The Great Man: The Legend of Jackie Jameson

Jameson would have turned 60 on Monday and was remembered on this week's SSE Airtricity League Podcast

If ever there was a example of not needing silverware to become a legend it’s that of Jackie Jameson. 103 goals in 303 appearances between 1981 and 1990 made Jameson a favourite but it was his style of play, humbleness and most importantly loyalty that made him an icon still revered in Dalymount Park to this day.

The "Great man", as he’s known, passed away in 2002 but attention was drawn to his story this week as it had he lived he would have turned 60 on Monday.

Think of the excitement you get when you see Daryl Horgan dribbling through defences now, imagine him doing that over mud piles and without hair and you may get some idea of what it was like to see Jameson in action. Like most people of my generation I never got to see him play but in the few clips we sourced on Youtube and from what his teammates says your minds eye can picture a dreary Winter Sunday being lit up by a dash of dizzying skill and cunning.

Having not really followed the league in the 80’s and 90’s all I know about that time is retrospective. To me Miltown was only ever a pleasant looking housing estate while Bohs only really peaked my interest when Roddy won the double so I never questioned why images of Jackie Jameson were visible around Dalymount.

Only now do I realise what I missed by not seeing Jameson in the flesh and only recently did I find out he was modern era hero and not one from the distant past.

For whatever reason the bald head made me think the fans were worshiping a figure from the 50s or 60s than one that anyone over 30 and who followed the club saw in the flesh.

It was only this week when I saw a tweet saying it would have been his 60th birthday had he still been with us I got more curious. The more I asked the more I was fascinated by his career and why he became such a hero to the Gypies.

Jackie Jameson was one of two heroes to Evening Herald journalist Aidan Fitzmaurice who filled in some of the blanks to those who are not familiar with the story . When we chatted about him for the Newstalk's SSE Airtricty League Podcast Fitzmaurice’s eyes lit up as he said: "What stood out was his way of playing, league of Ireland at the time was 4-4-2 big centre halves and forwards battling out , matches were on Sunday afternoons but Jackie was like somebody from another era."

Fitzmaurice adds that if Jameson played now we’d have lots of footage to drool over and even those who didn’t follow the league would know of his skills but he never made the national concise due to a lack of coverage "he should have been a national icon but only a few thousand people knew who he was."

Rangers best defenders could not cope with him on that famous European night in 1984 which may have surprised many non-followers, but not his teammates including Gino Lawless who scored in that win over the Scots at Dalymount.

Gino Lawless (centre) with Oisin Langan and Daniel Kelly

Gino dropped into studio this week for the podcast and while we played him Aidan Fitzmaurice’s piece Gino nodded in agreement especially when Fitzmaurice pointed out Jameson dribbling ability and willingness to take on defenders.

"He wasn’t an out and out striker he wasn’t a number 10 he was very hard to define," he said. "He’d dribble he’d go at people and get the ball down try to make things happen and dribble at people, which you don’t really see centre forwards do any more.

"Robbie Keane might have done it from a few yards outside the box but Jackie would have done that 10 15 20 yards outside the box and try to dribble and play someone else in or have a go himself, he was good in the air he was a real all rounder a natural talent."

Lawless fully agrees on the natural talent point "Jackie’s ability was totally 100% natural."

He said: "He wasn’t the quickest fella in the world, he trained but he wouldn’t have been the hardest trainer in the world but he didn’t need to be he had the skill that we all aspired to have and it took us years to get there but he had it naturally."

Given he was so quiet from the outside, it’s hard to know if Jameson enjoyed his own brilliance. Lawless insisted although he wasn’t lapping up plaudits or revelling he did like being around the dressing room.

"He was very much a Bohs man, I think he found a family in Bohs that he latched onto and was very comfortable with it. He found something in Bohs that he liked and I found out later that he loved it not just liked it he actually loved it."

It’s been outlined several time that Jameson could have gone anywhere in Ireland and also received offers from abroad. So why did he stay?

Lawless says the team spirit was good at the time, with a strong bond between the likes of Barry Murphy, Rocky O’Brien, Alan O’Neill and Jameson.

"They were very comfortable with each other the craic was good all the time, Jackie just fell into it he needed that family environment around him and that’s what he played for."

Given it didn’t seek the limelight we on the outside never got a sense of he enjoyed or not?

"He absolutely loved it," says Lawless. "Loved training loved the craic he had in training. I don’t think he ever did an interview, he was shy if you asked him to do an interview he wouldn’t do it."

Like rock stars the talented person that doesn’t want the attention or plaudits makes us want them all the more. After he stopped playing Jackie Jameson more or less dropped off the radar, there were some stories of playing with Newbridge Town but no real evidence exists of that.

We know that life wasn’t easy for Jackie Jameson after he stepped away from League of Ireland football , if it was now maybe the pathway to retirement the PFAI provides would have made a that journey easier. Football gives it’s players so much and it’s only right that over the years football has learned it must give a bit back to those players when their time on the pitch ends.

When we talk about the life of some one like Jackie Jameson I think of the words of Jose Mourinho when George Best died "he is a legend and a legend never dies".

Revered, loved, missed and idolised, Jameson's gift was shared by all football fans 27 years after his last game for Bohemians and the fans still mourn their heroes passing.

However, they will always celebrate how he lived and that in some ways will keep The Great Man immortal.