Click here for all in the Pyro On The Pitch series, in which we look at a match each time where pyro did indeed end up on the pitch. In the last instalment we had a Dublin GAA 70s special and we’re staying Irish now, except this time they’re not the source of the pyro.
Our featured game was actually briefly highlighted way back on the site in 2017 as a bonus section to Pyro On The Pitch #2 – Netherlands vs Ireland, 1981, a match from later in the same group as this. The reason it was a bonus and not its own episode was that the video had been taken offline and we only had a couple of old screenshots at the time. Eventually we found a re-upload and saved the video ourselves this time, and thankfully we did as it’s now gone from YouTube once again.
The group in question was UEFA’s World Cup 1982 qualification Group 2 – a very tough pool consisting of recent back-to-back World Cup finalists the Netherlands; perineal threats France; Euro 80 finalists Belgium; a very good Ireland; and bottom seeds Cyprus. Despite having never reached a major finals at this point, the Irish proved they were not to be taken lightly by shocking the Dutch 2-1 at Lansdowne Road on 10 September 1980, after having defeated the Cypriots 2-3 in Nicosia to kick off the group back in March. France began their campaign with a statement performance away to Cyprus also, crushing the islanders by seven goals to nil on 11 October 1980.
Grainy footage of France in white shirts during their demolish job of Cyprus, 11/10/1980.
Four days later, Ireland welcomed the Belgians to Dublin who were fresh off their impressive 2nd place finish at that summer’s European Championships, behind hosts Italy. The visitors went 0-1 up after 13 minutes, but an absolutely class set-piece just before half-time bamboozled the Red Devils as Luton Town’s Tony Grealish headed in an equaliser to send the 40,000 in attendance bonkers:
One-one it would remain to the end, keeping the Irish undefeated after three games. As another extra bonus, here’s some “What Football Is Supposed To Look Like” scenes from the day:
Ireland were set to be back in action in the group only two weeks later, this time travelling to the continent to take on France featuring their 25 year old star Michel Platini.
- France vs Ireland
- World Cup 82 qualifier, UEFA Group 2
- Parc des Princes, Paris
- Attendance: 44,800
After the anthems but before the marching band even leave the pitch, we have our first taste of pyro from the Parisian crowd as a firework can be seen coming down from the stands during the French team’s graphic:
The Ireland team line-up displays how good this squad really was, with several stars such as Manchester United’s Kevin Moran; Brighton & Hove Albion’s (but soon Liverpool’s) Mark Lawrenson; Arsenal’s Frank Stapleton; and especially the captain – Juventus’ Liam Brady:
Like with the French, more explosions of fireworks can soon be seen behind the names, doubtlessly creating a delicious smell in the air:
After those two appetisers, next comes our legit pyro on the pitch. What seems like more of a small, launched smoke bomb lands near the centre circle narrowly missing the Irish forwards:
If it was today there’d probably be some sort of drama over this, but given the time there is no major fuss (although several of the Irish players definitely wouldn’t be used to this sort of thing):
As the beautiful Irish away kit and beautiful football are given a close-up, the residual smoke can still be seen drifting across the pitch:
A few seconds into the match, more smoke can be seen rising behind the Irish goal:
Speaking of which, goalkeeper Gerry Peyton is in one of the all-time great Irish ‘keeper kits also:
At the other end, some evidence of streamers rather than pyro on the pitch:
While that’s the end of our pyro for the day, there’s also at least two different sections of away fans with banners. One is along the side of the pitch opposite camera-side:
And the other is at one of the ends, where several Irish tricolours and scarves can be seen throughout:
After only 11 minutes, Platini scored to put France 1-0 up and the lead was doubled on 77 mins by Jacques Zimako to secure the win, ending Ireland’s brief unbeaten streak. It would prove an important result for the hosts in the end, as they finished the group with 10 points – the same as Ireland. But with a superior goal-difference, the French pipped the Irish to second place and took the second qualifying spot behind Belgium meaning Ireland would have to continue to wait for their major finals debut.