Sunday, March 30, 2008

More sinned against

We seem more sinned against than sinning,
For they smite us when we’re winning,
And we’re grinning all the way
To three more points.

Our opponents end up crying,
For the red cards keep on flying –
No denying that we play
With aching joints.

Four league games, four dismissals,
Matches rife with urgent whistles,
Ref just bristles when they let
Those tackles sting.

And the red cards that they brandish,
Though at times a mite outlandish
Are a grand dish that they set
Before the king.
Players have been sent off against us in each of our four games so far!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chant at the Fingal match

"So are we, so are we, so are we..."
- sung by Shels fans in response to the hugely ironic Sporting Fingal chant of "Shit club, no fans"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


‘Tis strange what the gods in their heaven dictate
When the penalty shoot-out decides cruel fate.

When the opposition player we all love to hate
Walks from the halfway line with swaggering gait,
Ignoring the sudden and deafening spate
Of jeering and catcalls we try to create,
Which never show signs that it might soon abate.

But he places the ball quite controlled and sedate,
As our keeper’s possessed by a jumping-jack state,
Attempting to break the persistent stalemate.

But the striker knows well that he must concentrate
And keep his mind focussed, so he’ll replicate
The strike of his rather less-hated teammate.

A very short run-up, yes I’d estimate
No more than two yards, as we still generate
As much heckling and booing we can propagate.

The old Aldridge shuffle, much favoured of late!
The keeper goes diving and ends up prostrate!

But the goal, gaping wide, set up there on a plate
Remains joyously, wonderfully inviolate,
As the ball, with a beauty ‘tis hard to relate
To those that weren’t there, is chipped perfectly straight
To the arms of the ball boy who’s lying in wait.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Not so good Friday

The palm leaves were laid at our feet
As we rode into Monaghan town.
Hosannas were fulsome and sweet,
Though they promised that they’d take us down.

Our bodies were shaking in fear,
Our blood seemed to freeze in our veins.
Our angel refused to appear
And Satan laughed loud at our pains.

And then they dispensed a cruel blow,
As sharp as a spear in the side.
We cried out in anguish and woe
But the wound was too deep and too wide.

Why have you forsaken us Lord?
We asked, at this vicious attack.
Why answer our prayers with a sword?
And why has the sky turned so black?

They jeered at the crown that we sported
And laughed at the lead they protected.
Have faith that the Devil is thwarted
And our hopes will be soon resurrected.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Victory over the Thoroughbreds

The Thoroughbreds were confident as Shels rode into town,
Upon a night that threatened, though the reins did not come down.
They scored a controversial goal, the linesman stud his ground
We called the ref an awful foal and curses did abound.

But Dermot’s half-time team talk was enough to stirrup things
Although he bridled visibly when looking down the wings.
But in the mane, his tactics got the Redsmen back on course.
First Daisy scored, then Bisto and we yelled till we were horse.

We were firmly in the saddle when Dave Freeman scored a third.
A stable rear defence line meant that nothing bad occurred.
Kildare could only hoof the ball, we jockeyed them all night.
The gods for once were withers and we soon were out of sight.

We had the bit between our teeth, their keeper had a mare.
We won it at a canter from our rivals from Kildare.
A gallop poll held afterwards highlighted people’s views
That maybe Dermot should have trotted out old Filly Hughes.

A Tolka romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 2
Lionel and Karen emerged from the narrow turnstile and found themselves bathed in the glow of the Tolka Park floodlights. It was Karen’s first league match and she was lost in a whirlwind of emotion, deaf to the 500 Dundalk suppoerters singing harmonically in the Riverside, deaf to the ticket sellers and the programme sellers, deaf to the stadium announcer and his eloquent rendition of the two line-ups. She felt that she was going to faint in the emotion of it all and she has glad when she felt Lionel’s strong hand slipping in to hers.
“This way,” he whispered and he led her along the front of the main stand and into Section D. “These seats okay?” he asked. She nodded mechanically. “I have a perfect view of both goals if I squint around those two stanchions,” she answered and he squeezed the wart on her bottom lip playfully.
The match began and Karen could sense Lionel’s nervousness. She knew that he wanted this to be a perfect night and she was afraid of his reaction if things didn’t go quite as planned. She wanted to reassure him that it didn’t matter if the net didn’t bulge, that there would be plenty of time for that sort of thing.
Instead she said, “Isn’t Alan Keely the spit of his oul’ feller?”
Lionel nodded mechanically. “There has been no decent beards in football since Tony Grealish,” he mumbled and then lapsed into a long silence.
The match to-ed and fro-ed and then fro-ed a little more before resuming its to-ing. Suddenly Bisto was put through. Both Karen and Lionel were on the edge of their seats. Strangely, it was the bottom edge. Bisto went down under Chris Bennion’s challenge and the ref’s shrill whistle pierced the night sky like… well, a whistle.
“He’s off,” panted Lionel. “Two-footed tackle.”
“I’ve never seen a two footed tackle,” whispered Karen excitedly, before cottoning on to Lionel’s meaning and blushing deeply. Lionel pretended he hadn’t heard. “Don’t think he was the last man,” he continued, “but he has to go!”
Sure enough, the goalkeeper began the long slow walk to the tunnel and Karen could sense Lionel’s confidence begin to rise. She wished Shels would hit the back of the net soon and relieve his agony.
Half-time came and Lionel disappeared quickly down the steps, reappearing several minutes later with a hot dog, which the two lovers commenced to eat from separate ends, oblivious to the sounds of vomiting coming from the back of the stands.
The second half resumed and Shels were dominant in all areas of the field though only a magnificent Deano save prevented Dundalk from taking an undeserved lead. “Lacking penetration,” Lionel muttered and Karen eyed him warily. Suddenly, Philly Hughes was in the clear, he steadied himself and stroked it home. “Gooooooooaaaaaaaalllllll!!!!!!!!” yelled Lionel wildly but his ejaculation proved premature as he had not seen the raised flag.
He slumped down shamefacedly in his seat. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I just wanted this to be perfect. I wanted the ground to move for you but its been something of a damp squib, hasn’t it?” And he held his head in his hands, not daring to look at her.
“It doesn’t matter, Lionel, really it doesn’t,” she answered. “These sort of things happen from time to time. Okay, the net didn’t bulge for us this time but there’s still Kildare and Monaghan and Athlone.”
“I can’t make Kildare,” replied Lionel. “I’m having my ears syringed.”
“But I’ve already booked two seats on Tosh travel.”
“Look. Go on your own. It’ll be alright. Maybe you’ll have better luck without me.”
“Oh darling, you know I want nothing more than a Bisto screamer but I want you to be there to share it with me.”
“Send me a text from the ground if we score.”
“I promise, darling,” she sighed. “And don’t worry about the other thing. Even Pele failed to score on occasions.”
However, as he lay in the cubicle in the hospital the following Friday night, a beaker full of ear wax by his side, Lionel was forced to concede that the three texts he received notifying him of goals by Brennan, Flood and Freeman did not send him quite into the unadulterated paroxyms of delight that they should have.
Karen would feel great fulfillment, he thought, but not with him. Three goals. It was practically an orgy.
He wondered who was sharing her ecstasy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Live updates

Pic by Larson

The hours I do in work
Often drive me quite beserk.
They are not “football-friendly,” so to speak.
Sure they help to pay the rent,
But their awkwardness has meant
I cannot follow Shelbourne every week.

So when matchday comes around
And I am absent from the ground,
(A part-time fan, to my undying shame.)
I will log on to the net
In a cold and nervous sweat
And hope they’ll have live updates from the game.

For, as everybody knows,
Poor old Aertel has its woes,
Their updates may be wrong or long-delayed.
If it says that we are losing,
Chances are we might be cruising,
Despite the leaps technology has made.

But the updates on Shelsweb
Show each little flow and ebb,
The next best thing to watching in the flesh.
It’s reliable and fast,
You’re both audience and cast,
So long as you know how to hit ‘Refresh.’

It is like in days of yore,
In the fifties and before,
When folk would huddle round the radio
From each corner of the land,
With their Ovaltine in hand,
They’d follow all the action, blow by blow.

Plus ça change, c’est la même chose
For the exile and for those
Who cannot make the match down in Kildare.
We will gather round our sets,
With our personal regrets,
But comforted that live updates are there.

And whether you’re in work
In the wilds of Nanaturk,
In Ho Chi Minh or down in Adrigole,
We will all react the same
When we’re following the game
And see that lovely, lengthy, luscious

So we’ll raise our glasses then
To those brave and selfless men,
Who text and type to stoke the red hot flames,
For this small but faithful group
Serves to keep us in the loop
And dulls the pain of missing Shelbourne games.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A tactical plan to combat chronic time wasting

Time is very precious; we have nothing else but time,
So watching Dundalk wasting it seemed very like a crime.
Whene’er the whistle sounded, they would tap the ball away
And seemed to take a lifetime just to get it back in play.

Of course, they’d had a man sent off, which buggered up their game
And yes, if roles had been reversed, I’m sure we’d do the same,
But really! Any neutral fans would hang their heads and sigh
To watch the antics of the players as precious time slipped by.

But is it fair to blame Dundalk? For Shels knew what to do
To stop the feigning injury that started right on cue.
All it needed was a bit of skill and self-control
To take the ball down Dundalk’s end and stick it in the goal.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The First Division title

With one going up, it is going to be tough.
There’s numerous title contenders.
Who will be made of the sternest of stuff?
And who will be only pretenders?

Dundalk are the fav’rites to pick up the title,
But so they were also last season.
For Longford, a bit of consistency’s vital
And Waterford don’t need a reason.

And what are our chances? Do we have a hope?
It isn’t a fanciful notion.
A little voice says we’ll do better than cope
And may even push for promotion.
Only time will tell!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Eircom League season’s upon us

Come gather supporters across this fair land,
The start of the season is now close at hand.
The turnstiles will shortly be opened and manned
And we’ll all come out battling for honours.
Come stand on the terrace or sit in the stand
For the Eircom League season’s upon us.

Oh get off that barstool and put on your coat,
Wrap that old coloured scarf round your lilywhite throat
And join with the ranks who are trying to promote
The game played in neighbouring venues.
It’s a shot in the arm, it’s a great antidote
To the slop served on Premiership menus.

Oh why would you spend all your well-deserved cash
On trav’lling abroad for some uninspired clash
That’s devoid of excitement, devoid of panache,
Despite what Sky News had predicted?
The team down the road is worth giving a lash
And you’ll possibly end up addicted.

Come Galway, come Sligo, come Bray and Dundalk,
Come Athlone and Monaghan, Fingal and Cork.
Forget all those players who, in newspaper talk,
Earn ludicrous numbers of zeros.
We’ll learn how to run if you help us to walk
So come out and support local heroes.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Tolka romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 1
It was something Lionel had been thinking about a lot recently but had been afraid to put into words.
He knew he loved Karen with all his heart and his soul, with his toenails and with the little dinge on the side of his left knee, and he knew Karen felt the same. But was he rushing things? Was this a step too far?
His mind went back to their first meeting at a strange football ground in Cabra. Shels had been playing Cork in a pre-season friendly and she had turned away from the game suddenly with something in her eye. It turned out it was a football. Lionel had stopped hurling abuse at O’Callaghan and come over with the corner of a handkerchief (he had no idea where the rest of it was) and gently dabbed her eye until she told him it was the wrong one.
It was the eyes, thought Lionel. The eyes very definitely have it. He had never seen red and white eyes before and as he gazed into them he found his manly football supporter’s aura starting to dissolve. She had asked him if he thought that James Chambers was more effective when he came inside and he found himself nodding in agreement and was nonplussed when she insisted he had more space on the wing.
In reply, he had nervously asked her if she was going up to Letterkenny and his heart fell when she shook her head. “I’m having my legs waxed,” she had whispered. “Do you think Shelsweb will have updates?”
He had turned, hot, flushed, angry at himself for forcing the issue, bitter at the rejection. But as he turned, she heard her soft lilting voice “See you at Inchicore?”
In Donegal, he had barely concentrated on the games. He kept imagining Karen and imagining himself smearing wax over those long slender legs. Would she be at Inchicore?
He need have had no worries. She was there, waiting, her scarf on her head and her red and white bobble hat around her neck. She had saved him a seat, she said, though looking around, there had been perhaps no need. They had laughed at the ground improvements and Pats’ fine and he had told her all about the fine victory in Letterkenny, and she hung on his every word.
Back at Beggsboro, they had both marvelled at Alan Mucahy’s tactical nous and when Bisto’s free kick came back off the bar and Peter McGlynn tapped it home, they had jumped up and hugged each other in a joyful embrace. In that moment, Lionel knew he was in love. He smelt her warm soft air and instinctively his lips met hers. “Hello,” they said. “Nice bit of weather we’re having, isn’t it?”
For the rest of the game, they sat and held hands and giggled and did all the annoying things new lovers do, while the rest of the crowd eyed them in revulsion. At the full time whistle, he walked her to the bus stop, (which puzzled her slightly as she had brought her car,) and they made arrangements for Dalymount.
There was a nervous tension in the Phibsboro ground. Lionel could sense that their relationship was moving forward but didn’t want to force things. She feared the goalscoring prowess of Jason Byrne. When the equalising goal deflected into the Bohs’ net , they simply squeezed each other’s hands nervously. “Let’s hope we can hold out,” he grimaced. She gulped and nodded.
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you,” he asked as they exited the ground. She seemed not to hear. “It’s great to see Sparky back,” she said hurriedly. “Of course, I’ve only read about him but to see him in the flesh…”
She stopped and he turned towards her. He could see her white eye beginning to mist up. He sensed her panic and held her tightly.
“I think perhaps we should go to the Dundalk match,” he said simply. She gulped. Her words seemed small and frightened.
“I’ve never been to a League game before,” she said finally, gazing donwards. Then she nodded as if she’d come to a momentous decision. “Will you promise to be gentle with me?”
He kissed her tenderly on the nose. “Darling,” he replied, “I will be as gentle as a lamb. And of couse I’ll respect you in the morning.”

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Second Coming

Shels and LOI legend Mark Rutherford is back at the club, 16 years after making his debut!

Pre-season is done now,
We’ve all had our fun now,
It’s been an encouraging start.
And though it’s no marker,
Things could have been darker –
It’s given supporters great heart.
Predictions are rife
But alas, for my life,
I just can’t understand such malarkey.
I’m just eagerly waiting
And anticipating
The great Second Coming of Sparky.

Like a deer in full spate
With that high-stepping gait,
His style is unique and familiar.
Though he oft cuts inside,
He is best when out wide –
By far his most mem’rable milieu.
Last year we were lacking
In width when attacking,
But to drive, you need more than a car key.
You need speed and great vision
And pinpoint precision,
All of which are embodied in Sparky.

Are his tyres well-inflated?
Are his parts lubricated?
Does he still have a stong enough chassis?
Can he purr down the flank?
Has he fuel in the tank?
Are his roadworthy features still classy?
When the crowd yells for more,
Will his engine still roar
Like a powerfully built Kawasaki?
When he goes up a gear,
How the New Stand will cheer!
Keep on plugging away out there, Sparky!

Is he half a yard slower?
Is he able to go a
Full match without being withdrawn?
Does he still have the pace
To skin full backs with grace,
The great triumph of brains over brawn?
If he’s not what he was,
I’m not bothered because
He’s a part of this club’s hierarchy.
From the terrace will ring
“Play the ball down the wing!”
If in doubt, knock it sideways to Sparky.

New kid on the block

There is a new team in the League this year - Sporting Fingal FC, who incidentally have Shels legend Jim Crawford among their number. As, technically, a Fingallian, the question was posed - are you now going to support your local team?
For long now I have loudly preached
The need to follow hometown clubs.
If football heaven can be reached
‘Tis not square-eyed in raucous pubs,
But on the terrace in the rain,
Sharing ecstasy and pain.

I’ve followed Shels both man and boy
(They were the nearest club to me)
I’ve felt the great euphoric joy,
I’ve wallowed in great misery.
I’ve followed them through thick and thin,
This club that beats beneath my skin.

But now another club has sprung
Out of the loins of local earth,
A club so vibrant and so young,
We gathered round to view his birth.
More local to me now than Shels,
Ring loud, ring loud, the christ’ning bells.

But no, the choice is not too hard,
For lifetime chains will still hold good
And though with fondness I regard
The new kid in the neighbourhood,
And though I’ll watch him grow with pride,
I’ll still stand fast by Shelbourne’s side.

Fair weather supporter

“Don’t hear much ‘bout Shels these days,”
My workmate loudly jeered.
“Have they vanished in the haze?
Gone ‘pop’ and disappeared?
While they enjoyed their huge success
You bored us all to tears
With tales of Shelbourne to excess,
For years and years and years.
But now their star is on the wane
And down a league or two,
We do not hear this Shels refrain
Ad nauseum from you.
You say you are a Shelbourne man,
And that’s the way it goes?
But has this sad fair-weather fan
Gone off to follow Bohs?”

“Oh no,” I smiled. “I don’t say much
And here’s the simple reason.
There’s nothing much to say, as such –
We’re still in the close season.”