Wednesday 24 July 2019

Soccer Writers honour Drogs' stalwart Vincent

Marcus Cavaroli

Vincent Hoey proudly accepted a special award last Friday night for his lifetime commitment to Drogheda United - but he'd give it up in an instant to see the club's planned new stadium delivered.

The club president received the Liam Tuohy Special Merit Award at the star-studded SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland Awards in Dublin's Conrad Hotel, where there were glowing tributes from around the packed room.

Vincent was chairman of the Drogs during their glory years between 2005 and 2008, during which they won their maiden League of Ireland title and FAI Cup as well as competing successfully in Europe, while he was also at the forefront of the campaign to save the club when it went into examinership shortly afterwards.

He has done more than anyone to keep Drogheda United afloat as the club enters its centenary year and he acknowledged that it had been a rollercoaster ride being involved with his home-town club.

'It's recognition of persistence more than anything else,' he reflected, speaking about the award on Sunday evening - 'sticking with it and staying with it.

'In playing terms there were a lot more lows than highs, but I have got a lot out of it. You put a lot into it in man hours and everything else, but there's the friends, the fans, all the different players and all the different clubs you get to know around the country, and the officials I worked with.

'I don't want to mention any names - there are too many - but a lot of people gave blood, sweat and tears to the club, and I have always looked on Drogheda United as a community asset and something that had to be preserved.

'I recall one professional man who told me one time 'you are doing a great job - I would like to help you'.

I told him there was a meeting on Wednesday and he should come down and see what goes on.

'What happened at the meeting amounted to abuse of me - I was in the chair - and one person in particular really got stuck in and afterwards the man said I didn't have to take this abuse.

'But I told him that person was a good friend of mine and was just letting off steam. We remain friends and we had a good laugh about it a few weeks later, and what people really can't grasp is how important this club is.

'Another man told me one time that he'd saved his life. He hit a very bad patch, he was depressed and the only thing that was keeping him going was the football and waiting for the match every week.

'The Drogheda name was in the papers and on the radio and TV every week and you can't under-estimate that. I meet people in Italy who stil ask me 'what was the score last week?'.

'I'm proud of the fact that we have kept going for a hundred years - there's not many places in Drogheda that have achieved that - and we have to guard this important institution.'

For the time being at least Drogheda United seem to be heading in the right direction, with optimism high that the planned new stadium can finally be delivered - something that has been priority number one for Vincent and something that his son Conor - the new club chairman - hopes to help see over the line.

'I've spent 25 years or more on this [trying to get a new stadium built] and we have had some dreadful disappointments. We thought we were home and hosed a number of times but were let down by one thing or another.

'It takes a great deal of heart to keep going. People still say to me it will never happen, but hopefully it will.'

Meanwhile, manager Tim Clancy is to add another local youngster to the first-team squad in Luke Heeney who has spent the last few years with the St Patrick's Athletic underage teams. Heeney is a central midfielder who can also play at right-back and Clancy expects to add two further signings in the coming days.

The Drogs' pre-season fixtures have yet to be officially sanctioned by the FAI, but it looks likely that Derry City will be their first opponents next Tuesday at United Park.

Subject to confirmation, Dundalk will provide the opposition in the Jim Malone Cup on Friday 25th at Oriel Park and the remaining friendlies will be against Finn Harps (home), Ireland Under-19s (Abbotstown), St Patrick's Athletic (away) and Drogheda Town (most likely in DIFE).

Drogheda Independent