How many times have you been watching a match and you hear the commentator say…”the ex-Manchester United trainee there…”

Happens often doesn’t it. Well this is the story (and song) about one of those.

The player in the spotlight today is one Paul Tierny, the English born Republic of Ireland Under-21 left back, who as mentioned was signed to Man Utd as a trainee. But like quite a few others it didn’t happen for him there.

The information about him is brief and comes from the Wikipedia entry, a couple of football news items – and mostly from the song.

That we’ll get to in a moment, but for now let’s look at the subject in hand:

Signed onto the Old Trafford books in 1999 and turned professional a year later, at first Tierny was loaned out to Crewe, Colchester and Bradford. But he did make an appearance for his parent club – Dec 2003: versus West Brom in the league cup.
Paul Tierny - footballer
Eventually Paul was released and signed for Livingstone in the Scottish Championship, the second tier of the Scottish football leagues. That was only for one season, but a significant one because this is where a certain Glaswegian music took note of him…which we’ll come to in a moment.

Moving back down to England he signed for Blackpool, went out on loan to Stockport and then after being released he joined Altrincham. Sadly this didn’t last and only played three games before leaving the club.

Looking at that journey, the appearances and the clubs it’s easy to make a Doc “Moonlight” Graham in the movie Field Of Dreams comparison. Like the young Archie Graham with his brief glimpse at the big league, Paul Tierney did make the Manchester United first team appearance in that league cup game alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. Also in his time at Blackpool he was part of the League One playoff final winning team.

He has a Wikipedia entry. His career stats are recorded on Soccerbase. Paul Tierney in his time did something we all dream about – playing football for an elite team. Playing football professionally and being paid for it.
That’s more than you can say.

To the music then and as mentioned it was when Paul Tierney was turning out for Livingstone that Paul Tierney noticed him. For obvious reasons.

This person, usually in the spotlight for something. In this case football. This person becomes your “other self” and you do wonder how your more famous other self is doing today.

This other Paul Tierney is a Scottish singer-songwriter and he followed the fortunes of his footballing self, which eventually led him to record a song.

There is an excellent article over on the Daily Record from which I will borrow a quote:

It’s a bittersweet tale of early promise, career-changing mistakes, bad luck and unfulfilled potential.

Glaswegian Paul, now based in Bristol, said: “I knew a wee bit about Paul’s career because he had the same name.
Paul Tierny - singer
“His story is sad in some respects, but the song asks the question, ‘Who would you rather be? Him or me?.’ To have been a footballer at any level, you have to be brilliant.”

Paul, who now records and performs as Lonely Tourist, recorded the song in Glasgow with Attic Lights’ guitarist Jim Lang.

Paul said: “I wasn’t sure whether anyone would hear it. But I got an email from Steve Lamacq saying he remembered Paul at Colchester and that he loved the song.

“It went from there to being played on Radio 6 to me getting an email from Paul’s brother-in- law saying he loved it.

“Then I got an email from Paul himself thanking me for it, saying that he wasn’t at all offended, that he thought it was genius and that he was going to get everyone to buy it.

“I honestly didn’t even think he’d ever hear it.”

Here’s that song…

…which you can buy via Bandcamp – and you can name any price to download this song.

A beautiful, if slightly melancholy tune which perfectly describes the fortunes of the playing Tierney better than a Wikipedia entry ever can.

Below are two more songs performed live by Paul Tierney (Lonely Tourist) for BBC Introducing… in Bristol:

Some essential links now:

⇒ Paul Tierney (the footballer) can be found on Twitter. Follow him and say hello @tierney39.

⇒ Paul Tierney (the musician) aka Lonely Tourist can be found via Bandcamp, download his album for just £5 GBP:

Related: Jevons (A Ballad To)

One Reply to “Tierney (A Ballad To)”

  1. Great article I just noticed my brother in law Paul (footballer) shared this on Facebook. I thought the song was brilliant when I first heard it. What a way to have your achievements showcased for you , again great article.

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