OVER five decades ago, in 1970, a young Gerard Cassidy watched the FAI cup final on television and that was enough to set the flame for football alight in the Derrygonnelly man.
“The game went to a second replay. I got to thinking that Sligo is really close at hand and I kept harping away at my parents until they brought me down the next season to a game and it was against Bohemians. Bohemians won 4-0 but the seed had been sown at that stage and every season my parents used to bring me down to three or four games and they would sit outside with a flask of tea.”
That passion for the game would be the catalyst for an exciting scouting career which would see Gerard travel all across the country, and indeed the world, searching for young talent for an array of clubs including Scottish giants Celtic and then Premiership heavyweights Blackburn Rovers.
After Gerard begun to get involved in the scouting game, a phone call with a friend in England saw the Derrygonnelly man appointed as a scout for Cambridge United.
“One of the Cove Ramblers players Fergus O’Donohue really impressed me but I didn’t have a link to any club. I mentioned him to a friend in England and this friend suggested him to Cambridge United. They signed him and they then asked me to become their Ireland scout. It was a very loose-ended agreement and I had a similar one later with Bradford City.
Gerard was soon to return to his “first love” club at the Showgrounds, to help ‘The Bit of Red’ team acquire one of their most successful managers ever.
“My influence started to grow and I got to know officers at the club and in 1993, the manager had departed and the chairman Kevin Dykes came to me looking for a manager. Through previous attempts to find managers and players for Sligo Rovers, I had been in touch with a man Ronnie Glavin.
“Ronnie had played for Celtic and Scotland and he recommended that I phone Tommy Burns who was the manager of Kilmarnock at the time. Tommy recommended this man called Willie McStay. It was a no brainer to take this guy. I remember phoning Ronnie from the public kiosk in Derrygonnelly before sprinting down the street to phone Sligo to tell them that I had found this guy who would be a great manager for the club.”
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Posted: 5:46 pm May 9, 2021