NEW Derry City signing, Rory Hale is hoping he can make as big an impact at the Brandywell club as his legendary grandfather did back in the 1960s as he follows in his footsteps almost 50 years on!
Danny Hale was one of the finest strikers to grace the Irish League during the 1960s and spent three seasons from 1967 on Foyleside.
A prolific goalscorer he established a new post-war club record of 45 season goals in the 1968/69 campaign and his 21 league strikes earned him the top goalscorer accolade.
He also collected a runner-up medal in the 1971 Irish Cup final against Lisburn Distillery and netted an impressive 103 goals in total during his three year stint with the Candy Stripes.
Now his grandson, the talented ex-Aston Villa midfielder arrives at the club hopeful of writing his own successful chapter in the City history books.
And while the 20 year-old midfielder might not compete with his grandfather in the goalscoring stakes, he’s confident he can help bring success to Kenny Shiels’ team.
“My granda was really good down here and loved Derry,” said Hale who was unveiled as Shiels’ latest signing at the Bishop Gate Hotel yesterday afternoon.
“He was going to come down today but couldn’t make it. He’s a big influence and will come and watch me on Friday nights. I like to have my family down. So hopefully I can do just as well as he did or close to it,” he smiled. Hopefully I can chip in with a few goals this season and make a instant impact like I did at Galway.”
The Belfast man was one of the stand-out performers for Galway United having joined midway through the campiagn but he was unable to help them steer clear of relegation in the 2017season.
Now he’s ready for a new challenge with Derry City and explained he turned down several offers from League of Ireland clubs to join an ambitious Candys Stripes outfit.
“I think this was the best move for me. There was a lot of offers from teams in the league. But for trying to get to the top of my game, I think this is the best move for me.
“After chatting with Kenny last week it was clear he was a manager who would give me confidence and let me go out and play my game.
The way I play my game suits the way Derry play so I think I will fit into the club perfectly. It was an easy decision after having a wee think about it.
“It’s a fresh start for me now and it’s something different - pushing for titles and truying to get a good run in Europe and cup runs. I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“My season only started three months ago so I’m fresh as a fiddle. I’m still trianing away three or four times a week so I’ll be raring to go for pre-seaosn in Janaurary and I can;’t wait to get the show on the road.”
Former Derry City winger and Republic of Ireland star, James McClean persuaded Hale to join Galway United in search of regular football when he was on trial with West Brom last summer. And the Baggies winger was quick to congratulate him on his move to his hometown club.
“At the time when I went on trial at West Brom there was no real point because I would nbever have broken int the first team there anyway.
“But James gave me advice to go play first team football whether that would be League One or Two or the League of Ireland.
The League of Ireland sounded better and becauce I was playing with the Republic of Ireland and I think it’s the equivalent of the football in England. It was a lot more technical than I thoughyt. It’s a competitve league as you seen last season when Galway beat Derry - anybody can beat anybody.
“I think I’ve made the right decision to come back here and re-start my career. I’m good mates with James’ younger brother Pat and was speaking to him about it.”
Hale is hoping a sustained run in the Derry City side will also see him back in Noel King’s Republic of Ireland U21 set-up.
“Unfortunately it didn’t work out at Villa which was a shock. But I’m ready to kickstart my career again and need to be playing week in week out and I thin kI can and I’ve been goiven the opportunity at this big club so I’m looking forward to it.,
The main thing was to test myself on the Europena stage and this is a great ooprtunity for me. IT;s a young enough team and a good move.,
It’s only an hour up the road so everything is falling into place. I’ve got my family close by so that was another factor.
“Hopefully playing every week will help me get back into the Ireland squad. Most importantly I’m focusing on Derry and if my performances are good enough an Ireland call-up will come,” he concluded.