Lucan

IT IS approaching the end of our interview and the waiter approaches with a degree of hesitation before coming out with it.

‘Did you used to play football?’

img alt="Mark Rutherford of Shelbourne during the Harp Lager National League Premier Division match between Shelbourne and St. Patrick's Athletic" height="960" width="738" data-src="https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg" data-credit="Sportsfile" data-sizes="(max-width: 375px) 335px, (max-width: 520px) 480px, 620px" data-img="https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?strip=all&w=738" data-srcset="https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=335 335w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=480 480w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=620 620w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=670 670w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=960 960w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=1240 1240w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=1005 1005w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=1440 1440w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=1860 1860w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=1340 1340w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=1920 1920w, https://www.thesun.ie/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/09/Sportsfile_011792jpg-JS682097888.jpg?w=2480 2480w" src="data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22http://www.w3.org/2000/svg%22%20viewBox=%220%200%200.8%201%22%3E%3C/svg%3E"">Mark Rutherford of Shelbourne during the Harp Lager National League Premier Division match between Shelbourne and St. Patrick's Athletic6
Mark Rutherford of Shelbourne during the Harp Lager National League Premier Division match between Shelbourne and St. Patrick's AthleticCredit: Sportsfile

‘Yes’.

‘Are you Mark Rutherford?’

‘Yes’.

The uncertainty is explained by the fact Rutherford still looks so young. He turns 50 next March.

You would not know it. Until three years ago, he was still lining out for Lucan United in the Leinster Senior League.

The waiter goes on to recount meeting the Englishman’s mother and sister in the bar at Tolka Park when Rutherford was in his pomp at Shelbourne.

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An attempt to pay for our coffees was dismissed out of hand. Not a bad legacy considering Rutherford was only ever supposed to come here for a month.

The 30th anniversary of his debut for Shels — he scored the winner against Sligo Rovers — is on October 4.

If he was minded to forget how much time has passed, he has not been allowed to do so.

Recently, Shels’ Under-10 girls team was playing Lucan before one of his own kids was in action.

The Reds were being coached by Andy Byrne, the men’s first-team kitman back in the day, who told all of his players about what a legend Rutherford was. One kid piped up ‘My grandad knows you’.

Rutherford ruefully observed: “It used to be someone’s brother or sister who knew me.”

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