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"We'll miss you so much": tributes to Paul McCarthy

23 February 2017

Friends and former team-mates of Paul McCarthy have paid their respects to the Irishman, who passed away suddenly over the weekend aged just 45.

Memories of Macca will be included in the matchday programme for Saturday's game against Crawley at Adams Park, where a number of former team-mates are hoping to be in attendance.

Fans are asked to take part in a minute's applause in the fifth minute of the match (to mark his squad number during his time with the club). Further tributes will be confirmed nearer the time.

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“My heart sank when I heard the news. What a top guy Mac a was. A great driving partner but most of all a top class defender. All week he would work his socks off. But come Saturday game time he was a colossus. A true pro from the old days. A big lump in my throat to a true gent. RIP Macca. My thoughts are with you and your girls xx.” - Jamie Bates, WWFC 1998-2001

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 “I am stunned and so very, very sad to hear about Macca's passing especially at such a young age. I simply cannot believe it. My memories of Paul are simply of a man who always had a big smile on his face. I remember him coming into training most days at Bisham Abbey and in his Irish brogue saying "How are ya - not too much running now!!" Whilst he was a big modest man, he could fire up if he didn't think people were doing their job properly. Most of all, I just liked him as an honest man and will remember him that way. God bless Macca- I hope the big fella doesn't make you run too much.” - Jim Melvin, ex-WWFC coach  

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“Instantly likeable, fiercely competitive, occasional moany but utterly charming. That’s how I’d sum up Macca. Some of my greatest memories were shared with him. The FA Cup run in 2001 was undoubtedly his finest hour in a Wycombe shirt. He was our stand-out player and the reason we reached the semi-finals. On the pitch he was an uncompromising and brave Irishman with an immense will to win. Off the pitch he was a loving and devoted family man to wife Cath and his four daughters, Erin, Libby, Scarlet and Cassidy. I speak on behalf of all his old teammates when I say: ‘We will miss your great smile and your brilliant sense of humour. Your life has been cut much too short.’ My thoughts are with your family and friends at this sad time. Love you Macca.” – Keith Ryan, former team-mate

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“Amazingly, I bumped into Macca about 18 months ago when we were both in London. He actually looked fitter than ever so I’m just devastated by the news. He was such an under-rated player, so consistent. I’m just amazed he didn't play at a higher level. He wasn’t quick, but no one outpaced him. He wasn’t tall, but no one beat him in the air. And no one was more influential during our 2001 Cup run.” Jason Cousins, WWFC 1991-2003

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“He was no age at all. I am stunned. Everyone will remember Paul from that cup run – and rightly so. The whole run was based around our three-man defence of Jason Cousins, Jamie Bates and McCarthy. They were outstanding. Paul was one of the best headers of the ball I have seen and integral to our success. He was an unassuming guy but with a very strong character. A tower of strength and I am just so sad for his family.” - Lawrie Sanchez, former manager

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“Macca was a good winner but a very bad loser. Playing alongside Roy Keane obviously rubbed off on him. Off the field though he was great company. I remember going with him to Cheltenham races. We never saw horse run on either of our visits!” - Jim Gardner, former kit man, groundsman and friend.

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“Truly shocked & saddened to hear my ex-teammate has passed away. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.” - Danny Senda, WWFC 1998-2006

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“Lovely guy. So modest and a great pro. My first signing for Wycombe from Brighton.” - Alan Smith, Wycombe manager who signed Paul in 1996.

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“Been a long day, still trying to get my head around the death of my old teammate Paul McCarthy. A true gent!” - Steve Brown WWFC 1994-2004

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“Terribly sad to hear this. A lovely fella and a great player and leader for Wycombe.” - Sam Parkin, WWFC 2001

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“So terribly sad to hear of the passing of teammate Paul McCarthy. Such a great guy. Thoughts are with his family." - Mark Rogers, WWFC 1999-2004

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“Top man, top player, top leader, top husband, top dad. I am genuinely devastated to lose one of the finest players and men I ever worked with. Never knew when he was beaten, a leader of men on and off the field, taken far too young. RIP Paul - I will never forget the times we shared.” - Keith Allen, former club secretary

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“I don't want to write some long, rambling prose about Paul McCarthy. All anybody needs to know is that he was a wonderful teammate, driving partner, and, ultimately, human being. Devastated to hear the news and my thoughts go out to his family and all Wycombe fans who knew that Macca never gave less than 100% when he crossed that white line.” – Matt Lawrence, former team-mate

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“Paul epitomised Wycombe Wanderers; he gave everything for the cause, he played in a fantastic cup run and left his mark, particularly on me at Selhurst Park when he scored that equaliser when I was playing for Wimbledon! At just 45 years old it’s a tragic loss to football; we are so lucky to play this game and you have to appreciate what you have. He was mentioned in the changing room before our game at Colchester and I’m very close to a few of his former team-mates who I know will be thinking of him. He will be sadly missed and my thoughts go to his family.” – Gareth Ainsworth

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“When I heard the news I was shell-shocked, just like everybody. He was a fit lad. I played with him for two years, and played against him when he was a young lad at Brighton. He was a good lad and a good footballer. If you looked at him, he wasn’t the tallest, he wasn’t the quickest, but he had a great spring, he was strong and read the game very well. He was an old-fashioned centre-half who’d kick you if he had to, and he served the club really well. Macca had that Irish sense of humour and was funny and well-liked in the changing room.” – Keith Scott, former team-mate

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"Any list of the best defenders in Wycombe's Football League history has to include Paul McCarthy - and very near the top. He'd also have a prominent place in any list of the nicest guys to wear the famous blue quarters.

When he joined Wanderers over 20 years ago, Macca had already racked up over 200 appearances for Brighton and Hove Albion so we knew we were getting a top player. What we didn't know was that we were also getting a wonderful character who would be liked by everyone he met.

Genial is the best word to describe Macca. With a typically Irish gift of the gab, he loved life and he loved playing for this club. I have an image of him sat on a bar stool in Monty's - the Centre Spot as it was then - surrounded by team mates and supporters, sipping a pint and happy to talk to anyone about the game he'd just played in.

I remember reading Roy Keane's autobiography where he described playing alongside Macca in the youth team at Cork. Keane regarded Macca as the better player and when they were both scouted by English clubs he was convinced that it would be Macca who would go on to have a career at the top level.

As it turned out, of course, it was Keane who enjoyed unrivalled success with Nottingham Forest and Manchester United while the majority of Macca's 500-plus appearances were in the lower divisions. But Macca could and should have played at a higher level.

Fearless, good in the air, tidy on the ball and a great reader of the game, Macca was a true leader and his time at Adams Park will never be forgotten. To be taken from us at such a young age is truly a tragedy." - Alan Parry, former director

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