Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We demand legislation!

I’m hoping the political Mick Wallace
can give the First Division fan some solace
by asking if the Minister for Sport
might lend the aforementioned fan support
by abolishing, with suitable propriety,
the current two-tier system in society.

At leader’s question time, he could harangue
Joan Burton and the rest of the shebang
and ask for an immediate white paper
to put an end to this unsustainable caper.
Surely he can persuade the Mayo Fuhrer
to heal this rift between the poor and poorer?

Five years on, the situation’s critical –
perhaps its time that we all got political.
Is there nothing in the constitution
that might relieve our current destitution?
Mick could really offer us an elixir
and make our Enda’s five-point plan a sixer?

Let him address the chamber with defiance
from deep within the United Left Alliance,
entreating our befuddled sporting minister
to close this chasm, inequable and sinister.
(Although it might require a few Mick Wallaces
to get the Government to change its policies.)

Diary of a shipwrecked sailor

Early March 2011 –
Hibernating for four months is the only way we can save enough energy to face the perils ahead in this Godforsaken place but oh it was good to wake and feel the sun on our faces and think, if only for a minute, that we were back in our homeland of the Premier Division.
This will be the fifth summer that we have spent in this barren wilderness, searching for a ship to bring us home. It seems that we have circumnavigated this island several times to no avail and at times the despair has been great but we trust in God and the circularity of football fortunes that one day we will see our loved ones again.
A carrier pigeon brought us news that things are again not well back home. It appears that the good ship Torpedo Fingal was wrecked on the rocky coast of fiscal rectitude and was lost with all hands on board. There are few here that mourn her passing, having seriously questioned the raw materials used in her construction.
There are rumours too that the SS Bohs nearly went under in the same storm but survived by throwing overboard everything that wasn’t nailed down. I fear for her greatly, though not enough to lose much sleep over.
The SS Drogs also was sighted off our coast and the wind seemed certain to blow her ashore at the precise spot where our own vessel capsized. However, the Hand of God intervened and the wind changed at the last moment and the last we saw of her she was heading back to the Premier Division with the wind in her sails.
Last week we travelled to the interior of this place to a town called Long-ford in search of provisions for the voyage ahead. Oh but this is a Godforsaken place where the rain pours out of the sky like water from a bilge pump. However on this occasion, it stayed dry and many of the crew took that as an omen of bright days ahead.
Fortunately the tribe in Long-ford were very accommodating and gave us the most amount of booty that we could carry. They can often be a recalcitrant, niggardly bunch so we were pleased to find them in such generous mood.
Last week, a small party went hunting in a place called Cretty-ard. God knows but it is a Godforsaken place but they were hopeful of bagging some serious game which would serve to buoy us up for the months ahead. As I write this, I have heard no news of their return. If they return empty handed it will be a bitter blow
Tonight we receive a deputation from a tribe that dwell on the banks of the mysterious River Slaney in the south east of the island. It is by all accounts a Godforsaken place.
Their leader is a great, wild-haired warrior with a penchant for pink. He has recently being accepted into the island’s inner sanctum after wrestling an ox, a badger and a sabre-toothed squirrel so he is obviously a powerful man. Let us hope they come bearing gifts and without a spirit of animosity.

Double standards?

“Financial mismanagement!” they cried in derision,
those FAI boys with a puritan heart.
“Oh, Shelbourne, quake now, as we give our decision –
this kind of thing must be stopped from the start.
‘Condemned now, you stand here, the scourge of the earth.
The right and the just shall give you a wide berth.
A handful of dust will be all that you’re worth
and your neighbours shall mock you with ill-disguised mirth.”

“Financial mismanagement!” they cried in derision,
those IMF boys with a puritan heart.
“Oh, Ireland, quake now, as we give our decision –
this kind of thing must be stopped from the start.
‘Condemned now, you stand here, the scourge of the earth.
The right and the just shall give you a wide berth.
A handful of dust will be all that you’re worth
and your neighbours shall mock you with ill-disguised mirth.”

“Financial mismanagement,” they whispered in corners,
those FAI boys who sat judgment on Bohs.
“But what is the point turning you into mourners?
What would we gain by augmenting your woes?
‘You know you’ve done wrong but it’s only a game.
The national climate is really to blame.
The rules do not say we should treat clubs the same,
so here’s a few shillings to keep you from shame.”

“Financial mismanagement,” they whispered in corners,
those IMF boys to the glum Portuguese.
“But what is the point turning you into mourners?
What would we gain when you’re down on your knees?
‘You know you’ve done wrong but it’s all a big game.
International climate is really to blame.
The rules do not say we should treat states the same,
so here’s a few shillings to keep you from shame.”

The season starts here

Written in Oct 2010 but only posted up in March 2011!

Our early season games were far from splendid –
All hope, it seemed, did quickly disappear.
Opposition threats were not defended,
sloppy goals conceded out of fear.
And for the loyal hundreds that attended,
our poor results gave little cause to cheer.

But in the final third, the team just blended
and seemed to raise itself another gear.
Our pessimism had to be amended
in light of this new vibrant atmosphere.
Promotion thoughts, which had long been suspended,
now started to be whispered in each ear.

So here we are, the season’s nearly ended
and suddenly the picture’s very clear.
The team and coach must surely be commended
for having fought and scrapped to get so near.
But, for our hopes and dreams to be extended,
the season really only starts from here.

Shels heroes of yesteryear

No.14 Tosh Moher

Shels’ fall from grace into the First Division for the season 1986-1987 lasted but a single year as they bounced straight back up again like a big bouncy football club.
It was around this time, the wizened old supporters say, that a man stepped out of the mists of obscurity and into the light; a man that would prove to be the saviour of Shels fans who had hitherto spent many weeks trudging painstakingly from one away match to the next; a man whose name is so hallowed in the history of Shelbourne Football Club, that many supporters genuflect when uttering his name. That man is Tosh Moher.
It would be no exaggeration to say that Tosh is probably the greatest person who ever lived. His omission from the current Greatest Irish person of all Time competition, currently showing on RTE, is a travesty that has had Bono and Mary Robinson squirming with embarrassment. Maybe the producers felt it would be a shoe-in?
Up to the mid eighties, away travel to matches had been one hard logistical slog. Remember this was a time of no mobile phones and no computers and if you needed to know the times of the trains to Waterford on a Sunday afternoon, you had to run down to Heuston and check the timetable.
Many fans chose to hitch-hike around the country or to ride asses and mules, as trains were infrequent and unreliable. Places like Ballybofey and Newcastlewest weren’t even on the train line and the CIE bus up to Donegal (via Sligo) often took in excess of 36 hours.
Then Tosh Moher came riding into Tolka on a white steed, his moustache flowing in the wind. He devised the revolutionary theory of ‘organising a bus’ to travel to away games. People gasped in amazement at the boldness of the scheme, though Ollie was heard to mutter that “it’s so crazy, it might just work.”
But Tosh was undeterred. Undeterredness has always been his greatest asset and when he finally shuffles off this mortal coil, he will be canonised as the patron saint of the undeterred. Using a phone and a phone book in tandem – rumour has it, that he would look up a number in one and then dial it on the other – he contacted private bus companies, looking for quotes. Thus was Tosh Travel born.
It is hard to believe that today’s multinational transport company once started out from such humble beginnings. Ireland at the time was inhabited by dark marauding savages and it was often incumbent on the passengers to stop in Harry’s of Kinnegad to take on provisions. Even if you were going to Dundalk or Kilkenny, a stop in Harry’s was a must. Today of course, Tosh Travel refuels at places as diverse as Urlingford and Monaghan and stopping at Kinnegad is no longer mandatory on the way to and from matches.
Of course, there have been many travel incidents that have gone down into folklore. Who could forget the story about one supporter who left his scarf on the bus when getting off at Leixlip and had to pick it up from Tosh the following Friday? Or the supporter on the way down to Limerick who had to request the driver to stop at a convenient hedge to relieve himself? Or the fan who was so slow coming out of Flancare Park, he nearly missed the bus home? This is indeed the stuff of legend.
And of course, the man himself! What can be said about this colossus that hasn’t already been said a thousand times? His ability to judge the exact arrival time at grounds to within fifteen or twenty minutes is well-known but how many people know that he once refused a third pint in Mallow on the way down to a match against Cork Unshakables? Or that he once missed a match back in 1991?
Such is the aura that now exists around this great man that many of our younger supporters now seriously doubt whether he even exists, this transportation guru of the past twenty years. Older supporters will claim to have met him, even talked to him, though few will admit to having understood his reply.
He is without a doubt.