Tommy Harkin, the Finn Harps kitman, masseur to a myriad of local soccer teams and one of the unsung stalwarts of Donegal football turns 80 today.
Due to his busy football schedule over the next couple of months, Tommy’s 80th birthday celebrations had to be brought forward by almost a week to last Saturday night.
And at that function in the Fishermen’s Inn, in Carrigans, football men were out in force to join Tommy and his family and friends.
Among those from the football world in attendance were current Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan and his number two Paul Hegarty, former Fanad United player Colm McGonigle, Charlie Collins,Letterkenny Rovers and locals stars Maurice Toland, Johnny Tinney and Glen Bovaird.
“We had a great night and I was very surprised with the large crowd of football men that turned up on on the night. It was great to see them all, ” Tommy told the Democrat.
As well as being the current Harps kitman, Tommy is also working with Inishowen League side, Glengad United, the Ulster Senior League Interprovincial side and the Ulster FA U-17 team.
And during the summer months, as he has done for years, he was masseur to the Donegal Schoolboys, Kennedy Cup team and the Donegal Schoolboys side in the Foyle Cup. He is also masseur to Letterkenny IT soccer team.
Tommy may have hit the 80 mark but he has no intention of putting the feet up and taking up smoking a pipe just yet.
His schedule for the next month and a half or so would have those a third of his age topping up on Berocca.
“I’m off to Arranmore this weekend with Glengad United in the FA junior Cup,” said Tommy.
“I’m going to Cork with the Ulster Senior League team early next month for the Interprovincials. And then at the end of the month I’m off to Galway with the Ulster FA U-17 team.
“I also have trips coming up in next month to Wexford and Cork with Harps for their games against Wexford Youths and Cork City.
“It’s a hectic few weeks but I’m looking forward to it.
“The form is good and I haven’t an ache or a pain and as long as I’m able I’ll keep doing it, I’ll keep going.”
Recognised as a top masseur, Tommy, who played in his younger days with Drumore United - a local team in Carrigans - in both the Donegal League and the Inishowen League, admitted his move to masseur all happened by accident.
“I played well into my 40s and actually played alongside my son Kenny when he was starting out first,” he said.
“When Kenny joined Fanad United I used to go down to watch the games and one day after one of the games, I think it was, one of the lads asked me to give his legs a rub.
“And that’s how it started. It took off from that and I was with Fanad for years. I worked with Fr Mick Sweeney first and then Eamon McConigley and after that, Ollie Horgan when they managed Fanad.
“We had a very good team back then and we had great times. I remember one game in the Brandywell we were playing Derry City in the cup.
“Paul Doolin was a big star in the League of Ireland at the time and he went down with an injury.
“I’m not sure how it came about but the Derry manager, I think it might have been Noel King , asked me to run on and attend Doolin.
“But I said back to him I’m not qualified to attend to him. He said I as qualified as he was to play out there so go out and see to him.”
After Tommy left Fanad, other teams came and asked him to work with them.
“I’m not sure why, but I enjoy being involved with teams and players and if I hadn’t this, I don’t know what I would do,” he said.
Still hale and hearty and 80 years young, Tommy is planning on clocking up a good few more miles and taking in a good few more games before calling time on his busy schedule.