In his classic Dublin Made Me, the War of Independence and Civil War veteran C.S Andrews remembered the day of his Holy Confirmation by writing:
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!
While all Dublin clubs are working class institutions, some stretch back into the nineteenth century with Bohemians founded in 1890 and Shelbourne in 1895. All clubs in Dublin seem to have club historians who as a labour of love dig deep and share their findings in club programmes and the like, but what every club could do with is a oral history collection. Dublin city Library and Archives have recorded a fantastic series of interviews with Shels officials, fans and players which will appeal to all League of Ireland fans.
I enjoyed all of the interviews, which come with a blurb detailing some of what is recalled in the conversation. Below is an example.
Track 8 – Sands, Chris: Born in 1937, Chris Sands is a life-long supporter of Shels. He talks about the early history of Shels from its foundation in 1895 as a “Dockers team”, club rivalry with Shamrock Rovers in the 1940s, the failure to purchase Shelbourne Park, and attending the Olympic Dancehall after matches. He also talks about his involvement with Shelbourne Supporters Development Group in recent years and his views on Ollie Byrne.
It’s likely most Shels fans are familiar with these interviews being online, but that other LOI supporters haven’t stumbled across them. Hopefully, Dublin City Library and Archives will roll this project out to other clubs in their area.
By interviewing both fans and players, the oral history aims to extend the history of Shelbourne FC beyond the traditional perspective of events on the pitch and to show the inter-relationship between sport, culture and everyday life in Dublin. The oral history records the impressions and emotions attached to the activity of playing for and supporting Shelbourne FC, as well as details of the playing pitches, players, managers, and traditions of a by-gone era. These memories will be preserved at Dublin City Library and Archive, and made accessible to historians and future generations to come.