Football Special Report #8 (Preview) – Shelbourne Fanzine Special

For the fourth time, Pyro On The Pitch has adorned the pages of the illustrious Red Inc. – the longest running fanzine in the League of Ireland, produced by the supporter group Reds Independent of Shelbourne FC. Click here for our now-online debut in RI, with a Shels-focused installment of Pyro On The Pitch (the series), and here for our second outing where Retro Shirt Reviews breaks down some amazing Auld Reds’s kits from the late 70s to the early 90s.

In our last appearance, which will soon be uploaded in full on the website, we looked at the “early modern” periods of certain well known kit features. For this part 2 of Early Modern, we turn our attention to the fascinating, cross-pollinating worlds of hooligans and ultras, and the origins of these fan cultures. Again, keep your eyes peeled for the article to appear online in the not so-distant future, but if you want to get all the latest POTP pieces as they appear, then start getting yourself down to Shels matches.

…some of the earliest evidence for the use of football-related pyrotechnics actually comes from Ireland, and indeed Shelbourne. A report regarding Shels’ victory in Dalymount Park over Belfast Celtic in the 1906 IFA Cup Final states that “tar barrels and bonfires were blazing across Ringsend and Sandymount that night as the Irish Cup was paraded around the district”. Bonfires have deep pagan origins in Ireland, particularly during Samhain (Halloween, the end of the harvest) Bealtaine (May Day, the beginning of summer) and mid-summer’s eve (the summer Solstice), with the flames – evocative of the sun for which later religions would be based on through metaphor – deemed to hold protective powers. By “the time of Shelbourne”, the bonfire and the more sophisticated tar barrel fire (an early flare of sorts?) had been adapted as a form of celebration and sign of appreciation by locals for the team who represented them.

That same year saw altogether more sinister developments over in England, as hooliganism began to lay it’s roots. In the 1880s, the presence of spectators known as “roughs” (a term that should really come back), who’s aim was to cause trouble at games and intimidate officials, already displayed that a form of hooligan had been around, but this was generally an era before away fans. The early meetings of massive rivals Millwall and West Ham United, however, were occasions that meant more than football, as both clubs’ working class followings were primarily made up of neighbouring London dockers, many of whom were employed by rival companies. Competition regarding livelihoods, as well as locales and football clubs, therefore divided the fans, and during a particularly tense Western League match in Upton Park on September 17th, 1906, violence broke out among the unsegregated supporters.

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International Duty – Club Banners At National Team Games #9: League of Ireland special (Gallery)

In this gallery series we usually take a look at a selection of supporter banners and group flags of club fans present at games of their national teams, from all around the world of football’s glorious, long-lost past. But for installment #9, we focus in on League of Ireland-based support at Republic of Ireland matches from the mid-late 80s to the early-mid 2000s.

We specify League of Ireland and not simply all clubs of the country, as there are often many non-league teams represented at Irish internationals, as well as some playing in an entirely different jurisdiction altogether (Cliftonville in Northern Ireland’s “Irish League” being the main one, while Derry City, from within the boundaries of NI, are actually apart of the LoI). These will be added at a later date. And of course, there were probably plenty more LoI banners than shown here at games during the time period covered, but the following is what we could find on video so far.

Luxembourg vs Ireland, Euro qualifier, 28/05/1987
Drogheda United:

Ireland, World Cup 1990
Derry City:

Wales vs Ireland, friendly, 06/02/1991
Bohemians:

Bohemiams:

Shamrock Rovers:

Poland vs Ireland, Euro qualifier, 16/10/1991
Bray Seaside Firm, Bray Wanderers:

Italy vs Ireland, World Cup, 18/06/1994
UCD:

Ireland vs Northern Ireland, Euro qualifier, 29/03/1995
Bohemians:

Austria vs Ireland, Euro qualifier, 06/09/1995
Finn Harps (Oasis Bar, Letterkenny):

Ireland vs Lithuania, World Cup qualifier, 20/08/1997
Cork City (x3) and Galway United (right):

Ireland vs Romania, World Cup qualifier, 11/10/1997
Galway United (left), Cork City (centre):

Malta vs Ireland, Euro qualifier, 08/09/1999
Galway United (right):

Andorra vs Ireland, World Cup qualifier, 28/03/2001
Galway United:

In 2003, the FAI embarked upon an initiative to involve the supporters of the League of Ireland more at international matches. The result was a brief golden age of co-operation, with many LoI club banners – including some of the country’s top ultras groups’ side by side – and “tifo flags” visible at games throughout the year in Lansdowne Road, along with several card displays, creating one of the stadium’s most aesthetically interesting periods.

The appointment of “League of Ireland man” Brian Kerr as national team manager might have helped make this possible, as now fans of the country’s oft-beleaguered league were coming together in support along with many Ireland fans who openly sneered at their own beloved nation’s top flight in favour of English football. Before long, however, most of the domestic supporters abandoned the project due the inherent nature of having to deal with the FAI (which is only becoming apparent to casual fans recently at the time of writing due to a recent scandal), and Landsdowne Road’s redevelopment in 2007 sealed this chapter of history for good.

Ireland vs Albania, Euro qualifier, 07/06/2003
Shed End Invincibles, St Patrick’s Athletic:


Shamrock Rovers (Hoops on Tour):
ireland-albania-2003-b

Athlone Town:

Finn Harps:

Shamrock Rovers:

Ireland vs Georgia, Euro qualifier, 11/06/2003
Shamrock Rovers:

Shamrock Rovers (Ringsend SRFC, left), Shelbourne FC (centre):

Shelbourne FC:

UCD:

Shamrock Rovers (left) and Finn Harps (right):

Ireland vs Australia, friendly, 19/08/2003
Briogáid Dearg
, Shelbourne FC (x3):

SRFC Ultras, Shamrock Rovers:

Galway United:

Shamrock Rovers and Galway United:

Ireland vs Russia, Euro qualifier, 06/09/2003
Briogáid Dearg,
Shelbourne FC:

Cork City:

Bohemians:

Bohemians:

Cork City (left), Bohemians (centre, right):

Bohemians (above left, right), Shelbourne (below left), Shamrock Rovers (centre):

Derry City:

Four Five One (fanzine), Cork City:

Shamrock Rovers (Ashbourne Says Howya’, Ringsend SRFC):

Shamrock Rovers:

Ireland vs Cyprus, World Cup qualifier, 04/09/2004
Galway United:

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YouTube links:

Luxembourg vs Ireland, 1987
Poland vs Ireland, 1991
Wales vs Ireland, 1991
Ireland vs Italy, 1994
Ireland vs Northern Ireland, 1995
Austria vs Ireland, 1995
Ireland vs Lithuania, 1997
Ireland vs Romania, 1997
Malta vs Ireland, 1999
Andorra vs Ireland, 2001
Ireland vs Albania, 2003
Ireland vs Georgia, 2003
Ireland vs Australia, 2003
Ireland vs Russia, 2003
Ireland vs Cyprus, 2004

*****

 

Supporter Snap Back #5: Como vs AC Milan, Serie A, 15/05/1988

Last time in Supporter Snap Back, we spent a little longer than usual on on the background of featured club Leeds United. Since we have a tendency to ramble on as it is, the series returns to it’s ideals now with a briefer look at the last day of the 1987/88 Italian domestic season, and a fan invasion at the game that would decide the title.

By the 87/88 season AC Milan could boast an impressive eleven scudettos to their name, even if the last had been won back in the previous decade. The club’s on-the-field success over the years was mirrored in the stands with the creation of one the country’s first ultras groups in Fossa Dei Leoni (Lions’ Den, named after a former training ground), followed by Brigate Rossonere (Red-black Brigades, named after the the left-wing Italian terrorist group Brigate Rosse) and many others.

The 1980s had so far been dominated by Juventus, with a couple of shock championship wins for the likes of Verona and Maradona’s Napoli, but with Milan’s addition of Dutch stars Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten in 1987 – along with a weakened Juve – the club looked poised to present a renewed challenge. Napoli again lead the pack for much of the year, but a 3-2 win for the Rossonere over the champions on May 1st, 1988, propelled them into first and set up a title race-finale that would go down to the wire two weeks later, when Milan were to travel 50km north to Como.

Match File:

  • Como vs AC Milan
  • Serie A, 87/88
  • 15/05/1988
  • Stadio Giuseppe Sinigaglia (Como)
  • 26,036 spectators

The team had followed up their victory over Napoli with only a draw the next week, but the side from Naples also slipped up and lost, giving Milan more breathing room and leaving the championship in their own hands. Masses of Milan fans make the short journey up the road to occupy most of Como’s Giuseppe Sinigaglia (with beautiful scenic background), in the hopes of witnessing a new generation of players win their club a 12th league title:

As seen above, the majority of the two main side-stands are filled by the invading army. Continuing down to the curva, we see how Como’s own ultras, led by Fossa Lariana – evidentially named after the Lariana breed of goat previously found in the region (extinct since 2007) – have basically been relegated to the status of away-team in their own stadium by the Milanese giants, but admirably have prepared a choreography in their section:

In the stands beneath them, a mesmorising black, red and white dance is played out as many Milan flags are expertly twirled:

More professional flag wavers (among other abilities) are to be found at the far corner of the ground as well, as this is where the groups banner of Fossa Dei Leoni and Brigate Rossonere are located:

In fact the entire end is also completely full of Milan tifosi, with another (after Como’s) Italian flag-themed display prepared and more seas of pleasing flags:

As the teams finally emerge from the the tunnel, flares and smokes are seen in the home section:

At the other end is an awe-inspiring sight as the away fans unleash their own huge smoke-show, on front of the epic backdrop of the mountains:

The visitors start perfectly with a goal after just two mins before Como equalise even earlier in the second half, but as Napoli are again on their way to defeat in the other important game, the scudetto ultimately belongs to Milan. Queue great graphics – which would fit in well in our What Football Is Supposed To Look Like series – explaining such:

Scenes of jubilation from around the stadium ensue:

The players follow suit by commandeering flags for themselves and parading them on a victory lap, while a reporter tries to catch a literal dash interview with the new champions:

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YouTube Links:

Como vs AC Milan, 1988
Como vs AC Milan, 1988

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What Football Is Supposed To Look Like #10 (Gallery)

Welcome back to the series that celebrates all the aesthetics of old school football that we love. Aside from the fact that the sport at it’s top tier has moved so far away from what it was in the 20th century – bringing with it the non-sporting aspects that interest us more – the progression of technology and society in general that have propelled this change mean that the things we look back on fondly are simply gone forever. Except here.

Previously we have had special focus-installments, such as our look at Belgian league “grittiness” in the late 80s-early 90s, and the wacky world of the football TV presenter last time out. But now we return to a wonderful array of images from all over the colourful spectrum of vintage football.

Classic graphics, banners and pitch confetti, Mexico vs West Germany, World Cup 86 quarter-final, 21/06/1986:

Flag-tops display, Switzerland vs Estonia, World Cup qualifier, 17/11/1993:

Quintessential communist stadium (Ernst-Thälmann-Stadion in the former Karl-Marx-Stadt, named after the leader of the German Communist Party in the Wiemar Republic) fittingly hosting a “Fall of the Iron Curtain Derby”, East Germany vs USSR, World Cup qualifier, 08/10/1989:

Nightmarish masks worn by Dutch supporters, Netherlands, Euro 88, 1988:

Classic graphics and background pyro in Bari, Italy vs USSR, friendly, 20/02/1988:

Beautiful 70s scoreboard in Rheinstadion, Düsseldorf (Bökelbergstadion was being renovated), displaying an astounding scoreline (game would ultimately end 12-0) of one “Prussia” over another, Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga, 29/04/1978:

From the same match as above – in which ‘Gladbach hoped to outscore first place 1.FC Köln to clinch the title on the last day of the season – fans listen to Köln vs St. Pauli on the radio (a game that would end 5-0 to give Köln championship), Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga, 29/04/1978:

Memorable sponsor ‘Jesus Jeans’ at the San Siro, Italy vs Uruguay, friendly 15/03/1980:

The gargantuan, eastern majesty of Stadion Crvena Zvezda, with Belgrade looming in the background, for a rescheduled game that had been abandoned the previous day after 63 mins due to dense fog, Red Star Belgrade vs Milan, European Cup 10/11/1988:

Conversely to the classic communist Olympic bowl, the American other-sports arena; here the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington DC (home to the Howard Bison college American football team at the time), USA vs Ireland, US Cup 92, 30/05/1992:

The setting sun silhouettes a treeline behind the Drumcondra End of Tolka Park (played there as Richmond Park was too small), with a large Irish-tricolour draped above the goal, St. Patrick’s Athletic vs Hearts, UEFA Cup first round-1st leg, 07/09/1988:

An ominous line of riot police guard the pitch in Heysel Stadium as a penalty is about to be scored, Club Brugge vs KV Mechelen, Belgian Cup final, 15/06/1991:

Classic graphics and crest (and a multitude of extra people on and around the pitch), FC Nantes vs Paris Saint-Germain, Coupe de France final, 11/06/1983:

Architecture with local character at Eastville Stadium, and beds of flowers behind the goal, Bristol Rovers vs Sheffield United, Watney Cup final, 05/08/1972:

Oppressive fencing and concrete wastelands, Ajax Amsterdam vs Den Haag, Eredivisie, 27/08/1986:

Great Yugoslav tracksuits of the early 90s, Yugoslavia vs Northern Ireland, Euro qualifier, 27/03/1991:

Children in Swiss club kits ahead of the international match, Switzerland vs Scotland, Euro qualifier, 11/09/1991:

Flares on the tribune and a unique end, Hajduk Split vs Partizan Belgrade, Yugoslav League, 19/11/1989:

A regiment of Spanish police attentively watch the corner kick, Brazil vs Italy, World Cup 82 second round-Group C, 05/07/1982:

Sad Honduran, Mexico vs Honduras, World Cup qualifier, 11/11/2001:

Dancing in the snow manager, Blau-Weiß 1890 Berlin vs Hertha Berlin, 2.Bundesliga, 16/03/1985:

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Mexico vs West Germany, 1986
Switzerland vs Estonia, 1993
East Germany vs USSR, 1989
Netherlands, 1988
Italy vs USSR, 1988
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Borussia Dortmund, 1978
Italy vs Uruguay, 1980
Red Star Belgrade vs Milan, 1988
USA vs Ireland, 1992
St. Patrick’s Athletic vs Hearts, 1986
Club Brugge vs KV Mechelen, 1991
FC Nantes vs Paris Saint-Germain, 1983
Bristol Rovers vs Sheffield United, 1972
Ajax Amsterdam vs Den Haag, 1986
Yugoslavia vs Northern Ireland, 1991
Switzerland vs Scotland, 1991
Hajduk Split vs Partizan Belgrade, 1989
Brazil vs Italy, 1982
Mexico vs Honduras, 2001
Blau-Weiß 1890 Berlin vs Hertha Berlin, 1985

*****

Pyro On The Pitch #15: Hajduk Split vs Olympique Marseille, Cup Winners’ Cup, 05/11/1987

In the last edition of the aptly named Pyro On The Pitch series we finally got around to covering some Italo-pyro, although an Italian pitch was subject to flares in an early “modern” installment also – just not at the hands of Italians.

Like Italy, our main subjects in this episode have a rich history of football-related disobedience, and they just happen to be the Balkan “cousins” of those who caused a mess in Genoa in 2010. They were last seen back POTP#11 and, as promised then, we now return to take a closer look at those crazy and courageous Croatians (or Yugoslavs as they were then) of Hajduk Split (with a healthy dose of the southern France thrown in too).

Background:

The story begins way back at the 1950 World Cup, when among the 199,854 spectators in Maracana Stadium for the final were a group of Croat-Yugoslav sailors and students. Amazed by the colour, noise and co-ordination of the home Brazilian fanatics, the young men took inspiration and decided to borrow the Portuguese name for the supporter groups they had witnessed: ‘torcida’, meaning “crowd” in English.

Thusly, upon returning to their homeland, a “Torcida” for their own club – Hajduk Split – was organised, with the aim of replicating the passion of South American supporters to spur on the team. The league opener against Red Start Belgrade on October 29th, 1950, was the official debut of the group, making them the oldest of their kind in Europe.

The name fell out of use over the coming years, but was revived at the start of the 1980s by young supporters with a new verve for terrace culture. The revival was the culmination of the the previous decade, which had seen a new rise in flags, banners and chants on the east stand of Hajduk’s old Stadion Stari Place, soon to be replaced by the new Stadion Poljud in 1979.


Hajduk Split's Torcida in full-effect vs Dinamo Zagreb, Yugoslav First League, 09/05/80.

Meanwhile, only a year after Torcida formed in 1950, an equally-momentous event had occurred in Italy as Torino’s Fedelissimi Granata (“Maroon Loyalists”) were born – considered to be the godfathers of the ultras. The movement properly picked-up in the 70s with an explosion of tifo-action across the country, now with the “Ultras” moniker as a handy catch-all title for the like-minded groups.

Soon, the concept was adopted by supporters in other countries, as evident by the naming of Real Madrid’s Ultras Sur in 1980 (although Sevilla’s Biris Notre came first in Spain having been founded in 1975). With Italy and Spain now accounted for, it’s seems natural that the one people who bordered both – the French – wouldn’t be too far behind.

The characteristics of ultra-culture were already well established in France by the early 80s, but in 1984 Olympique Marseille would officially lead the way with the formation of Commando Ultra’ 84. As seen in our recent Football Special Report on Euro 84, the club’s Stade Veledrome was also used to passion and pyro on the international stage, as well as domestic.


Home fans celebrate the last minute extra-time winner in a packed Stade Veledrome at France vs Portugal, Euro 84 semi-final, 23/06/84.

That very same year, Hajduk Split had managed to put together their greatest European run of all-time and made it to the UEFA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur. In England at the time, awe-inspiring masses of flags weren’t uncommon on the terraces (although more and more limited to the Cup by the 80s), but the English players may have been less equipped to deal with the exoticism of the flares let off by the likes of Split supporters on big continental nights.




Flags and a flare from Hajduk Split vs Tottenham Hotspur, UEFA Cup semi final-1st leg, 25/04/84.

From this match can be seen several Yugoslav flags among the Split support, showing that Hajduk was still very much a Yugoslavian-identifying team. The tie is most notable, however, for one of the most bizarre non-football, football related incidents of all time – one which animal-lovers (specifically cockerel-lovers) may want to skip-past reading.


Hajduk Split fans displaying a Yugoslavia flag at the match vs Tottenham Hotspur, UEFA Cup semi final-1st leg, 25/04/84.

Before kick-off at the first-leg in Split, a Torcida member ran on to the field clutching a live cockerel (grabbed from a local bar, which in itself tells it’s own story), as seen on the badge of their opponents, and proceeded to break it’s neck. Recounting events years later, the over-enthusiastic fan embodied a general sense of disgust with perceived English arrogance and had spontaneously (perhaps drunkenly) decided to make a symbolic point, while also manifesting his love for Hajduk through the majesty of bestial sacrifice.

UEFA were not at all impressed by the stunt, issuing a hefty fine to the club and banning the stadium from hosting international matches for three years, while Hadjuk themselves were forced to play in Osijek the following season against Dynamo Moscow. Now a lawyer and wracked with guilt, the supporter responsible has since apologised for his actions, having originally made it off the pitch unhampered (whether he left the poor bird laying on the grass or brought it back to the stands is unknown).

Over in France – by chance home of the cockerel – Marseille’s ultras had been making their presence felt in the stands, with a late 1986 home game against PSG being one of the earliest examples of the amazing colour and chaos created in the Velodrome. The game also gives us a good look at some unique numbering of the back of L’OM’s jerseys, which are also uniquely surrounded by “houses” due to the club’s property-based sponsors at the time Maison Bouygues.




CU'84 banner and flags followed by a huge pyro display from Marseille's ultras vs PSG, Division 1, 28/11/86.

The unusual numbering style seen on the back of Marseille's 86/87 Adidas shirt.

As the dynamic new supporter culture continue to grow, CU’84 were joined on the terraces of the Velodrome in 1987 by the groups “Yankee” in the north of the stadium and “South Winners” in the Command’s own Virage Sud tribune. More tremendous scenes from the stands greeted players as they emerged onto the pitch, such as the sea of white and blue flags ahead of Marseille’s 87/88 Cup Winners’ Cup first round-2nd leg match against East Germany’s Lokomotiv Leipzig (with the first leg having taken place in a stadium that could not have been more communist), in which a single goal was enough to give the French side an 1-0 aggregate win.


The view from the back of Virage Sud in Stade Velodrome, as Marseille prepare to take on Lokomotive Leipzig, Cup Winners' Cup, 30/09/87.

Elsewhere in the competition, none other than Hajduk Split had been entered as cup winners of Yugoslavia and were drawn against Denmark’s Aalborg BK for an all-round more civilised affair. There would be no flares or animal sacrifices when the two teams met on Danish soil, which obviously gave the home side an advantage as they took a suprising 1-0 lead going into the the return game.


Polite but enthused clapping as Danish cup winners Aalborg take the lead at home to Hajduk Split, Cup Winners' Cup first round-1st leg, 16/09/87.

Torcida, who were de-facto now an ultras group, had also been joined by new factions in Stadion Poljud such as White Boys. Even this ominously named group must have been impressed by the design of the visitors’ shorts at the second leg, sublimely continuing the thick stirpes of the Aalborg shirt (for a Scandinavian team, it works) which itself displayed huge “Denmark-style” numbers on the back.




Aalborg's all-stripey shirt and shorts, and large Hummel numbering on back, away to Hajduk Split, Cup Winners' Cup first round-2nd leg, 30/09/87.

Another single goal for the home team meant penalties, which the Croats won 4-2 to progress. For the second round, the draw threw up some interesting ties such as Hamburg vs Ajax and Den Haag vs Young Boys Berne, but the pick of the bunch as far as off the field antics went was Marseille vs Hajduk, with the first leg to be held in France.

It was Split’s fourth time taking on French opponents in Europe, after Saint-Éttiene (European Cup 74/75), Bordeaux (UEFA Cup 83/84) and Metz (UEFA Cup 85/86), while the only Yugoslav club that Marseille had played to date was Hadjuk’s great Croatian rivals Dinamo Zagreb, at the same stage of the same competition in 1969. What’s more, Dinamo had even defeated their Gallic opponents in the tie, but a repeat result seemed unlikely here as Marseille comfortably took the first leg 4-0, much to the delight of their flag and flare waving supporters.




Celebrations in Stade Veledrome as Marseille easily defeat Hajduk Split, Cup Winners' Cup second round-1st leg, 22/10/87.

Although the tie seemed effectively over, the ever-active Hajduk supporters made the second-leg in Croatia essential viewing.

The Match:

Split, 05/11/1987: 22,000 are in attendance at Stadion Poljud, located in the Poljud neighbourhood of the city, and as always the home end is draped in banners. After using a red and blue change shirt in the first leg, the hosts are back in their familiar white shirts and blue socks and shorts, while the visitors don the inverse with blue/white/white:

In the 9th minute, the passionate fans behind the goal – which is in inhabited by their own ‘keeper – throw some smoke bombs that land near the pitch. This isn’t so unusual but it quickly becomes clear that something is not quite right, as Zoran Varvodić in goal covers his mouth with his jersey while fans can be seen traveling across the stand in the background:

As orange and white mists plume, it turns out that the one of the bombs is not actually smoke but industrial grade tear gas, burning at 2000 degrees. As the gas spreads back up into the stands, the effected supporters begin to make their way out of the end and into the next section, with the terrifying threat of mass panic and crushing now a distinct possibility:

Whether this was a mix-up and the ultras had intended to use a regular smoke bomb, or the gas was intentional, we don’t know. The match goes on, but, as can be seen from the man that comes into shot below, soon those on the sideline can smell what is happening:

The white smoke can next be seen drifting on to the pitch…:

…before the referee finally realises what is going on and stops the game. The players run for the safety of the dressing loom, with some of the Frenchmen clearly in a far greater hurry than their Balkan counterparts:

Through the lethal fog, which is now an awe-inspiring sight, some supporters are clearly reveling in the mayhem as flags continue to be waved and more pyro lit:

At this point we get our first attempt to land a flare on the pitch, because “jebi ga“. It is an admirable effort, but just falls to the left:

With all the smoke, the gas, the flares, the flags, the streamers and the fleeing fans, it is quite the chaotic scene, and there is possibly clashes with police in there somewhere. It is probably just as many like it, to whom this is all far more fun than the match:

Another attempt is made to get a flare onto the grass, but the throw is just about lacking:

Meanwhile there is more mass movement along the terraces, with what may or may not (we’re really not sure) be a line of riot-cops moving in:

The camera man keeps himself busy with a nice, smooth panoramic shot of the “war-zone”:

In one section of the ground, perhaps where the wind was blowing, the gas seems to still be causing people to climb over fences and escape out of the stand:

Either for protection from the smoke or to conceal their identity in the unfolding riot, that is happening for no apparent reason, some young supporters below cover their faces with scarves as guards idly stand by:

More smoke bombs are also thrown, with their vivid yellow and orange clouds creating a striking artistic effect. Again, they have just about fallen short of the pitch:

Even though the tear gas alone would have qualified this whole incident for Pyro On The Pitch, we finally get the moment of truth as a flare is lit just as everything else seems to be settling down. First comes the wind-up…:

…And then (to be truthful, several seconds later) the throw. It’s good:

We officially have pyro on the pitch. Another supporter runs on to try and retrieve the flare, but it quickly burns out:

From a wide shot, we see that another one had nearly made it too:

The officials, a West German contingent (as can be seen by their Erima kits and a DFB badge on one of their shirts) led by referee Dieter Pauly, re-emerge to inspect the situation. The gas has dissipated, so they return to tell the cowering teams that it is ok to come out now:

We lastly see one stoic cameraman, who has been caught up in all this, retake his post position right in the middle of where the action had been. Business as usual:

Fifteen minutes after the interruption the game restarts, and a few minutes later Hajduk take the lead through a penalty. The score is doubled in the last ten minutes to give the home side a 2-0 win, but they still go out 2-4 on aggregate.

Aftermath:

The gas had resulted in two male supporters ending up in hospital that night and UEFA, naturally even more furious than over the cockerel incident, decided to take drastic action. First, the result was declared void and Marseille awarded a 0-3 win (not that they really needed it), but more importantly Hajduk Split were banned from European competition for two seasons and not allowed use their own stadium for a season more when they did return.

Having served their suspension, the “Bili” (Whites) would next appear in continental competition again in the Cup Winners’ Cup of 91/92 playing in the neutral venue of Linzer Stadium, Linz, Austria, and who were their opponents only their old friends from Tottenham. It was somewhat of a momentous occasion, as the final time that Hajduk – the last winners of the Yugoslav “Marshal Tito Cup” in 1991 – would be playing in Europe representing Yugoslavia.

For since the dictator himself died in 1980, the Balkan superstate had been on an inexorable slide into fragmentation as the stability, peace and prosperity that Tito had brought, died with him. By the Spurs game in 91, the flags baring the red star of Yugoslavia were gone from the Split supporters, now replaced by their own standard which would soon, after many had paid the ultimate price, take it’s place among the flags of the nations of the world:

*

YouTube Links:

Hajduk Split vs Dinamo Zagreb, 1978/79
Hajduk Split vs Tottenham Hotspur, 1984
Hajduk Split vs Tottenham Hotspur, 1984
Marseille vs PSG, 1986/87
Lokomotiv Leipzig vs Marseille, 1987
Marseille vs Lokomotiv Leipzig, 1987
Aalborg vs Hajduk Split, 1987
Hadjuk Split vs Aalborg, 1987
Marseille vs Hajduk Split, 1987
Hajduk Split vs Marseille, 1987
Hajduk Split vs Marseille, 1987
Hajduk Split vs Marseille, 1987
Hadjuk Split vs Tottenham Hostpur, 1991

*****

 

 

Heroic Hang Jobs #6 (Gallery)

As the name suggests, this is the series where we pay homage to our favourite flag-hanging displays throughout the years, ranging from an entire end covered in colour to as little as one single banner. And of course, from any club or country. Click here for the all entries.

Catanzaro vs Bari, Serie B, 23/10/1988:

Bayern Munich vs Hamburger SV, Bundesliga, 24/04/1982:

SG Wattenscheid 09 vs Borussia Dortmund, DFB-Pokal 1st round, 11/08/1996:

East Germany vs Soviet Union, World Cup qualifier, 08/10/1989:

East Germany vs Soviet Union, World Cup qualifier, 08/10/1989:

Watford vs Chelsea, FA Cup 4th round, 01/02/1987:

Portugal vs Italy, World Cup qualifier, 24/02/1993:

Netherlands vs San Marino, World Cup qualifier, 24/03/1993:

Real Madrid vs Napoli, European Cup 1st round-1st leg, 16/09/1987 – Match played behind closed doors after crowd trouble at Real’s semi final with Bayern Munich the year before, but the banished home fans still make their presence felt through huge message-banners:
With public or without public…
“…The Real Madrid is unique.”

More time than ever…

“…Go Madrid!”

Scotland vs Faroe Islands, Euro qualifier, 14/10/1998:

Red Star Belgrade vs Portadown, Champions League 1st round-1st leg, 17/09/1991:

Portadown vs Red Star Belgrade, Champions League 1st round-2nd leg, 02/10/1991:

Sligo Rovers vs Club Brugge, Cup Winners’ Cup 2nd round-1st leg, 15/09/1994:

Sligo Rovers vs Club Brugge, Cup Winners’ Cup 2nd round-1st leg, 15/09/1994:

Mexico vs West Germany, World Cup quarter final, 21/06/1986:

Czechoslovakia vs Faroe Islands, World Cup qualifier, 23/09/1992:

*

YouTube links:
Catanzaro vs Bari 1988
Bayern Munich vs Hamburger SV 1982
SG Wattenscheid 09 vs Borussia Dortmund 1996
East Germany vs Soviet Union 1988
Watford vs Chelsea 1987
Portugal vs Italy 1993
Netherlands vs San Marino 1993
Real Madrid vs Napoli, 1987
Real Madrid vs Napoli, 1987
Scotland vs Faroe Islands, 1998
Red Star Belgrade vs Portadown 1991
Portadown vs Red Star Belgrade 1991
Portadown vs Red Star Belgrade 1991
Sligo Rovers vs Club Brugge 1994
Mexico vs West Germany 1986
Czechoslovakia vs Faroe Islands, 1992

*****

People On The Pitch #10: Coventry City vs Nottingham Forest, Football League Division One, 22/04/1978

Last time in People On The Pitch, we looked at a fiery Italian affair in which Salernitana’s hopes of promotion in 1996 were dashed. We now turn to another end of season episode from a couple of decades earlier in England, but one with quite a different vibe.

Background:

In January 1975, Brian Clough became the manager of English Second Division side Nottingham Forest. This came off the back of a disastrous 44 day spell as Leeds United manager the year before, but Clough had already won Second (68/69) and First Division (71/72) championships with Derby County, as well as victories in the prestigious Watney Cup (1970) and Texaco Cup (71/72).

A 16th place finish was followed with an improved 8th in the manager’s first full campaign the next season, before the trajectory continued with 3rd in 76/77. The position meant automatic promotion for Forest, as this was before the days of play-offs when the top three finishers would go up.


A goal and celebrations in Nottingham Forest's City Ground, vs Hereford United, as the home side head towards promotion, 76/77.

By the time 1978 rolled around, Clough’s team had only been defeated three times in Division One, with the latter of these – away to Leeds on November 19th – ultimately turning out to be their last league loss of the season. With two points awarded for a win at the time, a trip to Coventry City’s Highfield Road in April would see Forest take an amazing league title for the first time in their history with only a draw.

In terms of the fan scene, England was swiftly hurtling toward the hooligan hey day of the 1980s. But of course the 70s had also it’s share of chaos, as fighting and pitch invasions became more and more common.

As the decade had progressed, joyful, celebratory invasions (such as this or this) were joined with deliberate attempts to stop matches when the result was not going your team’s way. With organised hooligan firms already in places since the late 60s, at least in proto-form, violent encounters became more and more usual too, as demonstrated by a famous clip of a Chelsea fan outnumbered by flare and platform boot wearing Tottenham supporters in 1975.


A section of the fighting on the pitch between Tottenham and Chelsea fans, 74/75 season.

The activity of making your way on to the pitch went “viral”, with many young, mischievous fans seeing it as a marked target. By the 80s, this would manifest in menacing fencing in many grounds around the country, with disastrous results later. But until then, it remained easy for larger and larger numbers to leave the terraces and hit the grass, as that April day in Coventry would show.

The Match:

22/04/1978: Highfield Road is packed, as 36,881 supporters fill the ground for the game that could decide Forest’s title. A win could be important for the home team too, as a UEFA Cup spot lay within their grasp:

As the away team emerge from the dressing room, we can see the shiny, futuristic Adidas shirts they have acquired since the Second Division, although interestingly goalkeeper Peter Shilton’s jersey is made by Umbro:

As for Clough himself, a characteristic yellow jumper is employed, along with a classic Adidas tracksuit top on his assistant:

A chance for City in the first-half triggers a mini-avalanche in the home end:

Shilton turns out to be the hero of the day for the visitors as he makes a sensational point-blank save in the second-half, much to the adulation of the Forest supporters behind him:

It’s a save that wins them the championship, as soon after the final whistle is blown and Nottingham Forest, having just come up the year before, are champions of England. The fans sing:

For the second time in his career, Brian Clough had taken a Second Division team, gotten them promoted, and swiftly won the league, but this time in even quicker succession than with Derby:

But we still haven’t gotten to our people on the pitch.

The first sign of it is one away supporter, clearly in a state of euphoria at his team’s inaugural championship, who in the clip below can be seen breaking the police line just as the camera zooms in on the raucous terrace. His goal, once on the pitch, is unclear, but presumably the need to burn off some excess energy made a sprint around the grass the most obvious thing to do:

Surprisingly, however, it is from the home end that a leak is sprung. Perhaps due to the polic being busy with the Forest fans, Coventry supporters enter the pitch en masse and head towards the other end of the stadium:

What happens next, though, is a bit of a let down for those expecting all-out carnage. Clearly not knowing quite what they wanted to achieve, the young mob stops short of the penalty box. Corralled by only a hand-full of police, a few Nottingham nut-jobs (they won’t mind us calling them that) do make it on to confront the Sky Blues fans:

Most of the away support continue to sing and hold up scarfs, while the coppers on the pitch move the invaders back towards their own end:

With the constables happy to contain them around their own penalty box, the Coventry fans conduct their own sing-song. The sight of scarfs in the air is one that would become obsolete in the following decade, as casual culture took over:

Just when the situation seems under control, the inverse of the earlier scenario takes place. With the police occupied at the other end, the Forest fans seize their chance and, in large numbers, stream out of their enclosures:

Once again, though, anyone expecting full scale war watching on from the main stand will have been heart broke, as the Forest fans police themselves by stopping around the half-way line, showing an “innocence” still of the age that would quickly fade:

At last, some brawls do actually take place, although the authorities successfully keep the two bodies of humanity away from each other from the most part. Perhaps with two teams of more sinister reputations, a critical scene would have developed. :

Back in the terrace, the remainder of the away fans continue to celebrate their brilliant season and league win:

And so concludes our story. It may not have been a particular aggressive incident – more like young people showboating and taunting each other than hardened hooligans fighting – but the sheer astonishing scale of the invasions clearly displayed that the amount of police deployed would not be equipped to deal with any potentially explosive situations in the might occur in the future, as things got even more out of control.

As for the two teams involved, Clough’s Forest would go on to make even more history with back-to-back European Cup wins in 1979 and 80. Meanwhile, Cov’ would finish in 7th that 77/78 season, one place off the UEFA Cup spots. They would not go on to make history with back-to-back European Cups.

*

YouTube Links:

Nottingham Forest vs Hereford United, 76/77
Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea, 1975
Coventry City vs Nottingham Forest, 1978
Coventry City vs Nottingham Forest, 1978
Coventry City vs Nottingham Forest, 1978

*****

Football Special Report #6 (Preview) – Shelbourne Fanzine Special

The third in our now regular guest spot in the Shelbourne FC fanzine Red Inc. has been published. Using the Football Special Report series as our vehicle, we delve into the “Early Modern” world of the football kit and the proto-days of shirt numbers, branding (of both manufacturer and sponsor), non-traditional football boots, printed player names, and national teams sponsors.

Below is a short excerpt and some pictures of the piece, including the excellent front and back covers, with this issue, RI65, celebrating 20 years of the fanzine. Both our earlier contributions are now on the site, so click here for our Shels special Pryo On The Pitch #10 or Retro Shirt Reviews #7, and keep a look out for the article in question here to pop up on online in the not so distant future. Thanks as always to the publishers, supporter group Reds Independent, for having us.

…Organised football does not have quite as long a history, although there is something intriguingly esoteric about nature of the sport (man’s attempt to control the inherent “chaos” of a sphere, or “planet”, within the lines of order, or “civilisation”, that he has created) that seemingly gives it a huge appeal to all classes of human. But as sport, and football in particular, is always a mirror for the greater world, the post-modern macrocosm of society is reflected in the post-modern microcosm of the game.

Considering the grim realities that lay behind the wealth of “western culture” these days, and therefore likewise behind the massive industry of professional soccer, most of us are not fans of this fact and lament the grotesque, corrupted demon-spirit that metaphorically controls the sport at the highest levels. True local football grounds like Tolka Park (for the moment) at least still give real supporters the chance to continue to experience a purer form, unlike conditions at corporatised top flight stadiums around Europe and the Sky Sports-watching culture.
But similar to your average citizen’s concept of “modern” history, some fans may also not realise that many practices currently seen in and around football, and football gear, date back far longer – in experimentation at the least – than is generally thought…

*****

 

 

International Duty – Club Banners At National Team Games #8: Portugal Focus, plus more (Gallery)

Last time in International Duty, we took an in-depth, pictorial look at club sides represented in the stadiums of Euro 88. In this edition, we start with the banners of some of Portugal’s premier domestic supporters at national team games, before moving on to the more general selection that we are used to in this series.

Portugal vs Ireland, Euro qualifier, 07/10/2000
No Name Boys of Benfica:

Portugal vs Austria, Euro qualifier, 13/11/1994
Torcida Verde
of Sporting CP:

Portugal vs Netherlands, Euro qualifier, 17/10/1990
Súper Dragones
of FC Porto:

Ultra Boys of ?:

Portugal vs Latvia, Euro qualifier, 03/06/1995
SC Braga:

Portugal vs Italy, World Cup qualifier, 24/02/1993
SC Braga:

Portugal vs Czech Republic, Euro 96, 23/06/1996
Súper Dragones of FC Porto:

East Germany vs USSR, World Cup qualifier, 08/10/1989
Dynamo Dresden:

Ebersdorf:

Italy vs Finland, friendly, 27/05/1994
Brigate of Parma:

Ireland vs Latvia, Euro qualifier, 11/10/1995
Cliftonville FC:

Italy vs Algeria, friendly, 11/11/1989
Vigilantes
of Vicenza:

Netherlands vs West Germany, World Cup qualifier, 26/04/1989
SC Fortuna Köln:

SV Grün-Weiss:

Germany vs Ghana, friendly, 14/04/1993
VfB Stuttgart:

Brazil vs Latvia, friendly, 26/06/1999
OS Fanaticos
of Athletico Paranaense:

Ultras Do Atlético of Athletico Paranaense:

2nd Comando GB’s of Cruzeiro:

Mafia Azul of Cruzeiro:

*

YouTube Links:
Portugal vs Ireland
Portugal vs Austria
Portugal vs Netherlands
Portugal vs Latvia
Portugal vs Czech Rep.
East Germany vs USSR
Italy vs Finland
Ireland vs Latvia
Italy vs Algeria
Netherlands vs West Germany
Germany vs Ghana
Brazil vs Latvia

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retro Shirt Reviews #7: Shelbourne Fanzine Special

With Shelbourne FC returning to Umbro kits for the first time in 8 years this week when the League of Ireland First Division kicks off, we thought it appropriate timing to upload our most recent Red Inc. fanzine special from last year, which funnily enough includes the first time the Reds wore Umbro in the early 80s. What’s more, a brand new article by ourselves will be in the imminent next issue, RI65, on sale at Shelbourne’s first home game of the season on Friday week.

Red Inc. is the longest running fanzine in Irish football, having been produced by the fan-group Reds Independent since 1999. After a Shels-inspired Pyro On The Pitch installment to start our RI guest slot, our Retro Shirt Reviews series was adapted for RI64, where usually we would breakdown an obscure jersey from our own POTP collection. But for this installment we deviate from that regular format to take a look back at some of the possibly lesser known kits from Shelbourne’s past.

A large thank you to Maurice Frazer and those at Shelbourne FC Photos for picture permission, follow their page if you are a Shels supporter.

Intro:

August 2018: DUBLIN has recently been awash with grown men proud as punch in their new English Premier League jerseys (usually derived from only a handful of clubs), especially when their teams have been playing meaningless cash-cow friendlies in the Aviva Stadium. This is particularly embarrassing when trying to explain to confused, non-Irish friends why there are so many people in Ireland supporting Liverpool for example.

The rise of two certain clubs in the Premier League since the new millennium mean that there are also a lot more blue English league jerseys around than there was in the 90s. But there was a time when the archetypal football club nicknames of “the blues” and “the reds” were synonymous with two native clubs: the blue shirted Waterford FC – who dominated the League of Ireland from the mid-60s to early 70s – and Shelbourne FC of Dublin.

Legends:

Established in 1895, one legend suggests that Shels’ original colourway of red, white and blue was a tribute to the Union Jack, reflecting that football was traditionally a sport of the Anglo-Irish establishment at the time (as opposed to the Gaelic Games associated with “old Irish” communities). Similarly, city rivals Bohemians were known to have close ties to the British Army (as with many clubs from “garrison towns”) and allegedly housed British soldiers during the 1916 Easter uprising. But just like how you would be hard-pressed to find a communist in the fanbase of teams called Dynamo/Dinamo or CSKA in eastern Europe these days, any early links to loyalism were soon long forgotten by the local supporting communities of both clubs.

Another legend states that Shelbourne were true pioneers in being the first Dublin team from any sport to adapt the city’s three castle coat of arms as their crest. There are also theories that the red jerseys used by St. Patrick’s Athletic upon their foundation in 1929 were inspired by an admiration of the already popular Ringsend outfit. Considering the historic connection of the shirt to Irish football history, as well as Shels’ use of red seemingly outdating that of both Liverpool and Manchester United (for whom many of  the Irish public would later develop an infantile fascination), it is no wonder that the club nickname would morph into the “real reds”; and more popular as of late, the “auld (old) reds”.

60s-70s:

In standing with the time, Shelbourne’s kits would remain minimal in design for the next several decades, with white collar variations and cuffs on the shirt being the only possible addition to the crest – if one appeared. A stylishly noteworthy strip that did offer a splash of colour was used at the time of the famous Cup Winners Cup tie with Barcelona in 1963, featuring a crew neck jersey with no trim and a blue crest with gold castles. Ten years later, huge winged collars with v-insets hearkening back to the 30s would again be all the rage. Shels were no exception to the trend with an otherwise plain shirt (crest later added), but like the national team, stripes now appeared on the white shorts.

The club continued to keep up with the ever-evolving kit styles, as by the end of the decade red shorts were employed for the home attire; the v-inset disappeared from the collar; and three elegant white stripes ran the length of each sleeve. But it was the brand of O’Neills that appeared parallel to the badge on the chest, not adidas. The shirt used the same template as the Irish national team jersey, meaning three stripes were also on the turnover of the collar. In what appeared to be clearly a blatant act of plagiarism of the West German company’s famous design – that would go on for decades, with the company shamelessly take “inspiration” from other well known shirt features later – amazingly after much legal battling it was declared that O’Neills would be allowed to continue to produce three striped sports gear, but in Ireland only.

1980s:

The peak of Shelbourne’s later success would coincide with the club’s association with English kit-masters Umbro. But few are aware that Umbro were also briefly around as Shels began to embark upon the 1980s, a decade that  would see them hit their lowest ebb until that point. By this time jerseys were changing from heavier materials to sleek, streamlined and slim-fitting polyester, and an away game to Bohemians in 1981 shows a shiny white alternate shirt featuring a modern (for the time) red v-neck and cuffs, with Umbro diamonds and wordmark. The earlier-used diamond-only Umbro logo appears on the red shorts, which are accompanied by red socks with white trim. We can assume that the home shirt was a straight reversal. Although great, the unfortunate lack of a crest prevents this becoming an all-time Shels classic.

Shelbourne would soon be donning the three stripes again, but while O’Neills would later return, this time it wasn’t them. Much is made of Cork City’s early Guinness sponsored Adidas kits – a partnership that made sense since there was a factory producing Adidas licensed kits in the city – but again many modern fans may be unaware that the Reds wore Adidas before Cork City had even been founded in 1984. As well as a trefoil, a sponsor appeared by 1983 on a Shelbourne shirt for what seems to be the first time, in the form of Iveco.  This was an impressive combination as the van and truck company’s name was also being seen on the Adidas shirts being worn by Bayern Munich at the time, with their red and white colourway making some versions virtually indistinguishable from a Shels jersey if it wasn’t for the addition of the corporate name Magirus underneath.

In addition to the white sleeve stripes and Iveco sponsor, a home strip from this time featured a turn-over collar and a shield crest, which was apparently placed over the Adidas logo. The reason for this, as seen through other versions of the shirt, was that the trefoil on these basic teamware templates was positioned to the left where a badge usually would be, and so instead of going with a reversed “off” look it seems it was decided to put the crest there instead. The real beauty was the magnificent all-white away strip, which differed in it’s red v-neck and cuffs, red stripes, and a trefoil, but lacking a crest. The absence of this meant that the Adidas logo was placed on different different sides on different players jerseys, the likes of which was not uncommon at the time.

If Shelbourne were moving surprisingly well with the times, 1984 would see a slight step back. While still “shiny” material, a template was used that brought back the wing-collar/v-inset to an absurdly large degree, rivaling any huge collars from bygone eras. This was because the design was actually from several years before, as worn by Limerick FC in their in League winning 79/80 season. Their FAI Cup final version of the same year also displayed a black trefoil within the v-inset as well as chest (and humorously the clearly shoddy print job meant that even as the teams lined up the L and C in “Limerick Savings Bank” had fallen off several players’ jerseys) while Paul McGrath-era St. Pat’s also employed the template. Shels’ identifiable Iveco version was used as part of a lesser seen kit colour combination for the club, in red shirt, red shorts and white socks.

Another new strip was brought in for 1985 as a turn-over and v-neck collar returned, and delightfully pinstripes were seen on a Shelbourne shirt for the first – the most quintessential feature of 80s football kit fashion. Also freshening things up was the revival of white shorts, while Iveco was replaced on the shirt with a white panel containing the logo of “Corona Holidays”. But now, there was no sign of either crest nor trefoil, again possibly depriving this kit of a higher place on the pantheon of the club’s greatest gear. While the three stripes should still have left no doubt as to who the manufacturer was, as we have seen the O’Neills situation could have made things a little less clear if it wasn’t for the classic Adidas sweatshirts used by the subs.

The following year of 86, the remarkable turnover of kits continued with what was to be the Reds last Adidas offering, but what a way to go out it would be. Again pin stripes were the theme, but beautifully used to divide red shadow stripes, meaning alternating shades of vertical red strips. A tidy white v-neck was used, with the Adidas trefoil returning again in the “badge position”. Another significant change was the addition of popular Irish clothing retailer Penneys as sponsor. Like the previous shirt, their wordmark appeared in a white panel across the shirt. Red shorts were also used again with the home strip. Even without a crest, the ensemble was a marvelous piece of art thanks to a jersey that many supporters today would be undoubtedly willing to part with large sums of money to get their hands on.

1987 saw a new make and a new sponsor, as O’Neills took back over the reigns and a company called TransIrish replaced Penneys. It was the most unremarkable Shels jersey in years, as besides the two companys logos there is little else to mention; even the v-neck and cuffs were red. White shorts again returned, and the away strip was a straight colour reversal. The kits nearly were actually quite nice in a minmalist  sort of way, but one thing definitely of note was the team tracktops, which were mostly red but featured a white inner hood with white strings, and a white horizontal section on the torso and sleeves, with “Shelbourne FC” in the centre. A crest and white O’Neills logo appeared above, while a squad number was placed around the left ribs section. Great stuff.

Although TransIrish remained as sponsor for another year, Shels changed kit provider for the third consecutive season as 1988 brought possibly the most intriguing shirt yet. The O’Neills tracktops also stayed but the kit was now being produced by little known brand Union Sport, who also made kits for Bray Wanderers ,Dundalk FC, and, in a similar red and white style to Shels, Sligo Rovers. The kicker is that Union Sport’s logo was a literal Confederate flag (minus a couple of stars), which did appear on the chest of a Shelbourne shirt. With said flag being a common symbol of far-right white nationalists in Europe (this came up last time too), it is especially hilarious considering the Union fought against the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

Another change was the crest, which was now permanently on the chest for the first time in years. The white shield used since the 70s was gone, leaving three larger white castles standing independent over the red background of the shirt. A Union Sport wordmark was also used instead of the flag logo, but white bars running down the sleeves and sides of shirt were interjected by the flag. From afar, this gave the appearance of Denmark’s 1979 Hummel kit which had chevrons in the same places, as well as a similar collar and the same colourway. It seemed that once again Shelbourne were in a plagiarised template, as well as politically incorrect by modern standards.

1990s:

As the 1990s dawned, Shelbourne made a deal with O’Neills for the third time. After the four different kit providers of the 1980s, the Irish brand would retain some stability by staying around for the next eight years, coinciding with Shelbourne’s return to league and cup dominance. A new era dawned with many of the jerseys worn fondly remembered today. But the teams lack of success in the decades before, coupled with poor coverage of the League of Ireland in general, meant that many of the shirts we have looked at are sadly less recognised; particularly Shels’ Adidas era.

Before Shelbourne did win finally win the league again in 91/92, O’Neills provided a perfectly 90s piece for 90/91, which was slightly understated compared to the “geometric shards” shirt that would come a couple of seasons later, but suave enough to make it an absolute classic. With a smart collar and button combination, white “flecks” appear all over the red of the shirt. An O’Neills logo joined is by a new sponsor, SpeedWay, who’s red and white logo fits seemlessly into the overall design. But most significantly, a new crest which incorporated the blue background and gold castles of the past was introduced. The white away shirt with red shorts was a perfect match.

The 90/91 kits may be among O’Neills greatest work in football, slightly redeeming themselves for their indiscretions. The above mentioned 1992/93 shirt was also a crazy classic. But around the same time they would be up their old tricks with another shirt that was extremely familiar, using identical shoulder bars and general layout on a white Shlebourne away shirt to that of the Adidas Equipment range, used by the likes of Spain and France at the time. Before O’Neills left for good – to be replaced by Umbro in 1998 – they proved that it wasn’t just Adidas that they were prepared to rip-off. The FAI Cup final and subsequent replay of that year was significant for another another rare appearance of a red-red-white kit, but in classic O’Neills-level subtly, the shirt looked suspiciously similar to what Brazil were about to wear in the 1998 World Cup.

*

Pic sources: British Pathé YouTube; the41.ie; finnharps.com; corkpastandpresent.ie; Sportsfile.ie; Shelbourne Cult Heroes books by Séan Fitzpatrick with photos courtesy of Maurice Frazer and the Frazer family; Getty Images; Shelbourne vs Shamrock Rovers 1987 progamme thanks to @1895Barry; The Bar At Tolka (framed team photo); vintagefootballshirts.com; 1993 FAI Cup Final preview; retroloi YouTube.

*****