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Opinion

Days of grace…Tommy Cassidy

1 month ago
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Tommy Cassidy was one of only four survivors from the 1974 FA Cup final defeat by Liverpool, that played in the 1976 League Cup final with Manchester City.

The other three were Alan Kennedy, Pat Howard and Malcolm Macdonald.

After another heartbreaking Wembley defeat, the aforementioned three would all soon head onto pastures new…Supermac and Howard to Arsenal, with then later Kennedy to Liverpool and his own personal glory.

Tommy Cassidy though hung about and became a club stalwart. A player of undoubted class, Tommy was a Belfast boy sensation at Glentoran.

After only 14 first team appearances, Newcastle boss Joe Harvey went knocking, agreeing a £15,000 fee to take him to Tyneside in 1970.

Although he soon made his senior debut, it took Tommy Cassidy three seasons to establish himself in the first team, slotting in alongside Jinky Smith, Terry Hibbitt and Terry McDermott.

He got his opportunity mainly because of the premature retirement of the legendary Tony Green.

With his voluminous hair and popular sideburns of the day, to go with his elegant style of play, Tommy Cassidy was instantly recognisable and soon became a favourite of the lads on the terraces.

He had a penchant for seeming to always be able to pick out a slide rule pass and Supermac was normally the main beneficiary.

As the seventies progressed, Tommy started to play as a sitting midfielder, probably due to his fair share of injuries, but he still was the scorer of spectacular goals – Liam O’Brien style if you like.

Two of the finest were within two weeks of each other.

Tommy scored a wonderful 20 yard volley against QPR to put Newcastle 3-2 ahead in December 1979 (NUFC went on to win 4-2) at St James Park (ED: This was the game when Peter Withe famously dived full length and caught a dog that had managed to get onto the pitch, then picked himself up (Peter Withe, not the dog…) and headed in from a Terry Hibbitt free-kick).

On New Year’s Day 1980, Tommy Cassidy surpassed this, by seeing the new decade in with one of the greatest ever derby goals against Sunderland in a 3-1 win.

After Newcastle United failed to win promotion, Cassidy moved to Burnley in the summer of 1980, after 10 years of sterling service for his beloved black and whites.

Tommy Cassidy’s swansong was at the 1982 World Cup as part of Billy Bingham’s Northern Ireland World Cup squad.

After Sammy McIlroy went off injured, it was Tommy who replaced him to steady the ship and help engineer a famous 1-0 victory over hosts Spain.

After his retirement from football in 1983, Tommy went on to to be a manager, a constant on the local non-league circuit when managing the likes of Blyth Spartans, Newcastle Blue Star and Whitby Town.

Now 71, Tommy Cassidy is another of our former heroes that settled down to make the North East region his home.

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