Tommy Molloy: Management and the love of the game

Photograph: Alex Craig / Greenock Telegraph

You played for Greenock Morton. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

I signed for Greenock Morton and before that I was at Celtic Boys club under 15’s and whilst I was still at school in Morton Greenock came in for me and they told me that the day you leave school we will give you a full time deal and I received a two year YTS deal.

I spent a year as a YTS and then unfortunately the club went into administration under the chairman at the time Hugh Scott and basically the whole club got paid off and the club was close to going bust at that time and it was not just the players and the YTS’s but the whole staff and the people who worked in the offices so the club basically shut down and went into administration and we were all told the day that was happening and that we were all free to go and the the shutters were going down on the club.

You played for Ayr United. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

It was a bit of weird one the day that Greenock Morton released everyone I got a phone call that night from Ayr United’s head of youth Campbell Murray and this is how funny football works Campbell told me that we are playing Wigan Athletic’s under 20’s tomorrow can you be there, he then went on to say that if you do well I will sign you if not I won’t.

That is how black and white it was so I went up to Glasgow the following day and I did quite well even though I was taken of after 60 minutes to the news he was planning to give me a year deal and money was not even mentioned. Campbell was very down to earth and I traveled everyday from Greenock to Ayr and there was also a discussion about putting me in digs and I would travel on the train everyday with another lad from Greenock.

I absolutely loved my time at Ayr United we got to the Scottish youth cup final which is a big thing in Scotland and we played Rangers FC and unfortunately we lost 5-2 and Charlie Adam scored a hattrick and we also won the league that season without losing a league game and we had a really good side and at the time Ayr United were downsizing where many players who are known well known in Scottish football moved on and others stayed but I felt at the time it would be good for me to get away from Greenock because I was getting to the stage where I liked to go out with my friends and maybe football was not as important as it should have been.

I went on to make my first team debut for the club and probably my attitude was not the best even though I was stimulated by the manager that I have a chance to go on and do something here but I felt my heart was not in it and I do not blame anybody at the club for that but if I could have moved down into digs where families would put the Irish boys up and if that would have happened to me it could have been a different story. It was through my own fault I was not disciplined enough with my attitude.

I was fine with managers and I respected my coaches it was just at that point where I was going out with my mates at the weekend and I was not applying myself the way that I should have.

Credit: Greenock Juniors FC

You are currently managing Greenock Juniors. How are you enjoying management and how do you reflect on your spell so far?

Yes, I never planned to go down that route to be honest and I helped a mate out at amateur level and we were quite successful and then Greenock Juniors approached me out of the blue and I have been there three and a bit years now and although COVID stopped the season last season.

I am really enjoying it and it is well known that Greenock Juniors are not backed financially so it is a case of going and finding gems through local football and contacts outside the area. We did really well last season and we were second in the league and we did well in the cup as well but then unfortunately other things took over.

Credit: Greenock Juniors FC

You have accrued good experience at club level. When you look back could you say who were among the best players you played alongside during your playing career?

Yes, I have been fortunate to play with some very good players during my playing career and there are some players who have gone on to make a name for themselves. In my youth team at Greenock Morton we had a boy named Steven Whalen who ended up moving to Livingston FC and he was supposed to go to Leeds United and he is a guy who should have gone to the very top in my opinion.

We had an unbelievable first team at Ayr United and we reached the Scottish League Cup semi-final with players like John Hughes, Pat McGinlay, Barry McLaughlin, Eddie Annand and Gary Teale who went on to play for Scotland and a lot of players who went on to play in the Scottish Premier League started out at Ayr United.

Finally Tommy. You mentioned Charlie Adam I can imagine that you came up against many difficult opponents through the years. Could you say which opponents stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

Credit: Peadar O’Sullivan / Flickr

Yes, between the ages of twelve and sixteen the player that I played against and the one that gave me the hardest time was James McFadden and he played in the same age group with me for six years and once I stepped up into reserve team football I always remember standing out for Celtic Boys with Liam Miller who has sadly passed away now and he was unbelievable when I played against him.

I also played against Bobo Baldé during his first game in Scotland when he came over to sign for Celtic FC and he played 45 minutes against us and we also played Rangers FC in a few games at reserve level and Dado Pršo the Croatian striker and Barry Ferguson played for them at that time and they were both just a step above to be honest in the matches that I played against them.

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