“Did Jack have a trial with Liverpool?” “No Dougal, he was on trial, in Liverpool.” It’s 20 years this week since the first episode of Fr. Ted aired on television and whether it was Dougal sleeping in an Irish shirt, a framed photo of Jack Charlton and Maurice Setters above the fireplace, or the genius over 75’s match episode, we’re reminded how the show has influenced Green Army football fans in a uniquely Irish way.
The iconic series was the inspiration for some of the best Irish flags at Euro 2012, and in a sense paid fitting tribute to avid football fan, the late great Dermot Morgan. It seemed as if every quote from Fr. Ted adorned a tricolour in Poland. It remains a firm favourite, not just for Irish people, proven by its poll-topping performance in the UK. In 2011, the sitcom was voted Channel 4’s funniest ever comedy beating the likes of Peep Show, The IT Crowd and The Inbetweeners.
Apart from the brilliant over-75’s football match episode, the protagonists of the much-loved programme had other connections to the beautiful game. The late great Dermot Morgan was an avid follower of UCD in the League of Ireland while Ardal O’Hanlon is a well-known football aficionado and presented a series for RTE a few years ago touring some of the world’s great soccer derbies.
Expect even more utterances from Fr. Ted to be seen on Irish flags in the green fields of France if we make it there next summer.