Next game in our LOI round Ireland extravaganza was to the bad lands of Ireland, the Midlands, Longford, to see Longford town play Bray Wanderers. Since I don’t live that far away, I have seen De Town play a few times, so this wasn’t a new one for me at all.
Longford (An Longfort) is a smallish town, with a population of about 9600 in the centre of Ireland in the county of Longford, easily accessible from Dublin and beyond by train, bus and road. The town is most known for its St Mel’s Cathedral dominating the skyline of the metropolis. And a certain famous Mr. Gibson was called after the Cathedral, his mother hailing from the town.
The town has seen better days, and one could argue that the recent upturn in the economy has yet to fully trickle down to Longford, but the town certainly has a lot of characters, and its still better than Athlone!
Andy Byrne’s Pub, Longford
First pub ventured into was Andy Byrne’s Pub, a good mid-day crowd in, watching the horse racing and the early afternoon football on the box, good bit of banter from the bar man, decent atmosphere and noticed that they had St Mel’s Pale Ale on tap. St Mel’s, of course, the local brewery that has proved a bit of a hit in the midlands and beyond. Good pint in great surroundings, enjoyed my brief time here. Recommended.
Kavanagh’s Bar, Longford
Address: Earl St, Longford
The next beer was in Kavanagh’s Bar, which had a bit of life in it, had a nice long bar to spend the time in good company. Looked like a decent boozer, and had a good atmosphere for that time of day, just buzzing along.
Kane’s Bar, Longford
Address: 27 Ballymahon St, Longford
Kane’s Bar had some strange frontage, doubling up as a travel agency, and easy enough to pass by if in search of a pub. Not really a whole lot happening in this bar, was very dead. Got another St Mels beer, and left not long after that.
Roy’s Bar, Longford
Don’t really know what to make of this bar. Certainly was one of the weirdest bars I have drank in for a long time. Was so mad I did two stints in the pub, before and after the game, just to check to see if my senses were not playing tricks on me.
Great location, and looked decent from the outside, not too bad inside either, nice décor alright. Having the beers and a bit of a chat with the bar girl, all good fun. Bar manager starts shouting at his punters, not sure if this was some kind of “Longford style banter”. One fella left due to it, shouted out the door. Either way it wasn’t my business.
He eventually tells the bar lady to go home, she wasn’t needed for the day. A bit of a shock not just for her, but for us as well, as she was a good bar lady, chatty and fun, and there was a Saturday trade building up.
Had two pints, which were fine.
Returned later, place was busy. But for a small bar, with a mixed crowd in, the music was tuned to the last, hard dance blasting out which was kind of out of place for the crowd that was in it and the setting.
And that wasn’t the end of it. The bar manager decides to start mopping the floor in a busy bar for no apparent reason. Getting in the way of people trying to have a drink. Was funny anyway, what I can I say. Must be a Longford thing. Lol
J P Reilly’s Bar Longford
Richmond Street, Longford
Pre match pints were to be in J P Reilly’s Bar, where Section O, the Longford supporters group, managed to get a really good deal, all pints for three euros, and a free bus to the ground. Top job.
Nice bar, very good bar man who was quite friendly, played a few games of pool on a very dodgy table, was a good bar to sink a few good pints before the game, Enjoyed it.
Longford Town F.C.
Arena/Stadium: City Calling Stadium, Longford,
Location: Strokestown Road, Longford
Manager: Tony Cousins
Leagues: League of Ireland Premier Division
Longford Town or, as the locals lovingly call the team, “De town”, play in the LOI Premier Division. The club play their home matches at the imaginatively titled ‘City Calling Stadium’, which has a capacity of about 7,000, and are usually decked out in red and black.
Founded way back in 1924, the club were only elected into the league of Ireland in 1984, 60 years later! A history of not much happening, usually a low feeder team at the bottom of the first division. That was until a certain Stephen Kenny took the reins of the club in 1998. Kenny was an unknown, having virtually no playing career to speak of (just 4 games for Home farm) and at just 27, it was a gamble I guess a team like Longford, with no real expectations, could afford to make. His three season stint at the club transformed the club, as they won promotion to the League of Ireland Premier Division, reached an FAI Cup final for the first time (losing out to Bohemians), and subsequently, qualifying for Europe in the Uefa Cup, another first for the club. Leaving in 2001, he didn’t win anything but there can be no doubt he laid the foundations for what was to come.
Taking up the reins from Kenny was Alan Mathews, a Dub who had made over 80 appearances for the club. Again another novice manager thrown in at the deep end, but he eventually became the most successful manager in Longford Town’s history, delivering their first senior trophy, the 2003 FAI Cup (a 2–0 win over St. Patrick’s) and retaining it the following year, winning a cup double of the FAI Cup and League Cup.
The club will be particularly remembered for a quite simply awful fuck up in the Uefa Cup, 3-1 up in the tie and with an away goal away to the mighty Carmarthen Town, they let in four soft goals in the second half to exit Europe 5-3!
Relegation in 2007 to the first, was a disappointment as they struggled there for 6 barren years before returning to the top league last season, finishing in a very decent sixth place.
Playing out of the City Calling Stadium, what was for a long time called Flancare park, built in 1924 but getting a major face lift in 2001 the stadium today can hold about just under 7000, all seated. The club though struggle to get fans out there as the stadium is not in the town and located three miles just west of Longford town centre.
LongfordTown 1 – 1 Bray Wanderers
This game was pretty much ninety minutes of pure boredom, offered up by both teams in a wet and cold night. I had brought a friend who hates football, his first time at a LOI game. I think he hates football even more now!
As far as I could tell there were only about two shots on target in the first half alone
Second half Bray came out a little stronger, with the wingback Douglas catching my eye, but I am not sure if that’s because of his striking read hair, but anyway they finally got the first goal when Dean Kelly scored shooting from inside the box to put it past Skinner in the Longford goals.
I did get to see a laughable goal though. The Dundalk net minder, Cherrie, a goalie I have long been a fan of, totally made a hames of a back pass, kicking the ball off the body of David O’ Sullivan, who I am not so sure knew too much about it. It rebounded high over the goalkeepers head, straight back into the empty net. Comical!
Late on Longford’s O’Connor was sent off for a bit of a rash tackle on Creevy, but Bray didn’t really capitalize with the extra man and the game eventually fizzled out for a dour draw.
Interview with Kieran from “Section O”, Longford Supporters Group, and who also runs his own brilliant blog “Between the Stripes” on all things Longford Town FC, well worth checking out……
So what’s your name?
And Section o?
Yes, Section o, we are going for our 15th year now, since 2001 the group was set up, I haven’t always been over to that side of the ground myself but 15 years overall now so…
And why Longford Town, why the LOI?
Kind of strange actually cause I was born in England myself, but I am Irish, my family is Irish, so we moved here in 2003 and Jesus I thought when moved here I thought it was fantastic that the local area had its own football team and I thought Jesus this is something I can really get behind. Went to my first game in 2003, think it was a league game at home against cork city, I think we lost but, ever since then I have always been passionate about the town and heavily involved with it the last few years
What got you into section o, what was the setting up of that?
Well section o kind of went away for a few years, there was always a few lads that stuck loyal to it but when we were in the first division they were dark days, the attendances were poor, and there wasn’t many sticking to it but then for I think it was for 2013 or even 2012 when we were making a push for the first division title one of the lads said maybe we can get this going again and made a big push to get as many people over to that side of the ground as possible, ever since then I have been hooked, I just love the whole atmosphere to it.
Since you have been following them, what has been the best season, the highlight for you?
It has to be 2014 winning the first division, three days in a row out celebrating after that it was absolutely fantastic. It’s hard to know whether anything like that will be matched again but even if we got relegated and people say it would be great if we went down and won it again, but it would never be the same again, seven years in the first division struggling to get back and finally doing it, so that definitely
What do you think of tonight’s game anyway, it was a 1 all draw with Bray?
Am I allowed to swear on this?
Yeah of course, ha, it’s a drinking website you can say whatever you want to say!
My eyes are bleeding after that game, that was absolutely SHITE
It was pretty even though?
Pretty even because both teams were absolute dross. I have never seen so much long ball played in my life…I don’t know what type of shape the team is playing in …. It’s going to be a long season I think…
So what do you think about 2016 then, what would be considered a good season?
Oh anything about 10th place I will be celebrating like a league title because I don’t think compared to last year’s squad….I don’t think it’s there at all
So what players….I know its 4 games in, but what players should we look out for Longford anyway?
Kevin O’Connor definitely, he is getting on a bit now, but he still is only 30, still young enough in LOI terms but he is just a fantastic midfield player, so good on the ball, he wasn’t great tonight, but I don’t think he is fully fit, injured last week, so maybe not fully back at it, Josh O’Hanlon is on loan from England, from Bournemouth, so he should pick up as the season goes on and then Jamie Mulhall is a very talented player
So just a question. Rivals, it must be Athlone town
Athlone town, yeah that’s a big rivalry, a lot of people don’t think it when they talk about LOI rivalries, they talk of Shelbourne, or they talk about Bohs-Rovers …but when the two teams are going well, which isn’t that often, but when the two teams are going well and when a derby game comes up ..there isn’t an atmosphere like it, its unbelievable…
Is it hard to get people out to the Town,
Yeah its very hard
Ye guys I thought were pretty impressive tonight, you made an effort
We made an effort, I suppose the numbers weren’t great, but we did make a lot of noise, you can probably tell from my voice but we are trying again to get another big push on this year and try to get people out to games but it really isn’t easy especially when the team isn’t as going as well as people might have hoped …..its not easy so….
So that was Longford. Bit of a strange one alright. Longford is a town that is just getting by, silently doing its own thing in the middle of Ireland. If WW3 started tomorrow, dare i say Longford wouldn’t take notice, or be affected too much. Keep on keeping on…….
As much as I really admire Kieran and what he and the boyz in section O are doing, and with a bit of unnecessary hostility from the Longford FC board too, but sorry to say I did back Longford pre season to be relegated at 11/2. Just figured replacing an already threadbare team with a lot of youngsters is a tough ask.
Bit trippy but fuck it i was bored!