Don’t worry, the title becomes clearer later on
Those of you with long memories may remember that I wrote about my “other” club, Cork City, two years ago.. Now, I had always planned to get back to watch City, but never got the chance to return. So, imagine my luck when I found I had to go to Dublin. Which, ever so conveniently (cough) was in the football season. Which even more ever so convieniently (cough again) was at the same time as City were playing away to Dublin side Bohemians….
Now, I’m occasionally accused of being unkind about the Fair City, mainly from people who come from there. OK, so it’s dirty, the traffic is dreadful, it’s bloody expensive and it has all the architectural beauty and charm of Leeds. But apart from that, it’s all right. Since my last visit there in 2002, a couple of new things have sprung up. Firstly, there’s a tram system now, which takes you into Tallaght. More importantly, it gets you out of there as well. Secondly, there is now a giant, fuck-off huge Cleopatras Needle type thing slap bang in the centre of O’Connell Street. Why it’s there I don’t know, but it’s now officially Ireland’s biggest prick, narrowly defeating Eamon Dunphy for that honour.
Of course, it’s impossible to write about Dublin on a Wimbledon-related site without mentioning the Dublin Dons. Eight years – yes, it really was eight years – after the move was first proposed, I still have a horrible little inkling that it might have worked. Put it this way : if RTE Two can show Liverpool v Tottenham live at 3pm on a Saturday, and if Paddy Power in Athlone – a one horse town where the horse has just died – can show live Premiership football on their big screens, there’s still a very real market for it.
That said, with continuing problems over Lansdowne Road, and the infamous BertieDome – Bertie Ahern’s wank fantasy, basically – the new stadium for Dublin Dons would still be in its planning stage. And I don’t think the GAA would have revoked Rule 42 for Hammam somehow….
So anyway, there I was in a part of Dublin called Phibsborough, which looks a bit like Tooting. Traffic was certainly on a par with Tooting Broadway anyway. Descending on a suitable public house, there was a distinct lack of Bohs fans about. Seriously – those in football clobber had come up from Leeside while everyone else was going to spend their Friday evening watching Eastenders.
Few observations : firstly, it seems that every CC fan seemed to know something about either AFCW or “the other lot in Milton Keynes”. As City themselves were formed in 1984 following the demise of other local teams like Cork Hibs and Cork Celtic (Irish football suffered a massive slump in the 1970s and 80s, and is only really starting to gradually rise again recently), this sort of thing obviously gets noticed a lot more. Secondly, does anyone watch Sky News Ireland? I think even Franchise versus Bray Wanderers reserves would have got more interest. Thirdly, a quick mention to the Man City supporting Leesider I met who went to see them play us at Plough Lane. All very commendable, except we were playing at Selhurst Park by then…
Bohs are known as the Gypsies – now do you understand the heading? – and proclaim their home of Dalymount Park as the home of Irish football. In short, it’s where Ireland played internationals before Lansdowne Road became the proverbial viable option. You may know of Bohs, it was where Paul McGee was signed from. Anyway, Dalymount had a newly refurbished stand built, to the cost of about â‚¬3m. Of this, it appeared that half the money was spent on bar areas – three of them at last count – whilst â‚¬3 was spent on toilets. It had the same amount of bog space as KM, and with the amount of people using them, the same likelyhood for drain blockage
As for the rest of Dalymount, it’s clearly seen better days. It looks a bit like Bristol City’s ground : one end has a blocked off terrace, the other end has a weird terraced back/seated front arrangement and the opposite stand had about 3 blocks of seating and that was about it. It was as though the Gypsies asked a real lot of gypsies to build the ground for them, finding half the materials had been stolen. The fact that by this half-built stand was a tarmaced parking area seems to confirm this..
With â‚¬15 ticket in hand, plus a stupidly long walk to get said stub, I made my way into the ground, located the City fans and took my place. It seems quite a bit has changed with City since my last visit. Firstly, an ultra-successful Intertoto season last season (where Malmo and NEC were unceremoniously dumped) laid the foundations for a UEFA cup spot for next season for City. Watch out for the SW19 report from some out of the way place like Latvia, Azerbajan or Bolton. Secondly, CCFC’s manager is now one Damien “Rico” Richardson, who has a interesting way with words, as proven here .
In true AFCW style, former manager Pat Dolan left just before the start of the season, following problems with training etc. In short, a big bust up. Although this still splits City fans even now, there was no sign of discord amongst the 150 or so from Leeside….
As it feels apt to use them, I use two Irish slang words in this report, they are jackeen and langer. I won’t specify what they actually mean, but if you’re out impressing an attractive colleen with such phraseology, make sure that she isn’t from Dublin and/or an alcoholic. It is more than my life’s worth to suggest the two phrases are interchangable..
Anyway, the game started and so did the rivalry. “Fuck the Dubs” was the suggestion, though not literally. I hope. In the City end, there was a drum, christ knows how many ticker rolls, and even the odd flare or two. The flares in themselves were annoying the steward a bit, who took it upon himself to remove said item every time it was lit. No idea whether he took them just to light his house. In the Bohs end there was, well, not a great deal. This isn’t unusual at Dalymount, I once watched Bohs v Longford and they didn’t make much noise then.
As for the game, City have clearly improved since my last visit. There seemed to be a bit more up front, for starters. Defensive wise, Bohs came quite close a couple of times but really there wasn’t much to be troubled about. Half time came, and it was time for a quick jar…
Before the half time whistle went, some little jackeens – presumably from a nearby boys club – meandered past everyone, wearing green and white hooped shirts. Cue tune of “Homeless”. Cue kids looking bemused, though I swear one was about to cry. The reference is to Shamrock Rovers, who sold their ground some time ago and who play in – you guessed it – green and white hoops. Shamrock fans aren’t exactly liked a lot by most other Eircom league fans, they’re called “Scumrock” for good reason : whether the kids were upset because of about 100 people shouting at them or whether it was because they hated being called Shamrock fans is anyones guess.
The Bohs bar was quite efficient, having had the foresight to pre-pour quite a few Guinnesses beforehand. Proper real glasses as well, not the KM issue plastic jobs. I was settling down when I heard a bit of a shouting match next to me. Basically, some young Bohs fan and an older (and bigger) City fan had a stand up row with each other, which got to the stage where there was likely to be fisticuffs. Eventually, calmer heads prevailed, though I found the whole thing disgusting and wrong. After all, it made me late out for the second half…
And when I got out, I heard some quite loud cheering. Typically, City had scored. And yes, I missed it. You think I only miss AFCW goals 😉 Needless to say, in true journo style, I asked around a bit for what the goal was like, and was eagerly told that it was a great strike and I was a langer for missing it. Steady on…
Speaking of drunken irresponsibility, it has to be said that the referee was a complete tosspot. Seriously, if you buy a dictionary and look up the word “inepitude”, it would have a picture of him beside it. Advantages either misplaced or simply ignored, that kind of thing. Incidentally, some Eircom refs are swapping with Scottish league officials, and City’s following game against Drogheda will have/had a jock ref. Thank christ there’s no such arrangement with the Ryman league, can you imagine Steven Cook refereeing? It would set back Anglo-Irish relations 100 years…
The second half really was quite comprehensive from City’s point of view. Bohs looked like a team who were second from bottom when I write this. Quite strange to think that it was less than a few years ago that they won the Eircom league. City on the other hand should go a long way this season, finishing second may even be seen as a bit of a disappointment, at least according to Richardson in the Irish Daily Star afterwards..
Right on 90 minutes, City’s superiority told. The Bohs keeper, a guy called Matt Gregg, made an absolute fuckup by running out of his area and kicking it not very far, a couple of passes later and the ball was in the back of the net. Expect Gregg to be an ideal summer signing for AFCW – he’s on a par with DN and he once played for Crystal Palace.. (incidentally, City’s website has its own version of Dons Online, though they nick it off one of the TV stations. Something for DO if ever we get on telly…).
Then came one of the strangest incidents that I can ever recall at a game. After the second goal went in, and with the usual cheering/firework displays, the steward got a bit narked. Why he was like this I don’t know, presumably he wasn’t used to so much noise at Dalymount. Anyway, he came up to the crowd and basically got into what appeared to be a tussle with one or two City lads. Needless to say, up popped his mate from the Garda and we all know what happens then, don’t we?
Except it, well, didn’t. What actually happened seemed to be a blur, but from memory, the copper had a few words, the steward went away with his tail between his legs and nobody got slung out. Amazing. Now, could you imagine that happening at an English ground? Christ knows what would have happened at Portsmouth*….
* – quick history lesson for those who have forgotten. In season 2000/1, WFC played at Portsmouth and some of our fans got rather heavy handedly thrown out for no apparent reason. One of our lot by his eyes or something. Suffice to say, it was so bad an incident that the thing went to court, and all Dons fans got let off. League football, can’t beat it.
As soon after that, the full time whistle was gone, and so had my voice. City went joint top with the evil $helbourne that night and looks like hostilities will continue this season as well. I would recommend to any AFCW fan to have a “second” team to follow, there’s no worrying about the ground debt or anything else associated with us. Sometimes, it really is nice to go to a game and just enjoy yourself with the things that “normal” fans enjoy. As for me, while most were going back to Cork, I risked a Dublin pub afterwards. Some City fans in there still, and the only dangerous situation I encountered was the house band singing “Bohemian Like You” extremely badly. Pop Idol this wasn’t.
And I won’t mention the alternative version of “Amarillo” I heard…
Special “hello” to everyone I met, including the Cork City OS webmaster (I think it was anyway, I gave him my card certainly) and the nice woman who not only gave me a couple of chips but even helpfully wrote down “Joe Gamble not playing” in my notepad for me…