Sean Fallon RIP

Mon Jan 28th 2013

Sean Fallon 31/7/1922 – 18/01/13

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Longford Town greats - from left, the late Sean Fallon who died last Friday with Frankie Flaherty and Paddy Clabby at a tribute event for Johnny Clabby.

Article by Martin Stapleton

I got the phonecall from Dave Goulden in the Longford Leader about Sean Fallon's sad passing away a week ago. I had heard of him through his Glasgow Celtic days but looking through my Longford town program collection I had very little information and considering a lot of the present Longford Town fans have no recollection of the great man himself, I thought it was worthy of the time to do some research on Sean himself from the Longford Leader's archives.

Pre Longford Town Days

Born in Sligo, he was the son of Alderman Fallon chairman of the Sligo District League. Sean Fallon started his football career with St Mary's Juniors and also played Gaelic football for Craobh Ruadh.He also played for McArthurs, Sligo Distillery and then joined Longford Town.

Longford Town Days

When Sean Fallon signs for us he joined fellow Sligomen Patrick McDermott, John Monaghan,William Monaghan and John Moran with fellow Sligomen Jimmy Kilfeather and his first cousin Kevin “ Neighbour” Fallon due to sign a week later. He signed as an amateur in our first season back in the Leinster Senior League.

He made his debut as captain against St Pats Athletic in Incicore in Leinster Senior League where we lost 5-0 on the 7th of September 1946. A week later he scored from a peno in the 1-1 draw to Bohemians away again in the LSL. In those days Sean would play centre half and sometimes played upfront at centre forward. In that season Sean was building a reputation for his superb displays in defence. He was on the losing town team that got to the

FAI Intermediate Cup Semi Final in Tolka Park against Drumcondra. According to the Longford Leader, a spectator at the game (elderly) said that he was “the best centre half he had seen in years”. That same season, he was part of the Town team that got sweet revenge by beating Drumcondra 4-3 again in Tolka Park. He scored with a beautiful drive to make it two nil. A week later thanks to his superb performances, he was selected for the Leinster Senior League against the Lanarkshire League at Dalymount Park. In the game itself he was “steady at centre half”. In the Metropolitan cup final, for the second time in seven years, Shamrock Rovers beat us 4-1 in Tolka Park. Even though he was suffering from an injury got in the local match in Sligo a week earlier, he had a great game for us. In that season( in an era where there were no/little team lineouts in the local press), he played regularly and scored two goals for us.

He resigned for us the following season( 47-48 season). In August 1947, he won the Henry Cup for long distance swimming in Sligo. He was a bit of all rounder in sports. He had to overcome stiff competition to win that trophy. In 20.9.47, he scored from a penalty kick in Longford Park against Bohemians in the Leinster Senior League. We won that game 4-3. In 3.1.48, we drew 1-1 to Shelbourne in Shelbourne Park in LSL. He got the equaliser in that game.On 7.2.48, he scored in our biggest win of the season in the LSL when we beat Ierne 6-2 and Sean scored the last goal for us. That season, unfortunately we didnt get much joy in any of the cup competitions. He scored for us that season three goals.He made his last appearance for us when we lost 5-2 away to Shamrock Rovers in LSL.

The first game of the 48-49 season, he missed our game against Shelbourne due to injury in the City Cup. On 11.9.48,(48-49 season) Sean transferred to Sligo Rovers along with ex town teammates Stephen Leavy, Michael Sweeney and Frankie Devins.He was a regular in both 1946-47 and 47-48 seasons and scored overall five goals for us. He kept in touch with Paddy Clabby and attended a tribute event in his honour in 1976.

After Longford Town

Sean played one season with Sligo Rovers and in the 1949-50 season he played for Glenavon in the north and impressed Celtic with his performance for the Irish League against the League of Ireland.

Sean Fallon's love affair with Celtic started when the son of the Celtic legend Jimmy McMenemy saved Fallon's sister Lilly, from drowning in Lough Gill Sligo. Fallon invited Joe McMenemy back to his house and the Scot returned the compliment by sending Sean presents of a Celtic shirt and Willy Maley's book “ The story of Celtic”. He realised his ambition when he made his league debut for Celtic,away against Clyde, in the last game of the 1949-50 season. Within a year , he had helped Celtic win the Scottish Cup beating Motherwell 1-0. In 1952-53 season, he scored in the Scottish Cup final win against Aberdeen.His performances for Celtic earned him the nickname of the “Iron Man”. In the 1953-54 season, he was part of the Celtic team that won the Double-League and Scottish Cup. By that stage, he was skipper for Celtic but lost the captaincy to Jock Stein. He was injured a lot that season but he was back to full fitness when Celtic beat Rangers 7-1 in the famous 1957 Scottish League Cup Final. Unfortunately he was forced to retire in 1958 through injury but his influence and importance at the club continued. He made a total of 254 appearances scoring 13 times. In his period at Celtic,he won 8 senior Irish caps with 0 goals scored.

Coaching days

He then went on the Celtic coaching staff and began looking after the youngsters at Celtic. He stayed a year and went to Dunfermline to join their coaching staff. In 1965, Jock Stein was appointed Celtic manager and he asked Sean Fallon to be his number two. The thing was originally that Sean Fallon was asked by the Celtic chairman to be their new manager and Stein his assistant. However,Stein vetoed the suggestion and threatened to take an offered job in England and the decision was reversed. He was an integral part of Celtic's success and his powers of persuasion were often called upon to secure the signings of promising young players who would go on to become Celtic legends ie David Hay, Danny McGrain,Kenny Dalglish and Packie Bonner. When Jock Stein suffered a near-fatal crash in 1975, Sean became caretaker manager until Jock returned. His life at Celtic turned sour in 1975 when after a decade as assistant manager, he was moved into the club in charge of scouting as Davie McParland became Steins assistant. Eventually, he moved onto a post in May 1978 at Dumbarton where he became assistant manager for them before spending four years in the administrative department in Clyde.. After that he retired from the game. In his spell with Celtic as assistant, he was part of the successful 9 in a row League titles and the famous European Cup win in 1967 when they beat Inter Milan.

Sean Fallon was a great friend to Finn Harps whilst at Celtic and was instrumental in Celtic bringing a side to play at Finn Harps in 1975 for the Burtonport Disaster Fund and then returning the following year again to Ballybofey.

The current Celtic supporters club in Sligo is named the Sean Fallon Supporters Club. Sean Fallon was also honoured by Sligo County Council when they named a football pitch in Sligo town in Cranmore ,Sean Fallon Park.He also unfurled the Championship Flag at Celtic Park in August of 2012.

He made many lifetime friends in Longford - Paddy Clabby RIP and the late LTFC president John Donlon and was well regarded. John Donlon rated Sean Fallon very highly in the Longford Town programme for late 2004. In his all time Longford Town FC team, he had Sean Fallon in it as centre half! It was a pleasure to do this article on him and educate him on this Longford Town great and may he rest in peace in the footballing skies.

Credits:

Bartley Ramsey, Finn Harps FC - copy to his article here: Sean Fallon Article

Neil Halligan, Longford Leader

Tiernan Dolan, Longford Town Supporters Club

 

 

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