Give a dog a bad name?

A picture is worth a thousand words in the media, especially if it’s one that can reinforce a popular stereotype. In this case, it’s Linfield fans as a horde of troublemakers. The incident in Dublin involving Linfield fans at the Setanta Cup clash against St Patrick’s Athletic comes hot on the heels of media reports of Linfield fans’ alleged involvement in a throat-slashing attack in Belfast.The various inaccuracies of the reporting of the Belfast incident have already been discussed at length here but it seems that event has certainly coloured the reporting of the incident in Dublin during the week.

The Irish Independent, flush with its bloody photo-op, gave several pages over to the incident and reported that:

ugly scenes involving visiting fans overshadowed the visit of Marco Tardelli to Richmond Park for the Setanta Cup clash between St Patrick’s Athletic and Linfield last night. Some members of the large group of Linfield supporters who travelled from Belfast clashed with gardai and were escorted from the ground before kick-off as a heavy security presence descended on Inchicore for the eagerly anticipated encounter.

This is in complete contrast to the statement put out by St Pats:

Last night St Patrick’s Athletic hosted over 800 travelling Linfield fans to Richmond Park. This travelling fan base, one of the largest to visit Richmond Park in recent years behaved impeccably over the night and gave their team great support.

One incident where two Linfield fans were ejected from the ground following a scuffle with gardai was captured by the press and the resulting images shown in the national media may have given the impression of more widespread trouble occurring at the match which was simply not the case. The match night arrangements ensured that fans were successfully segregated at the game itself and also when leaving the stadium.

While St Pat’s fans were maintained in the ground Linfield fans were escorted directly to their buses. A small group of Dublin youths did appear in the area as the match finished, these were not supporters of the club and had not attended the game. With the home support being kept in the ground and the street outside the ground clear this group was easily identifiable to the gardai and were ordered to move on. One of this group was subsequently arrested for criminal damage to a wing mirror of a car. No further arrests or instances of match-related trouble are understood to have been reported to the gardai in the area.

St Patrick’s Atletic Football Club would like to thank both sets of fans for their patience and co-operation as well as our match night security teams and local gardai for their excellent work on the night.

The Irish Independent revisited the incident today albeit from the angle of whether an all-Ireland league is worth the price. The incident in Inchicore was afforded the minor news value it merited but the article did raise a valid point regarding any future all-Ireland league or a Setanta Cup involving Shamrock Rovers or Bohemians.

Strong links between Linfield and Drogheda, to name just one example, have been built up through this competition. With two groups of people from very different cultural backgrounds — albeit with much in common through football — growing understanding will take time. As always, it’s the actions of a minority that drag down the rest.

The counterpoint is that the biggest test will not be encountered until Bohs and Shamrock Rovers qualify for the competition. Both clubs have a youthful minority of ‘fans’ that cause trouble — hence the police frenzy that surrounds their clashes — so any game between either club and Linfield would be subject to the same attention as Tuesday night.

Those games would need to pass by smoothly, not just once, but on a regular basis to convince that an AIL is viable.

The problem is that like Bohs and Rovers, Linfield seem to attract their fair of troublemakers too. As Linfield club chairman Jim Kerr said after the Pat’s game.

I saw people at the grounds I have never seen before in my life being aggressive to security staff. I condemn it utterly.

Kerr may condemn it just like Bohs and Rovers condemn their thuggish element but a meet-up between these sides will be the litmus test as to whether a future all-Ireland league could survive.

  • Todd
  • Billy Pilgrim

    David Jeffrey reckons an all-Ireland league would require a single governing body, but is this really true? Couldn’t such a league be set up jointly by the IFA/FAI, if they were able to hammer out an agrement?

    Or couldn’t the top ten or twelve clubs hammer out an agreement between themselves and simply present their proposal as a fait accompli to the associations? (Isn’t that something like what happened with the Premier League?)

    Let’s say St Pat’s, Bohs, Cork City, Galway United, Drogheda, Derry, Linfield, Glens, Cliftonville and Portadown all went to the IFA/FAI and said: “This is what we have agreed. Back us or we break away,” – would the associations have much choice but to agree?

  • Briso

    Linfield were really stitched up by the indo. The buckos pictured were fighting among themselves and were bloodied by the Gardai. It was all very minor indeed. No fighting at all between the fans. For once I feel a bit sorry for them.

  • Realist

    “Kerr may condemn it just like Bohs and Rovers condemn their thuggish element but a meet-up between these sides will be the litmus test as to whether a future all-Ireland league could survive”

    Myself and many other Linfield fans in Dublin on Tuesday, once again enjoyed the kind hospitality of Bohemian FC, who hosted us in their social club pre match – now a regular thing when Linfield are in Dublin.

    There wasn’t a word in anger.

    Three bus loads of Linfield fans stopped for the afternoon in Drogheda en route to Dublin to meet up with friends (forged through this competition) in the Drogheda fans’ local pub.

    Not a word in anger.

    Such co-operation, friendship and mutual respect doesn’t sell papers tho.

  • j

    And would the celtic league in rubgy not provide another template for working things (particularly vis a vie qualification for europe)

  • George

    Realist,
    Bohs is a great club but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t the danger that others won’t attach themselves to the club in a particular situation involving Linfield for the sake of some aggro.

    The same goes for Rovers, probably more so with the Celtic connection (not having a go at Celtic).

    That said, the fact that 800 Linfield supporters can travel in and out of Inchicore with only a handful of the local headbangers managing to sum up any sort of interest in the event augurs well for the future.

    And the Gardaí seem to have upped their game regarding crowd control, which helps.

  • Realist

    George,

    Most clubs, throughout the world, have “fans” they would rather do without.

    “The same goes for Rovers, probably more so with the Celtic connection (not having a go at Celtic)”

    Plenty of Rovers “fans” inside the ground on Tuesday evening who were certainly more interested in antagonising visitors, than watching a game of football – they were well policed by the Guards.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    That’s a really encouraging contribution, Realist. It can only be a good thing for football people to get a chance to forge friendships with other football people from all across Ireland.

    The growing relationship between Drogheda and Linfield is interesting – what’s the background Realist?

  • USA

    I feel an All Ireland League would be great for football on the island. The connections between Drogheda and Linfield are indeed interesting, its a shame this positive interaction does not get more media time.
    Doesn’t suprise me the Independent got it wrong again, I have never been a fan of that newspaper.

  • Realist

    Billy P,

    “The growing relationship between Drogheda and Linfield is interesting – what’s the background Realist?”

    We’ve played Drogs four times now in the Setanta Cup – and the clubs have a tremendous mutual respect for eachother.

    Players, officials and supporters of both clubs have forged excellent relations.

    The links below will be of interest to you:

    This was a magnificant gesture by Drogheda FC – recognising, and respecting, the background of our young fans.

    http://www.linfieldfc.com/latestnews.asp?nid=1974

    Seems a good day was had by all here.

    That’s what you call uniting Ireland – not using every excuse to paint a large group of people with the one big brush, in order to demonise them.

    There are many other examples of this friendship between the clubs growing.

    Portadown fans have also forged great relations with Drogs fans – each regularly visit eachothers games.

    Ports fans now display a large “hands of friendship” banner at their matches, depicting their relationship with Drogheda FC.

    Still, people would rather concentrate on the half empty glass, rather than the good that’s going on.

  • Greenflag

    Realist,

    ‘Not a word in anger.’

    Such co-operation, friendship and mutual respect doesn’t sell papers tho.

    Now that’s what I would call a ‘realistic ‘ statement 🙂

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Thanks Realist. This is all really encouraging stuff. It’s a real shame that something as genuinely significant and important as the trip to Drogheda (as linked above) isn’t regarded as worthy of media coverage whereas a small scuffle involving a couple of eejits has editors clearing the front pages. But that’s the media for ya!

  • George

    Realist,
    Most clubs, throughout the world, have “fans” they would rather do without.

    Indeed, but when you have mentions of Linfield pulling out of future Setanta Cups following the actions of two drunken “fans” it makes you wonder what would happen if a couple of dozen Rovers/Bohs “fans” kicked something off.

    The very presence of kitted out Gardaí is enough for a spot of street sport for many. I thought it was really good the Gardaí had the common sense to treat the incident as completely minor and not feed the media.

  • Realist

    I couldn’t agree more Billy.

    The “scuffle”, incidently, was to do with guys who had travelled without ID.

    Whilst one cannot rule out that some forgeries were about, all Linfield fans had to be members, season ticket holders, or travel card holders in order to purchase a ticket for the game.

    We were told before travelling that we would be asked for the appropriate photographic ID (on all of the above) in addition to our ticket before entering Richmond Park – that was certainly the case, when I was entering the ground.

    It seems that some fans had forgotten to bring the appropriate ID with them, and got rather irrate when it was suggested that they wouldn’t be allowed in without it. With a few drinks taken, you know the crack.

    All in all, a storm in a teacup.

  • RepublicanStones

    saw the picture of the bloodied fan, but it was no doubt an attempt to make the incident seem worse than it actually was. Reminds me of the pics of car accidents in papers taken after the fire brigade have cut away at the vehicle so the damage looks worse than it actually was (crap analogy i know). I have mates in Dublin and they told me the Shadwell…sry Linfield fans recieved the old ‘I’d rather be a **** than a ***’ taunts from some St Pats fans. Unfortunate incident coming so soon after CastleStGate, but ties in with the De Rossa thread and the slant the media like to take.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Realist

    “It seems that some fans had forgotten to bring the appropriate ID with them, and got rather irate when it was suggested that they wouldn’t be allowed in without it. With a few drinks taken, you know the crack.”

    As usual, despite the sensationalism of the media, the truth couldn’t be more mundane!

  • Realist

    George,

    “Indeed, but when you have mentions of Linfield pulling out of future Setanta Cups….”

    Somewhat kneejerk comments made by the Linfield FC Chairman – comments which he may have cause to regret, when he answers to the members who entrusted him into the position.

    There is much anger amongst Linfield fans about comments attributable to the Chairman.

    He has made efforts, publicly, today to repair the damage.

    There is no chance of Linfield FC withdrawing from future Setanta Cups.

  • Bemused

    Genuinely impressive and encouraging stuff Realist – please keep up the good work and regards to all involved in this marvellous enterprise. Of some significance regarding this whole ‘incident’ in Inchicore was the photograph of the blood-spattered, mullet-haired oaf which was shown on the front page of the Irish News. The photograph was cropped far wider than the one shown in the Independent and it was clear that the jacket the arsehole was wearing was ‘Stone Island’ complete with distinctive sewn-on ‘Stone Island’ patch i.e. the semi-offical uniform of the B.N.P. and the brand of jackets reported to have been worn by the gang who wreaked havoc on Castle Street. It does seem that Linfield have been unfortunate enough to have attracted the unwelcome ‘support’ of a nasty little bunch of probably English B.N.P., far-right types. The sentiments expressed by Realist and shown in the links provided in his post would tend to suggest that hopefully these sort of vermin will fail to get any sort of support within the club. That said this –

    http://www.linfieldfc.co.uk/hnh/showthread.php?t=1892

    would worry me somewhat…

  • they told me the Shadwell

    Ah, I.D., what a class film, thanks for reminding me RepStones!

    I am also glad I read this thread as the media made this out to be far more than people here say it was. And I would be inclined to trust people here.

  • jone

    I do have agree with Bemused about the Stone Island thing. Anyone wearing Stoney stuff to a game knows the score and the cops know the score – it signifies ‘I am a player’ – so really if you don’t want the cops to be all over you then leave the Stoney in the wardrobe. If nothing else at £500 a pop for a coat you don’t want it covered in blood. CP Company stuff looks just as sharp anyway.

    Mind you I don’t accept that Stoney is a BNP uniform; it has deep roots within casual culture and has increasingly been adopted by Asian lads in the north of England.

    http://www.countylads.com/casuals.html

  • sammaguire

    Very interesting. Take home message…don’t trust the media. They’re only interested in selling newspapers.
    As a Shamrock Rovers fan I can remember Linfield playing at our beloved Milltown in the European Cup c.1984. We weren’t allowed to mix with each other before or after the game (1-1). Would have been nice to discuss the match over a few pints in the Dropping Well or O’Shea’s afterwards.
    I’ve socialised with Glentoran fans before and we got on fine. Better not say what they said of the Linfield fans though!! (I’m neutral on the Linfield/Glentoran thing!)

  • Realist

    “The photograph was cropped far wider than the one shown in the Independent and it was clear that the jacket the arsehole was wearing was ‘Stone Island’ complete with distinctive sewn-on ‘Stone Island’ patch i.e. the semi-offical uniform of the B.N.P. and the brand of jackets reported to have been worn by the gang who wreaked havoc on Castle Street. It does seem that Linfield have been unfortunate enough to have attracted the unwelcome ‘support’ of a nasty little bunch of probably English B.N.P., far-right types”

    Bemused,

    That’s a disappointing take on things.

    In it you spuriously insinuate that:

    a/ The bloodied guy may have been linked to the attack in Castle Street.

    b/ He may be linked to the BNP.

    c/ That wearing Stone Island clothing basically means you are a BNP supporter.

    d/ The guy may be English.

    e/ That Linfield FC might give tacit support to far right groups.

    None of that has any basis in fact.

    You are on dangerous ground with your, rather wild, assumptions.

    sammaguire,

    “As a Shamrock Rovers fan I can remember Linfield playing at our beloved Milltown in the European Cup c.1984. We weren’t allowed to mix with each other before or after the game (1-1)”

    How could we mix, when Linfield fans weren’t even supposed to be there? 🙂

    Linfield FC were not given any tickets for the game.

    Around 250 of our supporters “improvised”, in order to watch their favourites secure passage into the next round of competition.

    The Linfield goal that day was scored by a, rather slimmer, David Jeffrey.

  • sammaguire

    I remember Peter Eccles scored the Rovers equaliser but I didn’t realise it was Jeffrey that scored for Linfield!!

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Watching the Inchicore game on Setanta and seeing the Linfield fans – Union flags and all, as another little bit of history was being made I thought of the following trivia….

    • Inchicore featured in the movie ‘The Devil’s Own’ which starred Brad Pitt. The scenes at the beginning of the movie in particular, where Pitt is being pursued by the British army. The old house featured has been demolished since.

    • Inchicore is beside Kilmainham Gaol and museum, the prison bastion of Irish patriots. Almost every Irish partriot has been imprisoned here. Henry Joy McCraken (Belfast man and Presbyterian) and many 1798 rebels, Robert Emmet, William Smith O’Brien, Charles Stuart Parnell, the 1916 rebels, just to name a few.
    Kilmainham Gaol once starred in a few movies too…’The Mackintosh Man’ starring Paul Newman.

    • George Best once mooted on the Late Late show about playing for St. Patrick’s Athletic. Never happened however, he went off and joined Cork Celtic or something.

    Facinating!