Paul Cahill (Portsmouth, Tranmere Rovers, Stockport County)

Oxpete

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The Liverpool born footballer Paul Cahill has died at the age of 65.

After joining Coventry City as an apprentice in 1973, Cahill signed for Portsmouth in 1975 under the management of Ian St. John, becoming the Supporters' Player of Tte Season in 1975-76 as well as the club's youngest ever captain, and going on to make 112 first team appearances for Pompey.

Despite obvious youthful skill in central midfield, he unfortunately joined a club in crisis, as chairman John Deacon went back on his promises to invest in the playing side, and manager St. John regularly falling out with the older more established squad members. With Cahill just one of several younger players drafted in - others included Steve Foster, Paul Denyer, Clive Green, Dave Pullar, Keith Viney and the goal scorer extraordinaire David Kemp - he and his teammates would often find themselves out of their depth as Portsmouth slipped to relegation in 1976, then found themselves struggling near the foot of Div.3 in 1977.

However, despite a season of struggle, Cahill still captained the side to some famous victories: the 1-0 home win over leaders Brighton on Boxing Day 1976 in front of a crowd of over 32,000; the miraculous 5-1 victory over top end Rotherham United in April 1977, when the local paper christened the youthful victors the Pompey Babes; and the famous win in an F.A. Cup replay v. Birmingham City, when Cahill himself sent the boy wonder Trevor Francis crashing into the advertising hoardings on the end of a ferocious tackle.

But with the season heading for disaster, St .John was sacked with three matches remaining, and Jimmy Dickinson's management won just enough points to avoid relegation (for one more year). However, as the following 1977-78 season went from bad to worse, Cahill found himself out of favour with the new regime, first heading off to Aldershot on loan, then juggling stints at Tranmere and Stockport with summers in the USA at Southern California Lazers, California Surf, San Jose Earthquakes and the indoor Golden Bay Earthquakes.


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Oxpete

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Paul Cahill only scored two goals in his entire career, both for Pompey.

The first was on New Years Day 1977 (just six weeks before I began attending matches), in a League match at home to Oxford United, when he struck a 90th minute equaliser that earned a 1-1 draw. That point would ultimately go a long way to preserving Pompey's Third Division status come the end of the season, when the club finished in 20th position, just one point and seven goals better off than relegated Reading.

However, I was in attendance when Cahill scored his second goal for Pompey, in another 1-1 draw at home to Exeter City on the last day of February 1978. Unfortunately, this only cancelled out the own-goal he'd stuck in his own net about twenty minutes earlier. Being a naive nine-year-old, I thought this an amazing feat at the time, though more world-weary members of my extend family saw it more for what it really was.

Three weeks later, Pompey got a rare home win, beating Shrewsbury Town 2-0 (I can still remember the Shrews' goalkeeper wearing a Peter Shilton-style white jersey) to offer a little hope that relegation could maybe be fended off for a second time. But unfortunately, three days after that, Plymouth Argyle arrived at Fratton Park on a Tuesday night to give us the 1-5 thrashing that showed us all there would be no escape this time around. Paul Cahill in particular played a stinker that evening, taking a throw-in and sending the ball to an Argyle striker instead of his own badly-positioned goalkeeper, and Plymouth were two-up before halftime.

After that, Pompey's players gave up, and manager Jimmy Dickinson afterwards described the performance as "embarrassing". Paul Cahill took much of the flak and would never play for Pompey again, going off on loan to Aldershot before departing on his usual summer season in the ASL, an unfortunate end to Paul's time at the club.

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