LARNE FOOTBALL CLUB is delighted to welcome two Larne Legends to the Agnew Lounge this Saturday for our Bluefin Sport Championship match against Dundela.
Both are plied their trade for the Inver Reds up front, and both were popular players in their own era.
The first of our two guests, is Tom McCourt. Tucker had spells with the Inver Reds at each end of the 90s, scoring 72 goals in all.
His 18 goals in the 1991/92 Irish League campaign took Gary Erwin’s side to fourth in the top flight. This included the only goal of the game in the League Cup Semi Final against Cliftonville.
However, the following season was his most prolific campaign as he found the net 25 times. A total only Ciaran Murray managed to beat since then with 28 in the 2014/15 season.
The second of our guests knows all about winning league titles in the second tier and making the step up to the Irish League top flight. Our first guest is non other than Harry ‘Chooky’ Rainey.
Larne’s last league title was back in 1972 and the 70s was an exciting period for the club. The Inver Reds stepped up to Senior football towards the end of 1972 following the departure of Derry City. Chooky Rainey led the line for Larne then and throughout the 70s, reaching numerous Senior semi finals.
Back in 2011, Chooky Rainey spoke to Inverview during the 2011 Steel and Sons Cup Final run and shared his memories of playing for his home town.
The legendary front man recalled the 1971 Steel and Sons Cup Final in Larne beat Dundela by a single goal. This was Larne’s last success in the competition and their fourth in succession.
“I just remember the whole day itself really. We went to Church at 6.30am in the morning and I was back home again for a cup of tea and nearly ended up missing my lift for the match!
“To see the fans, and the massive crowd there when the match kicked off was something else. It was certainly the most I would ever have been in front of as a player.
“In the changing room, the craic was good and I was the new lad at that stage having only just come into the team by then.
“I remember Jim McKinstry coming round the players beforehand offering everyone a drink. I said I was ok thanks and didn’t want it, but he told me to go and take it because I would need it. So there we were, all having a sip of whisky before the game!
“As for the match itself, it all just seemed to go so quickly. I remember Jim Barr swinging the corner over and Norman Conway getting on the end of it for the goal.
“At that time, Larne were nearly always in the Final, so it was almost an annual event for everyone to head up to the match.
“I was a Larne fan myself, so I would have been heading up along with everyone else and to be playing for the team in it all of a sudden was great.
Chooky also reflected upon his time at the club as a whole, “I remember the club going through a lot of transitions during my time.
“When I came in, I was nearly the only Larne man in the team, but that changed with the likes of Paul Thompson and Jim Hagan.
“Brian Halliday probably had the strongest squad of all during my time at the club, but he ended up selling half of them on elsewhere.
“Having said that, we came close to doing some great things during that time. Including replays, I must have played in six Irish Cup Semi Finals for Larne during my time and didn’t win any of them.
“Although in saying that, each team that beat us went on to win the cup in the final, even Carrick who were in the B Division in that time.
Of course, there were plenty of moments where Chooky himself cemented his place in the history of the club.
“Scoring a hat trick at The Oval wasn’t too bad!
“Around that time I won Player of the Month, and because I was an amateur, I got a wee portable disc player instead of money. So we had it in the dressing room at The Oval that day as loud as we could – you could have heard it everywhere!
“Anyway, it must have done alright because we went out and won and I scored a hat trick.
“There are lots of great memories at the club, being from the town and growing up with a lot of the people I always tried to come back on the supporters buses.
“Sometimes you get too distant from the fans as a player, but running the club and supporting it can be a thankless job and it’s important to acknowledge the supporters.
“The bottom line is, I supported Larne long before I was ever able to play for them and it’s great to see them do well.”
We hope you will give these two Larne legends a very special welcome this Saturday.