Remembering a legend

Thirty years after his murder, friends, family and former colleagues remember the legendary Jimmy Hasty, the one-armed footballer who made his mark on Europe

The family and friends of a courageous one-armed footballer remember him on Monday on the 30th anniversary of his murder.
Jimmy Hasty is recalled with tenderness and admiration for his prowess and professionalism on football fields across Ireland and beyond by former team mates this week, with one remarking “I can’t understand why they didn’t make a film about his life”.
The Sailortown man played for Dundalk in a game that is now the stuff of legends.
He helped see off Dinamo Zagreb in what was a first victory in European competition for any Irish side.
Known affectionately in Dundalk as Patsy he was a prolific goal scorer at Newry Town before he signed for Dundalk in November 1960.
He was a unique figure as centre forward with his 6ft 3 frame and holding that defied his missing arm.
He was one of the most popular players at Dundalk and was famous around the footballing fraternity of sixties Belfast for his unshakeable love for the beautiful game.
His talents were taken on with glee by the local Fredrick Star club and Crusaders.
And his arrival is penned in a local newspaper on the border town.
“There was a very good crowd at this game,” recalls the sports reporter.
“I wonder how many extra came because of Dundalk’s new player, one-armed Pat Hasty.
“I think Hasty is one of the neatest users of a ball I have seen.
“He controls the ball like a tennis ball and his passes are low – always carpet level – and dead accurate.”
Jimmy got married to Margaret and his two sons Marty and Paul were born.
They recalled their father who was gunned down by loyalist paramilitaries as he walked to work on Brougham Street on October 11, 1974.
“There’s a lot of folklore you hear from the old players and everyone who remembers Jimmy,” said Martin Hasty.
“He lost his arm on his first day working in the Mill.
“He was only 14 and you had to be 18 to operate the machinery.
“He was put on and the machine mangled his arm.”
But the loss of a limb never made Jimmy Hasty consider his status as disabled.
“Not only did he play football, but he’d go into goals and take throw ins.
“He was the only one armed player in Ireland and the rules were bent to allow him to take a throw in with one arm.
“He also played snooker using these wee rests.
“And he worked as a bookies clerk and a labourer. It never stopped him doing anything.”
Marty was only seven and Paul two when the UDA shot dead their father.
It is believed his killers knew Jimmy (38) was not involved in any organisation.
“They knew who he was, it was to strike fear in the Catholic community.
“I remember it being my seventh birthday and then my dad was gone forever.
“He had been killed three days after my birthday,” said Marty Hasty.
But Jimmy’s indomitable spirit lives on in his sons and the memories of all who knew him.
“English teams did come and see him play, but they couldn’t get the insurance to sign him.
“He played football everywhere and with anyone, he just loved the game.
“He played up at bone hills donkeys’ years ago and got the British soldiers out to play. He just wanted to play football.”
Jimmy Hasty’s boys have been adopted into the hearts of the Dundalk players and supporters as they grew up.
“Our mum used to bring us down to see him play and we are always made to feel welcome when we go down.
“Even now people in their 20s still talk about him and it’s electric when you go down to watch a game and it comes over on the speakers that they have special guests and they announce us.
“The sound goes up and the whole crowd applause.
“He was a really unique person and people from the Shankill to Ardoyne went to his funeral.”

Journalist:: Andrea McKernon

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