Linfieldfc.com has been catching up with former striker Jackie Hosick, who was a highly-rated prospect when he was breaking through in the mid-nineties. Jackie began by telling us how the Linfield move came about in 1994.
“I had just left school when a friend’s dad started a Club called Kingsway, based in Dunmurry. I played there for a couple of seasons, then I was picked up by Crusaders. I wasn’t there too long – I didn’t really settle, so I ended up back at Kingsway and that’s when the Linfield move came about. A Linfield scout who I can’t remember the name of, possibly Billy? - came up to me after a match and asked would I be interested and of course, I jumped at the chance!”
Aged 19, Jackie initially played for the Linfield Swifts team, and on Christmas Day 1994 picked up the ‘Man Of The Match’ award despite a narrow 1-0 defeat to Bangor Reserves in the final of the Steel and Sons Cup final, which is traditionally played every Christmas Day.
“The Cup final was one of the best matches I played in and it was just one of those matches where my performance couldn’t have been any better – other than scoring a goal, obviously. Bangor Reserves really were the team to beat back then, so it was always going to be a hard match.
“I think Victor Hunter was the manager of the Swifts at the time and I played alongside the likes of Lee Feeney, Tommy McIlroy, Ian McCoosh, Phillip Knell and Pat McShane. A good memory for me was getting awarded ‘Young Player Of The Year’ in Lisburn Linfield Supporters Club, it was a great feeling.”
29th October 1994 will be a day he won’t forget in a hurry. That was the day he made his Linfield debut, replacing Phillip Knell. For Blues fans, however, it’s a Hallowe’en horror show to forget, as Bangor ran out 5-0 winners at Windsor Park with a hat-trick from on-loan Chelsea striker, Zeke Rowe!
“I was at training and someone said to me, “have you seen the first team Team sheet?” I couldn’t believe it when I saw my name on it! I was so excited to be given the opportunity but equally as nervous for the challenge. We were playing at home to Bangor and I came on 25 minutes before the end when we were getting tanked 3-0. We ended up getting beat 5 and some of the goals they scored were absolute ‘worldies’! After the match, I can recall Trevor Anderson saying to me I’d had a “great game, but unfortunately, the rest of the team didn’t.” We were just beaten by the better team on the day.”
Hosick’s first goal in Linfield colours is also a moment he won’t forget. It was a classic clash between Linfield and Crusaders in the 1995/96 Ulster Cup semi-final at The Oval. Crusaders were 2-0 up at half-time through a double from Stephen Baxter, but Steven Beattie headed in to give Linfield hope before Hosick produced a dramatic injury-time levelling header! The Blues then completed the comeback in extra time through Stuart McClean’s winner from close range.
What made that match even more dramatic was that both teams were reduced to ten men with the score at 2-1, with Linfield’s Pat Fenlon and Crusaders’ Donal O’Brien dismissed for an off-the-ball incident.
“If I remember correctly we were getting beat, but it was a tight match and I scored late on to equalise and we ended up winning. My goal was a bit of a scrappy one which came from a deep cross. The feeling was amazing because the Blues fans were at that end of the ground and they were going nuts! The dressing room after that was great craic and I got a lot of encouragement from the senior players after that. It is definitely one, if not the, highlight if my time with Linfield, although I also played really well in a few games against Cliftonville that I enjoyed.”
However, things didn’t work out for Jackie at Linfield as they potentially could have. Long-serving defender Noel Bailie MBE describes Hosick to this day as one of the most technically gifted and skilful players he ever played with, and says he could have been a star for Linfield for years – high praise indeed. But Jackie left Linfield in 1996 after 14 appearances, to play for his local Club, and although he enjoyed that, he admits he wishes he’d done things differently in hindsight.
“Looking back, I wish I’d made more of the opportunities in front of me, but I was a young lad and struggled to give the amount of commitment needed to play at that level. When I left Linfield I didn’t play for a few months and just enjoyed myself, going out with my mates and that, but then I realised I missed football and joined my local Lisburn League side, Suffolk F.C. and that’s where I stayed.
“It was just at the point in my life, I lacked the required commitment to play for Linfield. I was young and naïve, and obviously with hindsight, I realise the stupidity of it. I loved football and loved playing, I just didn’t want to commit to training and everything that went with it, to play at that level. I wish I’d been mature enough to progress my career and really focus on football, but I can’t change that now and I really enjoyed my time with Suffolk.
“Noel Bailie, Alan Dornan, Steven Beattie, John Easton, Pat Fenlon, Dessie Gorman; all of them were great footballers. They always tried to encourage me to progress – just all round great fellas and it was an honour to play alongside them in a Blues shirt, even if it was only for a short period. Looking back, I enjoyed every minute at The Blues and the memories I made.”
Jackie banged in the goals for Suffolk for years, staying with the Club from 1996 until 2013, but many Bluemen will wonder what might have been. Many thanks to Jackie for sharing the memories.
By Jamie Megarry
Born 16 July 1975
Lived in Suffolk in West Belfast
Other clubs included Crusaders, Dunmurry rec and Kingsway fc
Linfield 1994/95 - 6 apps (4 as sub)
Linfield 1995/96 - 8 apps (3 as sub) and 1 goal
Total - 14 apps (7 as sub) and 1 goal
Runner up with Swifts in steel cup final 1994/95
Lost 1-0 to Bangor reserves
News letter player of steel cup final 1994
Signed for Dunmurry young men 1996/97
Linfield first team appearances
29 Oct 1994
sub in 5-0 home defeat by Bangor
2-0 away Budweiser cup win at Omagh Town
Sub in 0-0 draw against Distillery
4 Feb 1995
Sub in 5-0 league cup home win against Chimney Corner
Home 1-1 draw against Crusaders
Sub in 0-0 home draw against Cliftonville
7 Oct 1995
Sub in 2-1 home defeat by Crusaders
Scored in 3-2 win v Crusaders Ulster cup S / F
2--1 away win v Bangor
Home 0-0 draw v Cliftonville
Home 4-0 defeat by Glentoran
Sub in 3-0 away defeat by Crusaders
Sub in home 0-0 draw v Bangor
Away 1-1 draw v Cliftonville