David Kelly has been supporting Shels since the late 1960s. As a youngster, only a few of his classmates followed soccer as he went to a fee-paying school which was steeped in rugby tradition. He recalls matches at different grounds from Dalymount to Bray to Dundalk, and the football chants which used to be sung. David also talks about the different players he admired and also on different styles of management of Shels managers over the decades including Dermot Keely and Ollie Byrne.
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Duration: 37:53 mins.
Project Name: Shelbourne FC Oral History Project: Phase 1
Track Number: 07
Name of the Interviewee: David Kelly (DK)
Name of Interviewer: Marc Redmond (MR) on behalf of Dublin City Library and Archive (DCLA)
Place of Interview: Conference Room, The Lab, Dublin City Arts Office, Foley Street, Dublin 1
Date of Interview: 22 March 2011
Name of Transcriber: E–quip Business Solutions, amended by Ellen Murphy, DCLA
MR: This interview is taking place in the lab on Foley Street on the 22nd of March 2011. Present are David Kelly and Mark Redmond making the recording for the Dublin City Library and Archive. Morning David, thanks very much for your time. Thanks for coming in. Can you just tell us, can you give us your full name and your date of birth and your occupation?
DK: My name is David Kelly, 14/12/54 and I’m an Accountant.
MR: And how long have you been a supporter of Shels?
DK: Well since the late ‘60s.
MR: And can you tell me about your earliest experiences of supporting the club, who brought you to your first game, that type of thing?
DK: My first clear memory was being brought by my father, he was a Drumcondra Football Club fan.
DK: A season ticket holder. And at that time Shels were tenants in Tolka and Drumcondra owned the ground and I remember him bringing me to matches. In fact I remember it vividly. My first experience was him telling me that a guy called Brendan Place was coming back from suspension and that someday he’d kill someone on the pitch (laughter) and I believed him, once I saw Brendan playing I thought this is it, I’m going to be around when Brendan does kill someone.
MR: And what was the general atmosphere like at a home game when you first started to go?
DK: Ah it was pretty good. I mean even then I suppose the television influence was coming in and there was competition from the Big Match which was a Sunday afternoon television programme so the numbers weren’t as big as they had been, you know, in the ‘50s and ‘40s but they were still pretty good. Now Shels had been in the doldrums for a few years when I started following them so the crowds weren’t great and Drumcondra equally were in the doldrums and ended up going out of business fairly soon afterwards.
MR: Right. Now that would have been the early … it was the early ‘60s you started going?
DK: I’d say it was probably closer to the mid to late ‘60s.
MR: Right, yes that was around October ’63, I’m just looking here, Shels face Barcelona in the European Cup …
DK: … Yes I missed all those glory days unfortunately.
MR: Can you remember, can you give me an example of any of the songs or chants that Shelbourne supporters sang at the time or …?
DK: The only one I think of is “Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, Brian Delargy” – who was one of our forwards at the time …
DK: … it was just, you know, a popular pop song at the time. But no there wasn’t … you see there weren’t that many (laughs) Shels fans to sing too much.
MR: Yes, yes.
DK: Or, you know, “All we are saying is give us a goal”, you know, then the usual sort of stuff the other team are rubbish and all that sort of stuff, you know.
MR: Yes. And was there any kind of rivalry going on then?
DK: There was yes, strangely enough I was thinking about it, certainly not so much at school because I went to a rugby playing school but in the locality where I grew up in Whitehall all the kids, all the boys, followed either Drums or Shels or Bohs. They’ve all fallen away over the years in fact they all fell away fairly early I think. There’s a few of us went on into early adulthood but that’s about it.
MR: And just you mentioned earlier about the fact that you went to a rugby playing school I can remember actually my father telling me that if you were playing football in the yard because there was a very strong GAA kind of influence there with the Christian Brothers and that type of thing that if you were seen playing, you know, kicking a football as in soccer that was kind of frowned upon. I think there was some around at that time.
DK: Ah there was yes, yes, yes. We would occasionally get the use of a pitch, a rugby pitch, to play the odd soccer match so it wasn’t a sacking offence or anything to be caught playing soccer …
DK: … but there was certainly no encouragement and none for GAA at all. Soccer was just about tolerated but only if you did it yourself, there was no school encouragement.
MR: Would that type of thing did it separate people socially in a sense that you’d have your GAA crowd they’d be going to one pub and, you know, the … ?
DK: Yes, yes I mean it was unusual I suppose that I grew up in a working class area but went to a fee paying school.
DK: So there was a very obvious divide there that the guys I’d pal around with in the street would be soccer and GAA, Whitehall Gaels or Kevin’s or Home Farm whereas the people at school would be much more into the rugby or cricket.
MR: Right. And you were saying you missed the earlier glory days, did you travel to any away matches at any stage?
DK: I haven’t travelled to an away match, sorry I didn’t travel to an away match in Europe until we played Deportivo there in 2004 I think it was.
DK: I mean I should have I suppose in the glory days but it always just happened that I was on family holidays or whatever and just never got around to it.
MR: Yes, yes. And were there any particular grounds in Ireland that you liked most or least?
DK: Yes, I always had a thing about Bray, we never seemed to have a good match there. It’s always bitterly cold and (laughs) we always …
MR: Right beside the sea there, yes.
DK: … yes, yes, a cold wind and a bumpy pitch and fairly miserable experiences there. Now admittedly we enjoyed going out on the Dart and playing in the bumpers and all that sort of stuff (laughs) …
MR: Yes, yes, yes.
DK: … I mean people talk about Milltown being a great ground I mean my memories are that it was okay but it wasn’t anything special. Well I haven’t quite been to every ground yet but I’ve been to most grounds at this stage and I mean there’s some awful grounds, Limerick is terrible, Cork has a very nice grounds.
MR: And do you find that any of them would have kind of fallen into neglect over the years, over time?
DK: Oh yes, yes, yes.
DK: I mean Shels obviously when they got money they did up Tolka Park and it was great although it’s now beginning to show its age again but I mean even Dalymount there was terracing on I suppose the north side for the full length of the pitch and now it’s only half, they’ve turned half of it into a car park. The area behind the goal at the shopping centre end used to be, you know, a very high terrace and you’d get an interesting view from the back of it and I remember being there for international matches and that’s been blocked off now for safety reasons for, oh, a good few years. Pat’s is another interesting grounds, you know, it’s quirky, I don’t particularly like it but looking at the guy pulling the ball out of the river every now and then is interesting.
MR: Right, yes I can imagine (laughs). And generally speaking was there any particular special rivalry between any particular clubs or were there supporters that you got on better with than other supporters or …?
DK: Well, you know, you’d no fans in Drumcondra worth talking about. For some reason we never had great rivalry with Pat’s in the old days but I mean, you know, I got into trouble, I’ve been attacked by Bohs fans and Rovers fans over the years, nothing, you know, that’s …
MR: Did you experience stuff like that yourself or did you witness anything like that?
DK: Yes, yes.
MR: Would that have been a kind of a one-off thing?
DK: It would yes, yes.
MR: It would yes. It wasn’t really the norm?
DK: No, no I mean if you wanted to go and look for trouble you could but trouble found me very rarely, you know, a couple of times people might give you a dig if they walked past you but that would be it, you know, and that might be once every 5 years or something, you know, it wouldn’t be a big deal. I mean nowadays there’s this big thing between Bohs and Rovers but I certainly don’t remember anything of any significance.
MR: How did you typically, you know, celebrate any Shels’ victories? Did you have any big sessions or anything like that?
DK: Ah we had some sessions but I mean I suppose I’m a bad candidate for you in that, you know, I mean I was middle aged nearly by the time we started getting success so although we enjoyed ourselves we didn’t go on the tear and make fools of ourselves.
MR: But would you have remembered around kind of ‘91/’92 – the club kind of wins it’s eight league title in Ireland at that point?
DK: Yes we were up in Dundalk that day, that was a great day, we ended up in The Boot Inn because one of the guys was flying back to London after that, he came home just to see the match. Yes I mean it was like 30 years waiting for the league so that was great and then the following year we won the cup again after 30 years.
MR: And did you travel with a group, did you go up on a train or did you all head up in car?
DK: No again, you know, there was an inhibiting factor in that I would tend to be the driver so I drove to Dundalk for the match, up there, and I drove my family to Lansdowne Road for the Cup Final so I wasn’t, you know, going to be drinking.
MR: Yes, yes. Like what would you say would have been your greatest moments that you would have experienced as a Shelbourne fan? Anything in particular that really stands out there over the years?
DK: Well I mean when we beat Hajduk Split to qualify to play Deportivo, that was a great night. It was just the way it was done I mean it was two goals in the last 10 minutes, the first one a great goal and then the second one when we were convinced we were going to concede one to just break away and score another, the win, in winning the first cup, winning the first league. They were great days. And even although we didn’t do particularly well against Lille we came from 2-0 down to score twice in the last couple of minutes.
DK: So yes they were great games.
MR: Later in life did you have any particular favourite players like that stood out?
DK: Ah yes, yes, I mean every generation you’ve got one or two that you love to see. Tony Sheridan was probably the one in … I suppose he’s gone 10 years now, but he was a flawed genius. More likely to do something brilliant or to do something terrible but he was always interesting to watch. Mick Neville, great goal, great centre half. Sort of the first team you follow is the team probably that you have the best memories of …
MR: Yes, yes.
DK: … so there was Ray O’Brien and Chicken Roche and Steve Gannon, Brendan Place, Padding Dunning, Brian Delargy, Johnny Campbell, Sean Corr, Johnny Murray. I think there was a bit more loyalty in the old days, you know, we had a manager called Gerry Doyle for many, many years and I mean in the modern game he would have been sacked I think very, very quickly. And equally players stayed a bit longer. Now there’s good and bad in that, if someone isn’t a great player as a fan you want to get rid of them really but I think in the old days people did tend to stick with clubs longer and they tended to be, you know, loyal to a club but the club was also a bit more loyal to them whereas I think now the club will probably not be particularly loyal whereas they’d be more demanding and not as loyal to managers either.
MR: Did you have a particular favourite Shels manager?
DK: I mean Gerry Doyle would have been the one from the early days. I mean Dermot Keely would probably be fairly high in people’s affections because he came in 4 years ago when nobody would touch us with a barge pole and okay I mean going back prior to that he’d won the double with us so he was in our affections anyway but, you know, when we were really on the floor and nobody wanted anything to do with us he was persuaded to come out of retirement. I think because the club had treated him well when he had difficulties in the past although he didn’t get us success, he didn’t get us out, the division would have a lot of respect for him.
MR: There’s a chap you mentioned earlier as well there, you said in the modern game he probably would have been sacked, for what reason or can you specify why?
DK: Just lack of success.
MR: And would you contribute that to him personally or just the general mood in the club at the time or …?
DK: I just think that a long time ago now managers seemed to stay for longer and it was sort of accepted that if they’re doing their best they’d be let continue whereas now I think even if you are doing your best and you’re not producing the goods you’re gone.
MR: Yes, yes, yes.
DK: And I mean okay the League of Ireland is only in a small scale I think it does reflect the bigger leagues and that’s also prevalent.
MR: And how about do you have any losses and disappointments as regards the club, you were talking about the state where the club was on the floor, was it hard to kind of maintain your enthusiasm for it, was it?
DK: Ah it was yes although I mean we knew that what we were doing financially just was unsustainable in the good days. I think most people knew that it just couldn’t be done, (laughs), it was a bit like the Irish economy.
DK: And so while it … it just was very disheartening.
MR: And how would fans generally express it what was the …?
DK: I don’t know. I mean if you like the guy who brought us to that situation, you know, you could say is Ollie Byrne who was the Chief Executive and you could fill an archive with stories on Ollie Byrne but I just don’t think there was … people didn’t really hold it against them because they just knew he was fanatical and would do anything for the club and even if that meant that the club would get destroyed in the process.
MR: Yes, yes.
DK: I think people were tolerant of him for that reason but it certainly was a low point and then we missed out on promotion 2 years later, the last kick of a game, you know, that was just really heartbreaking whereas this league that we’re in now is a pretty awful league and it will be even worse next year when they reorganise it as they’re talking about doing it and, you know, I don’t think we see Shelbourne as club that should be playing in that league, you know, we shouldn’t be playing against clubs who get ten or twelve supporters, you know. I mean Galway, the two minor clubs in Galway I think they had 25 people at one of the matches recently, at a derby, you know.
MR: Yes. And you mentioned a lot of names of actual players, what kind of access and banter did the fans of Shels actually have with the players? Was it fairly …?
DK: Ah yes things were pretty open like that. To be honest now I wouldn’t be hugely interested in talking to the players I mean I’d be quite happy to see them on the pitch and if I saw them in the pub I might congratulate them or whatever …
DK: … but, you know, a lot of them are not the nicest or the most intelligent or the most interesting of people (laughs) and, you know, I’ve spoken to, you know, there’s a fair few of them are pretty dopey and they are footballers, they’re not friends or they’re not boozing companions, you know.
MR: Yes, yes.
DK: And okay you might have affection for a guy because he’s whole hearted and gives everything and that’s fine but you wouldn’t necessarily want them to be a friend.
MR: It’s the old never meet your heroes type of thing isn’t it?
DK: Yes, yes.
MR: And do you think that’s changed over time now or …?
DK: I don’t know. I mean it’s always been fairly relaxed in the league. I mean I remember, you know, taking a bus out to a match with some of the players, you know, just a CIE bus …
DK: … from the city centre out to Milltown or whatever so they were always approachable in that respect. No I think it’s one of the advantages I suppose of the league in that you can get to talk to these guys if you want to. I just personally, you know, I’m not that pushed about it.
MR: As regards football generally did you or would you or have you followed any other clubs in Ireland or elsewhere?
DK: No, ah no, no.
DK: I mean I think it’s one of these things that, you know, you’re with a club and that’s it. I mean god there were times in the bad old days (laughs) when I thought, you know, we’d be better off if they went out of existence nearly because just going out to matches and being beaten week after week and having to apply for re-election and all this sort of stuff …
DK: … you could just see no hope for the future but you knew that you were stuck with them for the rest of your life. No I mean people have sometimes talked about, you know, should there be a merger between two clubs and my view is that you’d lose probably both sets of fans because, you know, you’re just stuck with a club for better or worse.
MR: And you had Eamonn Gregg appointed Manager in January 1994.
DK: Yes, he was very unsuccessful.
MR: And would you have said again that that was kind of a low point in the club?
DK: Yes I mean he had done very well with Kilkenny and he’d been a good player in his time but yes I mean I think he left mid season after a very bad run of success and very bad results. I don’t know if he ever actually managed again I suppose in the league, I can’t remember him so …
MR: And that would contrast with Damien Richardson in 1996 in the league cup, the FAI Cup.
DK: Yes, yes I mean I remember Damien as a Rovers semi forward and then he went over to England for a good few years and he obviously stood around as a pundit and he’s managed other clubs as well. He won his cups … I don’t think he … did he win any leagues? I don’t remember him winning leagues.
MR: Well it’s 1999/2000 Shelbourne’s first League of Ireland and FAI Cup Final, 1999/2000
DK: To win the league, okay (laughs), shows how much I know. Yes, I mean, ah Damien, well he’s an awful bloody man, you know, he mangles the English language and he loves talking, loves writing incredible rubbish, so it was a bit embarrassing having him as a manager in some respects (laughter) but he did try and play football I think, you know, Damien was much more of a football man than say Dermot Keely would be very much results guy, ah just kick it. Dermot was an absolute savage as a player, I’ve never seen anyone as frightening as a player, really tough.
MR: And besides actually going to the matches in what other ways were you involved with the club or were you involved with the club …?
DK: Not much, maybe a bit of a fundraiser, a bit of selling coupons, that’s it really. No I’m not an activist at all. My son works on security on a voluntary basis but that’s about our contribution really, you know, there would have been various fundraising things, we’d sign up for draws and goal to goal and this sort of stuff …
DK: … but no, I mean there were times when I wouldn’t be mad keen to get involved. I mean Ollie was a dangerous guy to be involved with I thought, especially if you were an accountant, you know, if you’re a painter and decorator that’s fine he’s not going to do your reputation much damage but I don’t think Ollie was the guy you’d want to get too close to whereas I think the Board of Management now is much more respectable and much more … maybe not … maybe they lack his passion but I think they’re more likely to do the right job than he would have been.
MR: Yes. Well what kind of relationship do you think there is really between Shels and the wider community and how would that have changed from the time you first went to matches?
DK: Yes, I mean they’ve tried to expand into the community. I think it’s a bit depressing though in that. I mean there have been huge initiatives taken in the past with junior clubs and then they’d go to the schools and they’d try and give free tickets and all that, unfortunately I think the league is just … well it’s not of great interest to most people and the community just doesn’t want to get involved in the club, you know, the kids want to watch United and Chelsea, they don’t really want to watch …
MR: There’s still an underlying interest in football it’s just, like you say, they’re more interested in the David Beckhams and all the rest of them so, yes.
DK: I think so yes, yes. I mean you get the odd young fella who will have an interest. I mean it’s a different thing, you know, when you actually shout at a Shelbourne player he actually can hear you …
MR: Yes, yes.
DK: … and he can shout back at you (laughs) and you have the opportunity to go and talk to them as you mentioned earlier on in the pub or on away trips and that so it’s a different product but it certainly lacks the glamour and it lacks the skill, you know, while League of Ireland players are very, very skilful if you ever play against them, you know, they’re not that great compared to the superstars as you say in the Premier Division, anybody there.
MR: And do you think that things like, for example, the way when Ireland were playing in the World Cup and that type of thing in 1990 would you think that as a spinoff would have a kind of rejuvenating effect on clubs?
DK: I don’t really no. I mean at the moment we’ve got some players in England now who have come through the league which is good and it proves that there is a life in a league, Seamus Coleman in Everton played, and then in the past there would have been people like Paul McGrath who played for Pat’s for quite a long time before he went over. But no I just think that the success of the international team because they’re all foreign based, all based in the Premier Division or in England anyway, it’s unlikely to have a huge impact on the league. I’m pretty pessimistic about the league, you know, I think it will struggle along but, you know, it’s very much a minority interest and I really can’t see it getting popular again, did it ever.
MR: Do you know any women that are supporters of Shels?
DK: Very, very few. I mean there’s a few of them you’d talk to , they’ve probably been talking to you, there’s some that have been there since the bad old days out in Harold’s Cross, but it’s a male thing really I think, you know (laughs).
MR: Yes, yes. Do you have any particular hopes for Shels in the future?
DK: Well I mean if we can get up into the Premier Division that’s essential and I think the plan seems to be to leave Tolka because effectively the ground doesn’t really belong to the club anymore and while the recession has meant that we can stay there for a few more years, you know, it’s not a long term base for us but I mean it would be great if someone did for us what they did for Rovers in terms of giving them a ground and letting them start again and if that was out in Blanchardstown or Swords or wherever that would be great but I think that will be the extent of our hopes. I think Tolka unfortunately is just part of the past at this stage.
MR: Do you think there’s any possibility with the economic climate and everything, with the recession now, that there might be any kind of a community resurgence or interest in football or that type of thing?
DK: I don’t know. I mean we had FAS schemes in the past where, you know, the grounds was done up and we had players on FAS schemes and I think some of them came through to play for a living. Yes I mean while there might be some like that I don’t think many kids would be aspire to be League of Ireland players, they’d aspire to be United or Chelsea or Liverpool players.
MR: Yes, yes, yes.
DK: And they’ll play for League of Ireland if they get rejected by those clubs in England or if they don’t make the level.
MR: Is there anything that you’d like to add, anything you …?
DK: Yes, ah some small things, I remember it’s probably about 15 years ago there was a young fella who followed the club and he died in a tragic accident, he hanged himself accidentally with his tie, and I remember at the time the club was just superb, I thought, in that there was the minute silence for him, the ball was presented to his parents, the players carried the coffin, he was buried in a Shels kit. I just thought, you know, they could have, you know, ignored him because he was just a kid but they really made a big fuss and, you know, did the right thing. Yes I mean he was a fan obviously but it was just one of these occasions when I thought they really did what they should have done …
DK: … whereas it would have been quite easy to not do it. I mean we had some really grim years where, you know, playing out in Harold’s Cross on the pitch where you were at a distance because the dog track is between you and the pitch but, you know, they had to cover a shore with peat moss at the start of a game and at half time, you know, because (laughs) someone was going to break their knee cap if they fell in the shore. It was just ridiculous stuff. And then to find ourselves playing in front of 25,000 people in Lansdowne again Deportivo, I think at that stage we thought we’d gone to heaven.
MR: What year was that in?
DK: That was 2004.
MR: 2004, again it’s in 2006 here as well that they won the League of Ireland title with Jason Byrne.
DK: Yes, yes.
MR: He scored 15 goals in 26 league games.
DK: That was when the players weren’t being paid. I mean that was an achievement as well in that that team who as I understand it were eventually paid every penny they were owed but, you know, week after week Ollie was (laughs) telling them to have faith and that they’d be paid and yet they kept going out and playing and we beat Bohs 2-0 I think in the final game of that season so that was a great achievement by that bunch a players. You know, walk into the club, the club let them down but they won the league.
MR: In August 2006 centre back Jason McGuinness lined out Bohemians against Shels setting up the winning goal …
MR: … and Shelbourne lodge a protest.
DK: That’s right yes.
MR: What was the … can you tell us a bit more about that?
DK: Yes, I remember they scored down at the school end. Ollie was a great man for the rule book and there was another complication that year, I can’t remember now, but I think there was another club. We were in competition with Derry, am I right in this? I can’t remember if that was the same one but I think it was, that we were in competition with Derry and I think Ollie more or less kept his powder dry in that he didn’t accept the result of the arbitration or whatever it was which decided that we wouldn’t get the points from that game even though it seemed in black and white that we should. But he waited and then we won the league anyway so he didn’t need to do it but I think he had it in his back pocket and if the worst came to the worst that we had lost the league on the pitch he was going to try and win it in the courts, as he had won the league for us on another occasion when Pat’s played some illegible players and he went to the rule book and they were docked I think 9 points. Now while we won that one off the pitch we still rejoiced …
MR: Yes (laughter).
DK: … especially there was an awful lot of rivalry in those days especially between Ollie and Pat Dolan, the Pat’s Manager at the time, so there was some bad feeling between Shels and Pat’s about 10/15 years ago.
MR: What was that about?
DK: We were both successful and ah Dolan was an awful bloody man but, you know, I don’t know as far as I’m concerned we were the more successful team in that period but they were very good as well and so there was some really good nights, you know, you’d have 4,000 or 5,000 at a match and you’d have a good atmosphere.
MR: Do you think the bad feeling was rooted in the managers’ attitudes to each other or just generally …?
DK: Well it wasn’t so much the managers as our chief executive and their manager …
MR: Oh okay, yes.
DK: … (laughs) yes, I mean they were both making statements about each other and all this sort of thing and then it wasn’t that long afterwards that Ollie was arrested for making rude gestures at the fans of Pat’s and, you know, (laughs) but he didn’t get convicted I think the judge sort of believed that two fingers meant two goals, you know.
MR: And how often would that type of thing, that kind of taunting, was any of that type of thing going on?
DK: Ah yes, yes and I mean I remember one night we beat Pat’s and afterwards Dolan claimed that he had been assaulted as he left the grounds well, you know, I saw him leaving the ground and he wasn’t, yes okay, there was a bit of slagging of him but, you know, I think he was a big guy he could expect that. But yes there would be a fair bit of fairly nasty slagging. Pat’s are quite a vociferous crowd, a very noisy crowd and then Shels would always sort of harp on at the drug image of Inchicore and St. Michael’s Estate and that, you know, so there’s a bit of nastiness there.
MR: Is that something that kind of got worse as we approach today as opposed to like, you know, when you started going in the mid ‘60s?
DK: Yes, yes, yes.
DK: I mean I think in the old days, you know, there wasn’t sort of organised, personalised chanting. I was just thinking the other day in fact I was at a rugby match there, schools rugby, and I’m showing my age perhaps but the chanting and the shouting at kickers and this sort of thing, you know, is just different so maybe it’s not just soccer it’s society in general that people send their kids to a fee paying school and don’t mind that they’re chanting obscenities at another fee paying school (laughter) because certainly we would have been coming up short on that. But it is, I mean there are times when certainly the Shelbourne chanting I think it goes beyond what’s acceptable. You certainly wouldn’t bring your daughter, you know, a young daughter to a match.
DK: You wouldn’t even be too keen to bring a very young child, a very young boy, to have, you know, some of the chanting.
MR: Half a dozen fans kind of make up some chant in the pub some night and it spreads around, that type of thing?
DK: Yes, yes well I mean I think they do and to be honest it’s fairly mindless, stupid stuff most of it, I mean Shels have been chanting about Abbeylara for years, you know when the guy got shot up there, nothing to do with Shels, nothing to do with anything really, but some guy obviously thought it was clever and his friends thought it was clever and so whenever they see a guard and there’s always a guard at a match they start chanting this stuff or stuff about John Delaney, you know, it doesn’t do us any good and I don’t think it supports the team or doesn’t do … well my personal view is that the club are more tolerant, they’re too tolerant, of some of the younger fans because there are so few of them and we need them, you know, that (laughs) unless there’s a young fan coming through we haven’t got much of a future but, you know, you’ve got guys who get lifetime bans and then they apologise and they’re back and they’re spitting at referees a couple of months later or something, you know.
MR: And how does that … I mean in terms of fans how does that type of security work today?
DK: Well we do get segregated in some grounds, certainly when we were going up to Morton Stadium to play Fingal it was really over the top I thought because Fingal had very, very few fans and we wouldn’t have many but we might have 700 or 800 but then they’d hold back the Fingal fans, they’d bring us out and the last time I was up there they had three or four horses, four or five Garda dogs, you know, blue flashing lights and twenty or thirty other guards and to an extent I think it meant that the kids who are following Shels felt they had to perform and they had to be rowdy because (laughs) it was expected of them, they were on the stage …
DK: … whereas if they’d gone out to dead silence they probably just would have gone home.
DK: And it’s a real pain because there’s a physical problem like up in Dundalk they put you out in the corner of the grounds where there’s no cover when it rains and you get a lousy view of the pitch. Out in Morton we have to have no cover so again we’d get wet. In Dalymount they put the away fans in the open side and it certainly isn’t encouraging it, to go to a match, if you’re going to get lashed on.
MR: Absolutely, yes, yes.
DK: And the segregation would be there in Waterford as well, even Athlone or in Longford there is a bit of segregation and I think 90% of it is meaningless, you know, there’s just nothing going to happen, you know. Dundalk perhaps, there might be trouble in Dundalk but most of the matches there’s just (laughs) so few people and there’s so few young people that segregation is a bit meaningless.
MR: Is there anything you think that could happen to kind of re-motivate young people to become interested in clubs like Shels again? Do you think there’s anything that could draw them away from the big English clubs or whatever?
DK: Yes, I don’t know. I mean I think the clubs have tried and will presumably continue to try and people like Rovers I think have put down their roots in Tallaght and that and I mean Shels have got lots and lots of young teams, you know, they’ve something like fifteen junior teams, schoolboy teams and schoolgirl teams, and they’re trying to develop players and to give an opportunity to kids to play football but I just think the lure of the Premier Division is just so amazing that it’s very hard to compete with.
MR: But do you think there’s still an underlying interest in football generally or do you think kids now are just too …
DK: Ah yes, yes.
MR: … or the PlayStation thing hasn’t completely …?
DK: Ah no I don’t think so.
DK: I mean it’s been a while obviously since I’ve had young kids but I think kids will always have an interest in physical activities and hopefully they’ll continue. I mean I think rugby is now competing whereas previously it wouldn’t have competed. GAA has always been very strong but I think soccer is always going to be there even if it’s just a kick around on the street or in the local park.
MR: Any particular younger players at the moment, lads playing for Shels, you think with noticeable potential or …?
DK: Yes, I’ve only actually seen the current team for a few matches now, I’ve seen them four or five times this season, and unfortunately it’s not a particularly young team, okay, there’s a few that were young but a lot of them are veterans. I couldn’t really say that now I mean last year or the year before I would have thought there was a couple of them that might have made it through but they’re gone, they’ve fallen by the wayside. I mean we haven’t really produced a top class player since Wes Houlihan who is now playing for Norwich and hopefully will get promotion with them. We’ve had a couple of other players who’ve had careers in England or in Scotland, Folen and ahhh – a full back for Dundee United – Sean …?
MR: Not Kelly is it?
DK: But, you know, when the Shels team fell apart he went over and seems to have made a pretty good career for himself over the last 5 or 6 years. But no there’s nobody certainly in the Shels team that I can see that is going to set the world on fire. Personally I think it’s the league we’re in, you know, it’s not a league where you dwell on the ball, you know, if you do dwell on it someone’s going to (laughs) come clattering into you. It’s silly but in order to play football you have to have go into the top division.
MR: Well you’ve mentioned you’ve been to a couple of other matches in Dundalk and away matches here how would a day like that kind of from beginning to end I mean would you go off …?
DK: Well I’m probably a very bad example here but I’m not a very sociable person.
DK: What normally happens is that there would be at most four of us would go to matches, myself and my son and two friends, the two guys who I’ve been to go matches with for decades, and these days we tend to just assemble usually at my house, drive, have a meal, go to the match, come home. Maybe stop for a drink on the way home but that’s about it. Pretty boring.
MR: Well I suppose now, especially now, drink driving is what you’re looking at as well …
DK: Yes it is.
MR: … but at least if you have one designated driver …
DK: Yes. I mean it’s great though that we tend to go to … well myself and my son tend to go to most away matches but, you know, Ireland has become a much smaller country because of the motorways you can get to Galway or Wexford or Monaghan pretty handily …
DK: … but, you know, there’s no incentive as far as I can see to stay over, well there’s the cost factor as well but, you know, if you can leave a ground at 10 o’clock and be home by midnight that’s what I’d be inclined to do whereas, you know, some years ago – not all that many years ago – places like Cork were a big deal to get to.
MR: Ideal scenario if you had a kind of a wish list or one thing you’d like to see with regard to the club what do you think it would be?
DK: More promotion and a sugar daddy (laughs), well maybe not quite a sugar daddy but someone who could put a reasonable amount of resources into facilities, you know, JP McManus there recently gave Limerick a ground, their old ground in fact, so something like that. I mean I think if someone gave us money we’d spend it and we’d probably spend it just as recklessly as we did before buying success and not creating anything whereas if we could get away from Tolka, get to a modest enough sort of ground and keep our feet on the ground and keep what I think is a very good Board of Management still in place and, you know, hang in there for the long haul and tolerate being like Bray or even UCD, you know, not high fliers but still existing that would be about I think (laughs) the height of our ambitions for the short term.
MR: David thanks very much for coming in. Thanks a million for your time.
DK: Thanks, you’re welcome.
MR: Interview concluded at 10.45. (recording ends here)