Last updated : 28 June 2011 By Tony Scholes

Date and Place of Birth

18th November 1950 - Belfast


Transfers to and from Burnley

from Newcastle United - July 1980 (£30,000)

released - May 1983


First and Last Burnley Games

Newport County (h) - 16th August 1980


Grimsby Town (h) - 7th May 1983

replaced by Vince Overson


Other Clubs

Glentoran, Newcastle United


Apoel Nicosia



Burnley Career Stats


Season League FA Cup League Cup Others Total
  apps gls apps gls apps gls apps gls apps gls
1980/81 27 1 1 - 3 1 3 1 34 3
1981/82 27 3 6 - 2 1 3 - 38 4
1982/83 16(2) - 1(1) 1 3(2) - - - 20(5) 1
Total 70(2) 4 8(1) 1 8(2) 2 6 1 92(5) 8


Profile by Tony Scholes


There was a big change to English football in 1978 but it was one that had no effect on Burnley until 1980. The change was the agreement between the Football League and the PFA that players would be free to change clubs at the end of their contracts - the introduction of Freedom of Contract.

Two of our players, Ian Brennan and Joe Jakub, opted not to remain at Turf Moor at the end of the 1979/80 season, although it was later in the year when both left, but in the summer of 1980, as Brian Miller looked to rebuild a team that had been relegated into the third division, he made our first ever freedom of contract signing - that of Newcastle United's Tommy Cassidy.

A tribunal sat to decide on the fee of £30,000 and Cassidy became a Burnley player after almost ten years at Newcastle, his only other English club. The Belfast born midfielder started his professional career with Glentoran in the Irish League but moved to St. James' Park in October 1970.

Although not able to command a regular place initially, he made only occasional appearances in this first three seasons, but it was enough for him to win his first international cap against England in the Home Internationals in May 1971.

That was the first of 24 caps he won for his country with the last four coming after signing for Burnley. His international career ended on the biggest of stages, the World Cup Finals, when he came on as a substitute against Honduras in the 1982 World Cup game in Zaragoza.

He firmly established himself at Newcastle in the 1973/74 season and he certainly came up against Burnley a few times that season. He was in the Newcastle team that beat us in the FA Cup semi-final and then repeated the result in the Texaco Cup Final.

The Texaco Cup winners medal was his only honour at Newcastle although he twice picked up runners up medals in cup finals, that 1974 FA Cup when they were beaten 3-0 by Liverpool and then two years later when they lost the League Cup Final to Manchester City and a spectacular overhead kicked goal from another future Claret, Dennis Tueart.

By the time he left Newcastle for Turf Moor he'd played 180 league games for them and that season ended well for him as he helped Northern Ireland win the Home Internationals for the first time since 1914.

He got his Burnley league career off to a great start too with a goal on the opening day of the season against Newport County, although the Clarets were held to a 1-1 draw.

Just ahead of that season, in an interview with Peter Higgs of the Burnley Express, he told him not to worry about him losing his pace because he'd never had any in the first place. He wasn't, perhaps, the most mobile of players and we often called him 'Centre circle Tommy' as he seemed to conduct the whole performance from within that area of the pitch.

Without ever having an automatic place in the Burnley midfield he certainly turned in some influential performances and, in the promotion season of 1981/82 in particular, was a great help to the two youngsters alongside him in midfield, Trevor Steven and Kevin Young.

Injuries caught up with him in his third, and last, season at Turf Moor and he was released by manager Frank Casper following relegation in May 1983.

His career was far from over and his next club were Apoel Nicosia in Cyprus. He eventually became player/manager and led them to the Cypriot title but he was out of there in 1986 after exposing corruption in the game.

He came clean and said he'd seen referees offered payments, including from his own club. In an Irish newspaper in 1998, Cassidy said: " “I knew what was going on. To them it’s not a bribe, it’s how they see the way football is run. It was brushed under the carpet. I saw money being handed over to a referee and I challenged it."

That saw him return to the North East to manage Gateshead and that almost led to him becoming Newcastle manager. In the same interview he said: " “I was touted for the Newcastle job. Jim Smith had just been sacked. I was managing Gateshead at the time but Ossie Ardiles got the job and what a disaster that turned out to be.”

When he did move on it was back to Belfast and Glentoran where he became manager in 1994. During his four years there he again came into contact with Burnley when he sold us Glen Little. It was shortly after that he left and his next job was to manage Ards.

He was sacked the following year when the directors felt they would not win promotion; incredibly they were in second place. He moved south to manage Sligo for a couple of years and then returned to England to take over at former Football League club Workington.

It was success all the way and he took them to the brink of a place in the Conference, just one league below the Football League, but in an acrimonious move he left them for Newcastle Blue Star.

He moved in September 2007 to a club that was supposedly going places and they agreed a £20,000 compensation fee with Workington. When the second payment didn't arrive it went to court with the court finding in favour of Workington. By then Cassidy had left and Blue Star folded in 2009.

He was out of football for a while but returned in October 2010 as manager of Whitby Town where he remains in charge at the time of writing.

And so his football career continues; a controversial one at times but Cassidy would have it no other way and the last word is with Tommy himself.

“I’m good for the press. I open my mouth and I normally have something to say that the press will want to hear. I appreciate the job of the press and without it, football would go down the drain.

"There are people in power who are against that and don’t like me for that reason. When I speak they say, ‘ah for God's sake, listen to Tommy Cassidy shouting his mouth off again’. I don’t care. So what if people don’t like my opinion. I’m happy with myself.”



Cassidy move set for court (09/10/08)

Cassidy is new Whitby boss (21/10/10)