Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard

London

September 2015

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bohemian (Ireland)






Bohemian FC, who were formed in 1890, are based in the suburb of Phibsborough in North Dublin. 'The Bohs' or 'The Gypsies' to give them their two nicknames are often known as Bohemians.

Soon after their formation The Bohs adopted red and black as their club colours. They played in the Irish League before becoming founder members of the League of Ireland in 1921, which was formed after Southern Ireland was declared a republic.

A downloaded picture of Dalymount Park in better days

The Gypsies started out life playing at the Polo Ground in Phoenix Park, before moving on the Jones Road which later became Croke Park. They were soon on their way to a site now occupied by Old Belvedere RFC where they could charge admission and build some finances for the first time. From there they went to Whitehall Farm Glasnevin, which was out of the way of public transport so once again they searched for another new ground. They found a site in Phibsborough where Dalymount Park was developed and opened in 1901. Over the years it became home to Irish football before internationals were shifted to Landsdowne Road permanently in the 1980's.



 









On the pitch Bohemian quickly established themselves as a leading club in the League of Ireland winning the title five times in the first fifteen years, as well as lifting two FAI Cups. There then followed a pretty barren run although they did enter European competition for the first time in 1970.

Two more league titles followed in 1975 and 1978 along with another couple of cups around the same period. The Bohs then had to wait until the turn of the millennium for another championship, but they then won four titles within the decade as summer football took a hold in the Republic.

The Bohs are owned 100% by the members but financial troubles blighted the club for several years. In 2006 the members voted to sell Dalymount Park to a businessman, Liam Cooper in a deal that would see them better off financially than ever before. The deal would see the club move to a new 10,000 stadium at Harristown near to Dublin Airport which would also have restaurants, bars and a gym.
 

 









In 2008 the club lost a court case which prevented the move as they had previously sold the land on which the old Tramways End stood to a company called Albion. Albion offered a deal for less money to the club in 2009 but offered to build the new stadium. As of January 2011 the club had yet to decide what to do. 

Successful manager Pat Fenlon who had led the club to honours was tempted away to take the vacant job at Hibernian in November 2011 after Bohs had turned down a compensation package from Dundee United a year earlier. Aaron Callaghan stepped into the managerial hotseat at Dalyer.

Bohemian FC will play in the League of Ireland Premier Division in the 2013 season.



My visit

Bohemian 0 Sligo Rovers 1 (Friday 15th October 2010) FAI Cup Semi Final (att: 4,500)





 I was in Dublin for a few days groundhopping and sightseeing. It was nearing the end of the 2010 season and I originally had intended to go to the Bohemian v Shamrock Rovers crunch match on the same date. However, the game had been moved forward for live TV coverage to the previous Tuesday, in a game the Bohs won one nil.

As it happened the Cup semi final was arranged to replace it. The side drawn out of the hat first got home advantage with no neutral grounds being used. There was plenty to play for as the final was to be staged at the new Aviva Stadium, which was formerly Lansdowne Road.

I had been on a wander during the morning before doing a tour of Croke Park. After a much needed siesta (the Guinness had been particularly good around Temple Bar the previous evening!) I set out for Dalyer as the locals call it. I had intended to take a bus but ended up walking up the hills out of the centre of the city.

My plan was to have a couple of beers in the pubs near to the stadium before having one at the bars inside. I wasn't keen on indulging post match as I had a very early flight the next day to East Midlands before heading to Long Eaton United against Scarborough Athletic, where I'd agreed to co-commentate on the game.

I had my Scarborough shirt on as it was generally a conversation piece in bars full of fans. Sure enough I ordered a Guinness in the very smart 'The Bohemian' bar and an older chap asked me how many fans we'd be bringing? He thought it was a Sligo shirt, but I soon explained and got sat down to have a chat about football and The Bohs. His name was Tom and he was a smashing bloke. He never stopped smiling and he'd soon bought the first of what was to be many rounds of drinks.

We finished our beer and we headed round to the ground, which was just a few minutes away. A coachload of away fans had just pulled up, with some using the front gardens of the terraced houses as toilets which I found a bit over the top. I went inside while Tom had to wait until the season ticket gate opened. I bought a programme and went out to the front of the stand to take some photos. I got chatting to a steward and I commented how I liked what I saw. He told me it wasn't a patch on how it used to be. It transpired he had holidayed near to Scarborough the previous week.

Tom came in and directed me to the members bar. He had also bought me a programme which summed up his generosity. We then got stuck in to some superb dark stuff in the bar, while I was introduced to some other Bohs fans. The two lads behind the bar were an exhibition in itself. They served the massed bar with efficiency that had to be seen to be believed. I had soon joined in with everyone else when ordering and just signalled two to them. Within a couple of minutes the stout was in front of us.

It was time for kick off so we went out to the stand while arranging to meet up in the bar at full time.

Dalymount Park had undoubtedly seen better days. The Jodi Stand was a replacement to the old Main Stand which was demolished in 2000. It was a single tier of seats with facilities underneath. To the right was the Tramways End, which was a large open terrace but was shut owing to the fact that the club no longer owned it. This continued around the corner to form the open far side. This had been converted to seating and had the final third demolished. The side was empty for my visit, save for the TV gantry as the match was being shown live on RTE. Where the terrace once stood was now flat standing, which was being used for vehicles and the away fans coaches. Finally the Shed End had a roof covering around two thirds of the seats below.

I managed to find a seat amongst some youths on the very back row of the stand halfway towards the Shed End. It was quite vociferous as The Bohs younger fans tried to get behind their team. I was impressed to see over a thousand away fans in attendance with the Sligo supporters also making plenty of noise and waving flags.



 


I was joined by a really nice man in the seat next to me after about ten minutes who told me it was chaos outside with the club under estimating size of the crowd. Their was not many chances being created with Sligo under the management of former Wolves, Wigan Athletic and Burnley (amongst many others) midfielder Paul Cook showing great composure.

It was scoreless at half time with a goal not really looking like coming. I went to the only catering point, a fish and chip van in the corner of the ground. Like the lads in the bar, they made light work of the long queue and before long I was soaking up my ale with chips and a battered burger!

I asked my new pal in the seats if there had been a big crowd the previous week for the friendly match with Celtic? He said he didn't know as he'd been in Brazil. "Very nice" I said but he just muttered and shook his head. It was at this point I'd realised I'd put my size elevens in it. On the Wednesday evening I'd read in the evening Herald paper about a local football team who'd suffered a nightmare trip to Brazil and hadn't been allowed out of the airport:


He had gone as the clubs referee. He wasn't very complimentary about the treatment they'd received. I quickly changed the subject!





Rovers were playing well against a toothless Bohs side and it was no surprise when they went ahead from a set piece move. Bohs did their very best to get back into the game, but there was no way through and I'd have doubted if they'd have scored if we'd been there until midnight.

I returned to the members bar. Tom came in a little later. There was natural disappointment in the room which was difficult for me to show as I was relatively neutral despite wanting Bohs to win for my new mates. We started putting away some more sublime Guinness as we chatted away.


 

Before the game I had mentioned my Croke Park tour to Tom. He was obviously not impressed and told me that not many others at Bohs would be. When I mentioned my love of cricket, Tom enthused. He told me of Bohs own cricket team. The day before I was refused entry into Tallaght Stadium, the home of Shamrock Rovers to take some photos. He and others said they weren't surprised (Rovers are Bohs bitterest rivals). He then told me of why he didn't like those involved with Croke Park and the games played there.

The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) are an amateur body who promote traditional Irish sports such as Gaelic Football and Hurling. Until 1971 they banned anyone from participating who played or even attended other sports such as football, cricket and rugby. Tom was like many young enthusiastic schoolkids. He loved playing sports and found he was quite good at them. He was told that if he was to progress in GAA games that he was to give up British games. Tom went on to play football at a decent level and play for Drumcondra FC, but he was still bitter about the treatment he and many of his friends was dealt with in his youth.




It was gone eleven o'clock when I staggered out of the bar and found a taxi rank on the crossroads near to the bar I had started in. The ride took me back to my digs on a far more direct route than I'd walked to the ground. I'd know for next time.

I woke up the next morning with a hangover from hell and a ride to the airport ahead of me where I was joined by the depressing sight of hundreds of football fans heading to England to watch the big teams instead of supporting their local clubs.

Three weeks after my visit. Bohs finished second in the league on goal difference to Shamrock Rovers, while in November Sligo beat Shamrock on penalties in the FAI Cup Final.



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