Funeral of the singer who penned `Shaymen of Halifax`

Fan: Tommy Degnan at the Shay in 2009
Fan: Tommy Degnan at the Shay in 2009

THE funeral took place today of Tommy Degnan who penned the famous “Shaymen of Halifax” song.

It has been sung by generations of FC Halifax Town fans since it was first released in 1978.

Tommy, 84, was a Glaswegian who lived in Lincolnshire. His late wife Kath (aka Elaine) was from Halifax and she died in 1997.

Her son, the late Allan Baker, was a life-long Town fan and his love for the club rubbed off on Tommy.

Allan’s brother and Tommy’s stepson Adrian Degnan remembers as a young boy Tommy writing the song.

“He was a truck driver most of his life, but an entertainer who lived Scottish and Irish music,” said Adrian.

“He had packed up lorry driving temporarily and tried to make music his profession.”

Tommy wrote a Scottish World Cup football song which was heard by officials of Halifax Town, and through Allan, Tommy was asked to write a song for the club.

The catchy tune has lyrics specific to the area such as Quality Street, Halifax Building Society and Room at the Top which refers to the film which was partly filmed in the town.

Tommy made a nostalgic visit back to the Shay in January 2009 to hear his record belted out before a game and its re-release was snapped up by a new generation of fans.

“Tommy was not so well at the time but was delighted the record had been taken up again - he always wanted his 15 minutes of fame,” said Adrian.

This year his record was played to an even bigger audience when it was heard on national TV ahead of the FC Halifax Town v Charlton FA Cup match.

“He would have loved that, but sadly wasn’t well enough to know about it,” said Adrian.

“I hope they keep playing the song at the Shay for many years to come as a lasting legacy to Tommy. However successful he was, or wasn’t, he always wanted to entertain. He was also hardworking and a good family man.”