Ranty Cause: I’m gonna rant and you’re gonna listen
D’IRISH Indo continued to wade into the League of Ireland v Man United barstooler debate in an interesting way yesterday. The main feeling among supporters of the domestic game was one of despair.
There are militant views on both sides with LOI fans guilty of not so much claiming the moral ground, more of a full-scale occupation. Hard-core fans of the league here are guilty of exaggerating the quality of the product at times but there is something very Irish and very disheartening for lovers of all sport to see 40,000+ Irish people packing the new home of Irish football to not only vociferously (that’s a good word) cheer for the opposition but at times, boo the home team.
Deep down, even the United fans must have felt some semblance of shame. Even if you are a life-long follower of an English side, which most of us are, the overall feeling on the Aviva Stadium’s opening night was that this was a bit sad, in every sense of the word.
Con Murphy of MNS wrote a great piece on the game last week.
“I’ve never been as unhappy at a match in Lansdowne Road and that includes some bad nights for Ireland at the venue down through the years.”
In yesterday’s d’Indo, Aidan O’Hara wrote a pretty uninspired article initially comparing Irish football fans disinterest in the League to their devotion to global (or non-Irish music groups).
Like Clinton Morrison, it was a mile offside.
“Watching a team lose a game in the flesh or via teletext or its modern equivalent still brings on the same level of misery.”
He might be right about the misery, but if he doesn’t distinguish (or chooses not to) between live football and watching on TV, then he’s in the wrong game.
Why go to the Phoenix Park on a Sunday morning when you can watch Arsenal play glorious football on the box at 4pm?
In the same newspaper, 11 pages later, Sligo GAA star Eamonn O’Hara, wrote these words:
“You start out in the stands watching as a youngster, a lucky few get to play, and when your playing days are over you return to the stands to watch. We’re not soccer players; our loyalty and sense of place is real.”
He’s right of course. Except whenever a journalist espouses the merits of our Gaelic players who represent our people, our culture, against the soul-less mercenaries of the Premier Leauge, our League of Ireland footballers are always forgotten about.
Many years ago, former Wexford manager Liam Griffin spoke passionately on the Late Late Show about how GAA players were members of our community and asked how could we pull on a Newcastle jersey and look in the mirror? It was an emotive speech and worthy of praise but would have been rendered worthless had he replaced Newcastle with Galway United or Shamrock Rovers.
It seems when it comes to soccer, Irish people are entitled to ignore their home-grown heroes because the product can’t compare with the illustrious English game, according to one O’Hara.
The other O’Hara argues there is no division between his sport’s players and its supporters. We are the same people.
Soccer doesnt necessarily compare of course because professionalism, even in Ireland, means players move from club to club. Yet as Con Murphy pointed out, the name embroidered on the back of the Airtricity League shirt at Lansdowne Road two weeks ago read ‘Ireland’.
It poses the question: Are you a fan for whom identity means something or are you as changeable as ‘your’ team’s latest kit? Ask yourself, ‘who aw ya?’
First posted, August 2010