In The Hotseat with Tommy Cassidy

Tommy Cassidy, Whitby Town manager
Tommy Cassidy, Whitby Town manager

AS a footballer, Whitby Town boss Tommy Cassidy played alongside the likes of George Best and graced the turf of Wembley Stadium several times, although never on the winning side.

He had trials for Manchester United in the Best, Law and Charlton era but missed home and began his career in Northern Ireland, before playing for Newcastle United in the 70s.

A successful managerial career followed, at home and abroad and now he is writing his first book.

Here, Tommy speaks to sports editor Duncan Atkins ...

1 What are your first memories of Whitby?

In October last year when I first got the job at Whitby Town, I drove down over the moors on a lovely day and thought no matter what happens, the drive will be quite attractive.

2 What makes Whitby special to you?

I’ve always been successful wherever I’ve been but it really is a challenge to get Whitby Town on a strong footing, and hopefully we can progress up the league – it’s just not done overnight.

3 Life’s highlight?

End of last season with Whitby when we won to keep us in the league. We escaped relegation and the two games after that, we played really well as we were more relaxed and the pressure was off.

I also played at Wembley six times – the 1974 FA Cup final, the 1976 League Cup final and four times for Northern Ireland against England – and never won.

There were five defeats and a draw but it was a real experience playing at Wembley.

The atmosphere with 100,000 people there was unreal.

4 Biggest regret?

I stayed in Cyprus for six years and one of my biggest regrets was leaving. There were things going on behind the scenes I didn’t agree with but it was a great lifestyle for my family.

I also left Workington in 2007 when we were third in the Blue Square North and went to Newcastle Blue Star.

I knew nothing about them but the chairman had a lot of ambition to get into the Conference and I signed a three-year contract.

The way some of the things were handled was despicable and I stayed for five months.

5 What did you have for breakfast this morning?

A cup of tea.

6 What is your favourite eating place?

I have not eaten in Whitby to be honest but will be staying for a couple of nights with my wife.

7 What is your favourite pub?

I haven’t had an alcoholic drink in Whitby but I had a pint of lager in the football club bar and it was very nice.

8 Where are the best fish and chips?

I had a big disappointment last season after a night game at the Turnbull. Myself, my wife and a friend went into town to get fish and chips but most of them were closed. I’d like to try them all in the next couple of months.

9 What is your worst habit?

I don’t eat before a game. I have a cup of tea and that’s it.

10 Where was your last holiday?

Tenerife – I’ve been for the past six or seven years and we have friends there who have places. Also Cyprus a few times.

11 When was the last time you cried?

Very recently. I cried about the troubles in Northern Ireland and still couldn’t believe it was going on.

In this new era there are still people who can’t accept things.

It’s my country and find it difficult. I was born in Northern Ireland and there’s still conflict, it’s just amazing.

12 What would be your ideal day in Whitby?

A nice beautiful drive into Whitby, winning the game, go out and stay in Whitby that night, fish and chips and a few pints.

13 What was your first job?

When I was at Belfast High School, I didn’t play football there as it was seen as a working class game so I played rugby at school and football at a youth club.

I went for trials at Manchester United in 1968-69 and got homesick so I signed for Glentoran as an arrangement with Manchester United. I have been in football all my life.

14 What is your favourite film?

Get Carter as it was based around Newcastle and Gateshead – I lived there a lot of my life.

15 What is your favourite book?

I’m writing my own at the moment, Tommy Cassidy – Who Am I?

I’m a great lover of autobiographies, particularly famous footballers.

I liked Danny Blanchflower’s, who played for Spurs in the 60s, it is a typical Irishman’s autobiography.

16 If you won the Lottery, what would you do with it?

Look after my children and make sure they are fine, they are my first priority.

I would use some of it for Whitby to get them up the league. They’re my club at the moment and would do all I could. We have hardcore supporters and I would show respect for them.

A lot of people work hard behnid the scenes who never get the credit and would really like to do that but money buys success these days – the best players cost money.

17 Dracula or Captain Cook?

Dracula.

I remember going to Whitby last year coinciding with Goth weekend and was absolutely amazed. I’d just joined the club and seen all these Goths.

People talk about Whitby and always mention the Goths.

18 What is your signature dish?

I lived on my own in Ireland for a while and I had fruit, toast and tea. I never cooked anything.

19 Favourite drink?

Orange juice and a fizzy water, or a lager.

20 What would be your epitaph?

The title of my book is Tommy Cassidy: Who Am I? I played for Northern Ireland against England and there’s a picture of me in the penalty area with George Best, Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore and Martin Peters.

I was only about 19 or 20. The book should be published about a year from now.