Harry Redknapp: I love that, in the GAA, your club is your club for life
31 Jul 2018
Posted in: #Rivals
Harry Redknapp on amateurism v professionalism and how amazed he is that Niall Cahalane's sons travel from Cork City to play for Castlehaven.
If I had to compare Castlehaven to any club I've ever worked with before, it would have to be Oxford City. It was a non-league team, playing in the Isthmian League, and I went there with Bobby Moore. We had a little stand, not as nice as Castlehaven's actually, and that was where coaching first started for me. Bournemouth was my first job in management, but Oxford City was my first as a coach.
I grew up playing my football in places like Hackney Marshes, which wasn't fancy at all so, for me, Castlehaven's facilities are good, they've got a really nice stand and a lovely pitch. There is a lovely feel to the club, the whole community is involved and what is great is that they come up as kids into the club and then stay with the club all their life.
The players don't move to other clubs. They play from that team - start with the U10s or whatever - and go all the way through until they get into the first team. That creates such a great atmosphere around the place. Players must make so many great friends for all their lives because they stay with that club all the way from their early days.
That's been a lovely surprise, that people are so passionate about their club, that it's 'their' club for life. I loved that because, d'you know, that's been lost a lot in England now. Where I grew up as a kid in the East End and went to West Ham to play, every player came from within a five-mile radius of the ground, literally every player!
I lived in Poplar, which was 10 minutes away on a bus. All the other players came from the same area too, all from the youth team. We didn't buy players, every player when I was there was homegrown. We were all local boys and we grew up loving and being part of the football club, and I can see the similarity here. Castlehaven have kids who've come through their youth team into their first team and really have their hearts here.
There is nothing like having kids from the area, I think, and I had
that in West Ham as a manager too.
I suddenly had all these kids come out of the youth team who went on to become some of the biggest stars in football; Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Glen Johnson.
Unfortunately, when I left they sold them on for big money – for fortunes! But, when they all got into the first team when I was manager it was great because you could see how much they cared about the club and you'd seen them growing up since they were 12 and 13 years of age. They were all really good boys too, not just good footballers.
It's lovely to see that Niall's boys (Damien, Conor and Jack) come from the city to play for Castlehaven, they really care about the club.
It's amazing that GAA players are all working and playing. Some of them travelled 40 to 50 miles to training and when they turned up they weren't like 'oh I'm tired, I've been working all day'. They were straight in, no complaining. Their attitude to training was really top-class. They really are doing it for the love of the game.”
Watch Harry take on Gianluca Vialli in The Toughest Rivalry here