Glenmalure Park has a special place in the hearts of Shamrock Rovers fans. The former ground is the spiritual home of the Hoops and their departure from their south Dublin home was fraught with controversy leading to a decades long nomadic existence for one of Ireland’s biggest and most important clubs.
This weekend marks the 30th anniversary since the sale of the Milltown stadium and the club is marking the occasion with a walk from their old ground to Tallaght Stadium. They are also calling on fans to donate memorabilia for an exhibition at Friday’s league clash with Sligo Rovers.
Stephen Bradley’s side are currently 7th in the SSE Airtricity League table. Rovers, the 17-time league champions, and 24 time FAI Cup winners, were many people’s tip to challenge Dundalk and Cork City for this year’s League of Ireland crown. They’ve brought in a host of new players in the summer including Ronan Finn from champions Dundalk, but betting sites like M88 still predicted them to finish in the top three.
— Shamrock Rovers F.C. (@ShamrockRovers) April 12, 2017
It’s still a period of building on the pitch for Rovers but thirty years ago, the very blocks on which the club were built were literally sold from under them. Glenmalure Park was Shamrock Rovers’ home from 1926 until 1987. The largest recorded attendance was 28,000 for a game against Waterford in 1968. Rovers won 14 league titles, including four in a row between 1984 and 1987, before they left the ground in acrimonious circumstances.
In 1987, owners the Kilcoynes announced that they were selling the ground to property developers leading to a mass movement of supporters with the Keep Rovers at Milltown campaign and pickets placed on home games when the team was moved to Tolka Park. Fans attempted to raise funds to buy the stadium but the site was eventually sold to make way for an apartment complex. Rovers were homeless.
For the next two decades, the Hoops played in various grounds around Dublin including six years at the RDS where they captured the league title in 1994, but without a permanent ground, Rovers’ fortunes took a nosedive. Relegation to the First Division and a period of examinership almost saw the club disappear completely. In 2005, after a series of court cases, the supporters group, the 400 club, were granted ownership effectively saving the team they loved from extinction.
Having been granted tenancy at Tallaght Stadium by South Dublin County Council, Rovers also had to see off a legal challenge by Thomas Davis GAA club, and in March 2009, played their first ‘home’ game in over 20 years at the new stadium.
April 12th marked 30 years since the final game at Glenmalure Park and a special dinner featuring members of the team that day is part of the commemorations around the game with Sligo Rovers.