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Match By Match: League Champions 1962/1963

In September 2003 the members of the 1963 team reunited for the 40th anniversary of their league triumph. This was the team that first represented Dundalk in European action and ended a 30 year barren spell by winning the league championship.

Here dundalkfc.com reproduces the excellent article on the team by Gerry Prendergast and Jim Murphy that appeared in the Dundalk Democrat that week. There is also a review of the reunion night that appeared on dundalkfc.com at the time.

Nobody could remember when Dundalk had last won the League Championship—nobody, that is, except three who were still in harness, Gerry McCourt, captain of the 1932-33 team and now team trainer, and committee members, Peadar Halpin and Joe McGrath. Coaching duties were in the hands of Shay Noonan and Colm Bellew.

With only ten teams in the League, a new competition was introduced to open the season. Played in two sections, with the top two in each section qualifying for a knock out, it was commemorating Paddy Casey and there was no better way to celebrate Dundalk’s most illustrious Soccer administrator than to open with a three match unbeaten sequence. A number of newcomers featured, including Tommy Rowe, Stan Pownell and Billy Kennedy, all ex Drumcondra, Leo O’Reilly and local boy Davy McArdle getting an extended run.

In the last section game Leo O’Reilly scored a hat trick against Drums at Tolka, but it wasn’t enough – the home team scored five to take the section honours and Dundalk qualified as runners-up. A 1-0 semi final win over Waterford brought Dundalk and Drums back together in the final, when Drums again prevailed, this time on a 3-0 score, to become the first, and only, winners of the Casey Cup.

The first day defence and midfield line out—Barron, Murphy, McKeown, Rowe, Lyons, and Harte—remained the same all season, barring injury, when utility man Leo O’Reilly provided cover. Another new man, Joe Menary ex-Portadown, was also used early season. Candidates for the forward positions included Davy McArdle, Dermot Cross, Billy Kennedy, Francie Callan, Jimmy Hasty, Stan Pownell and play-anywhere Leo O’Reilly. Jimmy Gaynor, ex Shamrock Rovers, who had spent seven seasons in the English Leagues with Ipswich and Aldershot came on board after a couple of weeks.

The Leinster Cup match against Workmans Club in the middle of November threw up the last addition to the payroll and rounded out the choice of forwards. The performance of Jimmy Redmond (ex Cork Hibernians and St Patricks) was enough, and he was promptly signed.

During the Shield, the defence took a mauling from Waterford in a 7-2 Oriel rout, but it was in the absence of Murphy and Lyons (on Amateur International duty in the company of Davy McArdle) with Rowe and Harte also absent. On the Sunday before the League got under way, a 2-2 draw against Cork Hibs at Oriel, sent the visitors through to the next round of the City Cup, on a two-leg aggregate score of 4-3. At this stage, 18 games had yielded two goals per game, coming from Hasty and O’Reilly (7); Callan (6) and three each from Cross, Kennedy, Menary, Murphy.

First day League opponents, Cork Celtic, had shared second place in the Shield with Dundalk, a long way behind runaway winners Shamrock Rovers. Celtic possessed the most lethal strike partnership in the League’s history in Donal Leahy and Austin Noonan, who, between them had accounted for over 200 League goals alone in the previous six seasons. For Dundalk, poor home displays had resulted in dwindling gates and the match day programme editor was warning, “ Unless they (the team) do something about it, serious repercussions may be felt later on”!!

CASEY CUP RESULTS
St Pats              (h) 3-2 O’Reilly (2) Hasty
Shelbourne         (h) 1-1 O’Reilly
Shamrock Rovers (A) 4-1 Callan, Pownall, O’Reilly, Cross
Drumcondra        (A) 3-5 O’Reilly (3)
Waterford          (A) 1-0 Callan
Drumcondra        (N) 0-3

Nov 25th (H) Win v. Cork Celtic 2-1 (Callan, Cross)
Barron, Murphy, McKeown, Rowe, Lyons, Harte, Redmond, Cross, Hasty, Callan, Pownall.
The team took heed of the warning, and repeated their Shield victory over Celtic. Man of the match, Francie Callan, opened the scoring in the 17th minute, after Hasty and Cross did the spadework. Dundalk’s defence was the more active, especially against the very dangerous Austin Noonan – one 40-yard effort was just saved by Barron at the expense of a corner. Celtic’s wing halves, McCarthy and Cowie dominated the second period and it was no surprise when Donal Leahy equalised. But within a minute, Patsy McKeown broke up field, switched to Cross, whose first timer got the winner. The defence hung on against heavy Celtic pounding.

Dec 2nd (A) Win v. Waterford 3-2 (og, Pownall, Hasty)
Leo O’Reilly and Davy McArdle took the place of flu victims, Callan and McKeown, and both gave displays that did not weaken the team. Waterford, coming off a 6-3 win over Pats, were a goal up from Mick Lynch at the break. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Davy McArdle’s cross was turned into the net by a defender and six minutes later, Pownall, from a long way out, put the visitors ahead. In a cracker of a game, Paul Fitzgerald equalised. Both sides got chances, but it was Hasty who got the winner, two minutes from time, after O’Reilly engineered the opening. An excellent defensive display, with Lyons giving little rope to Jack Fitzgerald. An important win, against an in-form team.


Dec 9th (H) Win v. Drumcondra 5-2 (2 Hasty, 2 Redmond, Callan)
A thriller and Dundalk’s best display so far in the season. Drums had earlier created a bit of history becoming the first Irish club to win a European tie, defeating Odense (Denmark) by 6-5 on aggregate in the Fairs Cup. It took a huge effort to recover from two early Sonny Rice goals, followed by a penalty miss by John Murphy. In the dying seconds of the first half, Hasty got one back, after Eamon Darcy charged down a Redmond pile driver. After the break Dundalk ran through the Drum’s defence—Redmond equalising within a minute and Callan putting the home team ahead after 20 minutes. Redmond and Hasty completed the rout. This was Hasty’s game—he scored two and made the other three. Rowe and Harte ran the midfield. A couple of days later Drums took on the mighty Bayern Munich at Tolka Park in their second leg match and notched up a 1-0 win, but this not enough to over turn their 6-0 away loss in the first leg.

Dec 16th (A) Draw v. St. Patricks Ath. 2-2 (Hasty, Cross)
An injury to Stan Pownall after ten minutes left him a passenger and made this a hard battle from early on. Pats led twice, but a battling performance earned a point. The defence had to work overtime, carrying the burden of a man short and the forwards made full use of their opportunities. A solid all-round team performance. Callan’s delightful dribble set up the first for Hasty, who himself supplied Cross for the second.

Dec 23rd (H) Win v. Shelbourne 2-1 (Kennedy, Hasty)
A few days earlier Shels had progressed in the Leinster Cup after a 2-2 result, on a better corner count. The biggest crowd of the year saw a thriller, with Dundalk again having to come from behind in a storming second half and might have won by more. Rowe and Harte laid the foundation, while Callan and Cross took the honours up front with a great display of inside forward play. Shels, through Eric Barber, were ahead inside ten minutes. Dundalk created plenty of chances, but it was ten minutes into the second half before Kennedy scored and almost immediately afterwards came a brilliantly worked winner— Callan went to the end line and Hasty finished the cross. An excellent performance against a strong Shels team.

Dec 30th (A) Shamrock Rovers Cancelled
Countrywide snow, frost and blizzards wrecked the complete League programme. There was a surprise when the Rovers reserve team turned up at Oriel Park and a hasty effort was made to gather together a Dundalk side. The Democrat reported that only three people attended the game—a Dundalk committeeman, a Pressman and one spectator!

Jan 6th (H) Win v. Limerick 3- 0 (Cross 2, Hasty)
Against a defence that had conceded just four goals in five games, a great opening half hour saw Dundalk three up. Cross was the outstanding figure and should have been credited with a hat trick, but the overall team effort in the opening period was the main feature. Afterwards, the young Limerick team took over, but a resolute defence gave nothing away and Barron dealt comfortably with anything that got by the dominant back line of Lyons, Murphy and McKeown. This victory saw Dundalk go two points clear at the top of the League, after main rivals Cork Hibernians dropped a point to Pats.

Jan 13th (A) Loss v. Hibs 1-0
A bone hard pitch, two strong defences and two excellent keepers, Brohan and Barron, kept this game scoreless for 89 minutes, before a ground attendance record of 12,000 (receipts £757). Finally, Pat O’Callaghan headed home a Tommy Eglinton corner, in spite of Patsy McKeown’s valiant effort, leaving the two teams tied on eleven points and Waterford on nine, with a game in hand. The plaudits went to 135 Dundalk supporters—owing to the main line to Dublin being closed for repairs, they had to take a bus to Dublin, where they joined the Cork train.

Jan 20th (H) Win v. Bohemian 5-1 ( O’Reilly 3, Cross, Callan)
Leo O’Reilly came in for the weather-bound Hasty and hit a hat trick, on a day when only one other League game was completed, Cork Hibs losing to Shels. Oriel Park was under snow, several inches deep in the corners, but it couldn’t disguise a class performance, with all five forwards, and the wing halves in close support, creating plenty of chances. Man of the match was attack leader, Leo O’Reilly, and Francie Callan had a hand in all the goals.

Jan 27th (A) Draw v. Cork Celtic 2-2 (Hasty, Cross)
In the last minute absence of Francie Callan and Jimmy Redmond from the selected team, Leo O’Reilly and Davy McArdle were again called upon and both played their part in taking home a point from Turner’s Cross, where Celtic went undefeated in the League. Dundalk led twice, but had to withstand considerable home team pressure for the last half hour. Heroic defending, especially by Murphy, McKeown and Lyons, rode out the storm, but this was a first class team effort, earning an important away point.

The table now read: Dundalk 14 pnts. (Played 9); Hibs 13 (from 9); Waterford 11 (7); Drumcondra 9 (7).

Feb 3rd (H) Draw v. Waterford 2-2 (Hasty, Lyons)
To date, Waterford’s only defeat was against Dundalk in the first series Kilcohan fixture. In their seven fixtures they had scored 26 goals, and Mick Lynch had 18 season goals to his credit. On a frozen surface, the home ploy of close passing was the wrong tactic and Waterford’s more direct style paid dividends, with two goals inside 20 minutes. Waterford continued to dominate and John Murphy’s injury and departure with 20 minutes remaining seemed to end any prospects of saving something. “You wouldn’t have taken 50-1 on Dundalk’s chances with ten minutes remaining” and hundreds of supporters were on their way home when the home side staged an amazing recovery. Five minutes from full time, Hasty prodded through after a deflection. In the last minute, Callan’s persistence won a corner, and he sent a high ball into a crowded goalmouth—Lyons got to it first. The ten men had fashioned the unlikeliest of draws—never had a result looked more open-and-shut and like the Celtic result the previous week, would prove crucial.

Feb 10th (A) Draw v. Drums 0-0
When news came through afterwards, that Hibs had lost to Shamrock Rovers and Waterford to Shels, the importance of this point, which kept Drums at bay, became clear. John Murphy’s absence saw O’Reilly at right half and the rest of the defence was shuffled to accommodate him. No goals, but a game full of incident, and played with intensity and speed. McKeown put Maxie McCann ‘in his box’, Lyons had another of his ‘cool, confident games’ O’Reilly proved himself the ‘most useful utility man the club had seen in many years’, and Rowe had ‘one of his most successful games since coming to Dundalk’.

Feb 17th FAI Cup (H) Win v. Waterford 2-0 (Hasty, Redmond)
An attendance of 6,500, (gate £526), including a big visiting contingent, saw a game that failed to live up to the traditional Cup fare between these two clubs. Dundalk had most of the play, with O’Reilly in top form, but failed to convert their first period chances. Two goals in quick succession, early after the break, were enough to see off a gallant Waterford, who never gave up the chase, but who floundered on a first class defence. Callan’s foraging, Hasty’s keenness, the brilliant dribbling of Cross, and the skilled play of wingers Redmond and Kennedy all caught the eye of the Democrat. The only reservations were expressed about the wingers, “ if they had speed, they would be the best wingers in the country”.

Feb 24th (H) Win v. St Patricks Athletic 4-1 (2 McArdle, Rowe, Callan)
Jimmy Redmond took time out to get married and Davy McArdle grabbed his chance to score twice. But the scoreline was misleading. On the form, this one looked in the bag and on the amount of Dundalk possession the two points should have been delivered long before Pats took a surprise lead, ten minutes into the second half. Within a minute, Davy McArdle cancelled this one, but it took three late goals to secure victory, which territorially should have come much earlier. A potential wobble that improved the League position when Hibs lost their local derby to Celtic.

Mar 3rd (A) Loss v. Shels 1-2 (Hasty)
Patsy McKeown’s curling centre and Jimmy Hasty’s finish, after three minutes, was the perfect start, but that ended the good news. A fifteen-minute spell of Shel’s dominance brought goals from Hannigan and Hennessy, and there was no comeback this time. An ill at ease defence, below par performances by the halves and a poor forward display, began to raise question marks and a recall of the most recent late season failures when promising League positions had been frittered away. Six teams now had genuine title hopes.

Mar 10th FAI Cup (H) Loss v. Cork Hibernians 1-2 (Hasty)
“A low-grade show that didn’t deserve better” was the Democrat’s verdict. A near capacity 6,000 (£524) got little to enthuse over in the home display. Hibs, playing with the hill, were deserving 1-0 leaders at half time. Hasty got one back, but the cheers hadn’t died when Eglinton let fly from an acute angle to settle the affair. Dundalk battled hard, but to no avail.
Mar 17th (H) Loss v. Shamrock Rovers 1-3 (Redmond)
The third successive defeat and the despondent Democrat spared no one “. I saw few Dundalk players to entirely please me…the attack has gone ragged and dejected in the last few weeks….even the defence, once our pride and joy, share in the blame…” Dundalk had the better of the first half hour exchanges, but after Rovers took the lead it became an uphill battle and 15 minutes after the break, Rovers put the issue beyond doubt. It was time for changes and O’Reilly and Kennedy were restored in place of Hasty and Cross for the trip to the Markets Field.

Mar 24th (A) Win v. Limerick 2-0 (Redmond, Callan)
A crucial result with the huge bonus of all the other weekend results were favourable—Drums lost to Shamrock Rovers; Shels and Celtic played a scoreless draw and Waterford dropped a point to bottom-of-the-table Bohs. The Democrat described Francie Callan’s clinching goal as “ what must have been one of the best ever seen at Markets Field” when he hit Pownall’s cross from around the penalty spot “ like the speed of light”.

Mar 27th (A) Draw v. Shamrock Rovers 1-1 (og)
The weather-cancelled Dec 30th fixture was played at Dalymount Park and provided adequate evidence of this team’s battling qualities, with a complete reversal of the form shown in the home fixture only ten days earlier. The finishing line was looming ever closer and there was no room for error.

Mar 31st (H) Win v. Cork Hibs 2-0 (O’Reilly, Redmond)
Oriel Park’s last League match of the season had Cup conquerors and Cup semi-finalists, Cork Hibernians, with a powerful selection—not a match for the fainthearted. In five encounters, Dundalk had failed to chalk up a single victory over Hibs, but Leo O’Reilly’s fifth minute goal settled a few nerves. Seven minutes before the half time whistle, Kennedy was again the provider and after Francie Callan’s sliced effort, Jimmy Redmond forced the ball over the line. Lyons, Murphy and McKeown gave nothing away; Barron dealt with everything that came through; the wing halves were sound; O’Reilly collected and distributed the ball effectively; Kennedy and Pownall worked well in combination. All contributed to a priceless two points, and the remaining weekend results were all favourable—Waterford lost to Celtic and Dublin rivals, Shels and Drums, settled for a 2-2 draw.
A few days later, Drums maintained their position by winning against St. Pats, leaving a tabletop full of possibilities. Unbelievably, it was into April and five teams still had title prospects.
For Dundalk, the issues were clear—a win in the last match would mean a 4-point gap over Drums, who would require two wins from their remaining games to tie, while a draw would bring Shels and Celtic back into the reckoning. A last day loss was unthinkable.

Apr 4th (A) Draw v Bohemians 2-2 (Pownall, Callan)
Ten busloads of supporters, hundreds of cars and anyone with even the remotest Dundalk connection, headed for Dalymount Park on a rain and hail lashed evening expecting to see a bit of history. They witnessed a game that had a Cup-tie atmosphere about it and the formbook turned upside down, when Bohs, with just one win to their credit, played as if they were the team heading for the Championship. When they scored their second goal with fifteen minutes remaining, the dreams of filling the 30-year gap lay shattered in the Phibsboro mud. Even when Jimmy Kennedy scored in the 87th minute, it seemed a case of too little, too late. Then in the dying seconds, Stan Pownall scampered down the wing and sent over a glorious centre “ Callan appeared to be nowhere near the ball but he somehow summoned up his last reserves of energy, rose magnificently and headed in a golden goal to equalise on the very last second of playing time”.

Nervous week for supporters
Would it be good enough? There was much nail biting and radio listening over the next week as the fixtures backlog was cleared.

Apr 6th: Celtic defeat St Pats to keep their chances alive.
Apr 7th: Drums crash out of the hunt after losing 3-1 in Waterford, leaving only Shels and Cork Celtic.
Apr 9th: Second from bottom St Pats put an end to Shelbourne’s hopes with a 2-1 victory.
Apr 10th: The long wait is over when news comes in of the goalless draw at Milltown between Rovers and Celtic, and the realisation that Francie Callan’s Golden Goal at Dalymount had secured the second championship flag after a gap of thirty years.

Incredible Achievement
The League title was a triumph for team effort, with the thinnest squad imaginable—a keeper, five defenders, seven forwards and one utility player. The ability to come from behind and salvage points from seemingly impossible positions, especially away from home, was a crucial feature of this squad’s make-up. Built on a superb defence, the Murphy-McKeown-Lyons axis saw off some of the finest forward combinations of the era, in front of a confidant Christy Barron. Rowe and Harte combined the best in wing half play, gritty defenders one moment and switching in the next to link up with Callan and Cross in some of the best close passing football ever seen in a Dundalk team. More than anything else, this was one of the best ‘football’ teams to grace Oriel Park, with four wingers, Jimmy Redmond, Davy McArdle, Stan Pownall and Billy Kennedy in the traditional mode, who always kept defences guessing. In the middle, Hasty was getting the service his talents needed, and the interplay between himself, Callan and Cross produced some vintage play and superbly worked goals. Last, but by no means least, the ability of Leo O’Reilly to fill gaps wherever they occurred, without any appearance of change, was crucial.

Top Four Cup
It was almost four weeks before the Top Four Cup semi-final against Drums at Dalymount, the sixth clash between the sides, and the Tolka Park side came out on top by a single goal, going on to defeat Cork Celtic in the final after a replay.

Glasgow Celtic Friendly
The last home match had been on March 31st, and it was a full two months before supporters got the opportunity of seeing their heroes again, for the visit of Scottish Cup finalists, Celtic, who attracted a large attendance with many travelling from Northern Ireland for the first game of their Irish tour. Three up inside the first fifteen minutes, with the third goal coming from Bobby Murdoch, Celtic were coasting and five minutes after the interval they made it 4-0. But inspired by Dermot Cross, Dundalk fought back and began to match their illustrious rivals and with fifteen minutes left had reduced the deficit to 4-3. As a result of a brilliant display of goalkeeping, Christy Barron shared the match honours with Dermot Cross, while Leo O’Reilly and Ted Harte stood out in a scintillating second half performance from the home team.

Sad death of Colm Bellew
Before the official celebrations, came the sad announcement of the sudden death of Colm Bellew while playing in a junior game at St Joseph’s Park. A key member of the coaching staff, his death came as a shock to all soccer followers. Universally liked, he had completed a coaching and training course and, in his capacity as club coach, had contributed significantly to the development of local talent and he took a special interest in the Minor League. At the later celebrations his medal was presented to his sister Briege.
300 supporters joined in the victory dinner at Ballymacscanlon Hotel in June, when the Cup and medals were presented, and the League Chairman, Mr E J Kettle, also presented Gold Medals to the club’s League representative, Joe McGrath and Chairman Jim Malone.

Magnificent gesture by Carroll and Co.
Replying to the toast of Dundalk FC, proposed by Peadar Halpin, Joe McKinley, Managing Director of P J Carroll and Co, made the surprise announcement to the delighted gathering that his company had decided to guarantee the club against loss in its first European venture. He expressed the hope “that both at home and abroad in the time to come the team would add further lustre to the name of Dundalk”. The significance of this gesture became evident later in the summer when the European Cup draw paired Dundalk against the Swiss champions, FC Zürich.

Dundalk FC Board & Supporters Club 1962-63
Chairman: Jim Malone
Vice Chairman: B O’ Kennedy
Secretary: Joe McGrath
Treasurer: George Ware
Committee; Peadar Halpin, Jack Kieran, Paddy McCourt, Jack Fitzgerald, Peter Kieran, George Whitmarsh
Supporters Club: George Whitmarsh (Chairman), Paddy McCourt (Vice Chairman), Jimmy Berry (Secretary), Benny Walsh (Treasurer)
Committee Members: John Carr, Fergus Sharkey, Dessie Casey, Matt McArdle, Harry Cousins, Joe Dorian

The reunion night in Oriel Park was emotional occasion for the heroes of the 1962\63 season. Many members of the squad had not seen each other for over thirty years. It was not too hard to see why they were so good a team as the bond between them appeared to be very strong even after all of these years. The event was organised by Francie Callan and Colm Murphy of the Dundalk FC Supporters Club. Only one surviving member of the squad, Zurich hero Dermot Cross, was unable to appear while the family of the legendary Jimmy Hasty were unfortunately unable to attend also.

40 years since Zurich

The squad arrived in Oriel Park at 5pm and re-acquainted themselves in the upstairs bar. Soon after they went down onto the pitch for a few photographs and the memories started to come flooding back. Tom “Timmy” Lyons reminicsed with Davy McArdle about how they were the babies of the squad and were not afraid to remind the rest of the more senior members of the squad about it. Tim Lyons joked with Leo O’Reilly that “it was this day 40 years ago that I made you a hero!” remembering that it was forty years to the day that Dundalk became the first Irish team to win a European tie away from home with a 2-1 win over FC Zurich. Tim remembered how he was injured in the first leg in Dalymount Park and missed the trip to Switzerland and Leo O’Reilly was forced to fill-in at centre back. Leo went on to play a stormer as goals from Dermot Cross and Jimmy Hasty secured victory. It could have been even better as, with Dundalk trailing 3-0 from the 1st leg and 2-0 up, Hasty hit the crossbar and from the rebound Zurich built up the attack which scored the goal which killed off Dundalk’s challenge.

Return for Francie?

Chairman Des Denning welcomed the team back to Oriel Park. Francie Callan thanked the chairman and said that since the first mention of having a reunion came up the Chairman said “Anything you want Francie, you have it. So I asked him for a four year contract, €650 a week and a €5000 signing on fee!”. Paddy McCourt, who was on the management commitee at the time gave a wonderful speech, when not being interrupted by a mischievous Timmy Lyons, about how “This team played for buttons”. He made tribute to the directors from the time. Chairman Jim Malone, Vice-Chairman Billy Kennedy, Secretary Joe McGrath and Treasurer George Ware. Paddy paid tribute to George Whitmarsh who kept a record of all the matches played from that time. George’s son and Fra Kieran’s son were also present. Paddy then made a presentation to each of the members of the squad.

Joe Martin pays tribute to Jimmy Hasty

Life-long Dundalk supporter Nicky McCourt accepted Jimmy Hasty’s medal which was presented by Joe Martin. Joe said “I have been going to see Dundalk play since 1936 and I remember great centre-forwards like Wagger Byrne, Peader Welsh, Donal Flanagan, Liam Munroe and Jimmy Higgins. But no player that ever came to Dundalk ever had the same impact on football in Dundalk as Jimmy Hasty.”

The squad were presented to the crowd at half-time during the Finn Harps match, and they got a wonderful reception from supporters young and old.

“A lot of stories retold and matches replayed”

After the match a number of the squad spoke to dundalkfc.com:

Coach Shay Noonan said that he had a great night: “It was lovely to meet everybody again. I was there in Zurich that night 40 years ago tonight. We should have won that match after Jimmy Hasty hit the bar and then they went up and scored at the far end. We had a good team with no stars and we all played for each other”.

Jimmy Redmond remembered how Shay Noonan signed him from Longford near the end of his career and played for much of the season before he got injured and was replaced by Davy McArdle. “I was getting a bit old and lazy by then” remarked Jimmy.

Lyons stirs it up!
Timmy Lyons could not get over the fact that it was forty years since the won the league. “It’s surprising that it’s forty years ago and how that time passes. It was great to meet my old colleagues again. In the case of our two colleagues who have died it is very sad as both of them died in tragic circumstances. I think that this reunion says a lot for Dundalk people. It says that when we were here forty years ago we appreciated playing for Dundalk and we liked the people and hopefully they liked us too. The fact that we managed to win the league and become the first team to win in Europe was a bonus. I didn’t realise that it was forty years to the night that we played in Zurich. As it happened I played in the first game I broke my arm. Leo O’Reilly was converted to a centre-half for the return which was a significant achievement on his behalf. For Dundalk to win was a great achievement.” Tim was again keen to “rub in” his comparative youth: “I was the youngest, and I have to keep reminding them, by quite a few years! My understanding is that Dundalk assembled an experienced team. I came through as a minor from Home Farm. My brother, Jack, played here before and got on well, especially with the much revered late secretary Joe McGrath. Jack recommended to me that I come up to Dundalk as they would look after me. I spent half a year in the B-team. I then got a lucky break when Shay Keogh was ineligible to play in the final of the Leinster Cup and I was brought into the team and managed to keep my place after that. I spent six years here until the start of the 1966-7 season.”

When Patsy “Tootsie” McKeown was asked what was so special about the 1963 team he said it was the “Camaradarie” and that Francie Callan was the player that stood out. Patsy won a second title in 1967 and said that were great teams but very different.

Captain pays tribute to Hasty

The captain of the side, John Murphy, said that “it was a brilliant night. It was a night that the blast from the past members will never forget. I hadn’t seen some of the Dublin lads for 30 years and it was great to see them again. We mix very easily together. I think the secret of the team was that we were a close-knit bunch off the pitch. The very last game we were getting beaten 2-0 by Bohs in Dalymount with ten minutes. We were down and out but we picked ourselves up and came back to get the draw which won the league. We had great team spirit. From my own point of view, from somebody who came from Quay to just to be able to play for Dundalk was a dream come true. I got 15 years of professional football up here. The game in Zurich was unbelievable. They wore white jerseys in Dalymount and we had to wear an old junior league team called Arsenal’s jerseys. Maybe we were overawed in the first leg and we were beaten easily. But in the return match we were much more comfortable and we played with less pressure.”

John feels that Leo O’Reilly was man of the match that night: “Leo was the type of player if you were short a keeper he would stand in. He had to play at centre-back that night and I would pick him out because it was a very hard game to come into. He was brilliant”. John also had many recollections about the great Jimmy Hasty: “Jimmy was one of those players who you will never come across again. Jimmy got a lot of sympathy from players in the early days because he only had one arm. Jimmy had a few great gimmicks. He would stay with me after getting his expenses to stay in the Lourne Hotel. He lost his arm in an accident in a timber-mill but he had a stump coming out. He showed me in my kitchen how he would gain an advantage. He would lean against you with the stump on your shoulder and there is no way you can get off the ground. However the referee would see a jersey with no arm in it so he can’t give a free kick against him. That was one of Jimmy’s gimmicks and he scored a lot of his goals with the head. He was just a brilliant chap.”

An emotional night for Paddy

Paddy McCourt, who was vice-chairman of the Supporters Club at the time said “it was a very emotional night for me. I never would have thought forty years ago that I would be here tonight making a presentation to them!”. Was this team the best ever he had seen? “I’m not sure if they were the best football team but they were the team with the most heart. To bring the league championship back to Oriel Park after 30 years was remarkable. Myself and Peader Halpin were chosen by the committee to sit on the touchline and make whatever changes we thought were needed.” Paddy gave his recollections on some of the players: “Stan was a fine pysical player with a fantastic left foot. He gave many crosses to Jimmy Hasty to score from. John Murphy was a great full-back who knew how to speak his mind and everybody respected him. Patsy McKeown was a legend for Dundalk. Jimmy Hasty of course was a wonderful player with a great football brain.”

Return for “honourary local” Barron

Goalkeeper Christy Barron also had a great night: “It has been a marvellous occasion. I have met so many old friends and made some new ones. They have told me that they were seven or eight and used to stand behind the goals to watch me and then move ends at half time”. What was the key to this team’s success? “Personally I think we were a real team. We had been together for a year or so and played to each others strengths. We had great heart and we would often come from behind to win games. We were a very good 2nd half team. I played behind great defenders. Myself and John Murphy had a great rapport. Tootsie was a hard lad. Really tough as nails. Quiet as unassuming but very tough. Timmy Lyons was the baby of team as he keeps reminding us. He was great in the air and was very rarely beaten. We also had a good rapport. The fact that we had only 14 players throughout the season was a big help. We were very lucky that we didn’t have any injuries. I remember well the game with Bohs when we won the league. We were two down and then got the draw with goals out of nothing. We really thought we had blown it. Other teams could have won it as we were finished but they had games in hand. The pressure got to them and they blew it. Then it was off to Zurich. We didn’t play well in the first leg maybe due to nerves. One of the Dublin papers asked “Was it really necessary for Dundalk to go to Zurich”. The weather was so wet that we couldn’t even have a training session on the pitch and had to move to a hard surface pitch. We got a right runaround for the first fifteen minutes until Dermot Cross scored to lead at half time. We played out of our socks and Jimmy scored another. Zurich were really rattled. Dermot Cross broke through with 12 minutes and Jimmy Hasty got in his way and hit the bar. We always felt that if Jimmy had got out of the way Dermot would have scored. They then almost immediately came back up the pitch and scored. We couldn’t believe it when we won. We got a great reception from the Zurich crowd. The Irish ambassador had come all the way from Geneva and congratulated us and said that we made him proud to be Irish.” Christy is now known as an honoury local having worked in the town for a number of years: “It’s very nice and people have been very kind to me tonight and coming up and talking about my career here and how much pleasure this team gave them”.

Callan: “The night has been a great success”

Ted Harte said that enjoyed the match that won the league but “the whole season was special. Zurich was very enjoyable also”.

Francie Callan and Davy McArdle also were sharing a lot of memories: “The night has been a big success” said Francie. “Billy Kennedy told me it was the best night he had in forty years. A lot of old stories retold and old games replayed”. Did Francie and Davy have any problems being local players in this team? “No problems if you can play” but Davy said “If things were going wrong we seemed to get given out to worse!”. In both men’s opinions the key to the teams success was the absence of pre-madonnas:”Even if you were left out nobody complained”. They also paid tribute to Paddy McCourt: “Paddy was one of the best administrators of Dundalk FC. He had a great approach to people and he understood football very well” said Francie.

All in all, it was a great night for players and fans alike and everybody is looking forward to the 50th anniversary in 2013.