ULSTER’S first ever All-Star Andy McCallin disputes the conventional wisdom that the onset of the Troubles ravaged a golden generation of Antrim footballer.
In an exclusive two-part interview with Gaelic Life, McCallin talks about the Saffrons’ historic All-Ireland U21 win in 1969 and claims that the county committee played a bigger role in their failure to translate their underage success to senior level.
Reflecting on the sulphurous atmosphere at the time, McCallin said:
“We got abuse from southern teams and there was one time in Sligo when they told us to go back to the Shankill. There were stones thrown at us. I don’t know how you take that.
“Then you’d get stopped at the border. We got stopped one night coming back and I was never as afraid in my whole life. The soliders faced us with their guns pointed. It was so dark that we couldn’t see them.”
However, he also added: “Jimmy Ward took over in 1974 and he was the best manager I ever played on. The county board stepped in forcing St John’s to play matches without their county players. At that stage Jimmy left. I’m convinced that at that time we were on the match.”
Part one of our two-part interview with Andy McCallin is available in store today or online here.