Farewell to old Lansdowne…

My earliest memories of Lansdowne Road were from a misty old black and white television in the front bar of the pub my father managed in Holywood. It was also the unofficial clubhouse of the local Rugby club. Rugby.ie has some poignant photos of the old place slowly being dismantled. Time to look forward to the new. Question is, will the IRFU ever want to leave the glorious, and international, proportions of Croke Park?

  • willowfield

    Surely it’s Lansdowne (from Marquess of Lansdowne)?

  • Mick Fealty

    too much haste, not enough speed… 😉

  • Frank Sinistra

    I clicked the link expecting to see an old pub being demolished with teary eyed rugby fans watching on. I’m disappointed.

  • The proposed new stadium looks superb from some of the design sketches that they have released. I think both the IRFU and FAI will be back there without hesitation.

    I love Croker but as a Republic of Ireland fan, there is something special about Lansdowne. The atmosphere is just electric and I have so many great memories of famous matches in the old stadium…

    There’s nowhere quite like home…

  • willowfield

    Except didn’t ROI usually play at Dalymount until relatively recently?

  • Mick Fealty

    Ah, I see. That occurred back in January 1970 Frank. You missed it by 37 years. And only a few old black and whites survive. I do still bump into the odd one who remembers her.

  • gereard

    ‘Except didn’t ROI usually play at Dalymount until relatively recently?’

    Pretty sure its hardly been used in the last 20 years, Dalymount could not hold the crowds.

    Dalymount hasn’t hosted a competitive Ireland game for nearly 25 years, they have all been at Lansdowne.

  • allybo

    Last full international at Dalymount was against Morocco in 1990.

  • willowfield

    Macswiney, how come you never explained on this thread why you support the Republic?

  • willowfield


    By relatively recently I meant up until the Charlton era.

    Would Dalymount have been the regular venue before then, or was Lansdowne used sometimes?

  • allybo

    Troll alert-please don’t allow Willowfield to turn what could be an interesting thread on Lansdowne’s history to be turned into the same boring debate on who supports the Republic and why they’re not allowed to by Willowfield. Willowfield – make yourself useful and tell us when Northern Ireland last played a home full international outside of Windsor-presumably at an English ground or perhaps at the Oval?

  • willowfield


    I’m not sure what a “troll” is, but I fail to see the harm in asking about Dalymount’s use as a venue for ROI matches.

    As for the last time NI played a home international outside Windsor, I assume you don’t wish to include those home games played in England during the early-to-mid 1970s due to the Troubles? If not, then the last match was in 1930 against Wales at the now sadly defunct Celtic Park.

  • allybo

    I was referring to your attempt to open up the same boring debate with macswiney, as you well know.Post number 9 in case you’ve forgotten already.
    Interesting fact about Celtic Park as I am surprised that the Oval didn’t feature since then.
    Re the games NI played in England, why do you assume that I would have no interest in hearing about these. I actually alluded to these in my original question-careful about stereotyping and collective guilt assumptions, my friend.
    For the record, how many games were played in England and where were the venues?

  • Martin

    As with cliches I normally try to avoid web 2.0 blogosphere-type terminology like the plague, but to enlighten :

    “As a verb, to post controversial or provocative messages in a deliberate attempt to provoke flames.”

    Example of trolling taken from a blog on the redevelopment of a sports stadium:

    “Macswiney, how come you never explained on this thread why you support the Republic?”

  • willowfield

    I was referring to your attempt to open up the same boring debate with macswiney, as you well know.

    I was directing macswiney to another thread, not trying to hijack this one (check out the hyperlink).

    Interesting fact about Celtic Park as I am surprised that the Oval didn’t feature since then.

    The Oval hasn’t hosted an international since 1920.

    Re the games NI played in England, why do you assume that I would have no interest in hearing about these. I actually alluded to these in my original question-careful about stereotyping and collective guilt assumptions, my friend.

    Sorry for missing your mention of England. I did not assume you had no interest, rather I assumed you would have known about them. Absolutely no idea what your references to “stereotyping” and “collective guilt assumptions” are supposed to mean.

    For the record, how many games were played in England and where were the venues?

    Six home games in 1972 and 1973 were played in England at Boothferry Park, Kingston-upon-Hull; Highfield Road, Coventry; White Hart Lane, London; Goodison Park, Liverpool (twice); and Sheffield (not sure if it was Hillsborough or Bramall Lane).

    In addition, home games against Scotland were switched to Glasgow in 1972, 1974 and 1976.

  • allybo

    Nice photos, Mick. The ground holds great memories particularly for the rugby fraternity but also soccer fans as well.

    For me, the best memory was a birdeye view of Jason McAteer’s great winning goal against the Dutch in the campaign for the 2002 World Cup.-Seeing Liam Brady beat the Brazilians in ’87 was also special.

    Having been at Croker to watch GAA and soccer, I agree that the new Landsdowne will need to be something special to tempt us all back to Ballsbridge.

  • parcifal

    Mick, sadly the aul bigots in the GAA won’t allow the Rugger to be played at Croker after next year; despite the fact that Ireland are due for a Grand Slam this or next year.
    Too many Prods in the team from Ulster? anti-britishness, colonial game, who knows?
    I think the DART stops outside Lansdowne Rd; well last time I visited it did

  • Martin

    Read an amusing anecdote in a column by an ex-Ireland international (think it was Philip Matthews but might have been Ciaran Fitzgerald). Anyway, he was talkng to a French TV commnentator at a match at Landsdowne and asked him what he thought of the old place. French guy says somthing which Phil/Ciaran picks up over the stadium noise as to do with ‘l’equipe’. He asks him to repeat and has no problem with understanding this time – “Tt’s a f*cking kip!”

    History and tradition yes, but time to move onwards and upwards..

  • Allow an old man a bit of nostalgia, culled from My Back Pages.

    There was nothing better than inviting your new girl to an International and looking forward to the crush trying to get out of the Lansdowne Road (south-east) gate. If you didn’t know what she was made of beforehand, you certainly did then.

    I’m told it’s no longer necessary to arrange such processes to get up close and personal.

    However, I also got to see Jackie Kyle, Ronnie Dawson, Andy Mulligan, Tom Kiernan and that other fella … err … Tony O’Reilly — I wonder what became of him?
    Romantic facts of musketeers
    Foundationed deep, somehow.
    Ah, but I was so much older then,
    I’m younger than that now.

  • Dec

    As for the last time NI played a home international outside Windsor, I assume you don’t wish to include those home games played in England during the early-to-mid 1970s due to the Troubles? If not, then the last match was in 1930 against Wales at the now sadly defunct Celtic Park.

    Pedant alert: surely the team was called ‘Ireland’ in 1930?

  • k

    I’ve a feeling that there are many more twists in this story. Lansdowne frankly was a cold, depressing dump!
    If the FAI/IRFU look at the figures, economically Croker makes sense. They’ll sell out every rugby and soccer match with the possible exeception of some friendlies. Ireland v England for the Grand Slam. Host it at Croker with 80,000 or New Landsdowne with 50,000?
    As for the GAA. Once the principle has been broken, money talks…….

  • Let’s be honest here: Twickenham holds 82,000. It is the second largest stadium in the UK. It can guarantee a full house for the three Six Nations and possibly the odd Cup final. I have been there when you could have brought in the population of a small nation, and still had room for more.

    The 24th February last, and 43-13, was something exceptional. Rugby is currently on a high. Can success be guaranteed for the future?

    On the other hand, Dublin could — probably — justify another superstadium. Doesn’t Irish Rugby deserve to have one of them, not wholly out of proportion to the 60,000 capacity of (for example) the new Arsenal Emirates?

    And, yes, of course, Belfast (and/or the Kesh site) should be looking for something similar.

    I don’t see this as an either/or situation: more of complementary needs and provisions.

  • k

    People underestimate the appetite of the Irish people for international competion. I don’t apply for rugby or soccer tickets beacause I have no chance of getting them.
    Ireland don’t need to be on top of the pile to sell out the rugby and soccer, just be competitive. They’ll be that for a while yet. And remember, success breeds success. More kids watching their heroes live and more money equals greater chance of future success. Stick with Croker!

  • davey

    The FAI have now started a waiting list for tickets for Croke Park as the 74k football capacity cannot meet the demand.

    The question has to be asked, what the F are they building a stadium that only holds 50k.

  • sportsman

    OK. Different aspect. Same theme. Who can name seven grounds that have hosted English FA Cup finals? There may be 8 but I am sure of 7. No prizes. Try it off your head WITHOUT MR GOOGLE.

  • sportsman @ 10:54 PM:

    You’re on! This is top of the head stuff:

    The Oval for the very early ones;
    Crystal Palace (that’s the National Sports Centre, not Selhurst Park);
    Stamford Bridge (post WW1, before Wembley was finished);
    Wembley (“D’ur!”);
    Cardiff Millennium Stadium.

    Now it gets tough. We’re looking for replays, I guess. So they’ll all be oop north. Hummm…

    Bramall Lane (my Uncle Ernest told me of that: Barnsley-WBA: Barnsley won the replay in front of — effectively — a home crowd).
    Old Trafford, certainly for the 1989 Replay .. but I dimly remember a legend of another stadium in Manchester, which is now under a University Hall of Residence. Can’t recall the name: was there an early replay there as well?
    Goodison? There must have been one or two there in the early days.

    That’s eight. So where did I go wrong?

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    ‘So where did I go wrong?’

    The 1989 replay?! The Hillsborough final 3-2 to the Reds aet, but no replay. 1990 was a replay (I think – Man Ure versus Palace).

    Pedantry aside that was a pretty good shot – better than I would’ve done without Google.

  • páid

    The 1893 cup final was held in Fallowfield Stadium, Manchester – now Owens Park student village – which I passed every day on my way to and from school.

    3 tragic murders happened there yesterday coincidentally.

    One of the few Manchester districts with a Blue majority, no doubt due to it’s proximity to Maine Rd.

  • Yeah: sorry. For some reasons the synapses went in hyperdrive, and I became convinced the Scum of Old Trafford v. C. Palace was replayed out of London. And I got the year wrong: that’s what happens when one is reduced to counting back.

    Out of interest I did look it up. There was an earlier ground in Manchester, for running and cycling, at “Fallowfields”. The 1893 Final was played there. It had a capacity of 15,000 but three times that number turned up for the 1899 Semi-Final (Blades v L’pool): the match was abandoned.

    Probably what put it into my mind was it was bought by the cyclist (and briefly national hero) Reg Harris, who renamed it after himself. It is now the Fallowfield Campus of Manchester Univ (which I think is in Moss Side).

    It must also have been a rugby ground: England played Scotland there (the last Calcutta Cup match played outside the capitals?)

  • Sorry, páid @ 12:52 AM, you got there before me.

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    Very surprised to see that Villa Park, where 55 semi-finals have been played, has never hosted even a final replay, although according to the link below, a semi-final has been played in Scotland…


  • páid

    The ‘scum’ of Old Trafford, eh?

    That’s the club that played in green and gold, but with a wary eye on developments in other Irish immigrant cities, dropped the tribal angle, took the colours of class solidarity and called themselves United.

    As opposed to the Sky Blue Masonics.

    Redfellow? I’m proposing you for membership of the club for badly-named footie heads

    (Chairman: Dennis Wise. Secretary Evander Snow.) 🙂

  • So they’ll all be oop north. Hummm…

    Derby? Blackburn?

  • Covie

    Why should the GAA allow their stadium to be used to promote another sport?

    If they cannot get their own stadium thta is their business.

  • peter

    troll alert

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    Actually, I think its a legitimate question – after all, the GAA, FAI and IRFU are all competing for the same slice of pie. If Sainsburys had a shop out of action for a year, you wouldn’t expect Tescos to accomodate them, regardless of the extra business it brings in. 90,000 at a football or rugby match can only increase the popularity and interest in what are essentially minority sports in southern Ireland, at the expense of GAA. If kids get inspired by watching O’Driscoll or some soccer player (can’t think of any inspiring Republic of Ireland players off the top of my head) playing in front of huge crowds, and decide to play soccer or rugby, then that’s one less GAA player.

    On the flipside, although the proposed 50K capacity at the new Landsdowne shows a woeful lack of imagination and a complete lack of confidence, both the FAI and IRFU would be crazy to become beholden to the GAA by becoming their tenants at Croke Park (regardless of the amazing stadium).

  • páid @ 01:51 AM:
    Honestly, I tried to read that Masonic stuff, but after a couple of turgid paragraphs I came to the point of chewing my arm off to escape. Forgive me.

    oneill @ 06:01 AM:
    Dad was a Yorkshire man. It follows that I have to believe, once past Todmorden, they’re all benighted heathens who eat their own young.

    But the original twelve clubs in the League were over-represented in such foreign parts: Jack Straw’s Rovers, Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, PNE, Stoke, WBA and Wolves. So, I was in agony trying to puzzle which ones were likely to host replays: common sense said God’s Own County was not going to appear much.

    The World’s Gone Mad @ 12:29 PM:
    It has indeed.

    However, I don’t see 50K as “a woeful lack of imagination and a complete lack of confidence”.

    Surely, at the top and commercial level, the stadium mainly functions to provide atmospherics for the (more profitable) viewers at home or in the pub? In the Premiership, have there not already been signs that the escalating costs are turning customers off? At some point the glitter rubs off, and we’re back to normality. Remember what happened to French crowds after Canal Plus got the tv rights.

    Apart from a few international acts (the other source of revenue), how many “stars” can fill Croker?

    No: the Government, the IRFU and the FAI may have got it right for once.

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    Hi Malcom,

    The Irish rugby team has sold out Croke Park easily, there has been a huge waiting list for tickets to both the international football and rugby matches when they were played at the old Lansdowne – I think its fair to say that if the powers-that-be had set their sights higher they wouldn’t have had any problem filling the stadium. A bigger stadium may further the IRFU’s chances of holding a World Cup final in the future, would have boosted the coffers, and may have led to the possibility of holding large-scale music concerts and other events. With regards to that great intangible – ‘atmosphere’ – Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and even Croke Park itself has showed that a large capacity doesn’t necessarily preclude a great atmosphere.

    Saying that, a new revamped Lansdowne Road whatever the capacity is preferable to the dilapidated old shed that used to be there, and it does look like it’ll be good. It should become a UEFA 5 Star rated venue and is already in-line to host the UEFA Cup.

    The following is a quote from a blog on the website http://irish.rugbynow.net whic seems to give a fairly cogent argument for why the capacity was set as it was – basically, the area where the stadium is situated is fairly limited…
    ‘One of the problems is that the stadium is in a densely populated residential area. A 70-80,000 seater stadium would be huge and its overall footprint would probably be bigger than the area the developers have to work on. It would also probably mean having to demolish some nearby houses as well. Given that much of the housing stock here is mid-late 19th century redbrick, that would mean loads of objections. The idea behind the current design is to get the thing built with as few objections as possible.’

    ..so the aim is to get the job done with as little hassle as possible. Not sure if this is the best criteria for building national stadiums but there you go!

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    Thank god they are finally pulling that old kip down. Lansdowne Road despite the old memories et all had reached its sell by date. Can’s wait for the new edifice with all the more modern facilities.

    Check this site out of the new proposal!




  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    The new futuristic design is super cool, architecturally very contemporary and kinda funky too. It will be a great modern landmark for Dublin city. Dublin will have 2 great stadia, Croke Park on the nortside of the river and Lansdowne Road on the soutside. Great stuff for Irish field sports!

  • Passing thought.

    In the near future Dublin will have two stadia of international standard.

    London has just three in the same echelon (Wembley, Twickenham and Emirates),

    Outside London, only two match or exceed the size of the new Lansdowne: Old Trafford and St James Park.

    If we factor in the proposed Maze/Belfast/wherever proposal, Ireland comes close to the Scottish provision (Murrayfield, Celtic Park, Ibrox, Hampden Park) — and would certainly exceed that in quality. Admittedly, these comparisons show how NI, as of now, has been left behind.

    Anoraks like me can have a satisfying few minutes at http://www.worldstadiums.com/stadium_menu/stadium_list.shtml And, yes, that’s my source for this little effort.

    By the way, good to see that Slugger’s filters are keeping all this Chinese spam at bay.

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    Ok anorak – good analysis, although it ignores the fact that by the time Lansdowne Road is completed, things will have moved on elsewhere to.

    Around the same time Lansdowne Road is completed, Liverpool’s Stanley Park stadium will also be built with a capacity of 61,000; Villa Park will have filled in the gaps to be over 50,000; West Ham may have begun the move to a 60,000 seater at the nearby Parcelforce depot, Notts Forest will have built a 50,000 seater by 2014, god knows what Abramovic will do with Chelsea and of course there will be an 80,000 seater Olympic stadium in London.

    I doubt you could say that Wembley (90,000) or Twickenham (82,000) are in the same echelon as the 50,000 Lansdowne Road.

    As even smallish clubs like the Hammers and Forest move to stadiums bigger than Lansdowne Road, the short-sightedness of the IRFU and FAI will become even more apparent. If I was the Scottish FA, I’d enlarge Pittodrie, build that new stadium in Dundee and go it alone for the European Championships.

    By 2009 the farrago that is NI’s new stadium should be sorted out one way or the other and the dismal stadia that we have should hopefully improve somehow.

  • Gréagóir O’ Franclín

    Build the Bertie Bowl!

  • The World’s Gone Mad @ 01:42 PM:

    All noted: and I accept they are excellent points (though I think WHU’s other problems may hamper too much ambition).

    My hesitations amount to:

    1. The worship of size as an end in itself. Arsenal settled for something less than megalomaniac, but even that causes massive problems for the local community. What’s the point of a mega-stadium if, even after you reached the neighbourhood, it takes two hours to get in, two hours to get out?

    2. Will Joe Soap continue to repair to such inverted ziggurats when that nice Mr Murdoch and the lads from George’s Quay House are intent on bringing the event to him for the price of a few drinks;

    3. Ballsbridge and environs (OK: I once lived in a basement in Mespil Road) really need another chunk taken out of the horizon, don’t they? If size is important, sell Lansdowne and start again elsewhere?

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    Malcolm – I think what you’ve said is fair enough. Size isn’t everything after all 🙂