Marc Bircham’s life no less colourful as he looks to turn Waterford’s season around

Former QPR player arrives from the Bahamas with tough job on his hands

“Oh you want to talk about my time in maximum security?”

Half the goings on in the League of Ireland can be difficult to comprehend, whereas the other half seem downright insane. Not that anyone doubts the explanation provided by Waterford FC's new manager Marc Bircham following last year's stint in a Florida penitentiary.

The most enticing game tonight is Shamrock Rovers' trip to Oriel Park, mainly because Dundalk's sporting director/interim manager Jim Magilton hopes to divert the natives' planned march on the stadium before kick-off to protest against the Hulsizer family's control of the club.

After two wins from 11 outings, Magilton must be desperate to steady the ship, but the resounding quote to come out of the embattled club belongs to club chairman Bill Hulsizer.


"I don't care what people say," declared the 78-year-old father of Dundalk owner Matt Hulsizer last month, before adding that a supporters banner will not "affect any decision that I make or Jim makes".

Tennis balls at the ready.

Turmoil at Dundalk barely holds a candle to the narrative Waterford created by hiring Bircham.

I'd be lying if I said it was the best job in the world

With the club bottom of the Premier Division ahead of Derry City’s visit to the Regional Sports Centre, Bircham has a near impossible task to avoid relegation. Undeterred, the cheeky-chappy Londoner emerged from quarantine on Wednesday to join the dots since prematurely leaving what seemed a dream role as technical director for the Bahamas FA.

Turns out Lewisham’s finest and Waterford FC owner Lee Power threw his former squire a lifeline.

“Funnily enough,” quipped Bircham, “[Power] probably don’t remember but I was his boot boy at Millwall when I was a youth team player. So many moons ago that he’d forgotten about it when I mentioned it to him so that was I think the last time we met, when I was in the youth team, when I was a lot slimmer and a lot better looking, so he probably didn’t recognise me.”

Anyway, the one-time blue and white mohawked QPR midfielder found himself in a spot of bother last year, getting an orange jumpsuit mugshot that will follow him around until the 43-year-old creates a more spectacular story, either on or off the pitch.

Bircham’s entire perspective is available on the Under The Cosh podcast but, in a nutshell, dinner with friends in Tampa went sour when a “geezer” who claimed to be a two-tour marine in Afghanistan and Iraq threatened to kill the father of four “with his bare hands”.

After escaping a choke-hold Bircham “immobilised” Captain America with “one punch”. Next thing he remembers the cops were “coming in like a Swat team” to his friend’s home and before the former Canadian international could claim self-defence he was banged up abroad. There was another scrap in county lock-up when he refused to give a large inmate his bed sheet.

Maybe coaching football in the sunny southeast is just what the doctor ordered, but Bircham is adamant the situation could have been cleared up by the police watching all the CCTV footage while categorically denying the lacerations on his assailant’s face were caused by his right hook.

Anyway, the Londoner does not seem traumatised by the affair, with old stab wound scars on his torso getting nods of approval from fellow jail birds as they gathered to watch Harry Potter.

Asked this week why he’s earning a crust in Waterford and not the West Indies, Bircham responded: “Very similar settings to the Bahamas, I feel quite at home here, moving from there to here. It is by the sea. Very similar weather.”

Greatest league in the world, Marc.

“I’d be lying if I said it was the best job in the world . . . Maybe it’s because they are bottom of the league and the only way is up. Like every coach out there you think, ‘I can turn it around’.

“Whether you can or not is a different story. I work on a gut feeling a lot and I had a gut feeling that I really fancied it. Or maybe I’m mental! We’ll know in a couple of months.”