One hundred and twenty-five years ago, Bohemian F.C. were founded in the Phoenix Park Gate Lodge, Dublin. An original member of the League of Ireland, they are the oldest LOI club in continuous existence and the third most successful side in Irish club history.
On 6th September, 1890, a small group from Bells Academy, a civil service college in North Great Georges Street, and the Hibernian Military School met at the North Circular Road entrance to Dublin’s Phoenix Park and formed a new football club.
Among the founders, Andrew Philip Magill and Hamilton Paul Bell had been Honorary Secretary and Treasurer at Richfield Sports Club, which drew players from Bells Academy but now sought to expand beyond the college. Magill and Bell were aged eighteen and seventeen at the time of the inaugural meeting of ‘Bohs’.
Playing their first games in the Park’s Polo Grounds, the name ‘Bohemians’ was said to have been adopted because the players’search for a suitable playing venue “reminded one of a bunch of ‘gypsies’, and as such, ‘they were truly Bohemian in spirit’” (Tony Reid’s Official Club History of Bohemian A.F.C)
In 1902, they joined the Irish Football League winning the Irish Cup in 1908. From 1893–94 Bohemians played at a venue on Jones Road later to become Croke Park, the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The search for a new ground ended when they moved to Dalymount Park in Phibsborough which was officially opened on 7 September 1901.
‘Dalyer’ would come to be known as the ‘spiritual home of Irish soccer,’ the base for the Irish national team before a permanent move across the River Liffey to Lansdowne Road.
Bohemians were a founding member of the League of Ireland in 1921 following the split from the Irish Football Association. They’ve been Irish champions 11 times, most recently in 2009. ‘the Gypsies’ are 100% supporter-owned and as the northside rivals of Shamrock Rovers, form one half of the Dublin derby, dubbed the biggest game in Irish club football.
While parts of Dalymount Park have fallen into disrepair over the decades, the sale of the ground to Dublin City Council with the pormise to redevelp the famous vanue ensures the future looks bright for Bohemians.