• Home
  • /
  • Football
  • /
  • Great Tales From Ireland Which Could Make Sam Allardyce's England Much Harder To Dislike

Great Tales From Ireland Which Could Make Sam Allardyce's England Much Harder To Dislike

Great Tales From Ireland Which Could Make Sam Allardyce's England Much Harder To Dislike
Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
Share this article

In what feels like a calculated 'FU' to all the pretensions of yesteryear, England appear to be on the verge of handing the national manager's job to Sam Allardyce, the most determinedly unfashionable choice for the role since Graham Taylor was appointed over a quarter of a century ago.

In 1990, the FA was still wedded to the idea that the England manager must be English and Graham Taylor had been the highest-finishing English manager in the Football League in 1989-90. Therefore, he was touted as the 'safe' choice, though the football public were underwhelmed at the time, with the purists - Taylor's longstanding enemies - reiterating their hostility to his style of play.

Nowadays, they have fixed no such regulations on themselves. By 2016, they've been around the houses, they've tried everything and with little left to lose, have effectively decided 'sod this, let's just give it to Allardyce!'

Long perceived as a gruff, no frills, old-style English manager, Allardyce is a fitting choice to manage England in post-Brexit Britain. Allardyce's defenders, however, probably rightly, argue that this is a caricature and that Big Sam's approach is far more sophisticated and nuanced than he gets credit for.

When Graham Taylor's England were huffing and puffing their way through their ultimately successful Euro 92 qualification campaign (and bollocks to that too) Big Sam was beginning his managerial career down in Limerick of all places.


It was 1991 and he was in the very twilight of his playing career, operating as the assistant manager at West Brom. A loss to Woking in the FA Cup was deemed too embarrassing to bear and he was sacked. He received a call from one Fr. Joe Young of Limerick City, interestingly one of the few League of Ireland chairman to be open to Wimbledon's arrival in Ireland.

Big Sam did immediately leap at the chance to manage in the League of Ireland as he told Joe Bernstein in Ireland on Sunday over a decade ago.


I was sacked at West Brom after Woking knocked us out of the FA Cup. I did some work at Bury after but there was no money to give me a job. I got a phone call in June, with this voice on the other end saying 'It's Fr. Joe Young, I want you to be player-manager at Limerick".

'I told the caller to stop taking the **** and put the phone down but thankfully he didn't take offence and called back. I didn't know where Limerick was but they had a few friendly games arranged against English clubs so I went over with Lynn (my wife). It was a case of any job is better than none; I needed to feed my family, so off I went.

In Alex Ferguson's first three seasons as Manchester United, 75% of his time was seemingly spent lecturing Paul McGrath and Norman Whiteside about drink. In those meetings the two boys learned that Fergie had a network of spies pugged away around the city and he was able to chart their epic progress throughout the night. Big Sam didn't have a network of spies in Limerick. He did the job of monitoring the city's pubs and clubs himself.


My Saturday nights were spent catching lads out in nightclubs because we played Sunday and walking round pubs to make sure none of them were in.

Limerick were languishing in the Second Division in the 1991-92 season. In his sole season there, Allardyce returned them to the top flight as champions.

His assistant at Limerick, Billy Kinnane spoke to the Guardian recently about his managerial ability.


Sam was a breath of fresh air. He was brilliant and we won the league. He was just becoming interested in sports psychology when he joined us and he was so innovative... He certainly didn’t do it for the money; he earned a pittance, I think under £200 a week as player-manager... We had some fun and he liked a few pints after the game but, when it came to preparation, he was very, very professional – much more professional than any manager I’d ever come across.

Most admirably of all, the red hot favourite to be the next England manager spent the latter part of 1991 traipsing around the pubs and clubs of Limerick with Fr. Joe Young trying to raise enough money so he could pay his own players the following week.

If a story like that doesn't soften you towards Allardyce's England then we don't know what would.


Read more: 7 Famous Foreigners Who Have Managed In The League Of Ireland


Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are now subscribed!

Share this article

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com