I have about 200 MiniDV tapes in my attic that I’ve been looking after since the Shamrock Rovers F.C. cameraman, Mícheal O’Brolochaín, passed away a couple of years ago. Recently, with the permission of his son, and the support of the Heritage Trust, I’ve started creating an archive of this material.

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Shamrock Rovers take on Galway Utd at Tolka Park at 8pm this Friday. The Hoops are in second place in the league but 8 points off the top spot. All games are now must win games for Rovers if they are to secure what would be a historic league title.

Shamrock Rovers -v- Galway poster

 

A printable poster is also available.

The latest sanctions from the FAI have a couple of bizarre fines. Even by the FAI sanction press release standards!.

Before going into the sanctions have a look at this video. It from the Harps-v- Derry match on August 18th 2007.

The following fines were handed down:

Derry Citywere fined €500 for the throwing of paper by their supporters in the match v Finn Harps (18.08.07). Decision under appeal to FAI.
Finn Harps were fined €500 for the throwing of paper by their supporters v Derry City(18.08.07).
Derry Citywere fined €1,000 as a result of a pitch invasion by their supporters following the match v Finn Harps (18.08.07). Decision under appeal to FAI.

The ‘pitch invasion’ looked fairly harmless. But whoever brought the kids to the game should have restrained them from doing that. I’m sure the Derry fans will be examining how to stop that happening in future.

The paper throwing is a more worrying fine. Supporters’ displays in the past were much better than the one in the above video. They had flares, plenty of flags, plenty of noise and were an attraction in themselves.

But the FAI banned flares. The fans started using smoke canisters. Then they banned smoke canisters. Fans started using more and bigger flags. Then flagpoles and even flags began to be banned. Ticker tape thrown into the air is still ok (as far as I know!), and until today paper streamers were too.

The F.A.I have gone beyond what can be accepted as a health and safety measure. Banning flares is, to an extent understandable from a safety aspect. However if safety was an issue you might have expected the FAI to allow clubs to work with them and safety officials to use flares in a controlled and safe way. Instead there is a complete ban.

It seems that the FAI’s aim is now to sanitize football and has nothing to do with safety. This is a spectacular own goal for the FAI. Those fans that organize these displays, at their own expense, should be encouraged to create bigger displays as this will in turn get better crowds to the games. Those that turn up to the big games only are more likely to return if there is a great atmosphere provided. Kids especially love this atmosphere – more and more kids are turning up early to matches to help out; this is a group of fans (or customers as the FAI probably refer to them) that we do not want to loose.

Where there are valid health and safety issues the FAI should work with the supporters and clubs to see how to address these. Paper streamers are not a health hazard.

It’s fairly basic marketing – promote your strengths. In the case of the league of Ireland the passionate supporters, their flags, displays and chants are a strength.

Let’s try and have more of the picture on the left so we don’t end up with more of the picture on the right.

 

No al Calcio Moderno

Following some recent discussions over on the SRFC Ultras message board (www.srfcultrasforum.com) I thought I’d do a little tutorial on how I made a simple 2 post flag. This flag is a little on the small side but hey it’s just a tutorial.

The idea behind 2 post flags is that it makes it easy to show off a message or a design. Large flags at the sidelines of matches are easy to read, but not easy to wave about. As soon as you start waving flags it makes it very difficult to see the design; the exception being clear designs on tifo flags.

 

The first thing you need a design. This can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Simple works best. Create it in your paint program of choice. It does not need to be actual resolution, once it looks good on your screen that fine.

Next you need material. You can get fabric from a drapery shop, currently it’s about €4.50 per meter near me, and about a meter wide also. Drapery shops usually have a ‘remnants bin’ where you can pick up bits of fabric for less than half that price. Another option is to get a bedsheet, you may be able to find these cheap in a department store.

Next you need to sew it. With a bedsheet the edges will already be sewn, but if you bought the fabric you will need to do this yourself. The simplest way is to iron the folds in place and then sew; its a lot easier if you iron it first. Make a fold a little less than 1cm on the edge and iron it, then fold that again and iron it.For the ends that the poles go into make sure there is enough room for the poles to fit first!

Regular edge.

  Flagpole edge.

You are now ready to sew it. If you don’t have a sewing machine ask your mother! She will have one or have a friend who does! Once you work out what all the knobs and switches do sewing machines are straightforward enough to use.

For the flagpole ends you need to make the second fold wide enough so that your poles fir through. That depends on what poles you get. I went for the cheap option again, 25mm electrical conduit tubes from Woodies DIY. These are light, not too flexible, not too rigid, and won’t hurt if a kid at a match decides to hit his mate with it!

 Now to put the design on the flag. You need an overhead projector for this, joedehoop suggested this method to me . Most schools and offices will have one. I used one on the office that connects directly to a sunray, if you need one that uses transparencies just photocopy your design onto a transparency. Now tape your flag onto the wall and draw the outline of your design with a pencil.

 

The nest stage is painting. The more colours you use the longer this takes as you need to let one colour dry before starting another. Since this design has lots of straight lines in it I decided to mark these out using masking tape, that way you will get a much better edge. With the masking tape in place and a couple of sheets of newspaper under the flag you can start painting.

Leave to dry overnight and finish the next day. Don’t worry about the newspaper getting stuck to the flag, you can peel that off when its dry.

For the green colour I used paint I had lying around. The problem with this paint is that it will spread easily through the fabric. The black and yellow were acrylic paints from an art shop (€16 for 500ml, as advised by the artistic Mr. S-Side-Hoop), this does not spread out and generally stays where you paint it! I’d advise you to just use what you have lying around unless you need to do particular detailed designs – after all these flags are going to be viewed from a distance not up close so you can get away with errors like this.

 

 

Anyway here is what it looks like with a couple of others I’ve finished recently when finished:


Now go out and make flags! And most importantly go out and support your local team!

Image credit: B. Best, www.shamrockrovers.ie

 Forza Hoops!

I’ve uploaded some photos of the Rovers -v Bohs game to my flickr account.

The highlights of the game are also online at the official website. 

 

Forza Hoops! 

Last Friday Thomas Davis GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) club took South Dublin County Council to the high court to see a judicial review of the Tallaght Stadium. Their argument is on a legal point of process, but the core of the matter is that the GAA club want the stadium redesigned to accommodate a full size GAA pitch. The matter has been discussed at length elsewhere but it simply boils down to the fact that a full sized GAA pitch does not fit and so the stadium should be completed with the current dimensions. A rectangle 150m X 90m cannot fit into a rectangle 100m X 70m! Redesigning would involve demolishing at least part of the existing stand, reducing the capacity, and cost a lot more. The government has indicated that it will only fund the current, soccer sized, design.

With the matter now before the courts some GAA journalists have gone off with blinkers on while writing about this. The best example so far came from Tom Humphries in the Irish Times.

Firstly he mentions the project as a "soccer only stadium". Martin Breheny in the Indo continues this view  saying that the stadium is for the "exclusive use of a commercial soccer concern". That’s incorrect. The current plan is for a stadium that contains a pitch with soccer dimensions primarily to be used a soccer stadium. The minister of sport stated earlier in the year that the county council who have control of the stadium would be able to play other games provided they fit. This means that kids GAA games and rugby games would be accommodated as these games fit into a soccer pitch. Thomas Davis have said that they want to use the Stadium, not for themselves, but to bring inter-county games to the area. It seems more likely that they want the stadium for GAA exclusively and to remove Shamrock Rovers from the picture: "I’m confident that in any bout with Rovers that the GAA will be the last man standing," wrote David Kennedy of Thomas Davis last year in an email seen by the Irish Independent.

Humpries also goes on to paint a picture of Shamrock Rovers as an evil capitalist corporation compared to the poor benevolent volunteer GAA clubs. This is a silly distinction. Sports clubs all across the country have volunteers working for them, right the way from junior teams up to the main senior team. Shamrock Rovers have I believe 38 managers and coaches for their youth teams (over 200 players from under 7’s up); all these junior sides already are based in Tallaght. The club is also ran by volunteers on a day to day basis and on matchdays. In fact Shamrock Rovers is democratically ran by its members who appoint the board of directors. No person owns Shamrock Rovers, the supporters do.

One distinction regarding professionalism is relevant however. Shamrock Rovers pays its senior team. The players are on contracts and are given salaries (with the correct tax paid to the government!). The GAA however does not pay its players, this fits with the admirable amateur ethos of the organisation, however they recently have had a campaign to try to get the government to pay their players with tax payers money!

Speaking of money, Humphries, and a couple of other GAA sources over the last week have alleged that the government paid 19 million euro towards the construction of Croke park, the superb stadium that the GAA own in Dublin. The correct figure as verified by the Department of sport was 114 million. In fact since 1998 the GAA has received 285 million in government grants. This apparently is not enough for them hence the current campaign in the media against the Minister of Sport.

Keen sports fans will know that the recent rugby matches in Ireland and the upcoming soccer match against Wales are to be played in Croke Park. This is part of a monumental decision by the GAA to set aside "Rule 42" for Croke park for these games. Rule 42 basically states that foreign sports are not allowed to be played on GAA grounds. In practice this means soccer and rugby. It does not include American Football (Notra Dame played Navy in the 1980’s in Croke Park) or compromise Australian rules football which have been played in Croke park in the past. It suits the GAA to revise this rule at the moment since it brings in large amounts of cash from the soccer and rugby matches. Press reports indicate that the GAA receive in the order of 1 million euro per match from the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) and FAI (Football Association of Ireland). Other grounds around the country cannot avail of this since it takes a national meeting of the GAA to make exceptions to this rule. But it seems that most clubs and counties don’t want to have their grounds opened up anyway. And so the exclusion to soccer and rugby continues unless there is a lot of money to be made. Its all the more staggering that Thomas Davis could lodge their affidavit with a straight face stating that they should have access to a soccer stadium while soccer is banned  from GAA stadiums!

I expect Rule 42 will fade away as the GAA catches up with modern times, with the ban lifted the local club or county could then make the decision on whether to rent a ground or not. If a GAA club can raise funds by hosting a rugby match then it seems bad business reasoning to forbid them doing so.

An earlier version of Rule 42 banned GAA members playing foreign sports or even attending such sports as spectators, this fell by the wayside in the early 1970’s. Rule 21, which is now gone, banned members of the British security & police forces playing GAA. The Police Service of Northern Ireland now field a GAA team. Rules change.

But back to Tallaght. Let me paint a picture for you.

Thomas Davis currently have excellent facilities that they use for their own purposes. The GAA have a 24 acre site just down the road in Rathcoole where they plan to build a new stadium which the Minister has offered to help fund. This would be their prime stadium on the Southside of the city; it would also be an exclusivly GAA stadium with soccer and rugby banned under the GAA’s Rule 42. Tallaght Stadium gets built with the dimensions of a soccer pitch, with a 6,000 seated capacity and the facilities you expect in a modern stadium. This would be the home for a couple of soccer teams but as it is owned by the council would be available for all sports what can fit into it, including junior GAA games. All sports get very good facilities and the people of the area get Stadiums to be proud of.

That picture looks good to me but the GAA (Grab All Association?) want everything for themselves, hence the High Court Action.

The honourable thing to do at this late stage would be for Thomas Davis to withdraw their judicial review application and instead of spending the clubs money on legal costs to focus on building the stadium in Rathcoole. Unfortunately I don’t think such goodwill and respect for other sports exists in Thomas Davis so we will have to stay on the legal route. Hopefully the judge will reach what I feel is the correct decision and help change my picture for sport in the area into reality. If the decision goes the other way, the half built Tallaght Stadium will remain derelict while Thomas Davis drag out a protracted legal battle leaving their club a lot poorer and the people of the area with a derelict eyesore instead of a stadium to be proud of.

Last night Shamrock Rovers were presented with the eircom League 1st Division title after the last match of the season in Cobh.

The calm before the storm in a Cobh pub:

 

The Hoops goalkeeper with the trophy. 

Ultras adding to the celebrations! 


 

After the 5-2 drubbing of the Republic of Ireland by Cyprus the team needed to get something out of the game against the Czech Republic. They did, it finished 1-1.

In typical Irish football fan style gone were the calls for resignations to be replaced by the Ole Ole brigade acting like we had actually won something. Such is the fickleness of Irish football fans, a little wallpaper of the gaping cracks and they are all happily on the bandwagon again. Pathetic really but most Irish football fans deserve no better than to see their national team in the sorry state it is now.

In the ‘glory days’ when we actually qualified for championships the team was made up of players who played in the leading teams in the English Premiership. They were the first choice players for their teams. Now the best experienced players on the team are Duff and Robbie Keane. Duff plays regularly for Newcastle, 13th in the English Premiership. Keane irregularly plays for Spurs who are 14th. Big contrast to 16 years ago.

So what happened. Well clearly the Irish players are not good enough to play for the top English Premiership teams anymore. As the English game has gone more global clubs are just as likely to look to south America as Ireland for players.

Why is that a problem? Because the accepted approach to developing football talent in this country is to find the best kids and ship them off at 16 to some English club and hope they do well. That is the fundamental basis of Irish football at a national level. Well that and trying to find some player who granny visited Dublin once which makes them Oirish.

Most of the Ole Ole Brigade don’t see anything wrong with this. But then again they don’t see any issue with following English clubs and spending their money watching English football rather than Irish football, and then complain about Irish football. They will happily jump on the nearest bandwagon that’s passing, a few years ago Manchester United jerseys were all the rage in Dublin, then we had Blackburn for a while, Chelsea jerseys even appeared!  And now just to prove my point we see Sunderland jerseys!

Strangely enough when it comes to the world cup the same people will support anyone except England, even though every weekend they support English teams and not Irish ones. There are several levels of hypocrisy involved here.

The best way to improve the chances of the Irish national team is to develop talent at home. At the moment we have no youth academies, so no wonder any promising young players are sent to England at an early age.

The Irish media is obsessed with the English game giving little or no coverage to the Irish teams. The Football Association of Ireland seems to care little about Irish teams either. And when the government decides to fund a purpose build soccer stadium in an area of Dublin (Tallaght) that could do with any facilities it can get, the GAA (through Thomas Davis GAA club) objects to try to stop it getting built. That issue is to be decided in the High Court in November; if sense prevails the Thomas Davis objection will be dismissed and the ground that is now lying derelict can be completed – the council have the money, the only holdup is Thomas Davis GAA club. Oh and the Irish would much rather sit in a pub with a Sunderland jersey and call themselves football fans rather than going down the road to watch their local team.

Until attitudes change we don’t deserve any better from the National team than we are getting at present.

Great night [match report]. The team scoring in the last minute of the first half in match that wasn’t going your way is great. That the scorer was the same person who managed to send a last minute oppertunity out of the stadium on Friday made it even better. Poetic even! Second half Bohs got a penalty, which their experienced player/manager stepped up to take against a 20 year old Barry Murphy. And he saved it! Pandemonium. What seems like a few hours later Cassidy scored a second for Rovers and soon it was all over. Pandemonium again! The enemy was defeated. More pandemonium!

It’s not worth trying to put the emotions that you feel in these games into words.

Other highlights:

The Hoops manager after complaining to the 4th official (presumably letting him know, correctly, that the linesman and referee were, in fact, idiots) was sent off. He marched up into the stand with the Bohs fans and took a seat there to watch the rest of the match from 🙂  Class!

Seeing Bohs fans make comments online like “Well tonight we got what we all knew was coming, probably the worst result in 23 years of following Bohs. Losing to a first division, part time Rovers team at home.” Glad to oblige! 😉  Thats part of why this victory os one of the sweetest. 12 months ago the club was facing extinction and being wound up by the courts. Now the club is building back up again, and owned by the fans. The Thomas Davis GAA club are still trying to stop our new ground, the Tallaght Stadium, from being completed. And we got relegated, thanks partly to examinership, into the first division for the first time in our history. And we still manage to knock Bohs out of the Cup!

Replay in Dalymount park on Tuesday