From California to Cliftonville for Tommy
Former Cliftonville star Tommy Waugh was back on the north Belfast club’s pitch recently – half a century after he used to regularly wear the red jersey.
Tommy, who has lived in California since emigrating there 41 years ago, was in St George’s Market in Belfast on a recent trip home to attend a football memorabilia fair.
He got chatting to a vendor selling old football programmes – and found himself listed in some of the team sheets.
Die-hard Cliftonville fan Paul Kerr, who was also attending the fair, then arranged for Tommy to come back up to Solitude to take a walk down memory lane.
“Apparently one day a year they sell all kinds of football-related stuff at the market and I just happened to be there that day,” said Tommy, who’ll be 75 in a few weeks time.
“I was able to get some programmes with my name in it, which was great.
“I got chatting to Paul and he couldn’t believe it when I told him I used to play for Cliftonville, and I showed him my name in the programmes.
“He kindly arranged for me to visit the ground. It was fantastic to walk out on to the pitch again after all that time. I saw big changes, a lot of changes, such as the new stand which wasn’t there when I was playing.
“I really was chuffed at what Paul organised for me. I’ve sent him over an old Cliftonville badge he didn’t have in his collection.”
Tommy has made a staggering 47 trips back to Northern Ireland in the 41 years he has been living in the US – and on quite a few of them he has gone to see the Reds playing.
“I had some really happy times at Solitude. It’ll always hold special memories for me – but to get to walk out onto that pitch again was something really special.”