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

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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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