Seamus (Jimmy) Darcy
|Date Of Birth:||Dec 1921|
|Place Of Birth:||Newry|
|Date Of Death:||Feb 1985|
|Place Of Death:||Sudbury|
|Debut:||18-Aug-46, City Cup, (A) v. Shamrock Rovers|
In the 1946-47 season, with an eye to the English League market, Sam Prole started his nursing policy. One of the newcomers was Seamus Darcy, a 6 feet 12 stone centre forward cum inside forward who had played with Limerick during the previous three seasons, and who the previous year had hit a hat-trick against Dundalk in a Market’s Field City Cup match.
He had played on the Dundalk team on the occasion of the annual trial game in August 1944, when the Army XI provided the opposition. He was one of three Newry players to get a trial and playing on the right wing he scored in the 5-2 victory but failed to get a contract and returned to Limerick.
While at Limerick he had been their playmaker-in-chief but still contributed 29 goals during a period when the Shannonsiders had achieved three runner-up finishes, two in the League (1943-44 and 1944-45) and the Shield in 1945-46. [Limerick goal record: League 16; FAI Cup 1; Shield 7; City Cup 5.]
At Oriel Park he played in the entire opening City Cup programme (6 games), hitting a hat trick against Drumcondra at Tolka Park. But the arrival of Peadar Walsh and Joe O’Brien increased competition for first team places and the return from injury of Donal Flanagan meant a surfeit of forwards.
After playing three games in the Shield, Darcy’s request for release was granted and he returned to his home town team, Newry Town. Before the season ended he was capped for the IFA Juniors who defeated the FAI Juniors in Grosvenor Park by 4-0, Seamus scoring once.
He spent the 1947-48 season with Ballymena and his 20-goal haul [Lge 12; City Cup 5; Gold Cup 2; Irish Cup 1.] drew the attention of English League clubs. In March 1948 Charlton Athletic signed him for a fee of £5,000—he was one of the very few that got away on Dundalk supremo Sam Prole! Sixteen games in over three seasons at the Valley did not set the world on fire, but he had no such problems with their reserves, scoring 80 goals in 112 games.
He was nearly 30 years of age when, in October 1952, he moved to Chelsea, for a fee of £10,000, and immediately made an impact—he was joint leading goalscorer in his first season and his 12 goals came in 21 games while Roy Bentley’s dozen was over 32 games.
In March 1952 he was awarded his first Irish Cap, against Wales, and four more would arrive in successive international matches. He scored one international goal, against Scotland in November 1952 in a 1-1 draw. A year after his arrival at Chelsea he was on the move again, this time to Brentford, in a deal that took future English manager Ron Greenwood to Chelsea.
In the summer of 1953, in the company of Frank McCourt, he was a member of the Irish FA’s party on a 10-match tour of Canada and USA. In the fifth game, won 10-0, Jimmy suffered a sprained ankle on a badly rutted pitch (at a venue with the unlikely name of Moose Jaw). Although he continued playing during the rest of the tour, permanent damage had been done and his ankle never healed, as a result of which he was forced to retire the following January.
Brentford did not take too kindly to losing a key player in a critical year (they were relegated after finishing second last in Division Two) and they took a successful Court action against the IFA. Jimmy went back to Charlton for a while as Development Association Liaison Officer. He later settled in Sudbury, and worked as a quality inspector for a local glass manufacturing company.
Coincidentally, Ron Greenwood had played with Belfast Celtic Reserves in the 1941-42 season while on Army duty in Northern Ireland during the war, and many years later he admitted to playing incognito with Dundalk during that period.
On matchday he would arrange transport from his RAF base at Greencastle to the Warrenpoint ferry. On his arrival at the Omeath end of the ferry crossing, across Carlingford Lough in the Republic of Ireland, he would be collected by a Dundalk taxi and brought to the venue for that day’s game.
Legend has it that strange faces were a regular feature of matches in Oriel Park during the War, courtesy of the many professional footballers who were serving with the British Army forces based in Northern Ireland, playing under the name of a registered player.
Since it was forbidden for Army personnel to travel south of the Border into the Irish Free State, and it would be an offence for Dundalk to play unregistered players, the local press cooperated in the subterfuge by not reporting on such excursions!
1 Runner Up: Shield 1946-47.