Tony Byrne (footballer, born 1946)

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Tony Byrne
Personal information
Full name Anthony Brendan Byrne
Date of birth (1946-02-02)2 February 1946
Place of birth Rathdowney, Ireland
Date of death 13 June 2016(2016-06-13) (aged 70)
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)
Playing position Left-back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1963–1964 Millwall 1 (0)
1964–1974 Southampton 93 (3)
1974–1977 Hereford United 55 (0)
1977–1979 Newport County 80 (1)
Trowbridge Town
National team
1969–1973 Republic of Ireland 14 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Anthony Brendan Byrne (2 February 1946 – 13 June 2016) was an Irish professional footballer. He won a total of 14 caps for the Republic of Ireland and during his career from 1963 to 1978 played for Millwall, Southampton, Hereford United and Newport County. He was originally a midfield player who switched to left-back and he had a career total of 229 league games scoring 4 goals.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Rathdowney, County Laois, Ireland on 2 February 1946. His early sporting background was in hurling before he emigrated to London with his parents at the age of 12.[1]

Playing career[edit]

He began his career as a footballer at Millwall, where he was originally a midfield player before switching to left-back.[1] After only one appearance for Millwall, he was signed by Ted Bates for Southampton for a fee of £8,000 in August 1964. Although he made his Saints debut in an FA Cup tie against Crystal Palace in January 1965, Byrne took a long time to break into the Southampton first team, mainly because of a broken leg sustained in a reserve team match in April 1966. He eventually overcame this setback to make his league debut on 18 April 1967 in front of a 54,921 crowd at Old Trafford as relegation-threatened Saints went down 3–0 to Manchester United. He was slightly built for a defender and "although quick and diligent, he struggled to carve a permanent niche in Southampton's notoriously robust rearguard".[2]

His best season with The Saints was 1969-70, in which he made 35 league appearances, playing in defence alongside Joe Kirkup and John McGrath, as Saints again fought to avoid relegation. He scored his first league goal in the final match of the season in a 1–1 draw against Derby County. Having given away Derby's 88th-minute goal after a poor back-pass, Byrne quickly turned from villain to hero as he slotted in a bobbling ball in the 90th minute in a dramatic climax to the season.[3]

He stayed at The Dell for ten years during which time he made a total of 114 first team appearances and won 14 Irish caps.

In August 1974 he moved to Hereford United to join former Saints' colleague Terry Paine for three seasons before finishing his career with Newport County.

Amazingly his Irish international debut in October 1969 in Dublin against Denmark was the first time he had kicked a ball in his native land because he had emigrated to London with his parents at the age of 12 and, until then, had played only hurling.

After retiring from football, he worked as a foreman at Hereford golf course before working as a builder. He died on 13 June 2016.[4]


  1. ^ a b "An appreciation: Tony Byrne". Southampton FC. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Holley, Duncan; Chalk, Gary (1992). The Alphabet of the Saints. ACL & Polar Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 0-9514862-3-3. 
  3. ^ Holley, Duncan; Chalk, Gary (2003). In That Number - A post-war chronicle of Southampton FC. Hagiology Publishing. p. 106. ISBN 0-9534474-3-X. 
  4. ^ "Tony Byrne: Former Southampton, Hereford United and Ireland full-back dies at 70". BBC Sport. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 

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