giles. Hand got the job by one swing vote because one FAI board member thought that rival candidate Paddy Mulligan had thrown a bun at him on an away trip. After Hand had resigned in 1985, the Merrion Square circus swung into inaction. Two senior FAI men – President Des Casey and Tony O’Neill – drove around England in a hired car looking for people to interview, while I sat at home and honed my CV. >>>

My Rival Candidates

Amidst a flurry of media speculation, the FAI declared their final shortlist as unchangeable: former Newcastle United manager turned after-dinner speaker Jack Charlton, Manchester City boss Billy McNeill and Irish youth coach Liam Tuohy.

Former Ireland boss John Giles had declined to enter the race. Then the Manchester City board refused to let McNeill apply. A senior FAI man told Giles he would get the job if he applied. Giles was now a candidate – but only if the FAI agreed to change their ‘unchangeable’ shortlist. At this stage I formally applied for the job.

My Application

In a print advert, the FAI’s only essential job requirement was an ability to speak English, and I could do that. I assured the FAI that:

While not intensely involved in competitive football so far this decade, my record during the early to mid seventies showed that my appointment would be a fitting end to the dignified race for this important job.

My enclosed CV elaborated on my relevant experience:

  • I played three games for Willow Park Wanderers U-11 side and nearly scored a goal in an U-13 five-a-side competition in Riversdale Sports Club in June ’72;
  • I shook hands with Turlough O’Connor after the 1976 FAI Cup Final between Bohemians and Drogheda United at Dalymount Park;
  • I got Derek Dougan’s autograph after the 1973 match at Lansdowne Road between Brazil and a Shamrock Rovers All-Ireland selection (the Doog’s car also ran over my foot in the car-park, effectively ending my playing career); and
  • I watched quite a lot of English football on the telly around the time that Leeds United used to come second in everything.

The FAI advert also expressed a preference for someone based in England, so I assured them that:

Although I was born in Éire, I will be as dedicated and committed to the cause of Irish football as would anyone born in a more appropriate country. I have also picked up enough ‘cockneyese’ from watching ‘Minder’ to feel at ease with our second-generation stars.

The Vote

I did not get the job but, after a heated debate, the 18-man FAI Executive did agree to add Giles to their ‘unchangeable’ shortlist. Then, with this precedent set, President Des Casey sensationally sprung a new surprise candidate: former Liverpool boss Bob Paisley.

Paisley could win with a 9–9 tie, as Casey had a casting vote, and Casey thought he had at least nine votes sewn up. And sure enough, Paisley got the necessary nine votes; while Charlton, Giles and Tuohy got only 3 each.

After a side vote eliminated Tuohy, the next vote was Paisley 9, Charlton 5, Giles 4. With Giles gone, the final vote was held. But one Paisley voter switched sides, upsetting the plan, and Charlton accidentally won by 10-8.

On RTE’s Late Late Show, host Gay Byrne was handed a sheet of paper. ‘I’ve just been told that Jack Charlton is the new manager of Ireland,’ he told his viewers, then he paused and added: ‘whatever that means.’

The Appointment

Months after interviewing him in a motorway café, the FAI couldn’t find Charlton to offer him the job. Charlton’s friend Jimmy Armfield rang him at his holiday hunting lodge: ‘Congratulations on getting the job, Jack.’ ‘What job?’ ‘Manager of Ireland.’ ‘Oh. I’d forgotten about that.’

Charlton would never forget his first dealings with FAI general secretary Peadar O’Driscoll. Charlton sent over the list of players for his squad, for the FAI to contact them, and O’Driscoll added on a few players that he felt should have been picked. From then until Tony O’Neill took over as general secretary, Charlton would only phone the FAI at lunchtime, when he knew O’Driscoll would be out of the office.

And now the circus begins again. Roll up, roll up!


Entry filed under: Fun, Ireland, News, Sports.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. blankpaige  |  October 24, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    Great to see that the FAI are continuing in their long tradition of incompetence. This is a real shame because while it strikes me that the loyal Irish football fan expects little, they deserve so much more. Perhaps they could start following gaelic football. That organisation at least seems capable of holding press conferences and building the odd stadium.

  • 2. Michael Nugent  |  October 26, 2007 at 12:27 am

    Yes, but apart from organising televised fist-fights against Australian teams and locking referees in boots of cars, the GAA isn’t anywhere near as entertaining as the FAI.

    Apart, of course, from Effin Eddie Moroney, who gave us possibly the most glorious sentence ever uttered by a sports commentator: ‘It’s definitely probably one of the greatest days in Aherlow in GAA circumstances’.

  • […] Jack Charlton: I’ll Never Forgive John Aldridge Yes this was the blog address i took it from The First Time That I Applied to Manage Ireland That’s Ireland Wow […]


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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.


October 2007
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Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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