Giles Cheevers: Living the American Dream

Giles Cheevers, pictured with Davis Luster (left), Louis Brown and the Tennessee State Division Two Soccer Championship trophy

Giles Cheevers, pictured with Davis Luster (left), Louis Brown and the Tennessee State Division Two Soccer Championship trophy

Just like thousands of other Waterford boys, Giles Cheevers grew up knocking a football around the back garden and, subsequently on the playing fields of the city and county.
As the years went by, he developed into a very fine goalkeeper and it was clear from an early age that he wanted to go far in the game and not necessarily just as a trusty custodian in between the posts.
He worked diligently on all aspects of the game and he studied for his various coaching badges and in 2005 he headed off to Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Antoinette and the couple along with their two sons are now happily settled in the USA.
During his playing career he played for Southend United, Waterford Crystal, Waterford United and Kilkenny City and he also coached the Blues for over five years.
He helped the club win promotion from the First Division in season 1989-90 and he went through all of the highs and lows the club endured before and after that particular season.
Life with Waterford United is a rollercoaster ride and continues to be so but sometimes there can be a happy ending and that proved the story for Giles who came come to his native city last week to celebrate his 50th birthday.
“My parents are Angela and Tommy and I was born in London but at the age of nine months I arrived in Waterford,” Giles told me during his brief trip home.
“I have one brother, Sheldon and three sisters, Rechenda, Dearbhala and Kelda. We had an enjoyable time growing up in Waterford and I’d also like to mention my uncle, Charlie Cheevers who played in many local showbands for many years.
“He is a superb musician and I used to love listening to him playing the tine whistle because he used to play some haunting tunes which I can clearly remember to this day.”
Giles continued: “I met my wife Antoinette (nee Kenny) when she was working in the Leisure Point on Parnell Street and we have two sons, Dean (17) and Scott (8). Antoinette is from St John’s Park and she has been through a lot with me and I just can’t thank her enough for all the support she has given me from the very first day we met.
“Dean was born here in Waterford and Scott was born in the USA. Dean plays soccer back home in Nashville but he also plays American Football – he’s a specialised field kicker and he is making good progress.
“Scott has broken into an Under 9 team and he is showing good progress but for me the main thing is that he is enjoying playing soccer and he is certainly under no pressure from Antoinette and myself.”
He added: “I began my football career with Southend United here in Waterford and they were a super club. I can fondly remember people like Francie Carey, John McCarthy, Eddie ‘Dawbow’ Power, Henry Russell, Jim Tumilty and many more.
“All of them were super guys and we won the Munster Youth Cup along with most of the domestic trophies that could be won. I can recall those famous tangerine jersey’s and it was great to have the honour of playing with the club for many years,” stated Giles before continuing his story.
“Tommy Jackson asked me to get involved with Waterford FC when he came to the Blues as manager.
“I was very young at the time but I liked it a lot and I suppose that was the time I got the urge to get involved in coaching and as the years past I was at one time studying for an UEFA badge and a goalkeeper’s badge and it was difficult to juggle both but thankfully it all worked out in the end.
“I was part of the squad which won the First Division in the 1989-90 season and that was moreorless an entirely local team. The manager Johnny Matthews had players like Kevin Power, Martin ‘Mock’ Reid, Alan Barry, Kieran O’Toole and Pat Arrigan and of course Martin ‘Blossom’ Quinlivan and there was a brilliant bond within that squad.
“The following years proved to be something of a soap opera but nevertheless it was enjoyable. I went to play for EMFA (Kilkenny City) for a while like a lot of Waterford born players did but again like a lot of local players I returned to the Blues and I remained on as a coach until my move to America in August 2005.
“It’s tough to come back now and see the club struggling in the First Division but they will come through it. I was talking to Daryl Murphy recently and we both agreed that the 2004 FAI Cup final was a major turning point.
“How the referee allowed play to continue when there was two footballs on the pitch still makes me angry. It’s been tough going sine that defeat. We were the best team that day but a very poor decision proved fatal in many ways’, Giles claimed with a sense of regret.
As already stated he took up an offer to move to America and along with his son and Antoinette they made their way to Nashville Tennessee.
And their port of call was the Montgomery Bell Academy, a Private High School which caters for young students who’s parents pay something in the region of $25,000 per year to attend.
Life in the USA needless to say is completely different to life in Ireland but the Cheevers family have embraced it and everything is going very well for them indeed.
Next week: The pleasure of coaching in Montgomery Bell Academy and indeed the pressure of doing so. Giles will explain how Antoinette’s wait for a visa proved troublesome.
He’ll also speak about the buzz of living in the wonderful area of Tennessee, his hopes for the future and why he will always have a deep rooted love for his native Waterford.

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