During an incredible period since the foundation of Waterford United FC in 1982 many managers have come and gone.
The current man in the chair, Roddy Collins (see Sport 16), certainly has his own problems at the moment as the cash strapped club remain rooted to the bottom of the First Division League table.
One of the most popular of all Blues managers was Tommy Lynch and although he was only at the RSC for a little over two and a half years, he made an indelible impression on players and supporters alike.
And that fact was underlined when he paid a visit to Waterford to see the current crop of Blues players in action.
Tommy was greeted warmly by dozens of folk and it was clear to see that to this day he is highly respected by many and rightly so and to his eternal credit he holds no grudges whatsoever despite the manner in which he was dismissed.
As always he was brutally honest and up front about his life both on and off the park. Born on October 10th, 1964, Tommy opened up and spoke candidly about his extraordinary life.
“I would like to think of myself as a Clare man despite the fact that I was officially born in Limerick but my parents raised four of us (two sisters and one brother) in Shannon and we all still live there.
“I began playing football with Wembley Rovers and I never won any international caps or anything like that because I was just an ordinary player who gave his all in every game. I plodded away and eventually I was asked to sign for Limerick and I went on to play 178 games for the club between 1982 and 1988.”
Tommy added: “I played on the team which played the last ever match at the Markets Field and I have to say that I am delighted to see that the club have returned to the old venue once again. I was spotted by Sunderland and off I went to the north of England in 1988 and I stayed there until 1990. I didn’t apply myself properly there to be honest.
“I can recall walking into Roker Park and remembering this was the biggest stadium I had ever seen and perhaps it was all to much for me. After two years I was signed by Shrewsbury Town and I enjoyed six wonderful years at that club which is based on the border of Wales.
“I played at Wembley with the club and in 2011 I was inducted into their Hall of Fame and when I go back there from time to time I get a brilliant feeling when I see my name carved in gold in the clubs main office.
“In total I played 234 games for Shrewsbury Town and there was only one occasion when I came off the field and was not happy with my performance. I looked at myself in the mirror after having a shower and I said ‘you are a cheat and you must never rob a team and a club by playing like that again’. I would like to think that is the way I live my life.”
Tommy then spoke about his move to Waterford. “I had married Christine, a Catholic girl from Belfast at that stage. I had known her since we were extremely young and I always knew that we would eventually become husband and wife and thankfully we are still very happy and living in Shannon.
“Her family, including her father were victims of ‘The Troubles and they became members of the ‘Crumlin Kangaroos’ who were internees who escaped from Crumlin Road Jail and after I returned from Shrewsbury I received a fantastic offer from Linfield Football Club to sign as a player but to be honest I didn’t give it to much thought as they were way to many differences religion wise and I would have been ostracised from the family.
“I then got a call from John O’Driscoll about the job of managing Waterford United and I came and spoke to people like Bertie Rogers and Martin Barrett and I liked what they had to say. I decided to take up their offer and they asked me what I required.
“I told them I wanted to sign Michael Devine but the fee Cork City wanted was £15,000 which was massive at that time. I told them he would be worth at least 12 points a season to us and to be fair they backed me fully with that bid.
“Michael was brilliant for us as indeed was Donal Golden up front and we reached the play-off final in my first season in charge and we were unlucky to lose out to Dundalk. The following season, however win the league and won promotion in style with what was more or less a large local team who were brilliant all through. We also enjoyed two great FAI Cup runs.
“At that stage our daughter Molly was three years old and our son Jack was born here in Waterford so he will always be a Deise boy in our eyes.
“Jack was very ill when he arrived into this world and we will never forget the treatment and kindness he received in the Regional Hospital and believe me we will always be so very grateful for the professionalism shown by the doctors and nurses there at that time,” admitted Tommy.
All appeared to be going well for Tommy and his family at this time. He took over for the 1996-97 season and delivered the required goods the following season but all was about to change when the team began life in the Premier League.
They lost heavily to Cork City in one of the opening games but after getting to grips with life in the top grade a heavy loss away to Bray Wanderers was about to change life for Tommy, his wife Christine and two children Molly and Jack.
A knee-jerk reaction saw the board remove him and replace him with the former Charlton Athletic and Queens Park Rangers striker Mike Flanagan.
He was in Tommy’s office a day after the dismissal which caused much debate and discussion but to this day Tommy does not hold a grudge or blame anyone for the manner in which he was removed.
“I believe everything happens for a reason. When you decide to take a job as a football manager you know that you are going to be sacked one day. I loved my time in Waterford and I can come back here at any time and hold my head held high. That was proved when I came back recently to visit.
“I went on to manage Limerick and now I work for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in Limerick and I love it.
“Working with young children whose parents have become victims of drug abuse is something very important to me and every day is special and I hope that I am doing something worthwhile in that area.
“If I wasn’t removed by Waterford United who knows what would have happened ? I can tell you one thing however and that is I would not be as happy as I am today.
“I have no regrets whatsoever and I never look back in anger. I love watching Jack play for the Limerick Under-19 team and I have been asked to help coach the Limerick Under-16 team which I probably will do but all of my attention is now focused on my family and my job.
“I have never been happier and I am proud to say that my friendship with many Waterford people continues to remain intact,” said Tommy with his trademark level of sincerity