When [Tony McCombs] Comes Marching Home Again, Hurrah, hurrah! @840WHAS @minguabeefjerky @1776Bank @CoachAtchley

Christian County’s ‘Big Splash’ hire makes his own ‘Big Splash’

During the Civil War, the song, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” was copyrighted and recorded in the Library of Congress in 1863. It celebrated, in song, the expected return of a family member who had left his loved ones behind to fight in the war. Tony McCombs hasn’t been fighting a war, per se, but we are mighty pleased that he will be coming home, pitching in, and restoring the Colonel program to what it once was as it prepares to merge with its cross-town rival.

HB Lyon, Scouting Director and Historian for KPGFootball

The men will cheer, the boys will shout,
The ladies, they will all turn out,
..

Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, 1863
Tony McCombs

Hopkinsville, KY: There is an old song many of us have before sung but may not have realized its origin. That song has two titles, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again.”

The song was written by Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, an Irish-born American composer and military bandmaster. Gilmore lived and worked in the United States, after 1848, and wrote the lyrics to the song while in the Union Army during the Civil War. This song was published under his pseudonym, Louis Lambert, in September of 1863.

The song is an earnest desire for Johnny to come marching home once more. We, in Christian County, Kentucky are familiar with such a hope.

We are ready for “The Cheese” to come home and help show us the way back to the past. New football coach, Ethan Atchley, has assured we will all get this opportunity.

Get ready for the jubilee,
    Hurrah, hurrah!
We’ll give the hero three times three,
    Hurrah, hurrah!

Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, 1863

Tony McCombs has thrived at all levels of competitive football, especially as a player. McCombs was a three-year, All-OVC (Ohio Valley Conference) linebacker for Roy Kidd at EKU from 1994-1996.

McCombs was named to four different, All-American Football first-teams, helped EKU to a conference crown and 10-3 finish, was the preseason 1-AA National Defensive Player of the Year, won the OVC Defensive Player of the Year and played in both the East-West Shrine and the Senior Bowl. For our purposes, McCombs was a Colonel who helped guide that program to a 1992 semi-state appearance.

After being drafted into the NFL and playing several years for two different ball clubs, Arizona and Cleveland, McCombs was inducted into the CCHS Hall of Fame in 2004 and was one of three linebackers selected to EKU’s All-Century team. Naturally, McCombs was enshrined in the EKU Hall of Fame.

A friend of this magazine and a former EKU great in his own right, Kenneth “Shorty” Combs played with McCombs at EKU. Combs told us, “I remember sitting in the linebackers’ room with the singular aspiration of trying to become Tony McCombs. I don’t think I ever quite got there, but I tried very, very hard.”

So, did Tony McCombs have a tremendous playing career from HS through the NFL? You bet.

Since those days, McCombs has worked all over Kentucky with different high school programs. He has had one-primary wish…he has been trying to come home. Coach Atchley is making that wish a reality.

The old church bell will peal with joy,
    Hurrah, hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy,
    Hurrah, hurrah!

Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, 1863

We caught up with Coach McCombs. He told KPGFootball, “It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to get to come home and coach the young people from the families who made it all happen for me. I am very familiar with Coach Atchley and keen to become involved in this reclamation project. We want to transform this program back to where it used to customarily reside, at the top of its competitive level.”

Ethan Atchley

Having a coach on staff like Tony “Cheese” McCombs is paramount. While the Colonels have been down recently, there are still people around the Pennyroyal Region who remember what the program is supposed to look like, what it used to look like, when it was rolling.

Coach Atchley couldn’t agree any more stridently with McCombs’ goal. “When I first started researching this job the names of the ‘greats’ kept appearing,” Atchley told KPGFootball. “Among the foremost ‘names’ was that of Tony McCombs. I was familiar with him, like everyone else in the commonwealth, but I am very pleased to witness his eagerness to help me restore this program to its former glory.”

So, in keeping with the old song, Johnny (or Tony) is marching home. He is marching toward a home which has missed him, cheered him, celebrated him, and now anxiously awaits his return. “The village lads and lassies say,/With roses, they will strew the way, And we’ll all feel [glad], when [Tony] comes marching home.”

This is Friday Night Fletch, reporting for KPGFootball, reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!

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About Fletcher Long 1497 Articles
Two-time winner of Kentucky Press Association awards for excellence in writing and reporting news stories while Managing Editor of the Jackson (KY) Times-Voice

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