Sunday, 8 July 2012

Roddy Collins


2009 :  Floriana (Malta)

Roderick Collins is one of Irish domestic football’s most recognisable and outspoken figures. Having been in the game for over 30 years, he has won various honours both as a player and manager in Ireland, as well as some more unsuccessful stints in England.

Most recently manager of the ill-fated Monaghan Utd, Collins is now mainly employed as a pundit on RTE’s Monday Night Soccer show. Beginning his senior career in 1979, he has respresented 12 Irish clubs as a player and manager, and some clubs in Northern Ireland and England, most notably Mansfield Town, Carlisle, Glentoran and Cliftonville. His greatest success as a manager came in 2000 when he led Bohemians to the League of Ireland title and victories over Aberdeen and Kaiserslautern in the following season’s UEFA Cup campaign.

He held a number of posts until 2006 when he was released by a finacially beleaguered Shamrock Rovers. For two years his only work was with RTE, until he was surprisingly named as the new manager of Floriana FC on June 30th 2008.

Founded in 1894, one of the most well-supported and successful in Malta. The club hail from the town of Floriana, a suburb of Valletta,  and play their home matches at the Independence Ground. The stadium holds 3,000 people, 665 more than the population of the town itself.

The club are known as the Tal-Irish, and play in green and white. Their nickname and colours were adopted following a 1905 friendly with the Dublin Fussiliers of the British Army who were stationed in Foriana. The club has other Irish connections, most notably through their long-standing partnership with Shamrock Rovers, and their kit suppliers Azzurri, based in County Waterford. The club has won 25 Maltese Championships and 25 Maltese Cups, making them the islands most succesful club alongside Sliema Wanderers.

Collins' unveiling as Floriana manager
Collin’s unveiling took place at the Maltese Embassy in Dublin. This was followed the next day with a massive unveiling in the town of Floriana itself. It was the largest media event ever held by a Maltese club. The appointment was widely noted in Irish football media too, mainly because of Collins’ fairly large reputation at home, and also because of the novelty of an Irish manager working abroad. Brian Kerr had been made manager of the Faroe Island’s national team only three months before, and Collin’s appointment was treated with as much fanfare both in Ireland as in their respective new locations.

On his appointment, Collins spoke of the need to bring Floriana back to glory. He got to work straight away on assembling a new squad which included Donovan Simmonds, formerly of Kilmarnock, and Nigerian Akanni-Sunday Wasiu who were drafted in to bolster the attack. However, in spite of the fanfare surrounding Collins and the club's ambitions, money was still tight, and Collins was frustrated in his attempts to tempt many Irish players to Malta.

His start to life as Floriana manager was poor. The season's opening game was a draw against Qormi. Tal-Irish then experienced a humiliating 6-0 drubbing against Valletta. Two of Valletta's goals were scored by former Manchester United player Jordi Cruyff. This was followed by a mediocre draw with Tarxien and a home-loss to the Dingli Swallows.

Collins erupts with delight after a win against Msida

However, Collins soon steadied the ship and Floriana climbed up to fifth place in the standings and were in a good position to claim a berth in the Championship Pool after three wins and a draw. In spite of this generation of good form on the pitch, a December 13th away win over Msida was to be Collin's last match.

He announced his departure from Floriana on December 15th 2009. Floriana reacted angrily to his sudden decision, and threatened Collins with legal action. Collins cited family reasons for his quitting his post saying "'It was a very hard decision but I couldn’t continue to coach Floriana in the present circumstances". He had been living in a hotel in Malta for five months, while his wife and children were back in Dublin. 

Since leaving the Medtierranean Island, Collin’s briefly took up tenure at Cork City, before the club’s precarious financial situation cost him the job before he had even managed a game. He later returned to management in 2011 with First Division side Monaghan United, winning promotion to the Premier League before the club announced their withdrawal from the league in June 2012 citing financial reasons. 

Malta is perhaps not the most glamorous or high-calibre of footballing locations, but it could have been a step in the right direction for Collins' career. Sadly, it didn't work out and his luck with clubs has not been fantastic since. He did a marvellous job getting Monaghan United to the Premier League, but financial concerns have yet again affected his chances. A good manager, here's hoping he gets another chance again.

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