'Everyone loved him so much': Memorial game tribute for popular former footballer

·4-min read
Tommy Boyle Tribute: Sons Thomas and Matthew Boyle with daughter Rebecca, pictured with the teams playing in the match <i>(Image: Alex Craig)</i>
Tommy Boyle Tribute: Sons Thomas and Matthew Boyle with daughter Rebecca, pictured with the teams playing in the match (Image: Alex Craig)

THE daughter of a much loved Greenock footballer and coach who died from an alcohol-related illness at only 49-years-old hopes a charity match in his memory will leave a legacy of helping others.

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In an emotional tribute Inverclyde Amateurs legend Tommy Boyle's former team-mates organised a memorial game to celebrate the life of a 'gentle giant' who was loved by so many.

Greenock Telegraph:
Greenock Telegraph:

Tommy's daughter Rebecca, spoke to the Tele about her dad, the battle he faced with alcohol and the traumatic impact of his sudden death on her family, including her younger brothers and their mum Lorraine, Tommy's ex-wife.

She is now raising awareness of the life-saving work of the charity Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, and says there needs to be greater access to services offering help.

Rebecca said: "If love could have saved my dad, he would still be here today.

"But we couldn't save him.

"Everyone loved him and if only he knew how much.

"He would never walk by anyone without saying hello.

"When he died I was overwhelmed by the message of love and the tributes to him.

"It meant the world to us that Inverclyde Amateurs coach Aidan Leck wanted to organise this game for us. It has helped so much.

"But it was so sad and emotional on the day, a real rollercoaster of emotions."

Rebecca said her dad was a loving man who was devoted to his football.

She said: "Dad was larger than life, a big gentle giant.

"Football was his life, he was a player and then became a coach.

"Even when he was in hospital before he died he was still wearing his Inverclyde Amateurs top."

Rebecca, who owns Purdie's Pantry with her wife Rachel, says her dad was a huge influence on her life.

She said: "My dad was a real family man. He was my step-dad, he met my mum when I was four, but he was my dad.

"Dad taught me how to swim, ride a bike, he was all about his family.

"But sadly he always had a problem with drink."

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Sadly Tommy, who was an I.T technician with West College Scotland, lost his life in October last year.

Rebecca said: "It was a very sudden death, dad ended up in the hospital with his liver and passed away weeks later. My dad was working up until two weeks before he fell seriously unwell.

"I think alcohol is a silent killer, it takes people who you would never expect.

"If it wasn't for Covid we could have had a different outcome. My dad moved away and during Covid he was working remotely in his house. He seemed to go downhill."

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Greenock Telegraph:

Rebecca says that the impact that alcohol use can have on the whole family is something that is very much hidden and needs to be spoken about more openly.

The mum-of-two hopes that she can continue to raise money and awareness in her dad's honour.

She said: "I really want to break the stigma. Nothing will change unless people speak about it but it is so difficult.

"Drinking affects the whole family. So many services are only about the person, but it impacts directly on everyone in the family. We are all affected by it and it damages everyone.

"Everyone needs to know about the incredible work of Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs. I wish I had known about them a long time ago.

"They are the only charity that gives direct help to the families."

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Rebecca would also like to thank the Inverclyde Amateurs coach Aidan Leck, above, and all those involved in the match for Tommy.

She also wants to thank her friend Suzie Gallagher, from Greenock, who is the SFAAD national development officer.

The Tommy Boyle Memorial match, which saw the current Inverclyde Amateurs lineup take on past players and coaches was played at Battery Park, raising £600 for the SFAAD.

Rebecca was at the game along with her mum Lorraine and her younger brothers Thomas, 21, and Matthew, 18.

She said:"The money raised will go directly to the service in Inverclyde helping local families and that means so much to us."

Rebecca says other lifeline services like Mind Mosaic and Man On Inverclyde have also been a huge support.

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Greenock Telegraph:

She said: " Mind Mosaic was life changing for me, they saved me from a very dark place following my dad's death. But people need to know about these services and need access to them as quick as possible.

The family raised money for Man On Inverclyde, who help support men with mental health issues, at her dad's funeral.

Rebecca, 30, said: "If my dad had been able to go to Man On Inverclyde I think it could have been very different from him. He needed to talk. He'd lost both his parents and he never really recovered from that.

"I think things are starting to change with mental health, which is good. We all have to look after our wellbeing."