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The Original Football Idol: The Tommy Tynan story

Ryan Danes

With his flowing blonde hair and his predatory instinct in the box, Tommy Tynan was a cult hero at Plymouth Argyle during the 1980s and is still remembered as one of the club’s greatest players.

Tommy was signed for Liverpool by legendary manager Bill Shankly after winning a talent contest run by the Liverpool Echo.  Shankly had a profound influence on the young striker:

‘It is quite surprising how much of the Liverpool way rubbed off on me really.  Shanly’s style of pass, move and wait for an opening, or create one yourself, didn’t always produce the prettiest football but it got results, and it was certainly indoctrinated in me’.

 Sadly he never made a first team appearance for the club before his transfer to Sheffield Wednesday in 1976.  At Hillsborough he scored 31 goals in 91 appearances before his transfer to Lincoln City where he stayed for less than a year.  He moved on to Newport County where he formed a dynamic striking partnership with John Aldridge as the Newport team gained promotion from Division 4, won the Welsh Cup and reached to the quarter finals of the European Cup Winners Cup. Tynan scored the equalizing goal in the away leg of the quarter final in the last minute but Newport lost the home leg 1-0. In total Tynan scored 66 goals in 183 matches during the most successful period in the club's history.

In 1983 Tynan moved on to Plymouth Argyle where he enjoyed even greater success scoring 43 goals in 80 appearances between 1983 and 1985.  He was a member of the side which reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1984, scoring the goal which beat then top flight West Bromwich Albion in the sixth round of the competition. Argyle went on to beat Derby County in the quarter finals before losing to Watford in the penultimate stage of the competition. In 1985, Tynan was joint top scorer in all 4 divisions of the Football League with 31 goals, level with Tranmere's John Clayton. In total Tynan scored 126 goals in 262 appearances for Plymouth.  His second spell with Plymouth Argyle between 1986-1990 was equally successful with 73 goals in 173 appearances. 

After a brief spell as manager Tommy is now a taxi driver in Plymouth, and writes a regular column for the local newspaper the Plymouth Evening Herald.  A chance meeting in a taxi Tommy Tynan, persuaded life-long Plymouth Argyle fan Ryan Danes to write his story.  And he tells the story well in this handsomely produced book.  It provides a fascinating insight into Liverpool under Shankly, and to a footballer’s life in the lower divisions during the 1970s and 1980s.  The author places each of the key events in Tommy’s life in their historical context, an enjoyable trot down memory lane for those who were old enough to remember the break-up of The Beatles or the year that Shergar won the Derby. Through the judicious use of quotes and pacy narrative, the author does ample justice to the career of one of British  football’s greatest cult heroes.

soccerhistory.org.uk has two copies of this book to give away courtesy of Breedon Books. 

Competition Question

For which south Yorkshire team did Tommy play before rejoining Plymouth Argyle in 1986?

Send your entries to