Deacy still fondly remembered by former Villa colleagues

Tony Morley reflects on Eamonn Deacy's time with Aston Villa

Eamonn Deacy.

Eamonn Deacy.

Just before the conversation ends Tony Morley, the gifted Aston Villa league and European Cup winner, talks about the privilege of knowing Eamonn Deacy.

That is the esteem in which the St John’s Terrace native is held. Ten years ago this week Deacy passed away, but his contribution as a footballer and friend still peppers the conversation when the former Villa players gather.

“Eamonn's name is always brought up when the lads get together,” Morley says. “He was a fantastic human being. As a professional footballer at the highest level there can be a lot of tension, but with Eamonn we just used to love his stories about when he went back to Galway.

“The lads used to sit down having a cup of tea waiting for him to come in, some of the stories he used to tell when he was flying back to Galway to see Mary and his family.”

There was always wit and wisdom with Deacy. A tough sportsman, away from the pitch Deacy was caring and compassionate, quietly helping others.

Occupying a role with Ron Saunders’ fondly regarded squad, who won the old first division in the 1980-81 season, means Deacy was part of a proud chapter in Villa’s history.

“I was involved in the sport for 40 years, it is probably the best dressing room I have ever been involved with,” Morley says. “You ask any professional sportsperson, you have got to have a good dressing room.

“It doesn't matter if you have got the best players, if you haven't got a good dressing room you very, very rarely will win things. Villa had a fantastic dressing room, that is why they ended up the best team in Europe.”

Some matches are still etched in Morley’s mind. “Sunderland came up from promotion from the second division at the time, they were unbeaten for about seven or eight games. They came to Villa Park, Eamonn played at left back behind me.

“We won 4-0, we battered them, Eamonn on that day, he was flying. I'm playing winger, he was playing full back, he gets forward more than me. To him it was just enjoyable, he was a kid playing in front of 40,000.”

Saunders was a mentor to Deacy, offering advice and assistance, but most importantly believing in his talent. “Ron Saunders loved him, he knew what he was going to get from him,” Morley recalls.

“If Ron Saunders wanted somebody to be looked after on a football pitch, Eamonn wasn't a dirty player, but Ron Saunders was like a second father to him. He would do anything for him. We knew Eamonn was a vital part of the squad, he could come in, he could play in midfield. He was 110 per cent, if somebody told him to do something. That is all you could ask for really.”

Eventually Deacy opted to return to where his heart always was in Galway. “Eamonn got offered a decent contract, he wasn't on much, he had won a league, he said no,” Morley says.

“He wasn't even going to have a league championship winners medal, he said he didn't deserve it. Ron Saunders said no Eamonn you were part of this unique squad - 14 players. Eamonn was just happy to have played at the highest level. I think he was content then. Saunders offered him a decent contract, but he said he had done what he wanted to do. I think he achieved what he wanted to achieve with a great bunch of lads.

“I can honestly say this now, hand on my heart, when we get together the lads, 40 odd years later he is always mentioned and so is his family.”

Deacy’s decency and dynamism is not forgotten by Villa’s decorated stars. “Eamonn has left a legacy at Villa, he is one of 14 players, it will never happen again,” Morley adds.

“It is probably the hardest league in the world and don't forget you were playing more games then. You played four more games. I used to love playing football with Eamonn.”


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