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In The Irish News: Feb 10 1998: Lawrie McMenemy lands Northern Ireland soccer hotseat

ON THE BALL... Northern Ireland’s new football management team, Lawrie McMenemy (centre), Joe Jordan (left) and Pat Jennings after their appointments were announced in Belfast yesterday afternoon

LAWRIE McMenemy, who spent some of his National Service guarding Buckingham Palace, heads the three wise men charged with changing Northern Ireland’s soccer fortunes.

The 61-year-old Geordie was the surprise choice of the Irish Football Association yesterday to succeed Bryan Hamilton who was sacked in October.

McMenemy, the first non-Irishman to be appointed as Northern Ireland supremo, will have ex-Scotland striker Joe Jordan as his assistant with former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings employed as part-time goalkeeping coach.

McMenemy served as England assistant-manager during the ill-fated reign of Graham Taylor between 1990 and 93.

His managerial stock was at its highlight from the mid-1970s to the early 80s when he guided Southampton to an FA Cup and regular European football.

However, an unsuccessful spell in his native north-east of England with Sunderland followed when the oncemighty club plummeted two divisions.

McMenemy insisted yesterday that he still has the hunger.

Tantalising the Northern Ireland fans, he even alluded to fellow Geordie big Jack Charlton’s success with the Republic of Ireland.

The supporters will have lapped up that kind of talk: the cynical media were more sceptical.

But as Northern Ireland captain Steve Lomas said after Bryan Hamilton’s sackings:“managers live and die by results”.

In the meantime, seven months before the start of the European Championships qualifiers in September, let Laurie’s honeymoon begin.

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LAWRIE McMenemy seemed to have comfortably nestled into the worlds of `celebritydom' and being linked with obscure foreign jobs when the call came to manage Northern Ireland.

The last time he was spotted by the Irish News was on the wordsmith’s gameshow Call My Bluff about three weeks ago.

Insomniac friends tell me that he appeared on Channel Five’s Live and Dangerous as recently as Sunday night.

Hacks milling around the Dunadry Inn in the minutes before the unveiling of the man to lead Northern Ireland soccer into the new Millennium, wondered whether the IFA were again calling everybody’s bluff with the morning leak that McMenemy had got the job.

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LAWRIE McMenemy is unlikely to acquire a retirement home anywhere near the Stadium of Light in the north-east of England.

Since turning his back on Sunderland during the April showers of 1987, he has not had a hands-on manager’s job.

In 1985 McMenemy was all-conquering hero returning to his native north-east. The supposed Messiah had come to take Sunderland to the peak of the game.

Two year’s later he had trailed the club into the footballing doldrums of division three.

He’s no longer a fan favourite at Southampton and now the man who greets one as “Bully lad woy’ah,” must face the demand of the fickle Northern Irish fan.

As the north’s first non-Irish manager, the one-time Barbican beer toting punter, must take the team back to the glory years which seemingly left with the departing Billy Bingham.

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