Tuesday, 9 October 2007

60 days and 60 nights

Among one of the odd consequences of having more analysis of sport than ever, is that occasionally the supporter, it seems, can now be congratulated or blamed for a result. I only say this as in Ireland at present there’s an awful lot of fan bashing going on in the press and on TV.

In rugby, our supporters are being disowned for not turning up at the airport to welcome home our country’s much maligned squad from the World Cup. Well not all fans, seven kids turned up (the press reports said nothing of their parents, though if they’re not counted as supporters I can only think they stood looking at Paul O’Connell shaking their fists and yelling ‘why I oughta’ until they were removed by security).

Even if Ireland won the World Cup I’d be waiting in town with a pint before the open-top bus comes around my direction rather than heading out through shitloads of traffic to the airport. Is that treason or something? And what’s out there anyway? Large men in suits walking through the arrivals section, that’s what.

The thing is, thousands of supporters went over to France and sang like patriotic drunken idiots for the entirety of games where the team played in a terrible manner unseen for nearly a decade in Irish rugby. But some commentators still defending the side and their manager think that general ill-feeling towards the team since the start of the tournament contributed to their downfall. Rubbish.

Some of these fans were also present in the Czech Republic and Slovakia when Steve Staunton’s men turned in dour, pass-less performances last month. One friend of mine who went to these games as well as the rugby, now claims he’s suffering from an odd form of depression after the whole debacle. Poor git is a Liverpool supporter too.

Yet, if he picked up some Irish papers last week, and no doubt a lot more in the next few days, he’ll be told how he should get behind Ireland again next Saturday against Germany and to feel like traitor should he dare look on the brightside if we lose. That brightside is of course that Stan would be a goner and a new manager – hey why not go crazy and even get a guy with experience this time – could be in place sooner rather than later.

What’s lost in all of this is that the fans have no problem getting behind their country; it’s an in-built thing and they need no reminders. Any ill feeling comes out of frustration that after yet more support, after outlaying yet more of their earnings to follow their team, they are rewarded with the kind of dirge Ireland fans have endured in the last few years.

Liverpool and Celtic fans have been credited with helping their sides to victory in the past. While, no doubt, they have helped, supporters don’t win or lose games. It’s a good topic for pundits but the more intelligent among them (ie Johnny Giles and eh… eh…) tend to dismiss the impact as minimal, and they’re right.

The Emirates has proven a decent hunting ground for Arsenal so far this season where the atmosphere is apparently appalling. Even in the good old days at their former home, the crowd were often referred to as the ‘Highbury Library’. The generally poor support of the Old Trafford crowd is also a well worn topic since Roy Keane’s infamous ‘prawn sandwiches’ outburst some years ago. Although, even I have to admit their rendition of “Ashley Cole’s a Wanker lalalala” is pretty special.

Back to Ireland though and RTE – Ireland’s version of the BBC for those in the UK – have been running ads this week with highlights of USA ’94 and the 2002 World Cup in the Far East, with the tagline “it’s easy to support them in the good times but now they need your support more than ever”. Frankly, shove that sentiment up your collective arse RTE, okay you get the usual bandwagon jumpers at a World Cup but that happens everywhere, even Brazil.

It’s more fun to support in the good times sure, but in my lifetime I’ve witnessed Ireland in four tournaments – Euro 88 and the World Cups of ’90, ’94 and ’02 – and collectively that’s about 60 days in 27 years. Otherwise, generally, it’s been a whole heap of misery, peppered with decent friendly wins and ultimately meaningless ‘moral victories’. I don’t need to be told to support Ireland like some halfwit plastic shamrock waving gobshite. RTE may as well have put an ad out commenting that birthdays tend to be a better laugh than funerals.

Over the weekend Steve Coppell seemed to indicate he may be interested in the Ireland job should it come up. Paul Jewell is said to be sniffing around too. Both of these appointments would be a step up obviously, and let’s be honest here, there’s not a whole heap of options for us to choose from. Put it this way, whenever a newspaper lists the most likely candidates, John Aldridge is still in the frame. If that doesn’t indicate dark times I don’t know what does.

As for Ireland fans, they will turn up at Croke Park next Saturday and support the side, but once the result comes through, if it is anything less than a win, let there be no idiotic tabloid-shouting about the fans being fairweather. We’ve watched plenty of shit down the years with this team, so frankly, fuck the FAI, RTE and assorted column writers if we want something better at this stage.



Mark said...

I have to agree, certainly in the context of ireland. this cheering of failure (glorious or not)is a waste of time.
i'll cheer and get behind them but i reserve the right to call them a pack of no-talent losers after the game.
i said before here, we're not expecting them to win the world cup or anything. if the team (and manager) performs to the best of their abilities, then well done.

ireland out of the rugby world cup before the knockout rounds is poor. ireland struggling to get third in their group is poor, given their talents

Anonymous said...

Great rant!
For the last 5 yrs. our only past time at major tournaments is sniggering at Englands' failure. When Ireland throw up limp soulless performances though we're suppposed to suspend critical faculties and troop along like cheerleading zombies. I'd say the rugby squad were glad there was no-one at the airport to try to pretend the tournament was anything other than a dissappointment. Pre world cup the players reminded me of englands' "golden generation" at wc2006 bigging themselves up winning mindset no second place blah blah.. Though in fairness much of 6 nations and last autumn they were excellent to watch.
Lastly congrats to Ronnie Whelan, move to RTE suits him and reckon he's moved into "big 4"of punditry with Giles,Dunphy,Brady. Welcome to C league Ron!

Mal said...

What was the Wolfhound called? I remember seeing the Irish team on the late late show singing the song for Italia 90 with somebody dressed up as the Wolfhound dancing around.

JJ said...

I haven't a notion, think that's one of the bits of info that has been killed by alcohol down the years.

Quality masoct though, I can remember seeing that late late clip on 'reeling in the years' too.

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