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Swiss football away days 3

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3.

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Wohlen is a small town of about 15,000 residents, to the west of Zurich, and in the canton of Aargau in Switzerland. Mostly a farming area it really only got going as a town after the 1800’s when it developed into a key industrial town with important rail and road links. In particular, for the straw braid industry, where Wohlen became well known all over the fashion world for its straw hats and garments. Sadly that industry is long gone in the town but the affects of that legacy is a small town that is thriving, (or not doing too badly I guess!)

Getting to Wohlen is easy enough as the area has its own train station with good links to nearby towns Aarau and Zurich (via connections).

Overall Wohlen looked like a quiet enough place, a country town, even seen a few tractors on my way to the game, which tells you how close it is to the countryside. 

 Pub watch 

The Kebapistan

Address: Zentralstrasse 12
5610 Wohlen AG

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Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3First pub of the day, wasn’t a pub at all. But I was hungry, having skipped breakfast and after a nice walk around the town this place looked perfect to sit down outside, have a quick bite to eat and a beer. Was very busy for a Saturday morning, which is always a good sign.  Went simple just got some chips with ketchup, and two beers. Simple but fantastic with the peppers and salt, lovely. Good friendly service and a nice place to sit outside and watch the traffic of Wohlen go by.  Had two small cans of Feldschlösschen Hopfenperle, a decent enough lager.  Perfect start. 

 

Zanzibar Cafe 

Address: Zentralstrasse 36
5610 Wohlen

http://zanzibarwohlen.ch/

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Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Ventured in and ordered a bottle of Birra Moretti, which is always nice to sip. Zanzibar looks like a very trendy lounge bar and club, impeccably clean and modern, the place looks really snazzy and cool. For the time of the day, early afternoon, naturally there were only a handful of customers, who looked like they were Italian Swiss chatting away to the very friendly barman, guess that’s why I guess was in the mood for a Moretti, which went down fine. So good I had another beer, this time a nice cold Eichhof Lager

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Zanzibar is the place to be once it gets dark, as it is a club venue that promotes a lot of up and coming DJ’s and invites international dance acts to the club every month. 

They do have a nice terrace for people watching outside, but I decided to stay inside. The bar was nice and I enjoyed myself here, relaxing on a high stool at the bar, pints were fine and the club was well aired and had nice lighting that made the mood very mellow. 

 

Piccadilly Pub

Address: Bünzstrasse 6
5610 Wohlen/AG

http://piccadilly-wohlen.ch/

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Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Door was closed and didn’t look very inviting, but then I was early. It opened at 4 and I was there bang on time! Restaurant with terrace was doing a cracking trade next door on a lovely hot day, while I was the only customer in this, truth be told, rather tired looking bar with an old fashioned British style decor. I went for a Feldschlösschen braufrisch on tap, a Wheat Ale beer, which was fine, not as good as their lagers I think.  Bar lady was friendly, but this seems like a bar that could do with a makeover. Drank and left.

   

Rock and Burger Bar

Address: Aargauerstrasse 4, 5610 Wohlen

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Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3On the way back to the train station, from the game, I accidentally stumbled onto the path of this bar. Looked good so ventured in. A small crowd in, with some friendly service. Had a Brooklyn Brewery lager, which was fine with the complimentary nuts that I scoffed down.  Place was quiet for a rock bar, but had a chilled out atmosphere, or perhaps that was just me. 

 

El Hale Shisha Bar

Address: Inh. Islek
Bahnhofplatz 1
5610 Wohlen

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Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Just before I got my train home, popped into a hookah bar right at the station. Not my usual type of place to go for a beer, but it was cool enough. Lovely decor which was very relaxing and in an Arabic style, the service was friendly. Place was quiet, but it was still relatively early. Just ordered a regular beer, a Feldschlösschen lager. Nice place to wind down for the day, lovely ambiance and a nice pint in the dimmed lights. Would have liked to stay for another beer but had to catch my train. 

FC Wohlen

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3

Arena/Stadium: Stadion Niedermatten, Wohlen

Location: 5610 Wohlen

Capacity: 3,734 (634 seated)

Manager: Francesco Gabriele 

Founded: 1904

Leagues: Swiss Challenge League

Club home page 

info@fcwohlen.ch

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Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Founded in May, 1904, FC Wohlen play in the Challenge League, the second highest league in the country. They say the best things come to those that wait, well the highlight of over 100 years of football came late, in June 2002 when the team got promoted to then National League B, today’s Challenge League , the second tier of Swiss football. 

With the club moving in the right direction, they moved into their new stadium, Stadion Niedermatten, in 2004.  The stadium holds about 3,700 people and is owned by the local council and is part of a sports complex which includes an athletics track, an inline skating space, two all-weather football pitches and nine tennis courts. 

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Without doubt their most famous son is Ciriaco Sforza, the ex Wholen player and coach who had an illustrious career with stints in Germany with Bayern Munich, FC Kaiserslautern  (when they were half decent) and in Italy with Inter Milan, a long way from tiny Wohlen.  

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Nice enough little ground, a not too far from the town centre. Ticket cost me 20 Swiss Francs, and manged to get a scarf as well which was great. But even better was I somehow ended up in the VIP room, where there was complimentary wine and titbits to bite. I know it was a little bit cheeky but why not as I do consider myself at least a little bit important. The two girls behind the bar were very friendly, and were more than kind enough to fill my glass on the many occasions they got empty! 

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Nice club with a lot of friendly staff, from the ticket sellers at the gate, the grounds staff directing people to their seats, the ladies in the office who sold me the scarf, to the girls in the VIP room.

Decent enough crowd too, friendly type and was a decent atmosphere in the ground. Also have to say that Le Mont had a small support, which considering how far they would have to travel is understandable, but they did have one young fella with a megaphone who was chanting, mostly on his own, all throughout the game, hats off to him for that.

 

To the game

FC Wohlen 0 – 0 FC Le Mont LS 

01.04.2017  Stadium Niedermatten, Wohlen 

Attendance: 578

For a nil niler it wasn’t the worst game I have ever seen. Some good build up play from both teams, especially from FC Wohlen while Le Mont were more concentrated on attacking from the break down.  I would say though that Wohlen need to practice shooting from distance as on many occasions they were in good positions to take a shot but their players passed instead. Is that a confidence thing, perhaps but it did really irk the crowd on a few times looking at good shooting opportunities go amiss. 

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Thought Wohlen midfielder Sandro Foschini was pretty decent and set up a lot of play and opportunities for his teammates, but I noticed he also grew increasingly frustrated as he seemed to be at a different level to the rest of his team, one step ahead and he was constantly creating chances that were spurned again and again. I’d build a team around him, I say! 

For Le Mont, Luís Pimenta was a pretty good target man, held the ball up well when he could and was always lively and causing the Wohlen defenders problems. 

Overall it wasn’t a bad game, just a pity that with all the play the home team couldn’t get a goal. 

Overall

Wohlen, Swiss football away days 3Wohlen was a sleepy enough town, but I did enjoy my day out here. Was well nourished with alcohol and did have a good time at the ground watching Wohlen FC play. All in all a good enjoyable day in little old Wohlen (the good weather helped too, it was a scorcher!)

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FC Basel, Swiss football away days

FC Basel, Swiss football away days

Basel: Some history and culture, a bit of football and a good amount of beer!

FC Basel, Swiss football away days Basel is a Swiss German speaking city in the northwest of Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel has been a commercial hub and important cultural center since the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, and it has emerged over time as an important centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries of the world with major companies such as Roche, Novartis, Bayer, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Abbot etc all situated in the city. 

There are settlement traces on the Rhine from the early La Tène period (5th century BC), but it wasn’t until the Romans established a centre here and built a castle that the city began to develop. The name of Basel is itself derived from the Roman word Basilius, meaning emperor. Basel was incorporated into Germania Superior in AD 83, and over time became a centre for trade, study and printing. 

Basel is Switzerland’s third-most-populous city (after Zürich and Geneva) with about 175,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet

FC Basel, Swiss football away days Basel has a population of about 175,000, where about 35.5% of the population are resident foreign nationals, a lot who work in the many chemical and pharmaceutical industries dotted around the city. Also factor in that due to the close borders with both France and Germany, you can add another 120,000 commuters moving into the city for their daily work. All in all it is a busy city, but it has to be said most travel in this city and extended region is done via the excellent tram, train and bus network that is also well connected to France and Germany. Basel is also a very bicycle friendly city with many bike lanes and places to park a bike. You really dont notice much cars or trucks when walking around the city, which really is a great feeling.

Of course not far from the city centre (about 35 minutes by bus) is the EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg. the interesting thing about this airport is that there are two borders….one for France (where the airport actually lies on) and the other for Switzerland. In the old days before Schengen there was an immigration check point in the middle of the airport where one could border hop officially with stamps, etc if needed. But be careful, the border police can still do customs checks on its various borders,  just in case you are trying to enter Switzerland with a van load of dodgy TV’s or mutton or whatever. 

FC Basel, Swiss football away days Basel calls itself the Cultural Capital of Switzerland which is a bold claim it has to be said. The reason for this claim is many fold. One reason is the massive amount of galleries and museums all over the city, well over 50 or more, the highest concentration in the country.  You have the internationally renowned museums such as Basel Art Museum, the Beyeler Foundation, Natural History Museum of Basel and the Museum of Cultures Basel, Caricature & Cartoon Museum Basel, Jewish Museum of Switzerland, Sports Museum of Switzerland, Museum of Contemporary Art, Kunstmuseum Basel (Art Museum Basel), amongst many more, too many to mention in fact, and a shit load of other museums dedicated to more contemporary “modern” art, as if you didn’t get enough, or otherwise known as horse shite to the man in the street! 

FC Basel, Swiss football away days The best thing about Basel for me is the sight of the river, the Rhine. The river cuts through the the city and its great on a hot summers day to hang out with a few friends having some cans of beers by the banks of the great river. Refreshing. 

FC Basel, Swiss football away days I also strongly recommend coming to the city for its annual carnival of the city (Basler Fasnacht), the biggest carnival in Switzerland and large crowds attend every year, but be aware its a four day event with the first day starting at 4 in the morning! It is on the Monday after Ash Wednesday and brings the city to a standstill celebrating on the streets of Basel in a big street parade that goes on forever, with music and costume and good fun

Fun facts about Basel: 

In 1938 Albert Hofmann, working for the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, was the first to first synthesize the psychedelic drug LSD.

The Roche Tower, designed by Herzog & de Meuron is 41 floors and 178 metres (584 ft) high, opened in 2015 it has become the tallest building in Switzerland

FC Basel, Swiss football away days Basel has Switzerland’s oldest university, the University of Basel, dating from 1460.  Well known alumni and staff include  Jacob Burckhardt, Friedrich Nietzsch, Erasmus,and Carl Gustav Jung.

Established in 1874, Zoo Basel, affectionaly called “Zolli” by the locals, is the oldest zoo in Switzerland, and with over 1.7 million visitors per year, it is the second most visited tourist attraction in Switzerland, and well worth a visit. 

While FC Basel is well known to football fans across Europe, it is Roger Federer, a Basel native, who is the sporting darling of the city. 

 

Pub watch

Paddy Reilly’s Irish Pub & Restaurant

Address: Steinentorstrasse 45, Basel 4051

http://www.paddys.ch/

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FC Basel, Swiss football away days Got off the tram near the centre of town and the best place really to start a beer crawl is in Paddy Reilly’s Irish pub. 

This place does be heaving during Friday and Saturday nights, and can be more like a night club than a bar with a very young crowd, i.e a lot younger then me the old fella! But when its not packed to the rafters on a weekend night, it does normally have a very relaxed setting, always a good place to come in and have a good pint and chat with friends. 

Typical decor you would expect from an Irish bar, a bit of traditional mixed in with the modern, all nice and respectable. A good long bar with plenty of space to sit at. 

Friendly staff, chatty and efficient, and it seems all the staff are Irish as they do cater for a lot of British and Irish clientele. 

Typical in an Irish bar, not a minute in the place and I’m already chatting to people, two strangers, but you know it really is true when they say that there are no strangers in an Irish pub, just friends you haven’t met yet, or something like that!

FC Basel, Swiss football away days Good atmosphere in the place, a lot of sport on the various TV’s dotted around the pub, all relaxed and chilled…….just the way I like it

Apparently they do good food here, but feck that……..its the beer I am here for. Have the usual fare to drink, but some highlights on offer as well…..A Grimbergen was a surprise to see……but decided to go for a pint of Bodingtons as I had never tried it before.  Pint was good, liked it and it went down well, if a little pricey, but heh this is Switzerland so….

So overall Paddy Reilly’s did the job and is recommended if you come to Basel. 

 

Mr. Pickwick Pub

Address: Steinenvorstadt 13, Basel 4051

www.pickwick.ch

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Mr Pickwick is your quintessential British pub, with plenty of beer available on tap, wooden decor with carpet, football (or at times Cricket) on the box and a smattering of ex pats all around. Located in the Steinenvorstadt, a pedestrian street where you will find a lot of snazzy bars and restaurants in the centre of Basel, albeit the more upmarket ones, that is the more expensive ones! 

Mr Pickwick is a fine pub though, and it has a pretty decent selection of British and Irish beer both on tap and in bottle. 

In summer one can sit outside and do some people watching. also they open the large front doors which is great for letting in some cool Rhine air throughout the bar

The pub grub here is meant to be good (their nachos, and fish n chips are popular dishes) certainly what came out of the kitchen while I was there looked good, but as this is Switzerland I prefer to keep my money for a more refined liquid lunch.  I went for Fullers Jack Frost, an English bitter that was fine. Staff were efficient, albeit a bit cold, but heh this is an English pub right! Anyway I do like Pickwicks, its a decent place and its always easy to find a seat and have a nice pint while planning what you will get up to in the night, a good starting point……even if its best not to look too closely at your bill, ouch! (Yes, I know, its Switzerland!) 

  

Didi Offensive 

Address: Erasmusplatz. 12, 4057

http://didioffensiv.ch/de/

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Didi Offensive is a football culture bar in Kleinbasel (little Basel) a little bit from the city centre. It is a great place to watch live football, as there are TV’s, big and small all over the place, twelve in fact. But its not only live football, the bar regularly organize events on football culture, have table quizzes, host photography exhibitions, and the decor itself is like a museum dedicated to all things got to do with the beautiful game. 

The name, “Didi offensive”, is a nickname that refers to the defensive-oriented football that former FC Basel coach Claude “Didi” Andrey used, and where the FCB fans began to mockingly sing  “Didi offensively, Shalalalala”

Anyway nice little bar, friendly bar man, loads of football on the tv, nearly overloaded with football didn’t know what game to watch……mostly German and Spanish league football for the time I was there.  Had a local Ueli beer,a wheat beer which perfectly poured but just not my cup of tea actually. In fact they didn’t really have a good variety of beers on offer, just the two pumps if I remember correctly, but I do see they organise regular craft beer nights which is interesting. 

Toilets were a double treat, do the business but also to marvel at all the cool old Pannini stickers stuck up around the gents, and to pee into a goals which gives a cheer when you finish, now that is cool. I also noticed John Aldridge staring at me when I was peeing!

I like this bar, had a good vibe and is definitely a great meeting place for football fans to hang out and watch the big game…………..cool bar. 

 

The Fish Inn 

Address: Clarastrasse 56, 4058 

http://www.thefishinn.ch/

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The Fish Inn is a traditional British style pub on Clarastrasse, a little bit out but really not that far from the city centre via the tram. It has the typical British style decor you’d expect and had a nice cozy atmosphere when I was there. A few people, but not to many were present, and the bar lady was friendly. The bar has a real homely atmosphere that I like,  a good place to have a quiet pint and a good chat with a friend. Feels like a traditional “local” pub. I imagine in the winter this is a the perfect place to come to get out of the wind and the rain and have a hot whiskey and pint to warm the soul.  

They do food, which is typical British food, and also offer takeaways, which is kind of cool, albeit looking at their menu it does all look a bit too pricey for me!

The owners have their dogs wandering around and there is a relaxed setting in the pub. 

I was happy to see that they had Fullers London Pride, an English bitter that I really like. Less happy to report that the pint wasn’t great, a bad pint, which was a pity. Perhaps that was the luck of the draw, but anyhow I will check this place out again as its a good to get a pub where one can relax away from the hustle and bustle downtown. 

 

Bar Rouge 

Address: Messeplatz. 10, 4058 

https://www.barrouge.ch/en/

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Went to this place if only because apparently its the highest bar in the whole of Switzerland, that’s what they advertise themselves, which is a load of bollix as I had a beer near the top of the Jungfrau inside its mountain station but there you go. 

Entrance via lift to the top of the high rise building, to the 31st floor, Bar Rouge is a cocktail and lounge bar, with a very modern and snazzy decor, looks good inside, very stylish, and can get a great panoramic view of the city, which looked pretty cool as day was turning to night. The bar itself looks fantastic, lots of activity going on from the bar staff making all varieties of cocktails, great chilled out ambiance inside everyone seems to be in good spirits. Except the bar manager who was having a bit of a row with one of his bar staff, a little bit unsavory to see, and he looked like a bit of a prick to be honest, all Gordon Ramsey. Looked like there was a mistake with a cocktail order, with the barman having to redo it again and also pay for the extra cost out of his own pocket, or at least that’s what it looked like. I didn’t see the big deal, sure its not like people really know what the fuck they are drinking in a cocktail anyway, and I know if he talked to me like that I’d tell him to do one.  Anyway wasn’t nice to see…..

As for me, I played it safe and went for a regular local beer. The cocktails were a bit pricey for my small wallet. I was served quickly and efficiently and with a friendly smile by Shangi (I looked it up via their website!), who I have to say was very good. Always nice to get good service. 

Pint was fine, and I was nice and comfy sitting at the bar admiring the views both outside and at the excellent selection of drinks behind the bar

Even in the toilets you can get a view of Basel where they have a glassed window overlooking the city landscape, but you need not worry as no one is likely to see you do your business that high up off the ground! 

I did like it here, very relaxing, nice tempo to the place, music not too loud but in the background so it can be appreciated, and the bar was well lit. I bet they studied how to get the right moods via the perfect lightning, music tempo, etc……..it seems to work anyway. If it wasn’t for the price I’d like to return, alas maybe if i get a big win on the gee gees! Next time I will try a cocktail!

 

L’Unique

Address: Gerbergässlein 20, 4051 

http://www.lunique.ch/

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L’Unique is one of the more hip bars in the town. Cool because its decor is completely made up of rock music memorabilia all around the bar.  This American style bar has quite an extensive collection on display, from signed platinum albums, guitars, rock suits, and rock art, a veritable feast for anyone interested in rock music.  

The bar is located right down an alley way not far off the city centre, and can be difficult to find. If so, all you need to do is ask for the directions to the graffiti with all the rock stars, as right across from the bar is a brilliant street painting of various rock legends, it is a Basel highlight to take a photo of it as it really is that good!

Sat at the bar, ordered a regular beer (a Feldschlösschen lager) which was fine and nice. Half the time you are just staring at all the stuff on the walls……I noted a signed Kiss drum set on the ceiling, some Nirvana albums beside me and also a cool looking gorilla with a guitar!

Had a very good chat with the bar lady, Eleni, who was super cool and friendly to boot, who agreed with me that the Nirvana stuff was probably the best thing in the rock collection. 

Bar has great service, and always has a good friendly atmosphere in the place. Even though it can be busy it is always easy to find a seat and a place to relax. Good vibes always, and as I am a metal head so yes this is one of my favourite bars in the city. Recommended! 

 

Rio Bar 

Address: Barfüsserplatz 12, 4051 Basel

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Rio Bar, is a nice little bar in the city centre, great for meeting people before heading onto somewhere else where all sorts from the young and the old, the well to do and the not so mix and chat on small tables, or at the small bar. The bar is run by a stern looking Swiss lady, but once you get to know her, she is good fun and has a good sense of humour.  

Has a good selection of spirits and aperitif’s on show, and not such a great selection of beer, really just the local stuff.  I ordered a large glass of Ziegel Hof,  a beer from Liestal just up the road from Basel. Was fine, in fact I had about three of them. Not strong and went down well.  One of my favourite bars in the city, small and comfy and really a great place to wind down and relax after a tough day. 

Baragraph

Address: Kohlenberg 10, Basel 4051

http://www.baragraph.ch/

Baragraph is a small bar on a side street off the main square of Barfüsserplatz.  Cosy bar with not a whole lot going on, but its good for a quick pint in quiet surroundings, more a chill out bar to relax and reflect. Has an interesting decor going on, all 70’s style or at least that’s what it looks to me on the untrained eye, all bright colours and lots of light, and the service is always friendly and chatty.  I like this place, had a KonigPilsner, was fine in a bar that one can definitely while away a few hours. Also must add the beer is not as pricey here than in other establishments in the city.

Excalibar 

Address: Kohlenberg 7, 4051 

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Topped the night off with a late pint in Excalibar, a late, very late, night bar that seems at least to me to have no closing time! Small bar, that can get crowded at times, but it really is the place to be to get that late night drink. Does have a juke box that bangs out the tunes, and the darts (the plastic version, not the real dart board) do keep punters amused over the hours. Had a quick pint, a Calanda lager, was fine.

Is an ok bar, with staff that could be friendlier, and not a great place to actually meet people as everyone tends to be pretty sloshed by the time they get here, but it does the business when one needs that late night drink and for that we should be thankful. 

 

FC Basel

 

Arena/Stadium: St. Jakob-Park

Location: St. Jakobs-Strasse 395, 4052 Basel

Capacity: 38,512

Manager: Urs Fischer

Founded: 1893

Leagues: Swiss Super League

Club home page 

info@fcb.ch

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Nicknames: FCB, Bebbi, RotBlau

FC Basel 1893 (Fussball Club Basel 1893), are a Swiss football club based in Basel. They are one of the most successful clubs in Swiss football, having won the Swiss Super League 19 times, and well on their their way to winning their 20th, the second most for any Swiss club. (still a long way to go to catch the Grasshoppers with 27 titles!). Basel have also won the Swiss Cup 11 times.

On the 12th of November 1893 an advertisement appeared in the Basler newspaper requesting that anyone who wished to join a football team should meet up on the Wednesday at 8:15 in the Schuhmachern-Zunft restaurant. Roland Geldner placed the advert, later elected as the clubs first president. Eleven men attended the meeting and thus, Fussball Club Basel was founded on 15 November 1893. The club colours were decided from the first day on, red and blue, the RotBlau”taken from the local rowing club that a few of the early members were also involved with.  Incidentally Hans Gamper an early club captain went on to found FC Barcelona in Spain, while he was visiting his uncle in the Catalan city, and is the reason why both clubs share the same colours.  

It took a while for the club to get going as they got their first trophy 40 years after their inauguration,winning the Swiss Cup in 1933 beating Grasshoppers 4-3, and in 1953 they finally won their first league title in 1953, beating Young Boys of Bern who came second. 

It was really in the late 1960’s that FC Basel started to come into real prominence. Under the tutelage of Helmut Benthaus, winning the club’s first double in the 1966–67 season. From 1968 to 1970 they won the title two seasons in a row. At the early 70’s Basel again won two in a row back to back titles, 1971–72 and 1972 -73. Former player and Manager Helmut Benthaus stayed on with Basel as a boss for 17 years which is pretty amazing when you take into account modern day football and how sack happy chairman can be. In those years as manager he brought the title to Basel seven times and won two cups as well.  Not bad from the German, who also won the Bundesliga in his home country with VfB Stuttgart in 1982.

In 1988 the unthinkable happened and Basel were relegated into the Nationalliga B, the second league. It took them a few years and several managers to get back to the top in 1994 under Claude Andrey (see “Didi Offensive” above!)

Christian Gross, yes THAT Christian Gross, ex Spurs manager and London Underground aficionado, became coach of Basel in July 1999 after a horrid time in London with Tottenham. Gross’ appointment happened at the same time as Basel started to get some serious financial backing. It was not long until Basel returned to the top. (At the moment, Pharma giant Novartis give the club roughly US$2.2 million a year to sponsor their shirt). Also a brand new spanking stadium, St. Jakob-Park, was built and finished in time for the 2001 season.

All these positive steps resulted in four Swiss championships, four Swiss Cups, and some very good runs in Europe under Gross. The championship win in 2001-2002 was their first for 22 years, also securing the cup, making it a nice double for the season. The good days were back!

One player that stood out at this time was Scott Chipperfield, the Aussie box to box player and all round terrier on the pitch. He is Basel’s all-time record holder of titles with the club, with seven Swiss Championships and six Swiss Cup honours. A player that probably could have had a stint with an English team but was loyal to Basel, and in my opinion a very much underrated player. 

Basel have competed in European competition every season since 1999–2000, and had a bit of a voodoo over British teams, beating the likes of Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, Celtic, Middlesbrough, Spurs and, em Glentoran, over the years, until this season where they got their arses spanked by Arsenal home and away in the CL.

They have been in the Champions League more times than any other Swiss club and are the only Swiss club to have ever qualified directly for the Champions League group stages. They also got to the last 16 in the CL three times, and got to a Europa League semi-finals in the 2012–13 season losing out 5-2 on aggregate to eventual winners Chelsea.  

With all this European exposure it means that Basel is not only gaining invaluable experience but also doing nicely in revenue. Revenue that can improve the team and what we see is that Basel are clearly head and shoulders above every other team in Switzerland. This is borne out by the fact that FC Basel are currently looking to win their 8 league title in a row this season 2016-2017, flying ahead of the rest of the teams once again. 

FC Basel play their home games at the 38,500 capacity St. Jakob-Park, the largest stadium in Switzerland and nicknamed “Joggeli” by the fans.The stadium has a restaurant and a sports bar, as well as a shopping centre and some apartments and office. It definitely doesnt look like a stadium when passing by, it is a bit drab to be honest. It is easy to get on match day via tram (Line 14) or bus (36, 37) from the city centre, or by train as the stadium also has its own stop. In 2016, the UEFA Europa League final was played at St. Jakob-Park between Liverpool and Seville, with many in the English press complaining of how small the attendance was for such a high profile game. 

What you will see in St. Jakob-Park is plenty of loyal and passionate local fans who have made  a name for themselves not just in Switzerland but abroad as well for their great banner displays and pyro parties from the stands. And if you are lucky you might just also see tennis star, and Basel native, Roger Federer, officially FC Basel’s most famous fan!

As for rivals, I would say it has to be the two Zurich clubs, Grasshopper Club Zürich and FC Zürich, with FC Zürich the number one foe, mainly down to an incident in the last day of the 2005–06 season when FC Basel only needed a draw to clinch the title at home against FC Zürich, who had the cheek to spoil the party and score in the last minute to take the title. After the final whistle, players and fans from both teams started fighting on the pitch and in the stands. Since that day fans from FC Zürich and FC Basel pretty much detest each other with a passion.

To the game

FC BASEL 4 – 0 FC LUGANO

04.02.2017 ST. JAKOB-PARK
2 ‘MOHAMED ELYOUNOUSSI
23’ MOHAMED ELYOUNOUSSI
36 ‘MOHAMED ELYOUNOUSSI
85’ MARC JANKO

Attendance: 23,439

Was pish easy for Basel.

Well taken hat trick from Mohamed Elyounoussi, the Norwegian (obviously!), who had scored all his three goals within 34 minutes! In fact I had just about taken my seat when he had scored the first goal in the second minute with a simple touch into an empty net.  His second was a bit nicer on the eye, beating the defender and scoring from just inside the box.  The third was a nice cross into the box, well met and headed past the goalkeeper. 

It was always going to be an uphill struggle when Lugano got a man red carded, unfairly in my opinion, for a stray elbow that the Basel fairy made a meal off, but they are the breaks.

The veteran Marc Janko came on in the 78th minute and it wasn’t long before he scored, in the 85th minute, to make it 4-0 to Basel and wrap another dead easy win for the team. 

Lugano had a few chances but the Basel goalkeeper, the Czech Vaclik,  was alert to their rare forays. Truth be told they were muck and its easy to see why they are second from bottom of the league. 

I was impressed by Steffen on the wing, always lively, and of course the hat-trick hero who took all his goals very well.  Overall the game was boring as it really was so one-sided, even from the get go, and I hate looking at games that are a non contest. But Basel can only do whats put infront of them, so fair enough for them. 

Have a look at the match highlights for yourself

 

Interview

Short chat with Dr. Daniele Ganser, a prominent Swiss historian, Journalist, energy and peace researcher and head of the Swiss Institute for Peace and Energy Research (SIPER), based in Basel. He teaches at the University of St. Gallen on the history and future of energy systems and at the University of Basel in the postgraduate study on conflict analysis on the global struggle for oil. His area of expertise is in the areas of global security, secret warfare, conflict analysis, peak oil and resource wars, economics and human rights and peace research. He has written many books covering his special topics, has appeared regularly on Russia Today and on Swiss TV, has given a TEDx lecture on “War and peace in the 21st century – the stories in our minds” in Budapest in 2016, and worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Switzerland. 

Ganser certainly has some interesting points to make on 9/11 (the real reason for the war is the control of energy resources and has questions on that the third tower, WTC 7,  that collapsed that day, and has some doubts that a plane had actually crashed into the Pentagon), on the need for oil (that the 2003 Iraq war a “classic resource war”) and false flag operations (Various activities of Operation Gladio)

Whatever you think of Ganser, just dont called him a conspiracy theorist. He doesn’t particularly like that! He had a fierce clash with Wikipedia over this issue when they more or less called him a conspiracy theorist while Ganser sees the word as a catch all term for the weird and the mad. This resulted in a mini edit war with supporters of Gnaser dueling with the Wikipedia mafia on who decides whats what on Gansers page. 

Instead, Ganser calls himself a peace researcher and historian who investigates covert warfare using scientific methods and basic historical questioning techniques. 

 

Important Works

Illegal wars: How the NATO countries sabotage the UN. A chronicle from Cuba to Syria. Orell Füssli, Zurich 2016, ISBN 978-3-280-05631-8.

 

The book recalls that the United Nations Charter forbids Wars, and shows current examples of how this ban is disregarded by the NATO countries.

NATO Geheimarmenn in Europa.  Orell Füssli, Zurich, 2008 ISBN 978-3-280-06106-0 .

“NATO Intelligence in Europe” in English. Ganser shows how manipulated terror and covert warfare were used in the cold war to discredit political opponents and create a climate of fear.

NATO’s secret armies. Operation Gladio and terrorism in Western Europe. Routledge, 2005 ISBN 0-7146-5607-0 

FC Basel, Swiss football away days

 

The book addresses secret armies run by NATO and the CIA across mainland Europe, especially concentrating on Operation Gladio in Italy. 

Website: www.Danieleganser.ch
Twitter @DanieleGanser                                                                                                                             Facebook

 

So overall, Basel isn’t a bad city for a short visit, can get expensive but even with that you can always grab a few cans and sit by the Rhine in the evening to chill out. Seeing FC Basel play is good fun, in a decent stadium, where the fans do create a good atmosphere at times. Basel well worth a groundhop and beer crawl, just save for it beforehand!FC Basel, Swiss football away days

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FC Aarau, Swiss football away days 2.

Aarau is a small town of about 20,000 people, and is the capital of the northern Swiss canton of Aargau. The town is also the capital of the district of Aarau. It is German-speaking, or Schweizer Deutsch as I should really say, and predominantly Protestant. Aarau is situated on the River Aare (where it got its name!) and at the southern foot of the Jura mountains and to the west of Zürich.

Life here goes way back, to prehistory in fact, as the ruins of a settlement from the Bronze Age (about 1000 BC) were found in the town. The Romans also passed through, but the first mention of the town was in 1248 as “Arowe” in the Middle Ages. The town developed over time and on the 2nd of March 1798 the town was actually declared the capital of the Helvetic Republic, a precursor to a unified Switzerland, and home to Switzerland’s first Houses of Parliament. But it didn’t last too long as a few months later the capital was moved to Lucerne.

We move onto Napoleon who in 1803, ordered that the cantons of Aargau, Baden and Fricktal amalgamate, with Aarau as the new capital of the enlarged canton of Aargau, and this is pretty much what we have today.

Aarau is mostly well known for is its painted gables and beautiful eaves, a special feature of the old town of Aarau, from which the town is often regarded as the “town of beautiful Gables”, as good as you can find anywhere else in Switzerland. The old town, Laurenzenvorstadt, government building, cantonal library, state archive and art museum are all listed as heritage sites of national significance, all dating back to the 16th century when the town underwent considerable extension. On the other hand The “Schlössli” (small Castle), the Rore Tower and the upper gate tower have remained nearly unchanged since the 13th century, with the castle the oldest building left standing in the city, circa 1200.

One notable resident of the town was a Albert Einstein who attended a local high school for a while.

Other interesting things about Aarau is that there is a shoe museum in the city, in 2005 the city held the Swiss National Yodelling Festival and as Aarau has an unemployment rate of about 2.35% (with most working for the government, typical!) statistically it has the most jobs per capita of any Swiss city,  (thanks to Wiki for that last one!)

But perhaps the most interesting thing I found about the city is that it has a horse racing track. I didn’t even know the Swiss were into that kind of thing! Apparently its meant to be one of the nicest tracks in the whole of Europe and has been on the go since 1921, but is it any good for racing on? Who knows, but I know as we are in Switzerland you definitely dont want to be backing fucking losers that is for sure……..

Getting to the town is relatively easy as it is well connected by train to Basel (about 40 minutes) and to Zurich it takes about 30 minutes by train. A little later by car for both destinations, but still within the hour.

Overall Aarau is a nice enough place, lovely street and those cool gables that they are oh so proud of, overall it is a bit quiet and not a whole lot going on, but I liked the Church tower that was a nice marker in the town centre. Not a bad place to visit for a day out,but not enough bars to keep me happy here. 

Pub watch

Penny Farthing Pub

Address: Bahnhofstrasse 57, 5000 Aarau

http://www.pennyfarthing.ch/

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The Penny Farthing Pub is a traditional British Pub situated not too far from the main train station, easily found as you make your way from the station into the city. 

First pub of the day, a short walk from the train station where I got my train from Basel to Aarau which only took me about 30 minutes or so. 

Thought it was closed as the doors looked slammed shut, but joy they were open. Early about 12. or so, but still a few other souls in the bar. The bar has a good selection of beers from the UK and Ireland, and some interesting Scottish whiskies as well. Ordered a Brooklyn Brewery lager, a first timer for me, which was on tap, and poured by a friendly bar lady. Pint looked good but wasn’t impressed with it, nothing to the quality of the pint poured but found it hard to drink. Not a Brooklyn fan I guess. 

The decor has some references to the Penny Farthing bicycle of the 1870’s with photos and an actual bike itself on one of the walls, which was pretty cool to see. Of course the pub was also decked out with a dart board and plenty of TV screens for sports for the more modern customer!

I liked this bar, good friendly service, nice decor, nice long bar, and good atmosphere for that time of the day. Overall a good pub to start the day.  

 

Mr. Pickwick Pub

Address: Graben 6, 5000 Aarau

www.pickwick.ch

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There are a few of these Mr Pickwick Pubs dotted around Switzerland. They are quintessential British style pubs.

Have some decent fare on tap here, but I ordered some Valaisanne Zwickelbier (bière de cave), a lager from Sion. I had never tried it before but on the recommendation of the barman I went for it. I tell you he wasn’t wrong, it was delicious, so good in fact that I had ordered another one straight after the first, this breaking my one pint one pub rule. Heck there were fuck all pubs in the town anyway!!

Pub had the usual decor to be expected from a British style bar, service was decent enough and in a very relaxed style, bar staff were a bit chatty

Didn’t detect any “British” style atmosphere here, but it was a comfy place to have a few beers and they went down fairly well too, so no complaints! And they charged my phone!

Place was busy enough for the middle of the day. 

As I couldn’t find a whole lot of bars in the town I did return here again later in the day. Second time round a different bar man, friendly, said he never met an Irish man in the bar before…..but i doubt that’s true.  Just had the usual Feldschlossen beer lager, which was fine, nice and refreshing and cold. 

Liked this bar, quiet and a good place to while away a few hours. Comfy and good pints

 

Bierstübli

Address: Pelzgasse 25, 5000 Aarau

www.1212.ch/ag.290.bierstube.aarau.bar.html

An interesting one this, easy to pass as it is has very small frontage. Bierstübli, the smallest bar in Aarau, is in the heart of the town, a tiny bar with some very rustic settings inside. Altogether I counted about 8 seats and four bar stools in this box of a bar! 

You have to be careful of the time as this place doesn’t open until 2.00 most days, so for me when I arrived at 1 I had to walk around the block a few times to kill time!

The bar is very old fashioned, there are numerous old beer jugs on display, models of Swiss warriors from the Second World War on the ceiling and all bills are paid from a cashier from the 60’s, all the while an old wooden clock slowly ticks in the corner of the bar.

As its a small bar I guess it can be easy to meet new friends, but alas at just after opening time, midday, I was the only customer! Also the bar man smoking from a pipe, was wondering why this strange looking foreigner with a bad haircut and a smirk was in his bar. This was most definitely a local bar for local people. 

Anyway these days you will find less and less of these kind of places in Switzerland as modern bars aiming to make the big bucks entice all the crowds and custom. 

The bar is well stocked in beers though, selling 15 different types of beer. I went for a Cardinal Rousse, a 5.2% ale from Sion, which was fine and a Boxer Old, a pale lager from Yverdon-les-Bains (west Switzerland) another 5.2% beer, again a fine beer. On an empty stomach these beers definitely did the business. Good that you can get beers that otherwise you might not try.

As it was myself and the bar man in a very quiet and small environment, i decided to lighten the mood by picking a few tunes on the Jukebox, all 1950’s to early 1960’s stuff…….I struggled to find something good but I did…..Chuck Berry for example, early Beatles stuff, Elvis (cant beat a bit of Elvis!)

Truth be told I liked this place, if only to try out some new beers and it was nice to reflect on life in a quiet bar while humming along to the King on the jukebox, guess I most really be getting old!

OscarOne 

Address: Schlossplatz 1, 5000 Aarau

www.oscarone.ch/en/home

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Not finding many bars in the town for my beer crawl I got desperate and ventured into OscarOne, a hip looking Lounge, CockTail and Wine Bar. I say desperate as these are really not establishments I feel comfortable in! I’m not hip or cool enough for these kind of places, I’m an ordinary fella who has simple pleasures……football and beer, not really into strobe lighting, fancy cocktails and showing off my new designer gear, if I had any!

Took a long time to get served, a long time. Which was funny as there really wasn’t anyone else at the bar. Sure the place was busy but I was the only one sitting up at the bar. The two staff were doing the age old art of looking busy without actually doing anything, you know…. moving around here and there, the long walk, a wipe here and wipe there, pick up a few glasses, etc. Having said that though the service was friendly all the same. 

Anyway, got served eventually, got a Franziskaner Weissbier, which was pretty difficult to stomach, but that;s just me, as I’m not a great fan of Weissbiers.

The route to the toilet is a real hazard, a very steep spiral staircase to the basement, in a darkly lit bar it was a bit too steep and I’m sure if this was Ireland it would definitely be popular for those that like to partake in frivolous insurance claims! 

Had a nice interior, quite high class, all nicely decorated and stylish, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, a good crowd in for a mid day Saturday, albeit a bit quiet, but you know it didn’t do anything for me, so overall OscarOne didn’t impress me too much. 

 

FC Aarau

Arena/Stadium: Brügglifeld stadium 

Location: Brügglifeldweg in Aarau

Capacity: 9,249

Manager: Marco Schällibaum

Founded: 1902

Leagues: Swiss Challenge League

Club home page 

geschaeftsstelle@fcaarau.ch

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Nicknames: “The Unabstandable” (“that can not be relegated”)

FC Aarau is a Swiss football club, based in the small town of Aarau. They play in the Swiss second tier in the Challenge League, relegated last season from the top division.  

FC Aarau were formed on the 26th May 1902 by workers from a local brewery, and within ten years they won the Swiss Championship in 1911/12, repeating it again in 1913/14. It wasn’t until the 1992/93 season that they won the Swiss National League again, a break of 79 years. 

In 1985 Aarau won the Swiss Cup for the first time, coached by Ottmar Hitzfeld, yes that Ottmar Hitzfield, two time CL winner with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. There for 4 seasons it was here that he first tasted success as a manager.

FC Aarau have got the nickname ‘Die Unabsteigbaren’ which in English means ‘those that cannot be relegated.’, as they were seen as a lucky team that could not be demoted, in the top league since 1981, with one exception (relegated in 2010), and generally escaping relegation by the skin of their teeth on a few occasions. They were relegated though last season 2016/2017. I guess they need to get a new nickname so…. 

But the biggest challenge the club faced was in 2002 when the club was in serious financial debt, but thanks to the help of the fans who put their hands in their pockets buying 4,500 shares that were made available by the club helped stave off liquidation. The sale made 1,510,000 Swiss Francs (roughly 1.4 Million Euro) for the club and a holding company, FC Aarau Ltd, was set up to run the club.

They have played in European competition on 5 different occasions, but never getting past the first round of the various competitions they entered.  They did however give the mighty AC Milan a good run for their money in the Champions League, only going out 1-0 on aggregate to the same team that eventually went on to win the competition by hammering Barcelona 4-0 in the final. Not bad! 

FC Aarau play in the Brügglifeld stadium, which has a capacity of 9’249, and have been doing this for more than 90 years (opened in 1924). The stadium is an old style ground and somewhat unique in this era of modern shiny soulless stadia, the stands are close to the pitch, with most of the ground uncovered terracing, and a ground in which the fans can easily make their feelings known to the players, small and compact. 

The club play in all white, and take the Aarau city coat of arms of a Black Eagle as their club logo 

To the game

FC Aarau 4 – 2 FC Le Mont LS 

18.02.2017  Stadium Brügglifeld
5 ‘Geoffrey Treand
34’ Sandro Burki
38’Damir Mehidic
53 ‘Helios Sessolo (Le M)
65’ Zoran Josipovic
87’Patrick Bengondo (Le M)

Attendance: 2’749

Good game with a cracking atmosphere. I must say I enjoyed my time seeing FC Aarau. 

Another Swiss game, another early goal for me. This time after just 5 minutes. Geoffrey Tréand with a long range shot from outside the box placing it nicely past the goalkeeper. Nice strike, good start.  Two more goals followed and by half time FC Aarau were well in control. 

Le Mont got one back in the 53rd minute but Aarau replied in the 65th minute to put the game to bed. 

Good game, FC Aarau had little problem putting Le Mont to the sword, good atmosphere in the old ground and despite the weather and wet conditions it was a good day out.

Overall the day was good, good pubs, decent beers, a nice place to stroll around and a good old style ground with a cracking atmosphere. Yes, might be back for another game in the future. 

 

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UCD AFC football away days

Off to see University College Dublin play Drogheda for another LOI away day trip.

Have seen the students a few times, nice little ground even if they have no supporters….

UCD AFC football away daysFounded in 1854 as the Catholic University of Ireland, later established as UCD, the University College Dublin was where all good Catholics were sent to for further education. The University has over 32,000 students and is easily Ireland largest university. Like a small town, its that big, situated on a 133-hectare (330-acre) campus out in Belfield, not that far from the city centre, south of the Liffey.

Perhaps the best known of all the UCD’s graduates is James Joyce, like myself a Bachelor of Arts waster, and unlike me, a world renowned writer, but I am working on it, ok. Other notable alumni (alumni’s, plural?) include three Presidents of Ireland and five Taoisigh (Prime ministers), Brian O’ Driscoll who is amongst over 70 Rugby Internationals, and, for us football junkies, ex Man United star, Kevin Moran. There are also five Nobel Laureates amongst University College Dublin’s alumni and current and former staff. Pretty impressive I must say.

Pub watch

Madigan’s Pub Abbey Street

Address: 4 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1, Dublin

 http://www.madigansabbeyst.com/

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UCD AFC football away daysAs I was over ten minutes early for the Dublin bus (I took number 11, The Clonskeagh entrance to Belfield, but you could take other options), I decided to sneak into Madigans just around the corner from O’ Connell street, on Lower Abbey Street, just across from the Luas stop. Always a safe option for a good pint of plain.  Quick pint, no problem, good stuff.

Established in 1991, Madigans is run by the Madigan Family. The pub appears lovely from the outside, a real old fashioned bar, and inside it has the hallmarks of a decent looking boozer, with efficient service, and good pints, all in a nice relaxed atmosphere.

Just off O’Connell street with all the hustle and bustle, this is a place you can have a quite pint, the kind of pub that you can have a good chat in, a nice mixed crowd, no music or TV blaring out.

Good pint, and suitably refreshed for my bus journey to UCD, onwards…….

UCD Club House Bar

Address: UCD Campus

http://www.ucd.ie/studentcentre/services/theclubhouse/

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UCD AFC football away daysA bit early for the game, so I went looking for a student bar. Every college has some sort of student boozer, so sure enough, after a brief search I came onto the UCD Club House Bar. was packed to the rafters inside, as it looked like some rugby types were having an end of season do, all booted and suited, and a lot of drink taken.  A very modern interior, with a decent bar, and more importantly they also served food. I had some sausages and chips, soaked in vinegar and red sauce. An unhealthy option but I was hungry!UCD AFC football away days

It has two floors, but with space tight I didn’t venture too far.

Apparently this is the only student bar on campus, so for over 30,000 students it figures that this bar is always crammed to the rafters!

The Porterhouse Central 

Address: 45-47 Nassau Street
Dublin 2

http://www.theporterhouse.ie/bars-dublin-central.php

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After the game, and back in town, I went to The Porterhouse Central,  in Nassau Street, not far off Trinity College, and at the bottom of Grafton Street.

The Porterhouse Brewing Company is a chain of bars that have a reputation for serving craft beers and holding a lot of good time music events. Apparently it has the longest bar in Dublin…

UCD AFC football away daysFounded in 1989 by Liam La Hart and Oliver Hughes, with the first one in Bray, they now have six bars in and around Dublin, and one in both London and New York

I normally don’t like chain pubs but after having visited the original Porterhouse in Bray, which made a good impression on me, sure why not……

If you are a craft beer junkie then this is surely the place to be, they have a huge selection of craft beers on the menu,…also have a lot of their own unique house brews as well, including their alternative Guinness beer called Oyster Stout, which I am kicking myself for not trying as it is meant to be pretty good (a good excuse to return!)

The place was teeming on a Saturday night, but still relatively easy to get a good seat at the bar (well if they have the longest bar….), and also not so loud to have a good conversation. Atmosphere was cheerful and lively. Ordered some strong craft beer, that I forgot the name of, but it was bloody good.  Service was prompt, despite the big crowd.

University College Dublin A.F.C.

UCD AFC football away days

Nickname: The Students, College

Arena/Stadium: UCD Bowl

Location: Belfield, Dublin 4

Capacity: 3,000

Manager: Collie O’Neill

Founded: 1895

Leagues: League of Ireland First Division

Club home page 

Email: diarmuid.mcnally@ucd.ie

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UCD AFC, or University College Dublin Association Football Club, play in the second tier of League of Ireland football, and are a semi pro team that mostly use players who also attend the university. Many players avail of the opportunity to earn a degree while playing top class, or relatively top class football. UCD’s claim to fame was running an Everton team close in the European Cup Winners Cup in the 1984/85 season, a team that had the calibre of Southall, Sheedy, Sharp, Reid and Gray in its line-up, going down just 1-0 in aggregate.

AUCD AFC football away dayslso more importantly it is said that Socrates, the legendary Brazilian chain smoker and sometime footballer, played for the team when he was a student of UCD back in the day.

(Even though I love to dream, that’s unfortunately more than likely an urban myth)

Founded way, way back in 1895 as the Catholic University Medical School Football Club, and in 1908 they became University College Dublin when the Catholic University merged with University College Dublin. Over the next few decades they played in university competitions,  and other various non league competitions

But it wasn’t until 1979 that UCD were elected to the league proper. Dr. Tony O’Neill, affectionately known as “The Doc”,  had a huge hand in getting UCD on board, and was the man who was instrumental in getting sports talent to the university, be they soccer, rugby, athletics or GAA performers. He introduced the sports scholarships scheme, at that time a pretty radical and unique concept to Ireland. He was general manager when the club joined the League and remained in that role until his untimely death from cancer in October 1999.

UCD AFC football away daysStruggling in the 80’s and not really making much of an impression, the club decided by the end of the 1982/83 season to turn semi-pro, and players outside of the college were allowed to represent the first team, a practice that is still maintained today, albeit with still a heavy emphasis on graduates playing for the for first team.  This seemed to have the desired effect as UCD wont their first piece of real silverware, winning the FAI cup in 1984 (sorry Leinster Senior Cup doesn’t count!), beating Shamrock Rovers 2-1 after a replay.

UCD AFC football away daysOf course winning the cup saw UCD qualify for European competition – the old European Cup Winners Cup – for the first time. They were drawn against Everton. As hard as it is to believe now, they were once a top class team and had a pretty decent side, a team of illustrious players such as Andy Gray, Peter Reid, Kevin Sheedy and Neville Southall, amongst others. Drawing the home leg 0-0, a heroic display for the part timers, they bowed out at Goodison Park, losing 1-0 win, despite hitting the post late on. The rest they say is history, as Everton went onto win the entire competition (they also won the English First Division that season). Small margins!

With financial difficulties, UCD had to sell a lot of their star players, this resulting in a relegation, and so this began a trend for a few years of promotion followed by relegation as the club was yo-yoing between the two divisions,  but it did include a 9 year stint in the top division.

Another amazing European adventure was just last year when the students, qualifying via the Uefa fair play spot, progressed past the first round of the Europa league against Luxembourgers F91 Dudelange, a full time team with considerably more resources than lowly first division outfit UCD. No one gave them a chance, some said they would embarrass the League of Ireland, yet there they were holding on to progress into the second round. For a small team it was some achievement and luckily enough I was there! Read it here

Away days in the Duchy

Since March 2015, UCD have competed in the First Division, the second tier of the League of Ireland.

From the 2008 season they have played at the UCD Bowl, also home to the college’s rugby team. ‘The Students’ play in sky blue and navy.

To the game

UCD 2 – 2 Drogheda United

Attendance: 300

UCD AFC football away daysCracking first half, it really was. Four good goals, end to end action and all round good football.

Ryan Swan scored the opening goal, running on from a lovely through ball from Watts right onto the on running Swan, who slotted it home beautifully, what a well taken goal. Not soon after Swan had a similar chance but this time the Drogheda goalie McGuinness was onto it.

But the lead didn’t last too long, as the Drogs were level as Kirwan tapped home from a spilled shot from the UCD net minder, Corbet, who did well to block the original shot.

UCD got back in front from a Gary O’Neill free kick that took a bit of a deflection, leaving McGuinness with no chance in the Drogheda goal, hitting the back of the net.

But just before half time Drogheda got the equalizer, Sam O’Connor with plenty of space manged to drill home to put the teams level before half time.

Four goals, cracking first half, game on, or so I thought, but sure enough the second half had no goals. Thank Christ I didn’t manage to go all in with 5 or more goals with some internet bookies.  It still was a very entertaining second half, lots of end to end chances for both teams, with Swan in particular going close on a few occasions.

It ended 2-2, a fair score for two teams that played good football and showed a lot of heart. A good enjoyable game. Enjoyed it.

Interview

Short chat with Stephen from the supporters group, UCD AFC supporters club.

My name is Stephen and I’m secretary with the UCD AFC supporters club and we were created in 2010 just to give a bit of a structure and direction for UCD fans going to matches.

UCD AFC football away daysAnd did you attend UCD yourself as a student!

I never did, no, in my teenage years I looked at the league of Ireland senior division table, it was only one long list at the time and I thought ok well I am got to have to start supporting a Dublin team here and Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers were at the top and I thought no they were too successful for me so I looked right down and it was all names of country towns, Drogheda, Athlone, and Dundalk, and right down at the bottom was UCD and Shelbourne, and Shelbourne I thought, just in case Shelbourne are really, really bad, I better just support the team ahead of them, that’s UCD. So I started supporting UCD.

Ok, and how long ago was that?

That was in ’83, I was watching them from the paper let’s say and from radio, and I started going to matches in ’87, 1987

And what kind of crowds do you get to support UCD? Do you get any students? Do they actually bother coming down, do you get them out of the bars?

Well yeah, it can be tricky, especially on Fridays nights. First of all supporters do come, from the campus to support players who are studying in their own faculty so you will have little groups of 2’s and 3’s and that, all the time coming down, and then occasionally especially when the pressure of exams are off you’ll get more groups coming down and maybe a singing section as well, coming through in the summer.

And I want to ask about the team, is it semi-professional or is there a few professionals or is there some students or what, what is the structure?

In the recent past it’s been mostly students and then the odd players who are especially returnees who had a connection with a club and the university before so we would say we are kind of part time graduates, students and then graduates, we even have leaving cert students in our squad as well

Ok that’s pretty cool. And all those years, the best season?

Well it probably would be a premier division season, there has been little good spells, I think I’m going to say a period of time, we were 9 years in the premier division from 85 to 94 and so that was my best time supporting UCD, and I’d like to go back there. Now we do consider ourselves a premier division team even though we are in the first division this year because we spent I think only three seasons in the first division in the last 21 years, so we do consider ourselves definitely premier division, but yeah that spell of matches, there was one year in 99/2000 where we finished fourth and qualified for the InterToto cup and then we played in Bulgaria, and then the following June, that early, so June 2000 was a good time.

And the European adventure last season?

That was amazing, that’s was 4 matches in July, was incredible, especially we were granted access to the Uefa cup very late, in March through Uefa’s own fair play calculations so Ireland got a place and that was given to UCD, and just the preparations and the amount of work that the club had to put in to prepare for that, because we held two home games here at the UCD bowl and that was very special for us that people would say no, no outside of UCD and the LOI they would insist it would have to be moved but we showed we can hold them here

You did the league proud I think, for a small club really…

I agree with you, there was a bit of negativity saying why should they, they are only first division, and its UCD and they are going to embarrass us, but we won our first game against a Luxembourg team here and then we travelled away a week later and it was just an incredible emotional match in Luxembourg because the players were out on their feet by the end of it but we went through into the next round.

And what about this season so far, how do you think its panning out?

It’s slow at the moment, Limerick have set their stall out, they have won six games out of six , and they look like they will completely dominate the league, so it’s for the lesser places, 2nd of third or play off places so we will really be fighting for that but it’s not over yet for the first place but we have Limerick next week, but at the moment the signs are they will dominate the league, but we will look to get off into the play off places again and hopefully we will get up through that.

And just one or two players to look out for, we should note?

 We have a centre back Maxi Kouogun, and it’s his second season here

He is very strong!

He is strong at the back, and he is scoring up front, he is our leading scorer at the minute with 4 goals and they have all come from headers from corners from Kieran Marty Waters, so Maxi as a centre back, and maybe a new player for us is Georgie Kelly, he came to us from Derry City, and he always looks lively, and hopefully he will be a good player for us this year, he is a new player.

How did you manage to get Kieran Marty Waters?

Well he would be one of the lets say part time professionals if you like rather than just graduates, I think we just gave him traction

Because he came from Shamrock Rovers, didn’t he?

He did come from Shamrock Rovers, he was having a quiet time there and he wasn’t getting much off a game, I think there was a few people ahead of him, so we just obviously gave him a package, and invited him to say what we are doing here and he was attracted to it.

So why do you think people should pop along to their LOI team?

Cause its local, you are going to meet people that you probably didn’t know, went to games from other circles in your life, you are supporting players who are playing at the top league in the country, and this is the best that is available, there is great friendliness and hospitality at ALL LOI grounds, I mean you go anywhere, and yet there is still a kind of a solidarity as well between us as well because we feel we are up against it with even other sports in the country as well as football in neighbouring countries as well.  We fell there is a lot of emphasis on other football but not Irish football, so we have a solidarity there between ourselves and also then at the matches themselves you have small groups singing and chanting right through the game and there is a lot of colour and you can be part of the noise or you can sit and watch the noise.

I mean the package is ok too, I mean tonight’s game, it was good I thought, a good game

Yeah we had 4 goals in the first half

A lot of chances as well

Exactly, yeah Drogheda equalised twice, and we are a bit disappointed about that, but that’s how tough the first division is, there is about 4 teams that are all about similar standard and they are looking for two play off places.

Ok thanks, that’s grand

Ok thank you

 Overall impressions:

Always like going to see UCD, two reasons, a nice little ground, and they always entertain, always play decent football, on the ground the way it should be played.

Was good to have the chat with Stephen who gave me all the low down on the club, and for joining me for a few pints after, was good.

By the way its ace that you can get good broadband at the ground, one of the definite advantages of playing within UCD!

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Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city,

Galway United, football away days

So on this occasion I am heading for the first time to see Galway United, who are playing against the Bohs.

Galway (As Gaeilge:  Gaillimh), out in the West of Ireland in County Galway, is arguably Ireland’s fun capital, a smallish sized city of about 75,000 people where there is some kind of festival going on every week. Yeah Galway is always cool. Used to spend many a family holiday as a kid out in Salthill in a cold caravan overlooking Galway bay. Ah the memories.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, The city was first constructed in the early twelfth century by the King of Connacht, Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair,  and bears the nickname “The City of the Tribes” because “fourteen tribes” of merchant families led the city during the middle ages.  Then city was a bastion of international trade,  with French and Spanish merchant ships passing through, and even the famous Christy Columbus stopped off here once en route to Iceland.

Now its known as Ireland’s Cultural city and is renowned for its vibrant lifestyle and numerous festivals, celebrations and events. The largest of these annual events begins with the Galway Film Fleadh and the Galway Arts Festival in July, the Galway Races in August, and the Galway International Oyster Festival in September

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, Also its a student town, with University College, Galway (U.C.G.) having an enrollment over 15,000, all adding to the general feel good vibe of the city.

Coming from Dublin, I could have got the train from Dublin Heuston, but it was a tad bit too expensive, so I went with the cheaper option, taking the bus from Busáras Bus Station, a three hour plus trip but at least it had good wifi to keep me amused.

Pub watch

Garavan’s Bar – Galway City

Address: 46 William Street, Galway

http://www.garavans.ie/

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Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, Just off the bus, and after a bloody long journey, was just itching for a good pint. First port of call was Garavan’s, for no reason other than it was fairly central in the pedestrian zone, and looked decent from the outside. Inside it was all traditional, and very cozy looking, with a lot of great comfy looking snugs around the pub which is always cool to see.

 

The bar, as I was told by a regular, is famous for its whiskey, and on show in the many whiskey cabinets located throughout the bar there was a pretty amazing selection of whiskeys from Ireland and afar, certainly dazzling to the eye. Apparently they have whiskey samplers, on a wooden platter tray of three tasting glasses, for anyone who wants to try out some of their whiskies.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, Good friendly service, and a top barman who kindly let me charge my phone, which was near dead. Pint was good, went down a treat. Local’s friendly, easy to have the chat here, good atmosphere was building up. Not a mad crowd of craziness, more like a good place to have a quiet chat in good company.

The bar also offers traditional music over the weekends.

One of the oldest bars in the city, has been trading here since the late 1930’s and still remaining in family hands for three generations, the building itself has stood on William Street since the 17th Century.

A lovely pub, really enjoyed my pint here, another one to further check out when I am back in Galway in the future.

Hole In The Wall Bar

Address: 9 Eyre Street, Galway, Ireland

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Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, Was meeting the supporters group in the Hole In the Wall pub. First impressions, it had pretty cool horse racing murals at its side, and was also bloody difficult to find the entrance. Door tightly shut, and not very welcoming!
Inside, the horse racing theme continues as the walls adorned with all of the greats of the past in the four legged variety. I guess this pub would be a cool place during the Galway races, if that’s what floats your boat.
Interior was rustic, bit old fashioned, a lot of room out the back, and apparently there was another bar around the other side.
Has a thatch roof, the pub is over a hundred years old, and legend has it that it got its name due to having a hole in the back garden of the pub which was adjoined to the back of the Garda Station. The old boys in blue were known to slip in through the hole for a quick pint without getting seen by the public. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit that story!

Apart from the supporters there appeared to be no other customers

Tigh Fox Trad House

Address: 2 Forster Street, Galway City

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Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, (After the game) Since it was lashing down, and I didn’t fancy waiting the 40 minutes or so for the next bus back to Dublin, popped into this bar, right across from the station, and located just off Eyre Square, in the heart of Galway.
This bar is well known for its twice daily trad sessions, 5.30p.m and 9.30p.m, seven days a week.

Sat at the very small but cozy bar. There was a nice hearty open fire lit, and many people relaxing, a mixed crowd of locals and tourists, chatting away over good pints.
Friendly service, and a cracking pint of Guinness. Just popped in for the one, but would have liked to have stayed for more.
Intimate and small.

Galway United F.C

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city,

Arena/Stadium: Eamonn Deacy Park

Location: Dyke Road, Galway

Capacity: 5,000 (3,300 seated)

Manager: Tommy Dunne

Founded: 1937

Leagues: League of Ireland Premier Division

Club home page 

info@galwayunitedfc.ie

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Founded way back in the 1937, and originally known as Galway Rovers, they pretty much did nothing for over 40 years as it wasn’t until 1977 that the club were finally invited to join the then League of Ireland. It wasn’t long after til they reached their first senior final in 1981, losing the League Cup final on penalties to Dundalk, in Oriel Park.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, The following season they changed their name to Galway United and it most have been a good omen, as the club went on to compete in two cup finals in successive seasons. United made their first appearance in an FAI Cup final in 1984–85 but lost 1–0 to Shamrock Rovers. With Rovers doing the domestic double this meant that Galway United qualified for European football, a first for the club. Playing Lyngby BK from Denmark, in the Cup Winners Cup, they certainly didn’t disgrace themselves, exiting the competition with a very respectable 4-2 agg. defeat.  The second cup final I mentioned was against Dundalk in the League cup in 1985–86 defeating the “Lillywhites” 2–0 to win the clubs first major piece of silverware. A good season all round as they came second to Shamrock Rovers in the league, their highest ever placing in the top division.

It wasn’t until 1991 that Galway United finally landed their hands on the big one, the FAI Cup.  At Lansdowne Road, and with five minutes remaining on the clock, Johnny Glynn tapped home a late goal to beat Shamrock Rovers 1–0. Victory and forever remembered in the hearts of the Galway faithful. Also remembered for jumping the advertising hoarding, to embrace the fans, one of the more memorable goal celebrations in a cup final.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, But the fans were brought back to earth with a crash, when the next season, Galway United inexplicably got themselves relegated to the First Division. It was for only one season, but this became something of a pattern for a good few years, promotion and relegation the main themes from the 1990s to the 0000’s.

They did win another League Cup in 1997 though, so it wasn’t all bad.  Until that is the 2011 season, where the club found themselves rooted to the bottom of the Premier Division, heavily in debt and somehow having Nick Leeson involved with the club. Yes THAT Nick Leeson, the guy who brought on the collapse of Barings Bank, at that time United Kingdom’s oldest merchant bank.  That was never going to work out too pretty for the club, and sure enough the club was not granted a licence to compete in the League of Ireland owing to its debts and the unlikelihood that it could seriously finance a team for the next season.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, But Galway is too big a city not to have a LOI team, so with the help of the FAI (cough, spit), GUST (Galway United Supporters Trust), Salthill Devon, Mervue United and the Galway Football Association, all working together to form a unified club for the city, a team to play under the new name of Galway F.C., starring in the 2014 season and in the newly renamed Eamonn Deacy Park (ex Terryland Park).

They got off to a magical start as they won promotion to the Premier straight away via a playoff, and before the start of the 2015 season Galway F.C. were re-named Galway United, going full circle on the history of the club and where we are at present!

To the game

Galway United 1 – 0 Bohemians

Attendance: 1,170.

Not the greatest game ever, entertaining in parts, but to be fair with gale force winds it was hard to get any rhythm to the game for both teams. Galway played the better football, created more chances and deserved to win.

Stephen Cantwell got a goal in the first half but it was correctly adjudged to be offside, a little unlucky as I dont think the Bohs defence knew a whole lot about it.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, Ayman Ben Mohamed was doing a lot of good work for Bohs down the wing, and had a chance that Galway net minder Conor Winn comfortably caught..

And that was more or less the first half.

Galway playing more attacking football in the second half, with the, as always, lively Vinny Faherty taking a few pot shots at goal.

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, The goal eventually came, and it was coming, when in the 77th minutes Padraic Cunningham played a suburb weighted pass from the wing onto Faherty who, with a deft touch, turned the ball past Dean Delaney in the Bohs goals. Lovely goal, particularly as many in the stand were wondering was the pass a bit of luck with the wind, or was it really a weighted pass. It was extremely windy and I guess you have to give Cunningham credit, a suburb pass considering the conditions.

Bohs had a goal waved off for offside near the end, another correct call, and Galway easily enough held onto the three points.

Was impressed with Galway, they had moments of good linkage play, and looked lively upfront. It was a difficult day to play football but any football that was played was all from Galway. Bohs were a real disappointment, just expected a bit more from them. Didn’t looked like a cohesive team at all, very disjointed.

Interview

Short chat with Brian from the supporters group, the Maroon Army

My name is Brian and I am involved with the maroon army and we are around for the last couple of seasons now, basically we are just trying to improve the atmosphere at games, trying to have displays, but most of all its just try to get a better atmosphere at the games, and try, including away games as well, try to get more support going to away games and we have seen an increase in away games as well.Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city,

What would you say is the size of the group, is it getting bigger all the time?  

It’s getting bigger all the time, it depends on the home game, but for the last couple of games, at home and towards the end of last season there was certainly a big group I’d say maybe 150, 200 ,and it’s always increasing, especially for away games as well

What got you into supporting Galway united, because a lot of young fellas don’t think of the LOI?

Well I’m a supporter now for 15 odd years, or more, it was actually when I was at school the manager at the time Don O’Riordan came to the school and they were handing out free tickets for the next home game and I went along and I was hooked. And I supported a bit of English football as well but to be honest I had more affiliation with my home team and just more passion and because I am from Galway, and Galway city, it means just a lot more to me

I was going to ask what’s the best season in those years, but of course this is a new Galway team!!

It is a new Galway team but it still is for the majority of the supporters it still always been Galway United, we fought to keep it there, the name change, obviously they were gone for a few years, but we always treated it as Galway united, and the name was still there and eventually it just came back in. so to be honest for most supporters it’s always been there, and a lot of people have worked to keep the name there.

Did you get worried that those 1 or 2 or 3 years that it looked like there would be no team…

Yeah there was definitely a lot of concern, certainly there was a few local teams like Mervue and Salthill that participated in the LOi , but for a lot of people because they are just suburbs of Galway city , I am not from Mervue or Salthill so they have nothing to do with me really, so yeah there was definitely concern that they wouldn’t come back but there was a lot of hard work from people behind the scenes that kept it going.

So its good to be back

Oh it’s great to be back

In those years that you have been following, what has been the highlight for you?

Mm I mean…..

Not a lot of success…

There is not a lot of success, there certainly hasn’t been many trophies in my time. I just came onto the fold just after they won the league cup in 1997, which was our last trophy. We had a couple of good games like where we had relegation play offs, and things like that

I suppose one that lives in the memory was when we played away to UCd and we beat them 1-0 and it kept us up for the season

That’s online, the video

Online yeah, and Jeff Kenna was in charge, there was just a real good feel around the club at that time we had about 700 or 800 travel up from Galway for that game

 

Were you at that game?

I was

The atmosphere at that game looks amazing

Yeah it was really amazing, just around at that time things seemed like they were picking up but Jeff Kenna left then so….

He didn’t really go anywhere but that moment in time it certainly felt that there was a lot there to work on

But you are getting off to a good start this season

 Yeah we look very strong this season I have to say, strongest squad in a few years I think we will be top 5 or 6 this season I reckon, we look at lot stronger and fitter and he has brought in more players and more bodies

Overall there is a good squad there, and if we are missing a couple of players I don’t think we will be stuck, we have a good depth in the squad

And 1 or 2 players to look out for?

Yeah John Sullivan came from Bray, he looks very, very good, real strong holding midfielder, which I think we were missing last season, and

Bray miss him this season

Yeah Bray are missing him by the look of things as well,

Stephen Folan returns to Galway, he hasn’t played for Galway united before, but he is a good Galway city man, and he looks very, very strong at the back

There is a good spine to the team

And if you are looking for a younger player Pauric Cunningham, striker from Hedford, scored a hat trick there against Mayo League in the league cup during the week, and he looks like a guy with a lot of potential, I think he possibly could start today against Bohs, and I wouldn’t bet against him scoring against them either.

So what about today’s game then?

Galway United, football away days, Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway city, I think we will beat Bohs, I think it will be tough, Bohs have had a poor start, they won during the week, in the league cup though, so they probably have a little more confidence though, and they have couple of players back, I know Anto Murphy is back for them, he is a strong player for them, I think it will be tight but I think  Galway united will be good enough tonight

What’s your prediction for tonight?

I reckon 2-1

What would you consider rivals to Galway United?

Sligo Rovers would be the biggest rivals I suppose, I mean the Connaught derby for us is a big game, Athlone used to be, whenever we play them, it’s because they are, I think they probably are the nearest club, to us, nearer than Sligo or limerick

Even with Longford there is a bit of a rivalry there, even though they are a bit away

You have to say that, poor old Longford!

Who would you consider Cult hero?

For me Billy Cleary would be my cult hero, he is from the Claddagh, a good Galway man, he was a just gun-ho kind of solid defender, no one would get past him really, he had a bit of a reputation for been in refs ears and stuff like that but he was always a solid player

And if you had something to say to people that are in Galway who are not quite sure about hoping upto Terry land what would you say to them?

I’d say if you are anyway interested in football you should be making your way upto Eamon Deasy Park at the moment

So they changed the name?

Yes it used to be Terryland park, its Eamon Deasy Park now, because Eamonn Deasy I don’t know if you have heard of him would have been a Galway united legend, he played for Aston Villa, he passed away a couple of years ago, so they changed the name of the park a few years ago

They deserve their support, there is a good solid structure up there now, good team, good manager, and as well as that there is a good atmosphere, it’s a bit of banter even if you’re not enjoying the football, there is a bit of crack to be had,  you know Friday evenings what else would you be at you know!

It’s a good place to be, a good atmosphere and you get to know a lot of people from different backgrounds, with different politics ,different you know,  I think you go will go up there I think you will learn something more than anything

What will I learn today?

Today you will learn that Galway United could possible win the league this year, ha!

Really

You never know, you never know

Ok thanks Brian

 

Overall impressions: really enjoyed hanging out with the guys from the Maroon Army, for a few pints, a chat, etc. as they say, “a great bunch of lads”. Nice guys who have their heads screwed on.

Also enjoyed Galway, good town with a lot of good boozers. Didn’t think Galway was so far away from Dublin, cunt of a distance on the bus, so it was a pity I couldn’t really hang around too much. (I had to head back to Dublin to see Blood N Whiskey!)

Was good to finally get Galway United off my to do groundhop list. Nice little ground, friendly fans, and the team try at least to play some football on the deck.

Yeah Galway is a cool city!

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Longford Town, football away days

Longford Town, football away days

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 Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandLongford (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!

 

Pub watch

Andy Byrne’s Pub, Longford

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Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandFirst 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

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Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandThe 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

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandKane’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

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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.

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of ireland
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

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Richmond Street, Longford

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandPre 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.Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of ireland

Arena/Stadium: City Calling Stadium, Longford,
Location: Strokestown Road, Longford

Manager: Tony Cousins

Founded: 1924
Leagues: League of Ireland Premier Division

Club home page 

ltfc1924@gmail.com

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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.

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandFounded 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.

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandThe 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

Attendance: 700

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of irelandThis 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……

Section O Facebook

Between the Stripes Facebook

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of ireland

 

So what’s your name?

Kieran Burke

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.

Longford Town FC, Longford, St mels, section O, football away days, football groundhopping, league of ireland

Bit trippy but fuck it i was bored!

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, cork

Cobh Ramblers, football away days

Away day number two.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkWorking all week, just time enough for a game on the weekend. Only feasible fixture was in Cobh, to see the Ramblers take on Drogheda. Never in the town before, I travelled down from Dublin, Heuston station. It took about 3 hours and a bit.

Cobh (Gaelic form of Cove), previously known as Queenstown, is a lovely seaside town on the south coast of County Cork.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkThe town is probably most famous as the last port of call for the ill-fated RMS Titanic, and has a long association with seafarers and seamen thanks to its natural harbour setting, with the Irish Naval Service setting up its HQ in the vicinity.
These days Cobh is set up a large tourist hub, with cruise liners stopping by each year with people flocking to experience all the Titanic history in the town.

Overall I liked Cobh, a nice picturesque town to while away a few hours.

Bar watch: Plenty of good bars in the town, very easy to meet people, have the craic, great pints of Murphys and Beamish all day.

The Quays

Address:17 Westbourne Place, Cobh, Co. Cork

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkRight beside the train station, I actually walked past this bar at first, but then I smelt some cod emanating from the side of the bar………..and boy did it smell good, so did a quick u turn, and followed my nose. Decided I might as well get the breakfast/dinner and lunch sorted.

The pub has a large outdoor seating area, a good location in the heart of the harbour, but, as I like to do, I drank at the bar, which had a nice and smart décor.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkWasn’t sure what to drink. I had Murphy’s before, and hated it……….but to be fair it was in Dublin so……after some consultation with the bar lady she convinced me to give it another try……..and I have to say the stout was fantastic. FANTASTIC. Drank it down quick enough. Just had to have another one. It really was THAT good.

Ordered some cod and chips, was very tasty, and wasn’t waiting too long for it at all.

Liked this bar, could have spent the day here, great location, very welcoming staff, relaxed and cosy atmosphere. Recommended. I did leave a tip for the staff…………not something I do too often, ha, but that was tip top service.

 

Kelly’s Bar

Address:Casement Square, Cobh

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Walking more into the town, first pub that I came across was Kelly’s bar………..looked like a decent pub from the outside…………nice frontage…………and with the rugby on the box was teeming with people.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkGood friendly vibe in the bar, and with a few Welsh visitors in the bar, was a lively atmosphere especially as the Welsh were getting a tanking from the English.

Friendly staff. Fast and efficient. Bar lady served a decent pint.

In the main bar it was really standing room only, which wasn’t a problem as there were a lot of big screens to watch the sport on.

Lovely traditional interior, wooden floor with an authentic bar counter. Outside has perfect views of the harbour.

Good pub, liked it, good for watching sport, and had a laid back local feel to it.


Rob Roy bar

Address: 2/3 Pearse Square, Cobh

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkIn the centre of the town, was recommend as a place for some good music on a Saturday night. Music didn’t start when I visited, but what was there was a lot of good chat and a very lively atmosphere. Bar was pretty crowded, so it was easy enough to chit-chat with people, nice pints, and I regret not staying there longer. Has a real local feel to the bar. Pity there was no music on.

 

Titanic Bar and Grill, Cobh

Address: Casement Square, Cobh

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Since I am in Cobh it would seem a shame not to drink in the Titanic bar!

This gastropub has a direct link to the past as the location actually was once the ticketing offices for White Star Line, owners of the “Titanic” Ocean Liner, and where passengers gathered to be collected and transported to the Titanic anchored nearby. The Passengers on that tragic day consisted of 123 passengers, mostly steerage passengers for the lower decks.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkTitanic Bar was officially opened in August 2000 by Millvina Dean, the youngest Titanic Survivor who was nine weeks old when Titanic sank

The interior is pretty impressive, decked out a bit like a ship, quite spacious, luxurious, spotless, and very well designed, with a lot of history everywhere for the buffs to get excited about.

Was pretty dead when I was there, not much of a crowd, and the bar staff seemed more interested in chatting up some females at the bar than anything else, which is fair enough I guess!

Pint was fine, service fine, but no atmosphere or ambiance

Good location, overlooking the harbour

If you like some cool history as you sip your pint then this is a great spot, but I prefer somewhere with a bit more life…….

 

Connie Doolan’s

Address: East Beach, Cobh

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkWandering around the city, stumbled upon this small pokey old fashioned looking pub. Small pub, an old fellas kind of bar. Walked straight to the bar, immediately into conversation……also a small dog was jumping at me while another one was reading the paper!

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkGood conversation with the bar man and punters, good fun,

Easily my favourite pub of the day, had a lot of character.

Décor is very dated but who cares when the company is so good.

 

Cobh Ramblers Bar and Lounge

Address: St. Colman’s Park, Cobh

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkKnowing that the club had a bar, I made the longish walk past the Church up the hill towards the club grounds.

Always love a club that has its own bar. Really don’t know why all clubs don’t get this going in their grounds, it’s a good way to earn extra revenue.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkHad a few pints in here. Good banter from both sets of fans. Drogheda youth were a bit biting but it was all in good spirit. The bar man had to tell them to calm down a few times, but he was well in control. Good barman. And lady. Served everyone quick enough, which was great as they were busy between the front bar and the lounge at the back.

Missed the start of the game, wasn’t aware of the 7.15 kick off time……….

Good to mingle with fans before the game. Some of the Drogs fans were sound enough, hopefully will get to meet them again when I hit Drogheda.

 

Cobh Ramblers F.C.

Arena/Stadium: St. Colman’s Park, Cobh
Manager: Stephen Henderson
Location: Cobh
Founded: 1922
Leagues: League of Ireland First Division

Club home page 

cobhramblers2@eircom.net

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Cobh Ramblers, “The Rams”, from County Cork, are an Irish football club in the League of Ireland First Division. The club, founded in 1922, play their home matches at St. Colman’s Park. The club’s colours are claret and blue.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkTheir only senior silverware is the First Division title that they won in 2007, when Stephen Henderson guided them to the top division for the first time in 12 years. Sadly they were relegated the next season, and then after failing to get a first division license they languished in the A championship (third tier) for a while…a four year hoodoo, only getting a license to play again in the first in 2013.

Nothing really else to talk about in terms of success, there was a cup run in 1976 that saw the club reach the last four, bowing out to Sligo after three replays……….

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkI guess when people talk about Cobh they usually make a reference to Roy Keane, as it was here that the bold Roy started out in the senior game, and eventually making that transfer to Nottingham Forest. A transfer that got the club a paltry £47,000 was struck with Cobh Ramblers in the summer of 1999. Significant as not long after, in 1992, he moved to Manchester United for a then British transfer record of £3.75 million.

Another hot headed Corkonian, Stephen Ireland also started his career with Springfield Ramblers, the clubs underage outfit.

Home games are at the 5900 (1,350 seated) capacity St Colman’s Park.

In Oct 2015 Stephen Henderson signed a new three-year contract with the club, and the club have high hopes of returning to the top division again sometime soon.

Train watch: Get to Cork first, from Heuston Station in Dublin, takes about 3 hours. Then from Cork Kent to Cobh, a regular commuter service, taking about 20 minutes.

Cobh Ramblers 1 – 1 Drogheda United

Attendance: 497

Not the greatest game I have ever seen. Took a while for the game to settle.

Drogheda got a soft penalty at about 30 minutes, dispatched by Sean Thornton.

Second half was much better as Cobh went in search of the equaliser. I thought Cobh looked pretty good, particularly on the wings, and definitely deserved the goal when it came from Shane O’Connor.

Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkDrogheda had a man sent off for a bad tackle, and with the extra man Cobh got the equaliser. A nice passing sequence ended up with Mylod making a header, that seemed to stay in the air forever, back across goal, where O Conner headed it low past the Drogheda goalkeeper. Nice team goal.

Cobh had a lot more of the ball in the end, but without doing too much with it. I think a draw really was a fair enough result.

First half dour, second pretty good. Overall an enjoyable game, good atmosphere from both sets of fans, plenty of chat, and a was good to finally knock Cobh off my to do groundhop list.

Interview with Thomas from the “Cobh Ramblers Supporters Trust”

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Cobh Ramblers, Roy Keane, cobh, titanic, football away days, league of ireland, drogheda fc, corkSo my name is Thomas and I’m nineteen years of age and I’m a member of

Cobh Ramblers supporters trust, so they were set up the end of last season to help the club off the field and we all pitch in a tenner a month just to help out the club

So for the last 3 or 4 years I have been involved in the club, before that I was a fan since I was about 7 or 8 and so that’s basically it!

What got you into Cobh ramblers, why did you get into the LOI, cause a lot of people don’t really follow the LOI?

Yeah, I don’t know cause I always liked football, English football, or playing myself, I don’t know something just clicked. I liked the idea of representing Cobh on the national scale and it was something different, like not every town has a league of Ireland team and I thought its something you should be proud off

And you get involved with the people, there are very nice people involved with the LOI

There hasn’t been a lot of success for Cobh!

No it hasn’t been great the last couple of years, I mean there has been a few small things, like the under 19’s won the cup, the national cup, so things like that give you hope for the future that the club is going in the right direction, but I think this season will be different

(Two very curious young lads) What’s your name?

Jake

What’s your name?

Nathan

And why do you like Cobh Ramblers?

Because I have been following them since I was three

And what about you?

My dad used to be living in Cobh Ramblers (sic)

How do you think 2016 will go?

I think they will win the league

Really, are you sure?

I think they will win the league too!

Who is your favourite player?

Adam O ’Sullivan and Jimmy Griffin

Jimmy Giffin! (sic)

Why is he so good?

Because Jimmy Griffin is my dad’s friend and Adam O ’Sullivan is my favourite player for the summer camp

And he is so cool!

(Back to Thomas) And what about yourself then, 2016?

Yeah I definitely think it will be a good season. Based on the first game anyway, based on the Shels game. I wasn’t at it but I heard good things, and with the players signed they definitely can compete in the division this year I think

You got off to a good start against Shelbourne (won away, 0-1)

Yeah Shelbourne are a handy side now and to get a win against them its not an easy game, could be a good start.

And what about tonight’s game, what do you think, against Drogheda?

They only beat Waterford 2-1 last week and no disrespect to Waterford but they are not the best team around so they are there for the taking to be honest,

Even when Cobh were not having the best times, this place isn’t easy to get 3 points

Of course Cork City must be your rivals I guess

Yeah they would be, but we don’t really play them other than friendlies so there is not much of a rivalry there

So the First division then who would you consider…

Probably Waterford, now we have Limerick in the league this year, but Waterford would be more of a Derby

And for this season players to look out for

Eh, I think the two Galvin Twins that come over from England, Evan and Cory

Twins?

Yeah they are twins, they are very good so far, so I’d definitely keep an eye on them, they’d be moving on from here I’d say, going onto bigger things, the two of them, definitely.

And what would be considered a success this season?

I think play offs are a kind of a minimum and that’s what Hendo has set for the players, that’s his aim, Top 3, and if they get promotion that’s unbelievable. I think play offs are something steady to build on.

And what’s this Roy Keane, Cobh connection, explain that….

Actually he didn’t start his career here, he started his career with Rockmount up in the city and then, obviously he wanted to further his career, so he signed for Cobh to play league of Ireland

He was only down here a season, a season and a half, before he was spotted by Nottingham Forest

Yeah he still comes down, he was down here just a couple of weeks ago for one of the friendlies so he keeps in touch

Well who is a real legend of the team?

I suppose a lot of the 2007 team like of John Meade, Kevin Murray, Davon O’Neill, they are players that are fairly historic

And have you travelled to Dublin to support Cobh, have you travelled far and wide?

Oh I have been to Salthill, Waterford, Athlone, Dublin, yeah I have been all over the place, really

What was the best place you have been to?

Athlone was good, yeah Athlone back in 2013, a few weeks back into the season, it was brilliant, yeah

What can I expect tonight, my first experience to see Ramblers play?

It’s a good place, it’s a nice club, it’s a nice atmosphere, everyone gets on well

It’s a nice club, its great to be part of it and I think you will enjoy it

That’s great, thanks.

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Netherlands 2 Chile 0 World Cup 2014

Netherlands V Chile World Cup 2014

Netherlands V Chile Fifa World Cup 2014

After match synopsis in red!!

Beers: Group B of Beer World Cup: http://thisdrinkinglife.com/world-cup-beer-group-b/

Who is set to win the battle of the beers? Nomade V Heineken. Who will quench the thirst, set the mood, get me in the right spirit? Click on picture for a preview of the beers.

Get the beer result after, much after!

chileNetherlands Heineken

 

 

 

 

Heineken V Nomade Scotch Ale: 1-0 Victory to Heineken at the death. The easy drinking lager comes out in this keenly fought battle. Its lovely looking appearance and aroma is what all beers should aspire to: clear golden colour, good head, good lacing with a pleasant smell of yeast percolating through the nose. The taste is smooth and refreshing, of a quite distinctive yeast flavor with a tiny hint of hops. It’s a good beer for watching the football. Nomade Scotch Ale, on the other hand, a good performer, with a good head that stayed well, with it interesting aromas tasted good, but was a tad bit too strong for the day that was in it. The smoked malt taste with a bitter aftertaste from the stout just lost out to Heineken and its unique flavoured lager. Click on links below for full beer information and reviews.

PreGame:

Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli might leave out his midfielders Arturo Vidal and Charles Aranguiz. The pair have niggly injuries and also both are carrying yellow cards from the last game. Not worth risking it in this game today.

Netherlands 2 Chile 0 World Cup 2014 I am looking forward to hearing and seeing the amazing Chilean support, who have lifted their team throughout the tournament so far. The team itself aint too bad either. They’re brilliant going forward and are box office stuff to watch. They take their chances and goals very well, and in the Spanish game they scored a fantastic team goal, from defence to attack in a flash. Vargas, Alexis Sanchez, Vidal, Gutierrez and co, are some team, and I have no doubt that they will give Brazil or Croatia/Mexico a sleepless night thinking of how to stop Chile and their very fast counterattacking football. We will see how they do today against a strong Dutch team, but that Dutch team also has a few problems in defence, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Chile score the odd goal against the Netherlands. 

Netherlands:  The Australians asked serious questions about the Netherlands defence, getting behind the Dutch back four on numerous occasions, scoring twice. Of course there is also the point that Australia are a bit better than a lot of the teams in this world cup. I don’t think the Netherlands will get as tough a game for a short while now or play a team as physical as the Aussies, maybe if they meet Italy in a quarter final game perhaps, but not Chile/Mexico/Brazil/Croatia. But we will see.

Netherlands 2 Chile 0 World Cup 2014 The Netherlands strength is their attacking play. They have the fire power to score goals. It doesn’t matter if they let in two, they will just score three, and outscore every team. Goals wins games, and the Dutch have the top two strikers in the world cup, the van Persie (not today though as he is serving a double yellow card suspenson!) Robben double act, mean and keen. 

With both teams through to the second round, the game today is to see who wants to play either Brazil or Mexico/Croatia in the next round. I would use this game to play some of the fringe members of the squad, give them a run out. It’s a bit of a dead rubber game, but will be a good watch all the same, as both teams play delightful attacking game. Is it better to play Brazil or Mexico? I think the Netherlands would beat both to be honest, so this last game has no real meaning for them. 

A more detailed review on Chile here and on Netherlands  here 

Both teams had already qualified for the second round after starting with wins over Spain and Australia.

Just seen highlights of this as looked at the 90 minutes of the other tie. 

Nice well taken goals by the Dutch who won this very physical encounter.

First half was a bit of a snooze fest with few if any clear cut chances.

Biggest shock was that Kuyt was on the pitch. Why do the Dutch still think there is a need for this donkey? It kind of shows up the gruff of the Netherlands and their total football bull. Netherlands 2 Chile 0 World Cup 2014 Arjen Robben was again in top form, unlucky not to score, and linking up well with the rest of the forwards and midfield. His set up Depay brilliantly, who went on to score a nice goal.

The Chilean team, who preferred to roll around the ground than play football, only managed one shot on target against the Dutch, which is pretty pathetic when you think about it.

Next up for Chile is a game against the hosts, Brazil. Should be a great spectacle and a game they can very much win. It certainly will be an intriguing tie. The Netherlands have to play Mexico up next. That also should be an exciting tie to watch. Mexico seem to be improving with every game and wont be as easy a pushover as you might imagine. Looking forward to both games, in two evenly matched ties. 

         Music to get you in the mood

Van Halen V Makiza

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Spain 3 Australia 0 World Cup 2014

Spain V Australia World Cup 2014

Spain V Australia Fifa World Cup 2014

After match synopsis in red!!

Beers: Group B of Beer World Cup: http://thisdrinkinglife.com/world-cup-beer-group-b/

Who is set to win the battle of the beers? VB Beer V San Miguel. Who will quench the thirst, set the mood, get me in the right spirit? Click on picture for a preview of the beers.

Get the beer result after, much after!

australiaspain

 

 

 

San Miguel V Victoria Bitter: 0-2 Comfortable win in the end for VB. As nice as San Miguel is and all its no match for a strong VB in the hand, especially when there is sports on the tele! VB’s aftertaste is delicious and wins out. San Miguel is a fine beer, but I am not in Spain and the weather is not so hot and so the mood doesn’t fit. San Miguel is a lovely golden clear lager that goes down smooth and has a nice soft aftertaste, but up against a strong rival like VB it’s no match. VB with its golden pour and sweet malt aroma wins it with its bitter unique aftertaste.  Click on links below for full beer information and reviews.

PreGame:

Spain 3 Australia 0 World Cup 2014 Spain: Even though this is a dead rubber tie it still remains a fascinating game to review. Will Vicente del Bosque completely change the team for this last game, or give the old guard one last chance to play World Cup football? As a huge fan of Cecs Fábregas and Cazorla, I am hoping he at least plays these two. But he could just as easily, give Diego Costa some game time to get his shooting boots on. It would be more than fair for the man to have a chance to restore some if his lost reputation in this last game. Might even get a shot on target today!

I think Spain might want to prove something in this game. prove that they can still win, and win well. I am sure they will try their damnest to win this match handsomely, trying to notch up a few goals, and get some pride back in the national team

Australia: If Spain disappointed then Australia have done the opposite. They have shown some good football in this tournament and their future looks very bright.They played well against the Netherlands and asked some serious questions about their defence, getting behind the Dutch back four on numerous ocassions, scoring twice. 

Spain 3 Australia 0 World Cup 2014 Cahills’ goals was what every kid dreams of. A beautiful volley top corner, brilliant. Reminded me of the great vans Basten all those years ago. But he wont be playing today as he picked up another yellow card, so he is suspended for the match this evening. That’s a massive loss, and I cant see the Aussies doing much without him up front. It will be tough to beat the (soon to be former) World Champions, but what a story of they did!

A more detailed review on Spain here and on Australia  here 

Spain 3 Australia 0 World Cup 2014 This game highlighted the complete balls up that Vicente del Bosque made with the Spanish selection policy at this years World Cup. Seven changes were made for this final game in which Spain won out easily enough in the end. Now I know it was a dead rubber of a game but still questions should be taken from it. 

David Villa, the man who has scored seven of Spain’s last 11 goals at the World Cup, and who powered Spain into the final of the last competition, was on the bench for the first two games. While del Bosque persisted with Costa who finished the World Cup without ONE shot on target. Villa looked very lively when he came on and, sure enough, he scored a lovely back heal to score his ninth goal in a World Cup. He will be missed and what a player he was, scoring 59 times for his country and generally playing the game in the right spirit. You don’t leave World Class players on the bench Vicente, ever!

Fernando Torres scored Spain’s second, and Fabregas played a lovely pass to get Mata into score the third. Fabregas and Mata, more players criminally underused in this campaign by del Bosque. 

Australia Australia had made a very positive start to the game, and had Spain under the cosh for the first twenty minutes or so, but once Spain scored they dropped their heads and the rest of the match was played out in a very slow tempo.

Spain can regroup after this World Cup, knowing that they have to try and get a better forward than Costa in action if they want to be a top force again. For Australia the future is very bright. Although they lost this game by three goals, their overall World Cup adventure was positive. They have a young squad who would have gained a huge amount from their time in Brazil. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing them back in four years time to see how much further they have progressed. 

         Music to get you in the mood

Kylie Minogue V  Pignoise

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South Korea 2 Algeria 4 Fifa World Cup 2014

South Korea V Algeria World Cup 2014

South Korea V Algeria Fifa World Cup 2014

After match synopsis in red!!

Beers: Group H of Beer World Cup: http://thisdrinkinglife.com/world-cup-beer-group-h/

Who is set to win the battle of the beers? Hite Lager V ? Unfortunately I couldn’t source any beer from Algeria so this will be a one sided affair.  Click on picture for a preview of the beer.south korea

Hite Lager: V ? : 1-0 win for Hite Lager: as I couldn’t source a beer from Algeria. Click on links below for full beer information and reviews

South Korea 2 Algeria 4 Fifa World Cup 2014

PreGame:

South Korea: Played out a very dull first game. can’t solely blame the Russians for that. Korea didnt do a whole lot in that game either and would not have scored only for the generosity of the Russian goalkeeper doing his best for Russian Korean diplomacy.  

Russia were clueless. South Korea not much better. At one stage of the match a South Korean player kicked the ball right out of the stadium when trying to shoot for a goal. 

South Korea 2 Algeria 4 Fifa World Cup 2014 Was a little disappointed with Son Heung Min. Okay he had moments, but in such a slow game, I thought he could have picked up the tempo better. Had a great season in Germany, maybe he is knackered?

Really don’t know where the goals are going to come from with this Korea team.

Algeria, in the first game against Belgiumhad, as expected, a rock solid defence which was well marshaled by Bougherra. They closed off the channels to Belgium cutting off any supply for their forwards. More of the same will do against Korea.

South Korea 2 Algeria 4 Fifa World Cup 2014 Sofiane Feghouli, who, apart from the goal, disappointed. Hopefully he can shine tonight, as I would expect there will be much more space for him to go on his marauding runs.

If Algeria continue to play it tight, and break well and try and bring the aforementioned Feghouli into the game, I can see them getting a win. The Russian Korean tied game really has given Algeria a great chance of getting out of this group. Still very much to play for as if Algeria don’t get the win and lose they are out. 

 A more detailed review on South Korea here and on Algeria  here 

South Korea 2 Algeria 4 Fifa World Cup 2014 Was a cracking game from start to finish, who would have guessed it going on the two teams previous games. Fast paced with high intensity, resulting in a six goal thriller, this World Cup just keeps getting better and better.

In the first half Algeria came out with a really high tempo game, they played some lovely football, attacked with pace, and it looked liked the Koreans were shell shocked. Three goals in the first half shows how great the Algerians were. 

The Korean goalkeeper, Jung Sung-ryong, was all over the shop in the first half, and he didn’t get much help from his defence either. The two centre haves were particularly awful and were caught ball watching for a few of the Algerian goals. 

South Korea 2 Algeria 4 Fifa World Cup 2014 Madjid Bougherra was a rock in defence, at least in the first half. Wilted a bit in the second and was badly caught napping for the first Korean goal. Still was a good goal by Son Heung-min, who was quick to pounce on Bougherra’s mistake in the box.

That goal gave a huge confidence boost to the Koreans and they had Algeria rattled early in the second half. The Algerian goalkeeper M’Bolhi was particularly busy, and made a few brilliant saves to stem the tide. But Algeria got the fourth to relieve the pressure on their team in the end.

By the way, whats with the Korean’s and their naff haircuts. Looks like they are heading into town to do some shopping not play in the World Cup and battle the Algerians. Didn’t look very intimidating anyway! Wouldn’t see those styles on a rugby pitch anyway!

A win for Algeria, their first in a World Cup since 1982, now means that the Desert Foxes only need a win against Russia to secure a last-16 spot, and a draw could be enough if South Korea fail to beat Belgium, which is a given really. 

         Music to get you in the mood

RuksSouad Massi

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