Bobby Toland, who died back in January, was a true football man and left a legacy not matched in modern soccer circles in Donegal..
He was a football man long before his involvement with Finn Harps. His soccer past included being a founder member of Kildrum Tigers. His involvement with summer cups was key to having such famous names as Paddy Crerand, Charlie Tully and Dennis Hatsell who all played for Tigers. He was no mean goalkeeper himself and played for the Irish junior international team and was a winner when Swilly Rovers won the FAI junior cup in 1962.
He became the Harps trainer when they were elected to the League of Ireland in 1969 and was instrumental in signing the famous Brendan Bradley.
Harps saw a star in Brendan and they persuaded him to sign a few days later, the rest is history. Bradley has spoken of Bobby as a great character and a great man to have about the club. He also trained Brian Wright, scorer of Harps’ first goal in the League of Ireland.
Bobby’s training methods were tough to say the least. My own memories include attending Bobby's treatment room with a knee injury and it was a mixture of greyhound gear and football gear in the same room. Only Bobby could do it!
I think there should be a lasting tribute to Bobby and it should be the erection of a permanent reminder to a true football man who contributed so much to Donegal football. I'm sure Finn Harps would love to have his name remembered as a true soccer man and greyhound man too of course.
His devotion to promoting soccer at all levels will be hard to match and he has left a lasting legacy to soccer fans in Donegal. God rest him.
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