During this period of enforced football inactivity Linfieldfc.com will provide occasional programme articles on our former players.
The series commenced seven weeks ago with an article on Jim Lemon and has continued over the past six weeks with features on Tommy MacDonald, Stephen McKee, Eric Bowyer, Tony Gorman, Lindsay Curry and Damien Curran.
In this week’s article Linfieldfc.com reproduces a programme article from earlier this season in which the spotlight was focused on former striker Colin McCurdy.
CULT HEROES – COLIN McCURDY
by James Kennedy
In two spells at Linfield, Colin McCurdy needed a little help from friends and family.
“I played football for the Boys’ Brigade and school, and when I was at Kelvin Secondary we lost one match in four years. A mate got a trial at Windsor Park, but wouldn’t go on his own, so I invited myself along too!”
Colin must have impressed, as he was asked to come back, although the same couldn’t be said for his friend. “It was only me who got the invite, and I didn’t feel comfortable with that. So I didn’t go back”.
But Manager Sammy Hatton was determined to sign the teenager, and appeared at his parents’ house in The Village one evening. “My mother was surprised to see this big man at the front door, as was I, but I got a second chance and worked my way up through the Rangers and Swifts sides”.
A successful loan spell at Cliftonville was arranged, then it was back to Linfield.
“By now Billy Campbell was the manager, soon to be replaced by Roy Coyle, and Coyler gave me my 1st team debut in 1976. I think it was the same game that Eric Bowyer broke his leg in, and the year of the infamous Carrick Rangers Irish Cup Final”.
That Final led to a disagreement between Colin and Coyle. “I played in the cup semi-final and expected to be in the team for the final. But Roy decided to play Martin Malone, even though he’d been injured for a while. When I questioned Coyle about this, he told me he was the Manager and would pick the team, not me”.
That led to a parting of the ways, and it was next stop Larne.
“Eric Halliday, who I knew from Cliftonville, took over at Larne, and I spent a season there. I did well and got a transfer to Fulham in 1977, at a time when the team included Rodney Marsh and George Best. At my first training session, George came into the dressing room and gave me a great welcome”.
After eighteen months in London, Colin headed for America to play for Philadephia Fury. “We weren’t a great side, although we did have Alan Ball and Peter Osgood in the team. New York Cosmos were the glamour side, and I rubbed shoulders with Pele and Franz Beckenbauer during my spell in the NASL”.
His American adventure over, it was back to Belfast for Colin and, after a phone call from his brother, he signed for Roy Coyle’s Linfield in 1978, just as the great team that would dominate for the next decade was taking shape.
“I had another great spell at Windsor, and scored my fair share of goals. I couldn’t have failed, with players like Stephen McKee, Warren Feeney and Billy Murray in the team. And I had the knack of scoring in big games, including the 1980 Irish Cup Final against Crusaders. This led to a call up for Northern Ireland, and I scored against Australia in Adelaide!”
The emergence of Martin McGaughey meant Colin was on the move, this time to Crusaders, in 1981, followed by a spell at Bangor where he was Player Manager for a period. (He would later become Manager of Bangor for a season from 2009).
Then came the chance to go to Canada to become Technical Director for the Ontario District Soccer Association. “I also managed Ottawa Fury, but the winters were harsh and I went back home to Bangor, where I still live”.
So what was the highlight of Colin’s career? “Undoubtedly pulling on the Linfield shirt, and playing in a team with some true legends like Peter Rafferty and Martin McGaughey. I love it when we all meet up for a match or a night out and talk about the old days”.
Below - Colin McCurdy in action for Linfield on the front cover of an Irish Cup final programme