Wednesday 22 November 2017

Talented former Ireland international turned travel agent Ray Treacy had modesty in spades

PRACTICAL JOKER: Ray Treacy helped keep the Irish camp in high spirits
PRACTICAL JOKER: Ray Treacy helped keep the Irish camp in high spirits

Sean Ryan

Ray Treacy, who died on Friday aged 68, had a nice line in self-deprecation, which made him one of the most popular interview subjects in the football world. Where others gloried in their deeds, Treacy made little of his ability, despite a 13-year international career which saw him earn 42 international caps for Ireland and score five goals.

He would tell the story of how then Irish manager Liam Tuohy said to him: "'Ray, my missus can run quicker than you' - which was probably a fact," Ray would add, "but I could run all day."

Elaborating on his limitations, Treacy told how he went over to West Brom as a 5ft 7in centre-forward and within weeks he was a left-back. "I went on to make a career at heading the ball," he said, "that was the one ability I had. The other ability was to be able to ship a bit of punishment. Basically, I couldn't play."

Nonetheless, he was installed in the FAI Hall of Fame, and admitted: "My initial reaction when asked was to say: 'No, what did I do to merit the Hall of Fame?' (Former Irish international footballer) Noel Campbell told me I was the first to get the Hall of Fame for being a good travel agent! I accepted it, not so much for myself as for my children."

However, he will always be remembered for his contribution - both on and off the pitch - to the ball-playing teams put together by Tuohy and John Giles. An inveterate practical joker, no one was safe with Treacy around, and his antics spawned a number of successors who helped to keep the Irish camp in high spirits even when the results weren't so good.

The climax of his international career was his magnificent display against the Soviet Union in a famous European Championship game on October 30, 1974, when Don Givens scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win.

In most striking partnerships, the big man is the target man and the smaller player scores the goals, but it was the other way round with Givens and Treacy - and they both enjoyed their finest 90 minutes in a green jersey that day against the USSR.

Treacy enjoyed his duel with the big Soviet centre-half. "He buried me around Dalymount in that famous match," he recalled, "but I had a few goes back at him and there wasn't a murmur from him or me. That game was the highlight of my career. I was engaged in a running battle with their 'keeper and the centre-half. They were only 6ft 5in, so I took the two of them on to leave a bit of space for Don and that day everything came together."

Ray, who played for West Brom, Charlton, Preston, Swindon and Shamrock Rovers (winning an FAI Cup medal with the Hoops in 1978), later managed Drogheda, Home Farm and Shamrock Rovers, all with a degree of success, including the League title with the Hoops during their sojourn in the RDS.

He was a busy travel agent during his managerial days, but enjoyed his retirement, spending a lot of time in Portugal, taking the sun and trying to improve his golf handicap.

Sunday Independent

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