|Date Of Birth:||6th June 1929|
|Place Of Birth:||Drogheda|
|Date Of Death:||8th April 2006|
|Place Of Death:||Doncaster|
|Debut:||19-Apr-49, League, (H) v. Transport|
From a Drogheda family long associated with GAA club Naomh Mhuire, Paddy Gavin had turned out with the Louth GAA Minors and Seniors in the same season. He won a Louth Minor Championship medal with the Wolfe Tones team in 1947 and was drafted into the senior squad. But after scoring a goal and six points on his senior debut, in a National League game against Kildare, he was snapped up by Dundalk.
Sam Prole, a shrewd judge of future potential, had headhunted Paddy to join the Oriel Park set up, and also securing for him a post as an apprentice carpenter in the GNR. The Junior Classes of ’47/48/49 produced half a dozen players who would afterwards play in the English Leagues and Paddy was the last of them to depart from the club. He was also the last of the transfers to English League clubs under Sam Prole that would transform the club’s finances.
He was 20-year old when he was promoted to the Dundalk first team from the reserves at the end of the 1948-49 season when a busy post-FAI Cup win period required 4 League games be played in a 6-day spell.
“Young Gavin, a ‘B’ team regular, did very well, except that he did things through inexperience that an older head wouldn’t do. He has improved very much, in physique and in skill, in the past two years” was the Dundalk Democrat’s comment on Paddy’s debut against Transport on April 19th 1949.
For the next 4 seasons Paddy became a regular, initially at left half and later at left full back, but with the versatility to fill all defensive roles when required. While the club was more often than not at the wrong end of the League during this period there were a number of special occasions and Paddy Gavin was involved in all of them—the club’s first Leinster Cup win on St Stephen’s Day 1950, the club’s first overseas venture in May 1951 to participate in the Festival of Britain, the first President’s Cup to come to Oriel Park.
But topping them all was the unexpected 1952 FAI Cup triumph when, switched to the right half spot, he was a member of one of the club’s most celebrated half-back lines, alongside Jackie McCourt and Mattie Clark.
In the never-to-be-forgotten 6-4 semi-final replay victory over Waterford when Dundalk recovered from 3-1 down he was described in the Irish Times as “a giant in stature and ability”.
In his fifth and last Dundalk season he missed only two games and was rewarded for his consistent performances with selection to the League of Ireland team to play against a star-studded English League team before an attendance of 40,000 at Dalymount Park on St Patrick’s Day 1953. A stout home defence held the visitors to a 2-0 win—at left full Paddy was marking the legendary Tom Finney.
A month later he appeared in another showcase fixture against the Irish League and shortly afterwards Doncaster Rovers manager Peter Doherty had Paddy signed for the English League Division Two club.
He made his debut at Doncaster’s home venue, Belle Vue, in February 1954 against Bury. During his seven seasons with Doncaster he received one International call-up for Ireland’s first ever ‘B’ International (against Romania at Dalymount Park on August 21st 1957).
Francie Callan linked up with him for a couple of seasons, when Doncaster had a large Irish contingent including the Northern Ireland trio Harry Gregg, Eddie McMorran and Len Graham.
On his arrival at Doncaster, Paddy shared digs with Harry Gregg, from which grew a life long friendship. A versatile footballer, Paddy could fill in on all defensive positions and after a period on the left side of midfield he settled into the left full-back slot.
He retired at the end of the 1959-60 season, (156 League and FA Cup appearances and 5 goals) turning down an invitation to manage Yeovil Town, opting instead to work for his father-in-law as manager of a Massarella depot in Chesterfield. He later returned to Doncaster where he was successful in managing and developing a small supermarket chain.
After his retirement he played as an amateur with Doncaster United until receiving an ankle injury. He became a regular at Doncaster’s home games, introducing his son and later his grandson to Belle Vue.
He was a frequent visitor to his home town Drogheda and his last visit to Oriel Park was in 2002 when he joined his 1952 FAI Cup-winning colleagues for their 50th Reunion.
He was married to Maureen Massarella, who was a niece of Ronnie Massarella, chef d’Equippe of the British Show Jumping Team for over 30 years.
It is a measure of the esteem in which he was held in Doncaster that in 2001 he had the distinction of being chosen by the Doncaster Press on a best ever Irish/Scottish Doncaster XI alongside such greats as Harry Gregg, Billy Bremner, Peter Doherty and Kit Lawlor.
What They Said About Him
When he was transferred to Doncaster in 1953 the Dundalk Democrat commented “he is unassuming, quiet and a perfect gentleman, on and off the field and he is a product of which Dundalk may be justly proud.”
3 Wins: FAI Cup and Presidents Cup 1951-52; Leinster Cup 1950-51.
2 League of Ireland Caps