Without a doubt, C.S Andrews penned one of my favourite books.
Dublin Made Me covers two lives. One, the life and memories of a Dublin youth. The other, a life within the revolutionary movement, serving as adjutant to Liam Lynch during the traumatic Irish Civil War. On reading it, I was struck by Andrews account of the day he made his Confirmation, at the Holy Faith in Dominick Street.
Anyway, on the great day, my mind was more preoccupied with football than with religion because my father had promised to take me to a cup match that afternoon between Bohemians and Shelbourne at Dalymount Park and I was afraid that the ceremony would not finish on time.
At the time, as Andrews noted, Shelbourne and Bohemian F.C were the only senior soccer clubs in the city, and he notes that “the people on the south side followed Shelbourne” He went on to write that the supporters and indeed players of the game were “..exclusively of the lower middle and working classes.” Men would travel north to see one of the Dublin sides take on Linfield, Belfast Celtic, Glentoran, Distillery, Cliftonville or Derry Celtic. These were the first ‘Away Days’, the roots of what we still do today.
Football has a habit of popping up in any account of growing up in Dublin. A love of the beautiful game was not only to be found among native Dubliners, but within immigrant communities too. Nick Harris touched on the love of the game in the Jewish community of ‘Little Jerusalem’, as Clanbrassil Street became known. His account of growing up there, Dublin’s Little Jerusalem ,is a Dublin classic. The local lads, he noted, tended to follow Shamrock Rovers. In the book he recounts stories of away trips, noting his brothers would follow the Hoops all over Ireland.
Once in Sligo, when Rovers were playing Sligo they were leading one goal to nil and Sligo were awarded a penalty. As the Sligo man was about to take the kick, Hymie(his older brother) jumped over the fence and kicked the ball away from the spot.
The Jewish youth evem established a team among themselves, naming it New Vernon, a nod to a “Jewish club that played in Dublin some years earlier”. They played frequently in the Phoenix Park, and Harris noted that the team “… played some great matches with various non-Jewish teams, and we were often applauded by people who stopped to watch the game.” Recently when passing through what was once the Jewish area of Dublin, I spotted a child kicking a football against a wall and was reminded of this tale. Harris also remembered a raid on the house next door by Black and Tans in 1921. The family next door were the Clery’s, one of whom was a footballer for Bohs. “From the noise that was going on, it sounded as though they were playing football” he noted. They were, with a football they found in one of the rooms.