George Kelly took the great photo above, and allowed us to post it here. It’s a fantastic shot from the 1984 clash between Linfield and Shamrock Rovers, fitting to post now with the two clubs set to meet soon in the cross-border Setanta Cup.
We’ve had plenty of articles on the site recently looking at football violence in Dublin over the years, ranging from hooliganism in Richmond Park to trouble at high-profile European fixtures. One fixture we looked at in detail was Linfield and Shamrock Rovers in 1984. The game was marked out by an almost unprecedented police presence, but passed off relatively peacefully, with nothing near the anticipated crowd trouble.
Much of the fear around the class had come out of events in Dundalk in August 1979, when Linfield and Dundalk faced each other at Oriel Park. Almost 500 Gardaí were involved in policing that encounter, and journalist Peter Byrne wrote after the clash that “this was the night when the concept of All-Ireland club football was killed stone dead. Two hours of raw, naked tribalism on the terraces of Oriel Park convinced even the most reformist among us that the dark gospel of the paramilitaries has permeated Irish sport to the point where all attempts at reconciliation are futile.”
The article on the 1984 fixture is available to read here. How different will the scene look in a few weeks time from that above? If the policing at the recent Saint Pat’s/Glentoran game in Inchicore is anything to go by, not very.