Recalling Tommy Whiteside’s influence

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The South Antrim League has been busy dealing with some situations lately, which reminds me of an old friend - now deceased - Tommy Whiteside, who had more than his fair share of disputes and criticism.

Many clubs in the old Lisburn League disagreed with Tommy’s leadership, especially when a decision went against them, but he never shirked sticking to his guns.

Unfortunately in junior football chairmen, secretaries, treasurers and committee members are not on many Christmas card lists and it is unfair on them because they have difficult decisions to make and will never please everyone.

I did have a fall-out with Tommy on one occasion when I was sports editor in the Dromore Leader and a member of a club asked me if I would publish a statement from them, which was not particularly in support of the League committee.

After it was used a member of the Committee, Sandy Wilson, approached me and told me I was wrong and asked if I would publish the committee views.

Tommy was often accused of making decisions on his own, but this proved the chairman did listen to his committee.

I was not sure how Tommy would react. Suffice to say we became very good friends after that. He did not hold a grudge.

He was chairman of the League for around 50 years. I was on that committee with him and I know he ran the League fairly.

Several clubs blamed Tommy if things went against them, but it was always a committee decision, and that committee was elected by the clubs.

I believe Tommy took too much of the blame and in the end decided to concentrate on youth football, forming the Lisburn Youth League.

Tommy only saw a few years of the League’s existence, but he would be proud of it today.