OK, so it wasn't quite up there with some of the biggest world events...
- The attack on the twin towers during 9/11
- The shooting of JFK
- Michael "it's up for grabs now" Thomas' goal at Anfield
However, I will now always recall exactly where I was when I heard that Maidenhead United had been relegated (again...) from the footballing paradise that is the Blue Square Bet Conference South.
The National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin.
The National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin.
Really? I shit ye not.
Why? It seemed like a good idea, and besides, Callum's sister had recommended it. Also, where better to forget about the trials and tribulations unfolding at York Road (culminating in the emotional roller-coaster hitting the buffers after Havant's 93rd minute winner secured their safety and condemned the Magpies in the process)? Yeractualcultureinnit. Well, it was a break from the pub, anyway.
Team Macleod had booked their AGM in Dublin well before Maidenhead decided to stop trying to win games, WEF March. Lenny
wasn't allowed to come had other important things to do that weekend. Besides, his surname isn't Macleod.
As is traditional, the weekend would include taking-in a match. Strangely, the Airtricity League's matches are played on a Friday night. A right bugger for away fans but allows everyone to enjoy the delights of the English Premier League, over the weekend. The power of marketing, eh?
The obvious choice for a game was St. Patrick's Athletic. Why? Having arrived in Dublin the year before, Callum had nailed his colours to the St. Pat's mast, basing his choice on the simple fact that their clubhouse is apparently a pub. Fair enough. He was fanatical about them. When I say fanatical, I don't mean in a 'going to any games' kind of way, more of a glance through the papers of a Saturday morning. Apparently, Friday night is the biggest night of the week for partying in Dublin, and watching a game seemed to him like a waste of valuable drinking time.
Sadly for us, they were away at Sligo Rovers. Follow them on the road, for their longest trip of the season? No thanks. This left us with a decision to make.
UCD (or University College Dublin Association Football Club, to give them their full name)? Think Team Bath. Students? I'm with Paul Calf on that matter, so a non-starter.
Shamrock Rovers? Favourites to win the league, following their Europa League exploits the previous season? Charlie Big Potatoes. No deal.
Bohemian FC? They were away, too.
This left Shelbourne. The script was 'big club-cum-underachievers, fallen on hard times, relegated but battled their way back'. They were at home to Cork City, who had beaten them to the second-tier title the season previous. Oh, and Leeds United used to play them every pre-season for a number of years as the Chairman was a Leeds fan. Perfect. Drumcondra area please, Mr Taxi Driver, Tolka Park to be precise.
Ah yes. The taxis. There seemed to be more taxis than people in Dublin. Apparently, they've deregulated there and the world and his wife now has a taxi. Might explain why ours was a Peugeot 406 with 291k miles on the clock and a heater which was stuck on full blast!
15 EUR got us a place behind the goal with the Shels (as they're known) Ultras...
The (less than packed) away end.
109 Cork City fans. Sounded like 9 until they went 2-1 up.
I managed to find the only pen in the ground...
Fair play - they gave their team good backing, had an impressive array of flags (including a rather nice one in the style of the old Oasis logo), plus the occasional inventive song. In a time when fans of most clubs have the same homogenized songs, they managed to sing something I've never heard at a game before -
A bit different, but I like it. Nothing to do with the fact that I bought the
New Order homage Monaco song when it came out...
Shelbourne were unbeaten at home and Cork hadn't even scored a goal on their travels. Home win then. Script torn up, Cork battered Shels in the first half (albeit with only a Vinny Sullivan strike to show for it).
A visit to the club shop proved to be fruitless. The Anchor scarf collection won't be added to as they'd run out '4 or 5 weeks ago'. The season only started 2 months ago, as it's a summer league. A bit noddy and not something Club Shop Guy would let happen at the Magpies Megastore...
Anyway, match highlights - to some geetar rawk - here
Shels came out early for the second half, having presumably had the proverbial rocket up their backsides. A sublime Paddy Kavanagh strike had Shels level. With the Ultras proudly waving their Austria/Latvia flags, as seen below, it seemed like there was only going to be one winner...
Which one is which? Me neither...
See what I mean?
The 'Money Ran Out When We Were Doing The Executive Boxes' Stand
Maybe the MUFC Ltd curse followed us, as Cork nicked it late on, with MoM Sullivan showing his class again. He stood out like a sore thumb, so expect Reading to be signing him at some stage.
Mark O'Steward keeps a close eye on us.
Something Cork-football-related which does involve singing...
Not a bad game, TBH, although nothing special. Standard compared to England? League 2, based on what we saw, although perhaps I'm being a tad harsh.
The crowd was certainly vocal, which helped the atmosphere and allowed a few jibes at the Cork fans, apparently for having 'let their club die'. It did have a bit of a 'youth club' feel to it, though, with the average age seemingly 14. This allowed us to draw a parallel with a problem Maidenhead had a couple of years ago. How to get youths watching their local side? No Cloughie, it's not giving them a Junior Magpies application form. Give them cheap entry and let them enjoy themselves, even if it does involve standing in the seating area and a bit of swearing.
Both clubs having achieved this, the second bit is tougher. How to keep them interested when full admission prices, girls/boys, booze, fags, university etc kick in. Maidenhead haven't managed to do this, with any real success, and I fear Shels may have the same problem. Let's hope not, as they're the future support.
1,033 saw it.