Con Martin’s Soccer Annual appeared for the first time in 1961. Primarily focused on Irish domestic sides, it also included some coverage of the international team and Irish footballers making their way in Britain.
It was the later interest that led to the inclusion of a brief ‘Spotlight’ feature on Johnny Giles in the 1961 edition, when he was then a mere 21 year old. Giles, now senior analyst for RTÉ’s football coverage, was living “with team-mate Nobby Stiles, whose parents treat him like one of the family.”
In his autobiography, Giles talks of how Stiles became part of his own family:
Nobby Stiles joined [Manchester] United a year later than me, in 1957, and we hit it off immediately. He may have ferocious presence on the pitch but off duty he looked more like a professor than a warrior, with his thick glasses…
He is also my brother-in-law, a process that started in the summer of 1958 when he spent some time with us in Dublin. I introduced him to my sister Kay. Nobby says he loved her the first time he saw her,but she was going with someone else at the time, so he would have to wait. He was only sixteen.
Nobby came over for several summers, during which time he settled in and became part of our family. Those summers would also be notable for the fact that at some point, probably in 1960, Anne and I brought Eamon Dunphy to his first dance. He was a bit younger than us, and I think he was a bit lost. Certainly, he never asked to come out with us again.We were probably too dull for him!
Giles was destined for great things in the years that followed, though he is undoubtedly best remembered across the Irish Sea for the time he spent at Leeds United,appearing for the club on more than 380 occasions. A great plaque to Giles, previously photographed by Sam for the blog, appears in his native Ormond Square: