1982: that was the year that was…

After the Republic’s quiet exit from the World Cup last October with a spirited but ill fated fight against the French and a lack lustre draw against the Swiss, there is no Irish interest in the World Cup finals. No doubt for some, England is the natural receptacle for our loyalties, and anyone but… for others of us. But for others still the only true compensation will be in looking back to past glories, particularly to a time when the Republic’s glory days were nothing more than a glint in the eye of one gruff Northumbrian called Charlton.

  • I am a ABE

    I hope England reach the final and play Argentina. I hope they deserve to win and end up being cheated out of the match. I hope the German government bribe the Irish referee.

    Perhaps it’s just wishfull thinking but I live in hope 😉

  • CS Parnell

    I remember the stunned silence between my brother, myself and my father when Gerry scored *that* goal.

    We’d gone through all the different permutations of draws that might get Northern Ireland through but we had never figured on a win and there we were, looking at it as a real possibility.

    It was a great night, though the play against Austria was better and Martin was diddled for that first goal against France – he was sooo onside.

    Good God, I remember all this from memory, even though it was a quarter of a century ago.

    Of course it was a different era in other ways too. Lots of Catholics would happily have supported Northern Ireland then. Then, as now, we wanted an all-Ireland team and always hoped the Republic would do well, but when they never did we didn’t really question supporting Northern Ireland.

    The Republic’s success – not withstanding the essential point of Roddy Doyle “Republic is a beautiful word” essay – polarised support.

    If there is one area above all where North-South makes sense it is sport – ask any England rugby fan if you disagree.

    By the way, my form master at St. Mary’s was Brother Jennings and his constant carrot and stick was what Pat would think of us all. As I understand it he left the CBs to get married…

  • CS Parnell

    And there’s more… who else’s heart skipped several beats when Pat ended up juggling the ball on his goal line in what seemed like the 91st minute?

    And, remember the way the Radio Times in its preview of the match claimed the Soanish goalkeeper was the best in the world. hahahahaha

  • Ian

    Maybe you should adopt an ABE (Anywhere but England) when you choose where you are going to work Chris.

  • CS Parnell

    Ian,

    Don’t be such a humourless anglo. You have to take the fight to the heart of imperialism.

    Best bit of all is when they whine “but we support you”.

    Mind, you, my other half is from another Celtic nation and they make Irish begrudgery of English sporting success look worse than half-hearted.

  • Ian

    It was meant as a joke, develop a sense of humour!

  • bertie

    I wonder there weren’t a series of cardiac arrests that night. I fear I came close myself. What a memory. It is one compenstion for being this old, that I actually remember it. Is ths the great age differentiater for thos on Slugger. Those who are old enough to remember it and those who weren’t (and of course those who were and pretend that werent)

  • Keith M

    I will be cheering for Enland (the local team), Croatia (my favourite country) and Portugal (one of the best footballing teams in the World).

    As for the saddo “anybody but England” brigade, how many of them follow English clubs week in week out. That sort of schizophrenia
    should really be a case study.

  • Keith M
    “As for the saddo “anybody but England” brigade, how many of them follow English clubs week in week out”

    Within both the Manchester United and Liverpool camps there has always been a healthy disrepect, from even English-born fans, of the English national team.

  • Keith M

    Paul exactly how many English Man.Utd and Liverpool fans will be in the A.B.E. camp? I go to matches in England and Scotland and while many local fans (in both countries) seem to think that the national team is unworthy of support, they don’t display the chip on their shoulder that you suggest.

    After the season that both clubs have had this year, it could be other England fans thinking that some clubs are unworthy of representing the country.

  • I followed Utd home and away for a number of years and I was shocked at the level of antipathy felt by many for their national team. Just check out the clubs painted on the various St Georges at the matches over the next few weeks. Very few will have Utd (or Liverpool) painted on them.

    Part of it, I’d guess, was due to the strong Irish/Scottish/nonconformist background the club has always had through its history, part of it was a bit of snobbery towards those from the “small” clubs which they perceived as making up the bulk of the English support.

    In recent years, the growth of the ABU Nation and the shameful treatment that Scholes,Phil Neville and Golden Balls received at the hands of England supporters has cemented the hostility.

    We were all chanting “Argentinnna” at opposition supporters a long-time before Heinze arrived on the scene;)

  • John East Belfast

    Keith

    I will be in Dublin this Saturday for the Eagles concert.

    Is there anywhere I could safely go to support England ?

    Is there an “English bar” ?

  • slug

    I support NI number 1.

    But I like England as a country a lot and many of the players seem likeable – Beckham, Owen – and so I support them too.

  • Ciaran Irivne

    JEB: On the weekends a lot of the bars in the Temple Bar area tend to be full of English weekenders and stag/hen nights. I’d be pretty certain some of those bars will be putting on an England Day type thingy to draw in the punters.

    Yer also perhaps being a tad paranoid. Supporting England might get you a few funny looks, but no more than that. Some of the Deefer bars round Donnybrook and Ballsbridge will be full of England-supporting natives, I’d imagine.

  • Keith M

    Paul, thanks for this insight, but I’m sure most people can now understand why Man.U and their supporters are known as “the scum” throught the length of England and beyond. Whatever antipathy English football fans may have against the national team it pales in comparison to the feeling against Man.U.

    John EB, you’ll find people cheering on England in most pubs in Dublin. We’re not the neandathals that some would like to portray.

  • bertie

    A chance to reclaim O’Connell Street for inclusivness perhaps 😉

  • kensei

    “Then, as now, we wanted an all-Ireland team and always hoped the Republic would do well, but when they never did we didn’t really question supporting Northern Ireland.”

    ? A bizarre suggestion. The relevant bit in “The History of the Trohbles According to My Da” where they all cheer for Spain nailed it.

  • CS Parnell

    Not bizarre at all. And given that play is written in hindsight… yes I am sure the real hardliners never supported NI, but when I went to school in deepest darkest Andytown in the 70s classmates were regular attenders at Windsor Park for the internationals.

    Frankly, when I watch the games now I find a lot of stuff on the terraces at Windsor pretty offensive, but the facts are today is very different from then – things have gone backwards.

    Do you think Martin, Gerry, Pat and Mal were all traitors to Old Erin’s cause then?

  • Realist

    I was lucky enough to be at the game in Valencia “that night” we beat the Spanish.

    Great party afterwards.

    Memories to last a lifetime.

  • Realist

    “when I watch the games now I find a lot of stuff on the terraces at Windsor pretty offensive, but the facts are today is very different from then – things have gone backwards.”

    CS Parnell,

    What do you find “offensive” at Northern Ireland games these days?

    How have things gone backwards?

  • Brendan, Belfast

    Watch out for the rose tinted glasses round here. CS Parnell is right…..and wrong. I too went to school in A’Town during the 80’s and there is no doubt that we all suppported NI during 82 and 86, no question.

    the success of Jack’s republic caused a lot to overtly ‘switch’ because the RoI finally had a team worth cheering for.

    Things have not gone backwards recently on the terraces at Windsor. They DID during the early 90.s and even towards the end of the last decade but there is definitely good work beign done now.

    wider society is more polarised than ever but give the IFA credit where its due.

    Still, absolutely anyone but Engerland for me over the next month.

  • Realist

    “Things have not gone backwards recently on the terraces at Windsor. They DID during the early 90.s and even towards the end of the last decade but there is definitely good work beign done now.”

    Thank you Brendan. Your recognition of that work is appreciated and respected.

    For those at the coal face, that work can sometimes seem thankless.

  • Valenciano

    Keith for someone who claims to go to a lot of games in England and Scotland, you seem remarkably ignorant of how footballing loyalties work. The people who will be most delighted when ManUtd lose will be fellow residents of Manchester who support City, ditto when Liverpool play you’ll find a great many Everton supporting Scousers who will want them to lose. At international level it’s no different at all, many people want their neighbouring rivals to lose. I travelled Europe at the time of the last world cup and the phenemonon is no means confined to the UK/Ireland by the way.

    No schizophrenia at all just means that you can have a bit of banter with your mates when their team loses!

  • Keith M

    Valenciano, you’re not comparing like with like. Also consider the support that English people gave to Ireland in 1994 and I’m also old enough to remember almost all Irish fans cheering on Scotland for the brief period that they were in WC 1974.

    What we’re dealing with here is Anglophobia of a most bizarre kind, pure and simple.

  • tra g

    “particularly to a time when the Republic’s glory days were nothing more than a glint in the eye of one gruff Northumbrian called Charlton”

    Ireland only failed to qualify for the 82 world cup on goal difference and actually finished on more points in their group than n.i qualified with.They were pipped at the post by France who Ireland had beaten in Dublin in front of a record attendance of over 51,000.

    They had been knocking at the door of major finals long before the breakthrough in Euro 88. Ireland only failed to qualify for the 78 world cup in Argentina after losing controversially in Sofia against Bulgaria. Steve Heighway scored a goal that, had it stood, would have meant Ireland qualified for the World Cup, but it was France who travelled to Argentina instead.

    Mick

    The glory days were actually quite close on a number of occasions prior to the qualification for the Euros in 88, but as with all things football a wee bit of luck is required to see you over the line.

    Thankfully three World Cup qualifications followed to make up for the disappointments of Spain & Argentina.

  • Mick Fealty

    tra g,

    A wee bit of luck indeed, and an English manager who no doubt realised from NI’s team based performances in 82 and 86 that the sum of the parts can indeed be more than the whole.

    Though getting Liam Brady to move down a gear or two to the long ball game had as much to do with it as getting others to play up a gear.

  • tra g

    Mick

    Brady & Big Jack never saw eye to eye and had several rows during the 86-88 period.

    Jack’s footballing philosophy was very straight-forward and uncomplicated (long ball game). Brady’s fluid and thoughtful style of play was never to Charlton’s liking and the pair did not enjoy an easy relationship.

    Just a pity that a player of Brady’s ability never graced the pitch in a major international tournament.He missed Euro 88 due to injury.

    Charlton treated Brady with contempt as far as i’m concerned and humiliated him when he substituted him after only 35 minutes in a friendly against West Germany in 89.

    It was Brady’s last international appearance for Ireland.

  • Bear

    The IFA may be doing some work, but how long ago were the world champions playing at Windsor to chants of “nigger” and “fenian”. When Kate Howey went on about the wonderful atmosphere at games with the “Billy Boys being chanted in the background to her interview.

    The home of Linfield is like a mini-twelth when Norn Iron play. Have youse also forgotten Neil Lennon, Windsor park is as friendly to Nationalists as a KKK cook out to Blacks.

    What has really changed?

  • Realist

    “What has really changed?”

    Lots…but evidently not the mindset of those who seek the demise of Northern Ireland and it’s representative football teams.

    Keep on bashing – it gives us NI fans endless inspiration.

  • kensei

    “Not bizarre at all. And given that play is written in hindsight… yes I am sure the real hardliners never supported NI, ”

    Appears I come from a really hardline family then :P. Not old enough to remember it, but the suggestion supporting NI wouldcause a great offense to most of my family.

  • Realist

    “but the suggestion supporting NI wouldcause a great offense to most of my family”

    kensei,

    How sad, but very revealing.

    Do your folks support that other partitionist team?

  • kensei

    “Do your folks support that other partitionist team?”

    What, the one that plays under my flag and stands for my anthem? Aye.

  • kensei

    “Lots…but evidently not the mindset of those who seek the demise of Northern Ireland and it’s representative football teams.”

    Or, it might be a challenge to redouble your efforts to change perception. Of course, anyone who doesn’t believe in a miraclous transformation in a few years is clearly a bigot. How many times was it said England have turned the corner for them to be disgraced.

    Though if they have a successful tourny this time, I think it would be fair to call them rehabilitated.

  • Brendan, Belfast

    Bear asks:

    “The IFA may be doing some work, but how long ago were the world champions playing at Windsor to chants of “nigger” and “fenian”.”

    not sure of the date but i would imagine around 99 or 00. that was actually my last visit – i was tempted to going to see the world champions but when the chanting was as bad as it was i thought it was time to walk away.

    But i admit i would be tempted back once again – its seems ot be me to be a demonstrable fact that the sectariansim has gone from the chanting.

    Have you been lately Bear?

  • Mick Fealty

    It is very hard to gauge what it is really like from a Nationalist viewpoint these days since so few seemingly go. We have had a few attempts to fraud up verbatim reports of chanting, but on the face of it, both supporter groups and the IFA have made strenuous efforts to stamp out sectarian chanting.

    It would be good to hear from any genuine nationalist fans who may have been recently.

  • Realist

    “Or, it might be a challenge to redouble your efforts to change perception.”

    We are.

    http://www.irishfa.com/grassroots/football-for-all/a-time-of-change-/

    “Of course, anyone who doesn’t believe in a miraclous transformation in a few years is clearly a bigot.”

    Many simply don’t want to believe it…it doesn’t suit their agenda to believe it.

    Many have witnessed it.

    Their was an interesting piece in the IRSP’s “Starry Plough” magazine a little while back. The republican who wrote it certainly believes it – he went to see for himself. He’ll never be a Northern Ireland supporter tho – he’s a republican.

    “How many times was it said England have turned the corner for them to be disgraced.”

    By a minority of so called “fans”. The vast majority of England fans are not involved in trouble of any kind.

    Much the same as most club and countries supporters.

    I believe your a Leeds fan.

    “Though if they have a successful tourny this time, I think it would be fair to call them rehabilitated”

    Have the drunken ROI fans in Strabane who viciously attacked Protestant schoolchildren in the town after a ROI game during the last World Cup been “rehabilitated” yet, or do we wait for the next tourney?

    Turning to the anti semetic element within the ROI support…have they been rehabilitated, or do we wait until the next time they play Israel to find out?

    Have those amongst the ROI support who like to add little extra words to “The Fields”, in the pubs around Landsdowne require rehabilitation?

    Keep bashing.

  • DN

    One of our ‘bashers’ experience of a recent away match.

    “From the gaaboard
    My NI game experience http://www.gaaboard.com/ezboard/index.html

    It was with some trepidation that I ventured into the confines of Soldiers field to see for myself how much progress the IFA has made in regards to eradicating sectarianism from their supporters. I went to the game with two friends Wendy and Jeff and they were decked out in their NI gear and were in great form but I was nervous as the last time I sat among NI supporters I found them to be some of the most hate filled people I ever come across and that was a mere 11 years ago so I was naturally dubious but I would probably never get a chance like this again to go to one of their games in a reasonably safe environment like Chicago so I went.

    What I found surprised the life out of me, the fans were for the most part fantastic in my opinion, they partied and although I would say the numbered at the most 500 they sang songs from start to finish and danced their way through the whole game, they even broke out the conga which was hilarious as the security men had to follow them wherever they went. I have never enjoyed a game of football as much as this one in my life, the atmosphere was fantastic and I have to say I was mightily impressed with them all.

    Some of the songs they sang were interesting as well but not a one of them could be construed as controversal in any way by any right thinking individual although ‘Ulster til i die’ might raise a few eyebrows here and there.

    As the evening wore on and the north were being beaten handily enough the NI fans sang louder and even resorted to goading the Romanians with chants of ‘you’re just a small part of Hungary’ the irony seemed lost on them which was amusing to me as well.

    From start to finish I have to say the experience was a great one and I am glad I went because I had a powerful night out with some friends and got to see for myself what going to a NI game was like, and to be honest I have to say I liked what I saw.

    I do of course understand that this game was held 3,000 miles from Windsor Park and that these were the hard core supporters and that I might not have gotten a true reflection of what the overall support is like at home but instead of erring on the side of disbelieving what the OWC contingent are saying I think I will tend to give them the benefit of the doubt until I go to WP, the fans at the game in Chicago were simply tremendous.”

  • kensei

    “We are.”

    Then a slightly more humble attitude would do. You are getting towards the standards of normal sides! Man, that’s a real achievemnet to be proud of.

    “Many simply don’t want to believe it…it doesn’t suit their agenda to believe it.

    Many have witnessed it.

    Their was an interesting piece in the IRSP’s “Starry Plough” magazine a little while back. The republican who wrote it certainly believes it – he went to see for himself. He’ll never be a Northern Ireland supporter tho – he’s a republican.”

    And neither will I. I accept improvements have been made, but I’m sceptical of how deep they go, and I can appreciate if a lot of people simply don’t believe it. It’s not up to us to prove you haven’t changed.

    “By a minority of so called “fans”. The vast majority of England fans are not involved in trouble of any kind.”

    Never said they were. But there is a clear hooligan element, and the responsibility is on the relevant FA and the rest of the fans to deal with it. Don’t like it? Tough, welcome to the world.

    You don’t get it. You behave like a pack of morons, you lose all credibility and hopefully, arrogance.

    “I believe your a Leeds fan.”

    And I’d be the first to say we had some disgraceful behaviour in the past and have come through it. Would accept if there had have been scepticism 10-15 years ago as we cane out of it.

    “Have the drunken ROI fans in Strabane who viciously attacked Protestant schoolchildren in the town after a ROI game during the last World Cup been “rehabilitated” yet, or do we wait for the next tourney?”

    Brilliant. That is to whataboutery what this is to swimsuits:
    http://www.yesbutnobutyes.com//images/boratincannes.jpg

    Some fans who were no where near the game involved in an attack. You could label every attack carried out by a Nationalist in the past 30 years as an attack by a ROI supporter then. There has never been that kind of trouble at ROI matches, or the nastiness inside the ground.

    “Turning to the anti semetic element within the ROI support…have they been rehabilitated, or do we wait until the next time they play Israel to find out?”

    Haven’t seen concrete evidence of the claims, and the last time they played us they were a pack of cheating bastards, which could account for abuse. But if it was proved: yes. I wouldn’t give a clean bill of health until we played them again.

    “Have those amongst the ROI support who like to add little extra words to “The Fields”, in the pubs around Landsdowne require rehabilitation?”

    As long as they keep it out of the ground, taht’s a whole other issue.

    “Keep bashing.”

    When it’s this easy to wind you up? Damn right!

  • reg

    Sectarianism is still alive and well among the supporters of n.i

    One such attack occured when n.i fans who attacked two 12 year old boys in Belfast City Centre with bottles because they were wearing Ireland shirts.

    The sectarian attack happened last year when the boys were attacked by n.i supporters from the top of an official supporters club open desk bus en route to Windsor Park.

    Brave men

  • iluvni

    Just flicking through an old programme here for the British Championship matches at Windsor Park v England and v Wales in May 1979.

    Must say, I was impressed by the wee advertisement on page 10…

    Good luck Northern ireland
    You’ll never walk alone at
    Beechmount Leisure Centre, Falls Road, Belfast

    :o)
    S’pose that was before the thought police up west decreed it unacceptable to support NI.

  • Brendan, Belfast

    tell you one thing Realist, you dont make it easy to support you, or any good work which is being ndertaken by the IFA, with your moronic, borerline sectarian posts!

  • reg

    Its hard to keep the mask up all the time.

  • iluvni

    you forgot to add ‘completely accurate’ to your comment

  • Mick Fealty

    That accords with my general memory of the time iluvni. Somewhere on Slugger is a link to Gearoid O’Caireallain’s post-Best funeral admission that he’d been a boyhood Glens fan (as were a large chunk of the Short Strand, if I recall correctly).

    Looks like we are talking generation shift in Nationalist attitudes to local football, at club and international level. The past is, it seems, a very foreign country.

    tra g,

    I think you may be underestimating the ‘booster’ effect of Brady had on some of the lesser players on that team. Besides, he retired from football in 1990 so I guess Charlton only had him for the back end of his career. You could hardly expect him to have built a whole team round him, even if he was by far the best player?

    If the sum of the parts have to add up to more than the whole, surely it is likely some of your stars will have to play down as Charlton clearly compelled Brady to do. But I can’t imagine it would have made for a very happy relationship.

  • kensei

    Could the generation shift be down to the ROI playing NI in the qualifiers in 1994?

  • CS Parnell

    kensei – those games (NI v Republic) did have a lot to do with it – they crystallised the growing devide to mix the metaphors.

    As to Windsor, well maybe things have got better. But my perception is still poor. I hope my earlier posts showed I have a lot of goodwill to the NI team, so this not some sectarian rant. If I think it’s bad then it is still a problem. And it’s not my problem, it’s the IFA’s.

    But other things have changed – nationalists in the North aren’t prepared to put up with things they might have done in the past. This is a community brimming with confidence – even arrogance, I admit. So flying a flag with no validity and that last had an official use 33 years ago isn’t something that people turn a blind eye to anymore.

    kensei also hits the nail on the head when he points out that a team that plays in big tournaments with the flag and the anthem is something nationalists will be more drawn to than one that plays under a Union Jack and GSTQ.

    These are the facts. Northern Ireland is a divided society and we should think about how we deal with that rather than seeking to apportion blame.

  • “Haven’t seen concrete evidence of the claims, and the last time they played us they were a pack of cheating bastards, which could account for abuse. But if it was proved: yes. I wouldn’t give a clean bill of health until we played them again.”

    Kensei,
    This was how a journalist from the Jewish Telegraph saw the anti-semitism at the Republc’s match with Israel. Not pretty stuff.

    http://www.jewishtelegraph.com/ire_4.html

    CS parnell
    “As to Windsor, well maybe things have got better. But my perception is still poor”

    You made allegations previously on another site about behaviour at a NI match that you went to with your family. However,you didn’t tell us which one it was. Do you want to take the opportunity now to illuminate us?

  • CS Parnell

    Paul,

    I can assure you that was an imposter and not me. With my name there are many who seek to emulate me in my glory.

    I’ve never been to Windsor Park, I confess.

    The only ever international I’ve been too was to see England play Scotland at Wembley in June 1996. I’ll never forgive Gary McAllister for as long as I live.

    I also saw an England U-21 game at Maine Road in 78. In some moment of aberration I cheered for England.

  • Peter

    The majority of english football supporters are of a Club first Country second mentality. I’d guess a lot of Irish footy fans (NI and ROI) probably would support their english club ahead of their national team as well. Man U, L’Pool, Arse fans don’t need England games to get their European trips or their top level competition so you’ll find few of their flags at England games.
    The St Georges flags at the england games will have the names of smaller clubs/towns on them, Peterborough, Scunthorp, Yeovil. England games give the fans of the smaller clubs a chance to suooprt top football talent and the opportunity to watch their team abroad.

  • “I can assure you that was an imposter and not me. With my name there are many who seek to emulate me in my glory”

    …but none with anywhere near your own exquisite brand of oratory!

    Only joking,it wouldn’t have been the first time that impersonation of the (in)famous has happened on the particuliar site in question!

    From your earlier comment:

    “As to Windsor, well maybe things have got better. But my perception is still poor”

    “I’ve never been to Windsor Park, I confess”

    Well, why not give it a go then (if you can get a ticket from somewhere) and judge for yourself,first-hand?

  • kensei

    “A wee bit of luck indeed, and an English manager who no doubt realised from NI’s team based performances in 82 and 86 that the sum of the parts can indeed be more than the whole.”

    Just to pick up on this – I sincerely doubt Big Jack was influenced by NI that much. If you read any of his writings or thoughts on football, he has very strong ideas on how the game should be played and who should be playing it. He is quite tactically asute as well, dating back from his days as a player at Leeds. He took advice from the like sof revie and Jock Stein, too.

    Saying he merely played long ball is selling him short. He merely cut his cloth to suit.

  • “Saying he merely played long ball is selling him short. He merely cut his cloth to suit. ”

    I don’t know if that’s really true.
    He played basically the same “up and at’em” tactics when he managed at Sheff Wed, Middlesboro and Newcastle, even when he had gifted players like Sounness, Beardsley and Waddle at his disposal

  • Harry Flashman

    Paul

    That is a very disturbing report, first I ever heard of it. Incredible the Gardai pull an “Israel Loves Ireland” poster off the car of visiting fans, tell one jewish guy in an Ireland shirt to move on because he has the temerity to wear a symbol of his religion but they actually allow demonstrators to give Nazi salutes and shout Nazi slogans at Jews! Incredible.

    I suppose it should not surprise me that I never heard about it, after all the Intifadists in charge of the Irish Times and RTE would never reveal the nasty vicious underside of their Palestinian poster boys.

  • PHIL

    Peter,

    I would agree with your statement about club first, country second but I would say that was probably true for most fans of clubs all over the world, not just the big boys in England. I am as proud an Englishman as you could find but you could count the number of England matches that I’ve attended on one hand, but I’ve been to hundreds of Arsenal matches since I first started going in the late 70’s. I think that it comes down to whatever floats your boat. As much as I enjoy watching and as much as I jump about and cheer in my living room or down the pub when England score or win, it’s never the same as when The Arsenal score. I wouldn’t say that your average match going English fan has no club loyalties, but I would say that they are a very different breed to most match going club supporters. By the way, I do own a St. George’s cross with Arsenal FC on it, you just won’t see it at an England match.

  • Keith M

    kensei “Could the generation shift be down to the ROI playing NI in the qualifiers in 1994?”.

    I cewrtainly could have a lot to do with it. Fans of neither country were on their best behaviour in both these games. I could never understand how many fans of the Republic expected N.I. just to roll over and not see this as a local derby, with all that entails.

  • CS Parnell

    Well, why not give it a go then (if you can get a ticket from somewhere) and judge for yourself,first-hand?

    It’s a long way to go to see a team I feel ambivalent – at best – about. I don’t live on the island any more.

    I think the poster who said that society had become more polarised in the last thirty/forty years – so making it very tough for the IFA (I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt) – got it right. The process of “seperate but equal” seems to be the one society is locked into.

    There isn’t much killing going on but the price being paid is the creation of probably the most divided society this side of Kosovo.

    If football were to escape that it would be extraordinary.

    There is a way out of it – an all-island team, but I know other will throw their hands up in horror, never mind what it means for the IL.

    Actually, I think the other factor in the wilting of nationalist interest (in my experience it is more that than hostility) is the general collapse in the standard of play in the IL.

    My father was full of tales of Belfast Celtic and like many in the west of the city took an interest in Distillery. That meant nothing to those of us who grew up in the 1970s and 80s.

    Perhaps Donegal Celtic will make a difference, but that’s a lot of weight to put on the shoulders of one little club.

  • Dreary Steeples

    Apparently FIFA and a few other nations get a little annoyed when more than one team from the UK qualify for the World Cup finals. Therefore a positive suggestion. Now and again, in the 1960s I think, the British Home International Championship doubled up as a World Cup qualifying event. Why not suggest to FIFA that in future only one British team will qualify for the World Cup finals? Once that is accepted (assumption) we could all agree that the qualifying team should be the current British champions. That’s us, I think – forever.

    Apart from that, the England thing can be difficult – we all follow decent players in the premiership week in week out in support or in opposition but generally with respect. The difficulty for me with England is never the players or even the often hideously enthusiastic press – it’s the hooligans. They change everything.

  • john

    “Perhaps Donegal Celtic will make a difference, but that’s a lot of weight to put on the shoulders of one little club.”

    Personally, i don’t think the DC will make much of a difference with regard to increasing the support base within Belfast.

    The standard of football is poor, thats for sure and from speaking to ordinary supporters over the last few weeks i didn’t sense much enthusiasm from people about going to follow a team in the IL.

    Cliftonville can only muster a couple of hundred for a home game and i can’t see the DC doing much better.The GAA are very strong in the West of the city with dozens of clubs fielding thousands of players on a weekly basis at all age levels.Ardent football fans will still travel to England or Scotland to watch a decent game.

  • Realist

    “tell you one thing Realist, you dont make it easy to support you, or any good work which is being ndertaken by the IFA, with your moronic, borerline sectarian posts!”

    Brendan,

    Perhaps you will explain your “borderline sectarian” comment?

    Thanks.

  • Realist

    Kensei,

    You tell me that incidents away from the ground don’t count in the “you’re more sectarian than us” slanging match, and then Reg a couple of posts later details an incident in Belfast City Centre involving disgraceful behaviour by a couple of so called Northern Ireland fans on a bus.

    Will you be telling him that doesn’t count?

    If anyone wants to read about such incidents, they merely have to read the OWC fans site. There, laid bare, is discussion about ANY act of sectarianism witnessed at Northern Ireland games.

    It’s not as if anything is hidden, or that the Anti NI Brigade have miraculous powers of detection.

    Similarly, let us accept that eyewitness accounts of sectarianism detailed on ROI fans’ sites is similarly noteworthy.

    Reg,

    Of which “mask” do you speak? Do you struggle with truth?

  • kensei

    “You tell me that incidents away from the ground don’t count in the “you’re more sectarian than us” slanging match, and then Reg a couple of posts later details an incident in Belfast City Centre involving disgraceful behaviour by a couple of so called Northern Ireland fans on a bus.

    Will you be telling him that doesn’t count? ”

    Yup. Exactly so. Assuming it is not directly to or from the game, you can’t be held responsible because some moron is wearing a shirt.

    You can’t ban people buying a shirt, wearing a shirt and doing something thick, but you can effect them if they are going to games. Otheriwse every football, rugby and GAA club could probably be tarred with the same brush.

    And in terms of football, you ARE more sectarian than us. And as much as that might wind you up, there is no contest. We haven’t threatened to kill one of our own players for start.

  • Realism

    “And in terms of football, you ARE more sectarian than us. And as much as that might wind you up, there is no contest. We haven’t threatened to kill one of our own players for start”

    Ahh!

    Now we’re getting somewhere! Sectarianism is sectarianism. How childish is your “but, you are worse than us” guff.

    If you have any information pertaining to the Northern Ireland supporter(s) who threatened Neil Lennon, could I suggest you forward the information to the PSNI.

    There would be nobody more pleased than me to see the perpetrator brought to account.

    Strange also that you tell me that incidents away from the ground don’t count, and then in the very next breath highlight an incident which took place, erm, in a phonebox.

    If you want to join in trying to deal with sectarianism and racism in Irish football, I’ll welcome your participation with open arms. If you don’t, could I respectfully suggest that you remove the plank from your eye.

    Can you recall the NI team from 1982?

    If only it were not so, eh?

  • Doctor Who

    “And in terms of football, you ARE more sectarian than us. And as much as that might wind you up, there is no contest. We haven’t threatened to kill one of our own players for start.”

    Yes Kensei you have the proof that the person who called the BBC without a recognised password, was in fact a block booked NI supporter and not someone out simply to cause bother. (such as trolls on this site)

    Of course Kensei you have never been at a match in Dublin and witnessed ROI supporters rejoicing about the Holocaust in front of Israel´s national team and fans.

    Shame on you all.

  • Realist

    “I accept improvements have been made, but I’m sceptical of how deep they go, and I can appreciate if a lot of people simply don’t believe it. It’s not up to us to prove you haven’t changed”

    kensei,

    By your own admission, the best anyone can be reasonably expected to do is keep sectarianism/racism out of the ground. I readily accept that the FAI cannot be held responsible for sectarian thugs in ROI abusing Protestant schoolchildren in Strabane, no more so than the IFA are responsible fot a nutcase with a 20p piece in a phonebox.

    The atmosphere inside the ground at NI matches has been transformed in recent years.

    Who did it?

    The fans themselves, facilitated by the IFA.

    Evidence?

    Well, get your hands on the TV footage of any game in recent times involving Northern Ireland, and compare it with that of 5 years ago.

    The truth of the matter, which you find awkward, is that the changes have taken place not to placate detractors like yourself, but to enhance the match experience of Northern Ireland fans.

    There is no “jump higher, and I might” game being played. Sorry if you mistakenly thought there was.

    I think it is the success in recent years, recognised by those that really count, which has you somewhat wound up.

    The glory days of 82 and 86 may seem distant, but the “feel good” factor is back big time.

  • harpo

    ‘kensei also hits the nail on the head when he points out that a team that plays in big tournaments with the flag and the anthem is something nationalists will be more drawn to than one that plays under a Union Jack and GSTQ.’

    I accept that in the case of ordinary nationalists – people who are prepared to go into a united Ireland by simply having a bigger current ROI – but I wouldn’t have thought that republicans would have been on for supporting the football team of either partitionist entity. Especially the 26 county one that dares use the flag and anthem of THE Irish Republic as proclaimed in 1916.

    IRs continually claim that the 26 county entity and its bodies aren’t legitimate in their eyes, so why would so many IRs support the ROI football team, when they would have no time for the ROI defence forces or the ROI police etc etc?

    Maybe some IR group should organize a 32 country team for republicans to support. So that they wouldn’t have to support the 26 county team. But I’m sure as soon as one team would be set up there would be a split and then another split until there were several 32 county teams. And then the debate as to which team really represented the 32 county republic would break out.

    I don’t think this is an unreasonable thing for IRs to do. We see from the examples of the Catalan and Basque teams that some groupings of people just set up their own ‘national’ team and ignore borders that they don’t like. So why don’t the Provisionals get a 32 county team going?

    In the meantime I think most ordinary nationalists and many who call themselves republicans are quite happy supporting the partitionist 26 county team. These ‘republicans’ are quite happy with this as it doesn’t require any effort on their part and they get to see their flag and their anthem being used.

    They seem to be more discriminating though when it comes to the ROI defence forces or the ROI police standing under that same flag and using that same anthem. But I suppose that’s because they have their own army that is in competition with the ROI defence forces and the ROI police. When it comes to football they don’t have a 32 county team to compete against the existing 26 county version for loyalty.

  • harpo

    ‘If the sum of the parts have to add up to more than the whole’

    Mick:

    That’s the second time you have said that, and I think it’s backwards. The intention is to fashion a team where the whole (the team working together) is far better than the sum of the individual parts, especially when the individual parts are not of the greatest quality.

    That was the case with the NI teams of the 80s. Looking at the squad there were no big stars, and success depended on getting more out of the whole team as a unit than could be reasonably expected by looking at the team list on an individual by individual basis.

    For a recent example, see the 2004 Greek team. Think of all those star players on the other teams, and how the sum of the output of one of the teams featuring numerous stars wasn’t as effective as the output of the Greek team as a whole.

    ‘surely it is likely some of your stars will have to play down as Charlton clearly compelled Brady to do’

    I don’t know about playing down, but in such cases where success is built on following a team plan that generates more in total than could be expected from the sum of the output of each individual, there is no use sticking a star player in there if he can’t do what is necessary to meet the team plan. If the star is allowed to do his normal thing while surrounded by players of lesser talent than he is used to, it likely won’t work. Because the rest of the team won’t be able to keep up with him.

    How many times have we seen this on football teams? The star of exceptional talent who won’t do what is necessary for the team. Usually leading to a bust up between the star and the manager. It’s no use if the star can dribble past 3 people from midfield if there is no one there to support him when he gets to the penalty area. Or if he does the maverick thing that no one else anticipates.

    It might make great viewing, but if you end up losing because the star keeps on doing his thing and moves can’t be finished off due to the lack of supporting talent from the ordinary players, it’s useless.

    I’d say most fans would prefer success from a workmanlike team, than failure from a team that features a popular star but doesn’t mesh into an effective unit. That’s why the Bradys of the world get dropped. They can’t fit in. And managers will often take the compliant ordinary talent over the strong-headed star. That’s why the Rodney Marsh and Stan Bowles types are often overlooked by national teams. They don’t want to do what they are told at national level.

  • harpo

    ‘I hope England reach the final and play Argentina. I hope they deserve to win and end up being cheated out of the match. I hope the German government bribe the Irish referee.’

    Second place wouldn’t be bad. I’m sure most England supporters would take that. It would mean they probably beat Brazil in the semis. And if they were cheated out of the title, that would be a moral victory.

    It all sounds good to me.