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FOR CLUB & COUNTRY: Paddy Mulligan

17 March 2016

An Irish hero that helped us win promotion

THE arrival of John Giles at The Hawthorns spawned a revolution in many ways.

 

His arrival wasn't greeted with much of a fanfare but Mulligan was exactly the right kind of player for Giles' Albion. Intelligent, good vision, read the game well, used the ball sensibly, rarely gave it away, shrewd in choosing the right moment to go on an overlapping run.

Paddy had begun his career with Shamrock Rovers before making the switch to England, joining the impressive Chelsea side of the early 1970s, playing alongside Peter Osgood, Charlie Cooke, Ron Harris and Alan Hudson. He moved from there to Crystal Palace but was out of favour at Selhurst Park when Giles plucked him away for his new Albion team.

Not only did the Throstles quickly regain their rightful place at the top of the English game as Giles instilled an intelligent passing game into his charges, but we also set up a Irish enclave in the Black Country as the player / manager made full use of contacts made in his native land. Mick Martin came in quickly, Ray Treacey was a later addition, but one of Giles' earliest moves was to secure the services of Paddy Mulligan.

 

His only shortcoming was a distinct lack of pace, but his ability to see where danger was going to appear long before it had materialised meant that he was generally in a good position to cope with the problem.

 

On top of that, he was an old fashioned full-back in the sense that the ball might go past him or the player might go past him, but rarely both - one of them would generally end up in the front row of the stand.

 

Away from The Hawthorns, Paddy was an integral part of the Irish national side as that country began to build a footballing reputation under Giles, with players of the quality of Liam Brady playing an influential role.

 

Ireland’s problem at that stage was lack of strength in depth, not least because Giles tended to pick players who were actually Irish rather than exploit the loopholes in the qualification rules that Jack Charlton later did, picking players whose only relationship with the country seemed to stretch little further than a close relationship with the Guinness family.

 

Nonetheless, Ireland were nobody’s mugs under Giles and they collected some notable results during Mulligan’s time at The Hawthorns, including a 4-0 win over Turkey in a European Championship qualifier in October 1975 and a 2-0 win in Poland the following May, just two years after Poland had come third in the World Cup in Germany. Perhaps the highlight of that spell came in the 1-1 draw with England at Wembley in September 1976, a result they repeated in altogether more important circumstances, a European Championship qualifier in Dublin in October 1978.

 

By then, Paddy was out of favour here, Ron Atkinson having drafted in Brendon Batson to replace him at right-back. Paddy ultimately returned to Shamrock Rovers and continued to play for Ireland, taking his career total of caps to 50 before he hung up his boots. 


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