As players come and go many rank TOMMY O’NEIL as one of the finest to pull on a Southport shirt. Tommy was with us at our lowest point in the Football League and returned for more in the 1982/83 season. Tommy is as far as we know one of only two player’s (Ray Pritchard is the other) to have played for us in Non League football who have sadly passed away, we received this note from a close friend of Tommy’s, Chris Smith.
“I just thought I’d contact you with regards to one of your ex players. Tommy O’Neil died in May 2006 after a battle against cancer, he was only aged 53. The reason why I thought I’d drop you a line is that Tommy was my great friend and he talked an awful lot about his time at Southport and how much he enjoyed his time at Haig Avenue. He often used his football stories just as I was about to play an approach shot to the green (in order to make more money out of me). He told me (although you couldn’t always
believe Tom) that he scored the best goal seen at Haig Ave (I think he
said someone wrote this in a book – although the book was never shown
to anyone!). I have seen one of your comments in a news archive (on Southport FC STATS) that if you were manager you’d still have Tom playing. Up until the cancer was discovered about two years ago he was still playing Five-a-Side and he still had a mean left foot (he was always trying to convince the lads that he could still do it). Because of Tom I always look out for Southport’s results. Anyway, I just thought I’d let you know about Tom and that I will always have a fondness towards the club because of a great friend”
Rob-Tommy is one of my favourite players to wear the yellow shirt and I was truly saddened to hear of his early death. I can always remember walking around the ground carrying a banner that said Tommy IN Giller OUT when our illustrious chairman at the time, Walter Giller, decided to ban Tommy for a couple of games because of his poor disciplinary record. Those who were around at the time will probably recall that Tommy was one of maybe two decent players we had. The ban was supposed to be for two games but my banner reduced it to one!!.or so I always tell people!
Player Profile reproduced with Permission from:
The Complete Non-League History of Southport Football Club 1978 – 2008, by Trust in Yellow (Legends Publishing, 2008). ISBN 978-1-906796-01-3
Career: Manchester United; Blackpool; Tranmere Rovers; Halifax Town; Altrincham; St Helens Town; Warrington; Irlam Town; Skelmersdale United; The Beech