SPECIAL FEATURE

Joe Logan - a midfield maestro with Swilly and Harps

Ramelton man looks back on a fine career

Diarmaid Doherty

Reporter:

Diarmaid Doherty

Email:

sport@donegaldemocrat.com

Joe Logan - a midfield maestro with Swilly and Harps

Joe Logan in the colours of Finn Harps

When he’s on his post run around the Milford and Cranford area, there’s rarely a day goes by that someone doesn’t mention his son Conrad to postman, Joe Logan.
It’s no surprise really. Conrad has plied his trade in England for over 16 seasons now, living the dream and experiencing the highs and lows that life serves up as a professional goalkeeper.
But as far as footballing talents go, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
Joe Logan is fondly remembered as a quality midfield player, who played in the League of Ireland with Sligo Rovers and Finn Harps. He mixed it with the best when playing for Harps - turning out against Derby County and Everton in Europe and also representing the League of Ireland select team.
A lifelong Swilly Rovers clubman, he also played for and managed his hometown club with great distinction.
“The funny thing is, when I’m out delivering the post and people ask me about Conrad, the younger people don’t actually realise that I played too,” Joe said.
The blonde haired midfielder first caught the eye playing alongside his brother Tommy on a quality Swilly Rovers team in the Donegal League.
He remembers being invited up to Sligo Rovers for a trial.
“It was ‘Busty’ Blake who took us up,” he said.
“Jobby Crossan was the manager at that time. There were four or five us who went up for trials and I got signed on and stayed there for a few seasons.”
That was back in the early 1970s. By ‘75, he was on his way to Finn Park in a swap deal with none other than Paul McGee. The season before the future Republic of Ireland international had helped Harps to their one and only FAI Cup success.
These were good times for Harps. Big crowds were the norm at Finn Park on Sunday afternoonsand Logan soon established himself in the team.
“You were playing at a good standard with Harps at that time,” he said.
“There were big crowds coming out to watch big sides in the League of Ireland. You had teams like Cork Hibs, Waterford, Limerick and Shamrock Rovers.”
Harps met Derby County in the UEFA Cup in 1976 and while almost everyone remembers Harps’ record 12-0 defeat, Joe recalls coming off the bench at the Baseball Ground for the final 20 minutes.
He look backs with some degree of pride at playing for Harps against Derby, and then again against Everton in the UEFA Cup in ‘78.
“That was a brilliant Derby team,” he points out.
“When we played Everton, I was lucky enough to play in both those matches. We were playing against full internationals - like Leighton James, Archie Gemmill, Roy McFarland and Charlie George.”
He also represented the League of Ireland, coming on as a second half substitute against Scotland at Dalymount Park. John Minnock was a regular for the League of Ireland side in those days and Jim McLaughlin was the manager.
“Harps were going well then. It was a good standard. We were unlucky that we didn’t win a couple of leagues.
“A couple of times we were runners-up. We were runners-up under Busty (Blake). His achievement in getting us to runner-up was probably better than the rest. He wouldn’t have had the players that Patsy McGowan had. The team was mostly made up of local players.”
Joe will be back at Finn Park later this month as a special guest of the club for the opening game of the new season against Cork City.
And last month, he was a guest at the Donegal Sports Star of the Year Awards night where he picked up a special award on behalf of Conrad to mark his achievements in the professional game in England.
It was a proud night for Joe and his wife Marian and he said it was nice for Conrad to be honoured in his home county.
“Conrad left here at 15 to go over to England,” he said.
“He’ll be 31 in April so he’s been away for some time.
“He didn’t play as much football at Leicester City as he probably would have liked. But when there’s competition for places, that’s what happens.
“But he was successful enough too at the other clubs that he has played with.
“He won the League 2 play-off with Stockport County. He was part of the Leicester team that won the championship. Then he won the Scottiish Cup with Hibs.
“He’s done alright. But there were injuries too.”
Conrad spent over a year out of the game after suffering a serious injury playing for Rochdale in 2014. He returned to action during a short-term move to Hibs and helped the Edinburgh club to a famous Scottish Cup win last May.
“That one big injury knocked him back a bit,” his dad said.
“He was doubting himself if he would ever get back because he was out for 16 months.”
Joe himself hasn’t avoided injury and health problems during his time. He recalls breaking his patella with Swilly Rovers.
“I was managing Swilly at the time I wasn’t supposed to be playing,” he said.
“One of the players didn’t turn up and I said I’d play until half-time. But about 20 minutes into the game, I damaged my knee. I turned, but the knee went one way and the ankle the other.”
Joe, now aged 64, has had a few health issues to deal with in recent times and while he’s currently off work, he’s looking forward to getting back on his post run before too long.
Married to Marian, Conrad is their only child, but they go to England as often as they can where they not only get to see Conrad in action, they can spend time with their grandchildren, Niamh and Finn.
Conrad is back playing with Rochdale in League One and while his performances had helped them into a play-off position, he recently paid the price for a couple of disappointing results.
“They’ve brought in another keeper, a lad from Cardiff,” Joe said.
“Conrad had been going really well but he’s been punished for a couple of mistakes.”
Hopefully by the time his parents get back over to England for a visit, Conrad will be back in favour at Rochdale.
In the meantime, Joe’s top priority is to get back to work, and getting back to his best on the golf course. He’s a member of Portsalon Golf Club and mentions the members of his regular four-ball - Philip Durning, Chuck McTaggart, Charles McCahill, Dave Hughes.
A proud Ramelton man, Joe still lives in the town of his birth. He’s the third youngest of eight. His sisters are Finn Harps supporter, Kathleen O’Neill (Stranorlar), Mary Harkin (Derry), Veronica (Ramelton) and Ann Coll (Ramelton), and his brothers are Tommy (Ramelton), Charlie (Milford) and Sean (Ramelton).