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


September 2015

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shamrock Rovers (Ireland)


Shamrock Rovers FC (Cumann Peile Ruagairí na Seamróige in Irish) hail from the Irish capital of Dublin and were formed in 1901 in the Ringsend area of the city. The clubs name derives from the fact the clubs first rooms were in Shamrock Avenue.

In 1906 Rovers withdrew from the First Division of the Leinster Senior League, but in 1914 they were resurrected and played at Ringsend Park for the next two years. Unfortunately the venue then became unavailable and the club disbanded for five years, only playing exhibition matches. They then joined the Leinster Senior League, with Rovers lifting the League of Ireland title at the first attempt in 1922, before moving into their new home of Glenmalure Park in Milltown in 1926. Within five seasons in the League of Ireland, Shamrock had won three titles and one FAI Cup.

A large crowd packs in to watch the action in Milltown
Crowds of up to 30,000 flocked to Glenmalure Park as 'The Hoops' quickly became the countries most successful club. By 1949 they had lifted six titles and eleven FAI Cup's with Irish internationals Paddy Moore and Jimmy Dunne playing pivotal roles. Dunne died suddenly so Paddy Coad reluctantly took over as player manager. He produced a fine young side which won three more titles during the 1950's.

Sean Thomas rebuilt the side in the 60s after many players moved on to English clubs and he led the club to a double in 1964 as well as going out narrowly to eventual winners Valencia in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup. Thomas resigned because of interference from the Cunningham family who owned the club. 

Former player Liam Tuohy took the helm and won a further five consecutive FAI Cup's. The summer of 1967 was spent in the USA where the club participated in the foundation of the United Soccer Association. They represented the city of Boston and played as Boston Rovers. Mick Leech was the star striker of the day.

In 1972 Arthur and Des Cunningham sold Rovers to three Kilcoyne brothers from Dublin. They purchased the club for business reasons having seen the previous high attendances the team attracted. However, withing five years crowds were disappearing from the league, which led to the sad demise of Cork Hibs and Drumcondra. The new owners sold their experienced players and replaced them with juniors. 

In 1976 Thomas returned as manager before Johnny Giles arrived as player manager in July 1977. The Kilcoynes made the club full time professional and unveiled plans to rebuild Glenmalure Park to hold 50,000 fans. Giles brought in Irish internationals Eamonn Dunphy, Ray Treacy and Paddy Mulligan to supplement the younger players. A twenty first FAI Cup was lifted and the club had notable European victories against Fram Reykjavik and Apoel Nicosia. Despite this Giles resigned in February 1983.

Jim McLaughlin took over and was given funds for players. The side clinched their first league title for twenty years in 1984, followed by three more consecutive titles and three FAI Cup's. The club bought Glenmalure Park from the Jesuits before the Kilcoyne's announcing it would be sold for development in 1987. The team moved to play matches at Tolka Park with the Supporters Club and KRAM (Keep Rovers at Milltown) boycotted games. The Kilcoyne's sold the club to businessman John McNamara who controversially moved Rovers to home of their biggest rivals; Bohemians Dalymount Park. Crowds continued to be very low as the supporters were most unimpressed.

A monument stands where Glenmalure Park was once located.
In 1990 Rovers moved to the Royal Dublin Showground closer to their original home where they remained for six years and winning a league title during their stay. 22,000 fans attended their first game at RDS against St Patrick's Athletic. In 1996 McNamara sold the club to Premier Computers, headed by Alan McGrath who unveiled plans to build a new stadium for the club in the south western suburb of Tallaght. 

Brian Kearney also of Premier Computers took over as Chairman and gained planning permission in 1998 as the club once again used Tolka Park for home games. Joe Colwell bought the club and ended the companies' involvement at Rovers as Damien Richardson had a spell as team boss while the side played for a while at Morton Stadium (see Sporting Fingal section). 

Tony McGuire then took over the club and looked for investment to complete a half built stadium after the construction company employed pulled out of the deal. There followed a period of legal battles over the ownership of the land and stadium which led to the enforced resignation of McGuire after the club entered a period of examination. 

McGuire had submitted the clubs' 2003 accounts when applying for their 2005 license, which led to a points deduction and consequent relegation. The 400 Club, a supporters group had an offer for the club accepted and took over ownership. Promotion was won at the first attempt and the stadium construction was recommenced while the side performed in home games at Tolka Park.

In 2009 the stadium was completed and marked with an opening game against Real Madrid which drew in a crowd of 10,200, while the team improved under Michael O'Neill. The 2010 League of Ireland title was won on goal difference over Bohemian ending a drought of sixteen years, as well as a two legged game in Europe against Juventus.

Rovers made the headlines during the 2011 season in the Europa League when they defeated Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade over two legs to reach the competitions' group stages, on a night when all Scottish teams were eliminated from the tournament. Their reward was to be drawn in the same group as Tottenham Hotspur, Rubin Kazan and PAOK. Despite a gallant effort the team were eliminated at the group stage.

The skills of manager O'Neill were spotted and he was appointed as manager of Northern Ireland in December 2012. Rovers were led by Stephen Kenny and then Brian Laws before Trevor Croly took over in November to prepare for the 2013 season.

Pat Fenlon took over as team boss in August 2014. The team finished the season in fourth place, before ending up one position better off in 2015.

Shamrock Rovers will compete in the League of Ireland Premier Division for the 2016 season.

An attempt to rouse fans displayed outside the ground on my visit

My visit

Thursday 14th October 2010

I was in and around Dublin for a few days sightseeing, socialising and to see some stadiums and a match on the Friday evening. I had already had a superb day having gone on a tour of the new Aviva Stadium and met one of my old Scarborough FC heroes, Martin Russell who was managing UCD in the city.

From Bellfield I took a bus back into the city centre before jumping aboard a Luas (Dublin tram) for the long but interesting ride to distant Tallaght.

My first impression was not hugely favourable of the new area. It was a new town newly built replica of the new towns that blight the south east of England. It was lacking character, save for the old original village separated by a major road. I set off on the way to where I thought the stadium was, but soon found myself by a dual carriageway with not a lot on the horizon. A kind local put me back in the right direction which meant going through The Square shopping centre and along the Tallaght Pass, which was a major road.

The stadium was now in my sights and I was soon outside. I managed to take some photos of the far one of two identical stands through a gate, before popping into the club office to ask permission to have a look inside. The chap behind the counter apologised but he couldn't oblige. Instead I walked around the perimeter and got several good photos anyway.

The ground had two impressively identically designed seated stands with one having an interesting looking barrel roof, before money became tighter, facing each other across the pitch. Both ends were flat open standing, but had plenty of space for future development. 

I walked back to the Luas stop, in the correct direction. It took less than ten minutes! I set off for my next destination, St Patrick's Athletic hoping to revisit Tallaght Stadium for a game when the area was 'lived in' and the stadium developed further.

The old photos of Glenmalure Park have been taken from the internet

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