On this day 100 years ago the late great Paddy Coad was born in Waterford. He attended school at De La Salle in the city and joined his local League of Ireland club in 1937 at the age of just 17.
Paddy was a natural talent; he should have played at a higher level than the League of Ireland. That was in the day before the big professional wage in the game across the water. It was at a time when a decent wage in football of around £5 per week and a steady day job was a match for what the top players in England were earning. The desire to play for an English club for the money wasn’t there.
He joined the Hoops in January 1942 and made his debut in the FAI Cup first-round win at home to Brideville. He had previously played for his native club Waterford who had descended into pure chaos when the players there went on strike in advance of a league title play-off against Cork United. Cork were awarded the title. Waterford were removed from the League of Ireland and their players were retained by the governing body. The Cunninghams, never slow off the mark, made a swift move for Paddy. For that first season though he could only play in cup competitions.
When he got going he certainly got going. A career that was to extend for 18 years at Milltown saw Paddy chalk up every honour in the game that was possible. The list included 11 full international caps, the first of which was gained against England at Dalymount Park in September, 1946.
A great reader of the game, Paddy attended coaching courses in England laid on by the F.A. there. He brought back what he learned onto the pitch at Milltown, as captain firstly and later as coach after he succeeded Jimmy Dunne who passed away in November 1949.
Paddy had a desire to understand what it would take to bring success to Milltown. He built up a stunning team that had been coming together over a period of four years. That was a team that went on and set the standards throughout the 1950s in the League of Ireland. The ‘Coad’s Colts’ as they became known, undoubtedly have taken their place in the annals of Irish football as being one of the greatest ever teams.
Paddy Coad brought a level of professionalism and organisation into the whole League of Ireland that had never been witnessed before. In 1991 I conducted an extensive interview with him as part of my research for ‘The Hoops’ book. He told me that in his earlier years he felt the methods of coaching and training left a lot to be desired. He said about coaches of that era: “They never taught you anything. Nobody ever taught you about how to play right; you got out and played yourself. Training was about six laps, a double lap and a walkaround, then a double lap and a walkaround and about seven or eight sprints and that was your lot for the day.”
One person Paddy did have particular praise for was Paddy Moore whom he says he learned a couple of tricks from. The Waterford man himself began his football as an inside left but played across the forward line with the exception of centre forward. In later years Paddy dropped back to wing half.
The 50s were heady times in the league. Supporters used to talk weeks in advance of games involving Rovers, Drumcondra, Shelbourne and Cork Athletic mainly. The team came to a natural end at the end of the decade with Paddy himself making the return to Waterford in January 1960. There he was to play an intrinsic part in the laying of foundations for what was to develop into the most successful era ever enjoyed by the Southern club.
Paddy passed away in March 1992. His contribution to Shamrock Rovers and Irish football in general should never be forgotten.