During this period of enforced football inactivity, Linfieldfc.com will provide occasional programme articles on our former players.
The series commenced four weeks ago with an article on Jim Lemon and has continued over the past three weeks with features on Tommy MacDonald, Stephen McKee and Eric Bowyer.
In this week’s article Linfieldfc.com reproduces a programme article from earlier this season in which the spotlight was focused on former player Tony Gorman.
CULT HEROES – TONY GORMAN
by James Kennedy
Famous for free kicks and David Jeffrey’s tendency to call him Anthony, Tony Gorman is fondly remembered by supporters of clubs north and south of the border.
“I started in Letterkenny, finished in Letterkenny, with a few stops in between!”
Tony’s first experience of football was in the Letterkenny & District Schoolboys League.
“It was more like a Street League, with teams at Under 11, 12 and 13. My father, Anthony, was the manager and I regularly played 2 games every Saturday”.
Aged 14, Tony signed for Letterkenny Rovers Reserves and played in the Derry & District League, mixing it with lads of his own age and older.
“The season with the Reserves really toughened me up, and this helped when I moved up to the senior squad”.
Previously considered too small, eventually Tony was invited to trials for the Republic of Ireland.
“We played a Town v Country match, I scored twice, and I was picked for the Under 16s along with players from Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool”.
A move to Mansfield Town materialised, and Tony stayed there for 18 months before coming back home to play for Waterford and Galway Utd.
Next stop was Finn Harps, where Tony made such an impression that he was selected for an Ireland ‘Academy’, where he rubbed shoulders with players like Roy Keane and our own Pat Fenlon.
“The FAI and the government put a lot of money into that first Academy, arranging our accommodation, and I felt comfortable as I had already experienced being away from home at Mansfield”.
After 2 years at Harps, Tony signed a 3 year contract with Sligo Rovers, although he didn’t see that out as Portadown manager Ronnie McFall decided to splash out £15,000 on him after a friendly between the two sides.
“I had a great time at Shamrock Park, although we had no luck in the league, pipped twice for the title by Linfield”.
A move to Coleraine soon followed, with Tony now under the management of the enigmatic Felix Healy.
“Felix had a bit of arrogance about him, and he transferred some of that to the players. We played without fear, scored (and conceded!) loads of goals, but he left to go to Derry City and was replaced by Kenny Shiels”.
After almost signing for Raith Rovers and Falkirk, and interest from Norwich City, there was talk of a move to Linfield, and after a meeting with Trevor Anderson and David Jeffrey, a transfer fee was agreed just in time for him to make his debut against Liverpool!
“We should have beat them, only for a late equaliser from Robbie Fowler. The team was in transition, although we finished runners up twice before we really got our act together to become champions in 2000 and 2001”.
That team of the early 2000s was packed with good players, legends like Noel Bailie and Glenn Ferguson, although Tony has high regard for a couple of others.
“John Easton was great, and Norman Kelly worked hard in midfield without getting the credit he deserved. And of course our front line of Ferguson, Larmour and Morgan was second to none”.
Tony’s final game for The Blues was the 2002 Irish Cup final when Portadown were defeated 2-1, and he feels that was special as it ended a 7 year drought in the competition.
“The following year I was with Coleraine and we beat Glentoran in the final. I knew the Linfield supporters liked me as I received loads of messages from them, especially as it stopped their rivals’ potential Clean Sweep!”
After spells at Coleraine and Crusaders, Tony returned to Co. Donegal, first with Finn Harps then Letterkenny Rovers, where he now performs various coaching roles, overseeing the next generation of players.
And, speaking of the next generation, Tony’s son Dale currently plays, on loan, for Newport County.
“He’s a midfielder, like me, and I hope he gets as much out of football as I have”.
Below - Tony with Michael Hughes, a young supporter on the day Linfield lost 2-1 at Coleraine but results elsewhere meant the Blues were crowned champions - April 1, 2000.