Waterford – The Team of the Late 1960s
Our third league game of the season was away to Waterford. The east Munster club was founded in 1921, and joined the Free State league nine years later. In 1934 they won the most amazing Shield final ever: they conceded three late goals against Cork, but still ran out winners by eight goals to seven! They won the cup in 1937, and they gave Irish football the legendary wing-half Paddy Coad, but it was not until the late 1960s that a new Waterford side started to completely dominate Irish football.
From December 1965 to March 1966, the Blues won an unprecedented 13 league of Ireland games in a row. The highlight was hammering Munster rivals Cork Hibernians by five goals to one on St Patrick’s Day, the same day they signed Coventry striker Johnny Matthews. The Blues won their first league title weeks later, then signed young Coventry goalkeeper Peter Thomas, and Irish international striker Alfie Hale, a former Waterford player now playing with Newport.
After a gap of a year, Waterford returned with a vengeance to win the 1968 title. That led to a glamour European Cup tie against Man United, which packed Lansdowne Road and only went ahead after the Waterford players negotiated a £50 match bonus while in the dressing room. There followed two more successive title wins in 1969 and 70, another gap of a year, then two more titles in 1972 and 73, bringing a total of six league titles in eight years.
Alfie Hale was by now player-manager, and to add to local satisfaction, the last two titles were both won on the last day of the season against Munster rivals Cork Hibernians. In 72, the Blues were 2-0 down in front of a 25,000 Cork crowd before dramatically recovering to win 3-2. In 73, they were 2-0 ahead in front of their home support, and the score stayed that way. In 1974 they signed diminutive Scotsman John McSeveney as manager, and now we were facing them away in our third game of the season.
Singing the Blues – a Tribute to Waterford United
YouTube user BlueMovie1966 has put together this video tribute to Waterford United Football Club.