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Posts Tagged ‘Bohemians’

Bohs versus Rovers. Arguably the most talked about fixture in the League of Ireland calender; Dublin’s El Classico comes but four times a year. While this is a huge fixture, not least for fans of both teams, there is one game that outshines even this and one we don’t experience too often any more. (Some might say) its the original Dublin Derby, Bohs versus Shels. So, when I saw today’s draw for the EA Sports cup threw up this clash, I let out an unmanly yelp of delight. Shelbourne’s demise has been well documented, as have Bohs current woes. After our defeat to Welsh side TNS last year, St. Pats fans held up a banner calling us “The Next Shels.” And to be honest, they weren’t wrong. But thats a post for another day.

It's in the game

There isn’t anything too glorious about the League Cup. Simon O’Gorman on extratime.ie summed it up well with the below:

This is the true magic of the League Cup. It operates in such rarified air, moves in such exclusive circles, that should you choose to become a part of it you might just be handed a starring role. Perhaps you will be the fan that some player recognises at a later date, “Isn’t that the nutter that was at the Carlow game?”

While it may not be glorious, it is romantic. DFallon wrote a great piece for the Bohs / Glenville Rovers clash in the same competition last year, and we’ve already had our first “giantkilling” as Galway United crashed out on Monday to Cockhill Celtic. A lot of people talk about “the romance of the cup” across the water but rarely pay heed to the one on their doorsteps. Not suprising I suppose when the average person on the street would struggle to name the ten teams in the top division in their own country but could spout off Spurs first team at the bat of an eyelid. But we do have romance here too, Cockhill Rovers have shown that and have been rewarded with a home draw against Sligo Rovers. Me though? I just can’t wait to get back out to Tolka.

Is it though?

EA Sports Cup second round draw:

Pool 1: Limerick v Tralee Dynamos or Waterford United; Wexford Youths v Cork City.

Pool 2: Cockhill Celtic v Sligo Rovers; Derry City v Mervue United.

Pool 3: Drogheda United v UCD; St Patrick’s Athletic v Shamrock Rovers.

Pool 4: Monaghan United v Dundalk; Shelbourne v Bohemians

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My one true love...

Fair play to you Dotsy, original is available in bloody massive format here… It is unbelievable how much I love spending time in this stand.

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Officially adopted in 1894… were the three golden rules; never say die, keep the ball on the floor and the best defence is attack

From “Bohemian Times.”

The Bohs team of 1890

I’m in the process of doing an article on the famous Bohemians FC team from the Golden era of the late twenties, so was delighted to find the above picture posted by JayCarax on thebohs.com forum; the picture is from 1890, the year of Bohemians birth. “The first set of jerseys worn were white with two red down stripes front and back, and a red star of David on the right breast, with black shorts.” Brilliant.

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In an article way back in April, when the IMF was still a bogey man the government used to terrify the unions, I wrote a quick piece on an auction taking place at the famous Whyte’s on Molesworth Street. On sale at that auction was a 1929/ ’30 Free State League winners medal- won that year by Bohemian FC.

So, when I heard the below picture was on sale at an auction in Dalymount with all proceeds went to Bohemian FC, my ears pricked up. What better way to satisfy three of my favourite things; Bohemians, history and photography than by buying this. I may have paid a little more than I thought I planned to for it but I myself think it was worth every penny.

Words cannot describe how chuffed I am to have this in my possession (click for larger image)

You may not be able to buy a clubs history, but you can hold onto a little bit of it, and thats what I feel like now. I don’t really feel like I own this picture, indeed, when Bohemians iron out this little blip it our history like I’m sure we will, I’ll most likely donate this picture to the club. Or maybe that’s just my optimism, hoping that the torrid time we’re going through is just a blip. But what else do we have to hold onto?

Autograph of J. McCarthy (fourth from left in main picture)

I’ll be getting it framed and mounted in the near future. When I get that done, I’ll check back in here, and give you some history behind a great era in Bohemians history, not unlike the one just passed. A bit of trivia before I go; the shed- like structure in the background are the old dressing rooms. Because of the corrugated iron on the roof, the structure got the nickname “The Hut,” now the name of the pre-game drinking hole in Phibsborough favoured by many a Bohs fan.

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The gem of a picture that accompanies this piece was spotted in Friday’s Metro by a good mate of mine. Now, I know the domestic season is over, the cup final done and dusted (with a deserved victory for Sligo Rovers, and their ex- Bohs talisman Joe Ndo) but this takes the biscuit, really pushing us as a nation of barstoolers to the limit. We often wax lyrical on here about the League of Ireland, no it doesn’t draw the masses, and no, its not always sexy. But its ours, and thats what counts. So seeing ads like this is a real slap in the face for the League- Football is not much better when watched from a pub, its much better watched from the steps of the Jodi Stand in Dalymount Park, or the shed in Richmond Park, even the bloody lego stand in Tolka Park is better than a pub.

Football is certainly not much better when watched from a pub. Photo credit, Ciarán Mangan

With the season over, I’ll miss the football. And considering our current predicament, this time next year I could be saying I’m missing Bohs. The thoughts of it are depressing. We are in danger but fans are rallying behind the club. Donations are coming in fast, and some very generous ones at that. Even a bunch of Sligo Rovers fans passed on some money on Sunday to go towards the €300, 000 needed for us to retain our license for next season. More of a reason to have cheered for the Bit o’ Red yesterday. I’ll do another piece on the subject later in the week but as well as the donations, there’s a fundraising night and a monster raffle being held in The Phoenix Bar, Dalymount Park this Saturday night, details here. I’d urge, not only Bohs fans but all LOI fans to drop in. I know we joke about “the league needs a strong Rovers,” but where would we really be without Dalymount Park? The original home of Irish Football, and a place that truly deserves National Monument status.

So that’s why when I was sent that picture above, a number of feelings stirred in me. Pity, for those who remain oblivious to their own national League. Contempt for the same people. Anger, at the short-sightedness of the advertisement. And sadness, that only if some of those the article targets made the effort to come to LOI games, clubs like Bohs, and Shams, Derry and Cork before them wouldn’t be in the situations they are/were in. You can stick your barstools where the sun doesn’t shine. Football is much better when watched from the steps of Block G.

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I had a dream last night. It went like this. Its a cold, dark Friday evening;  I am in Dalymount Park, on the steps of Block G in the Jodi Stand. With ten minutes to go in the League of Ireland’s last round of games, Shamrock Rovers are trailing 2 – 1 to Bray in the Carlisle Grounds and Twigg has just been sent off for dissent. Bohemians are drawing 1 – 1 with a scrappy Dundalk team here in the home of Irish Football when Paddy Madden is brought down twenty yards out from goal, right in front of us.  After some pushing and shoving, the wall is brought back the required ten yards. Killian Brennan takes four steps back, makes the run up, before gloriously dipping the ball over the wall and… well, I woke up.

The cruel things life does to you. Waking up mid- dream is one thing, but having a real life dream turn into a nightmare is another. Last week,  Bohs were on the pig’s back, (some might say literally,) needing two wins over an injury struck Galway side (who, despite their lowly position have caused us problems all year) and a Dundalk team we’ve beaten twice already this season (and, well, lost to once.) We all know what happened. Galway won 3 – 2 and dare I say it, the ramifications sent tremors down the spines of League of Ireland fans everywhere. It left Shamrock Rovers in pole position to win their first league title in 6, 066 days precisely. While on Friday’s performance, Bohs don’t deserve to win the League, that isn’t going to stop me wanting them to win it.

Pat Fenlon has chastised his players, saying he doesn’t want to see them until before this Friday’s showdown with Dundalk. Captain, Owen Heary has admitted that the team wasn’t up for the fight. Where were the battling qualities present for the unbeaten run stretching back ten games prior to Friday? Thats the question every Bohs fan is left asking. The possibility of an historic three-in-a-row has likely gone amiss. And yet they were still applauded off the field by the travelling support. Certainly not as a gesture of thanks for their performance over the previous ninety minutes. More a salute to the last three years; a goodbye and a thanks for the memories. They had better remember that this Friday if they’re going to finish this season with their heads held high.

We pray to the Spirit of Hunt to lead us to a miraculous three- in- a- row

I spoke in the build up to the Dublin Derby of 2010’s run- in being a battle of the bottlers, and while it makes for heartbreaking rather than heart racing football, that’s what it has become. Bohemians look set to part with, whether they can miraculously clinch the title or not,  a great period in their history. Three fantastic years, some heartbreaking moments aside, that will stick with me in the bleak times ahead. The squad of players that we have now will leave come season’s end, there’s no doubt about that. And with some of those players reported to be making a move to Tallaght Stadium, it will sicken me to see former players (and one in particular who has grafted for Bohs when others played like they couldn’t be bothered,) turn out in green and white next season.

Two League titles, Setanta Cup Champions (and by default, Champions of Ireland,) a League Cup and an FAI Cup in three years. People say we shouldn’t be looking to the past when the future is scarily unclear. What does it hold? In the short term, Pat Fenlon has said he will honour his contract, which ties him to the club until 2013. And while I would love to see the most successful League of Ireland manager of recent years to stay with the club, at his current rate, we just can’t afford him. He says he’ll field a team of kids next year if he has to, and maybe he’ll get the required out of them, hopefully so.

Pat Fenlon's Bohemians in a pre-season friendly against Drumcondra, 2011.

The days of players chasing big contracts around the League have thankfully come to an end; and while the circumstances that have led to this are unfortunate, at least it might bring some realism back to the LOI. Three years ago, there were players making more at Bohs than some players in the upper echelons of the English Championship. So who knows, a part- time Bohs next year may still be able to field a team, if only because players won’t be able to find a wage elsewhere. Bleak times, preceeded by an amazing past.

A bleak future, preceeded by an amazing past. Bohemian FC of 1907/08, from Storie di Calcio

All this talk of dreams and nightmares and the chance of victory, however remote, is still there. This Friday, come 21:35 or thereabouts will tell whether I’m a visionary, a lunatic for having hope or just an unwavering dreamer. To be honest, I couldn’t care less which if things go our way. Maybe I’m mad for holding onto the vague hope that we can do it. But isn’t it madness that drives most of us to follow this league of ours anyways?

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So there you have it. The morning after the night before. When I posted on Monday, I wasn’t in any great confidence about Bohs chances. I was hoping, praying for a result, a goal in off Ken Oman’s arse would have kept me happy. But what I got last night was Bohs playing their hearts out for ninety minutes and getting the result they, and the crowd, deserved. For those in Red and Black sang solid for the whole game, before and after too, creating arguably the best atmosphere in Dalymount Park this season; the Roar was back with vengeance. And while we wait and plead for Rovers to slip up against Sporting Fingal this weekend, the win last night was not only about the result; something that was amiss seems restored.

After the disaster that was TNS and the Champions League, the defeat to Galway and the drubbing to Rovers in Tallaght, a certain something had been lost between team and fans that seems to have been restored last night; that something being pride and passion. For there is such a thing as playing and losing admirably with a certain pride, that was not what Bohs were doing. They were losing miserably, to Galway. Who had nine men.

Oh Jayo, Jayo- You used to be a...

On the back of last nights victory though, can we say that the tides have turned? The run in for Bohs consists of St. Pats, Galway and Dundalk. Two of those teams we’ve struggled against badly this season. The run in for Rovers consists of Sporting Fingal, Bray and Drogheda. Now under normal circumstances, you would say that the league is a given for Rovers. But after capitulating to UCD last week, and last nights hammer blow from Bohemians suggests that its not wrapped up yet. Could Fingal do us a favour and turn Rovers over this weekend? Could Bohs still win the elusive three in a row? Its hard to know.

Has last nights performance come too late? Keegan and Cronin played like men possessed in the middle of the park, the Rovers middle three barely getting a sniff in, with the majority of their attacking play coming down the wings. Shelley and Oman (silly back pass aside) were solid at the back, and Powell was a constant threat with his storming forward runs. And Jason Byrne, what else do you say only he’s been Bohs only player to score against Rovers in over two years. And what a goal it was.

And while the night was spent on tenterhooks, the elation after the goal (where everyone suddenly found themselves eight steps away from where they started) and the final whistle, with the majority of the Jodi staying and waiting for the team to come out for the warm-down (in what was obviously a feel good exercise orchestrated by Nutsy,) the singing and chanting continuing apace while the players jogged up and down in front sections F&G,  felt special. People were walking into the bar lightheaded and speechless. There were smiles on faces, of disbelief and joy. Smiles that said “We could win it yet. ”

I hope I'm not going to be kicking myself for this...

Three games to go. And while Bohs are relying on Rovers to bottle it again, if the team plays like they did last night, there will be no despair come the seasons end. Much of this season has been spent in pessimism, with horror stories about the Club’s finances and tales of striking players and unpaid bonusses. Win those games and those tales might be forgotten. Win those games and we may speak of Bohemians’ glorious 2010 battle for three- in- a- row for years to come.

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