Limerick exile Tony’s collection of sporting memories

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Lifelong Manchester United fan Tony Long, pictured on a tour of Old Trafford
FOLLOWING our report about Acton man Willie Roberts’ collection of sporting memorabilia, another treasure trove of memories has been found just a few miles away in the West London suburb of Chiswick.

FOLLOWING our report about Acton man Willie Roberts’ collection of sporting memorabilia, another treasure trove of memories has been found just a few miles away in the West London suburb of Chiswick.

Tony Long, a former ball-boy and B-team player with Limerick FC, has been collecting soccer programmes, photographs and newspaper cuttings since the 1940s.

From pictures of Limerick FC’s 1951 Shield winning team to the programme from legendary former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s first game in management, Janesboro man Tony’s collection is a sports historian’s dream come true.

From his home in London, Tony has sent the Limerick Leader copies of an autographed interview with ex-Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, and programmes from Limerick’s matches with Fulham (in 1954), and Celtic (in 1970), as well as many more.

His favourite piece of literature was a souvenir programme from Limerick v Shamrock Rovers, on January 2, 1944. He likes it so much, he has had it professionally cleaned to look as good as new.

“I think it is a terrific programme of that time. I paid about £25 to have it cleaned: there are specialists over here who can tidy up programmes for you. I remember I paid only six old pennies for it,” he said.

Jokingly calling himself as a “hoarder”, Tony met a number of people in his time as a ball boy, including Jimmy Hill and the late, great Bobby Robson.

“I didn’t understand it at the time, being so young. It was only later on when I realised who these people were in my autograph book,” he said.

Following his father to London in 1959, Tony has spent his adult life in London. A lifelong Manchester United fan, he has laid his hands on a unique programme in history: a friendly match between East Stirlingshire and Nuneaton Borough on August 3, 1974.

On the front page, there was a pen pic of the club’s new manager, the now legendary Ferguson.

This weekend, Tony will head to a programme fair in the hope of picking up a copy of the West Bromwich Albion programme for the game against Manchester United two weeks ago - Fergie’s final game at the helm.

Sadly Tony does not get back to Limerick much any more. But he keeps in touch with the news through his sister, still living Mayorstone, who sends him a copy of the Leader twice a week.