Eddie de Barra has been following Shels from 1945, (aged 6) to present day. He recalls how his proudest moment was when his cousin John Sherlock played and signed for Shels from Bru Lorcain. Eddie recounts his own playing career for Donore FC, and also playing in The Miller Shield final (Schools G.A.A. competition) in Croke Park. He tells how Shelbourne FC turned down the opportunity to purchase Shelbourne Park and talks about his favourite Shels players which included Eddie Gannon and Rory Dwyer.
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Duration: 50:54 mins
Project Name: Shelbourne FC Oral History Project: Phase 1
Track Number: 03
Name of the Interviewee: Eddie De Barra (EDB:)
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 on the 22nd of March, 2011 in the lab on Foley Street. Present are Eddie De Barra and Mark Redmond with the interview being carried out on behalf of the Dublin City Library and Archive. Eddie thanks a million for coming in, thanks for your time.
EDB: That’s alright.
MR: Can you give us your full name, your date of birth and your occupation?
EDB: Edward De Barra, born 14th of May, 1939 in Dublin and occupation photographer.
MR: And how long have you been a supporter of Shels?
EDB: I would say since 1945/1946.
MR: And what would your earliest memories be of …?
EDB: My earliest memories of Shelbourne was going with my father on a Saturday, it always seemed to be a Saturday, and we went down to Shelbourne Park and I remember when you’d go in the gate he usually threw me over the stile and then you walked in and the way it expands and then you headed up towards the railing around the pitch and of course I’d run up in front of my father and we’d be standing at the railing looking across at the stand and that was my recollection of Shelbourne. One player that one never forgot and he stood out was a player called Eddie Gannon. Now Eddie Gannon, my father who was a footballer in his time and also played for Shelbourne though I don’t think he signed professional forms but he did … he was kind of pre-season and it didn’t work out probably and he decided he’d go back to Junior football but he’d always say “He’s the best trapper of a ball in the world”. I remember like I can still see him now today, a ball would be in the air and he’d just stick his foot up and whip it down and it was … he was a joy to watch. He went over to Sheffield Wednesday I think after, in England, he played with them for a considerable time. But that was the first contents of it.
MR: And how old would you have been at that stage? Would it have been in the ‘50s?
EDB: I would have been … no, it was in ‘45/’46.
MR: The ‘40s? ’46.
EDB: I would have been about 6 or 7 …
EDB: … because my dad was over … it was probably just after the war because he came home after the war, he was over in England during the war so he would have been back then so it was certainly … it was probably more likely ’46 than ’45 and Shelbourne they always seemed to playing Limerick, if my recollections went right, it was Limerick and Dundalk …
EDB: … seemed to be the two teams in Shelbourne Park. Now that was watching my very earliest recollections of Shelbourne.
MR: And your father obviously was … would he have been a long term supporter of …?
EDB: Oh my father would have been, my father, they lived on the south side, they lived down in Prince’s Street off Townsend Street and my father played for Riverside which was a very popular team, a junior team at the time around there, and he played for them. He also played for a team (pause) over here on the north side, there was a dairy on the corner of Waterford Street which is just around the corner here in Gardiner Street and the name of the team, it will come to me in a minute, I keep thinking of Harmerne but it wasn’t Harmerne they were on the … but they were again a very good junior team in as much that when the Millerson Cup was put up for the first time ‘round they won it and for winning it all the players received solid gold medals …
EDB: … and the following year they won it again but they didn’t get gold medals (laughter), they were expecting the gold medals but they didn’t come, well they were Millerson, Joe Millerson the bookies, who put up that Cup. I don’t know whether it’s still played for today. But those were the … that was the type like he was a good footballer himself and he’d a great idea of the game, his name was Johnny Barry, my father. I use the Irish for Barry, De Barra, and that’s how it’s my name, De Barra.
EDB: One other occasion I remember, it would have been slightly later on, maybe a year or two after the first ones, was that one Sunday we were having our dinner in the house, the men used to go and have a few pints and then they’d come up and have … but this particular Sunday we were having our dinner and my dad said “Come on eat up quick we’re going to the match” and we lived in Shaw Street, in Shaw Villa at the time, and he said “Right, put your coat on we’re going to the match” and mam got the coat, put it on me, we walked down and as we walked out of the villa there was a band, you could hear a band playing in Pearse Street so we headed up to Pearse Street and it was all the Shelbourne supporters and team marching down Pearse Street and they were going to Dalymount Park for the Cup Final to see …
EDB: … and if memory serves I think it was Shamrock Rovers they played but we got in, joined with the crowd, and we walked but when we got into O’Connell Street my father put me on a bus and we got the bus up to Dalymount. Now I think Shelbourne were beaten, I don’t remember much about the match other than I was in at the match and I think Shelbourne were beaten at the time, and that possibly was around 1947/48, around that time.
MR: And did you ever travel to any away matches or any matches outside the city or foreign countries?
EDB: No, no we wouldn’t have, it would have been basically in Dublin, in the city. Dalymount Park was another place that we would have went to, Bohemians at the time, and we would have been looking at the O’Flanagan brothers who played for Bohs, Kevin O’Flanagan and whatever the other chaps name was, and they were playing, they always seemed to be great players at the time, you know, they always, all these guys, I mean they gave everybody a lift I suppose and you were glad to be up cheering for your team at that.
MR: Yes. What kind of access would you have had to the actual players there at the time and would it have been fairly easily enough to approach them, did people kind of know them or …?
EDB: Well we wouldn’t have went near the dressing rooms or anything like that, when the match was over we generally just came back out and at that time I don’t think many people did go near the dressing rooms I mean looking for autographs and things like that, I don’t think it was the done thing, you know, it just wasn’t popular. And why I say that is because when we had moved from Shaw Villa over to Sherriff Street, down flats in Sherriff Street, we – myself and my brother John – we wrote the guys … even though we were Manchester United supporters we got Arsenal supporters and we wrote to them and they sent programmes. Now the funny thing about it the two guys who were Arsenal supporters one of them supported QPR in Shepherd’s Bush and the other fella lived up in Lancaster in England (laughter) so I don’t know what we were thinking of getting Arsenal supporters but we wrote, we corresponded with the guys …
EDB: … for a few years and we sent … but we always found it hard to get programmes because all you got here was the one sheet of paper printed both sides …
EDB: … and folded and that was your programme and we were getting programmes from them with four or five pages and photographs in them.
MR: Yes, yes.
EDB: And then the guys used to … wanted to know what … well one of the guys wanted to know the history of hurling and what was it like and of course us being in the city we didn’t … there was very little hurling, we weren’t into the hurling …
EDB: … but we still got the slither and the hurley and sent your man over a hurley and a slither …
EDB: … and we wrote to him saying basically you can’t pick the ball up off the ground you’ve got to get it up on your stick and you hit it and that hurling was the fastest game on two feet …
EDB: … in the world without any aids to help you along.
EDB: And a good … you know, personally you were sort of saying, when you look at a good game of hurling, it’s very hard to beat it. Very hard to beat.
MR: Absolutely. And did you find actually that with the GAA having a big kind of an influence on a viewer…can be seen kicking a ball like a football, like a soccer ball, it was frowned upon or whatever? Did you ever come across anything like that in your school days or?
EDB: No. We didn’t because we went to city Gaelscoil [Chéad na Cathrach] and there was a mixture. We had – and the funny thing is, we had one of our teachers…our teacher was Jack Dufficy. I had lots of teachers from way back but Jack Dufficy I would have been with the longest and he was a Kerry man. But he was very broad minded and he loved the rugby and went to the – I remember him going over to the Welsh, over to Cardiff to the Welsh, and he was telling us about it so much that he even thought us how to sing the Welsh national anthem in Welsh.
EDB: And we let him … we learned that in school (speaks a few lines of Welsh National Anthem), you know, and we were all shouting in Welsh. And he was that way. Now there was another teacher in the school Sean O’Driscoll who was involved with the GAA from the front, and he was over the Gaelic team. And like that he knew we all played soccer but he never…he gave it a blind eye. And we were playing the GAA and we got into the final of the Miller Shield to play in Croke Park and I was after scoring in every game that we…and we got into the final. And of course with the big pitch you were put out and I was stranded out up in the corner, and instead of going foraging for the ball like a twelve year old can run around, but somebody told him that I had hurt my leg to Sean O’Driscoll and he came down to my house and he asked me, “What’s wrong with your leg?” and I said “Nothing is wrong with my leg, I just got a lick playing ball the other day you know” and he said, “Someone said you have a pulled muscle?” (Laughs) now I wouldn’t have known. Muscles, the only muscles I knew were in your arm, two muscles. And he says, “Well that’s grand, I would have sent you to get a rub.” You know at the time. So that’s the interest that they took in it. And we went on to Croke Park and unfortunately we drew the match, but the draw was no good to us. We needed a win to win the shield. And the referee played the usual Alex Ferguson eight minutes to ten minutes over the time and the other side equalised and we said, “We were robbed” but it’s all part and parcel of living and getting…some you win, some you don’t. You take the losses with the wins and be glad that you are able to participate and be there.
MR: And which grounds in Ireland as a Shels supporter did you most like or least like going to for whatever reason? And then same situation with supporters? Were there any particular clubs that there was always heavy rivalry with or was it easier to get on with others?
EDB: Well there was always heavy…the football pitch…you always liked going to Shelbourne Park because it was up beside you yes. And even when it moved into the Pigeon House, I think I went to two matches or something up in the…and there was a running track in it and I saw Ronnie Delaney run up on the track. But that never materialised and then us moving to the North side, you weren’t inclined to be going over even though you were Shelbourne, you went to places like Tolka Park and Dalymount would have been the two places. But it was always great but one occasion I remember, my father he brought us to…I had an uncle that was in the RAF and he came, he was back home on leave or something and we went up to Milltown and the place…and the match was on in Milltown and my dad had me sitting on the wall of it. And the place seemed to be jammed. It seemed to be packed and there was a great atmosphere in it. Like who won, I haven’t a clue but it seemed to be a ding dong match and like all these derbies, they always seem to be ding dong and very, very competitive you know. And sure that’s what it’s all about, you know.
MR: What was the relationship like between the supporters even of opposite clubs back then? Would it have been fairly sporting or would it?
EDB: Oh very, very sporting. Very sporting. Like from the supporter’s point of view, as far as I can remember, I never saw any trouble at the football games. Now there would be banter and there would be fellas shouting and bawling at one another and “Oh he’s offside ref.” And “Ref, you’re blind” and other fellas, “Put on your jersey ref” and there would be this shouted and other fellas shouting, “Go away out of that. Take your beating” and fellas saying, “You nearly broke his leg.” But there was no fellas rolling around the ground like there is today as if his leg is hanging off. No it was just good hard – After the games everyone just accepted whatever way the ball, the game went and they enjoyed it and they probably sat in the same pub and all and were probably just drinking away then and talking about what might have been and what should have been and analysing the match left, right and centre.
MR: And how would you typically celebrate a Shels victory? Would you head off for a pint after or would you go back to somebody’s house?
EDB: Oh no. No. No. No. My dad would never bring us into a pub.
MR: Even yourself in later years?
EDB: In later years no, because I was involved with football and then I went on to athletics, which resulted that, you weren’t…and even if today I couldn’t care. In the day time I probably wouldn’t…the amount of days I would have gone drinking during the day, I could count on one hand. Like if I am going out in the evening, I’ll say I’m going out for a few drinks and that’s it. But this thing of going after a match – laterally, in the latter years, now maybe in the last five years, five, ten years certainly, it might be after an international match and if you’re coming back and coming out of the ground you might go into some water hole and you would be going in with the son in laws, having a drink and sitting down. Just have a drink or two and head on home.
MR: Sorry to interrupt you. Would you think that might contribute to some of the problems they have with supporters today?
EDB: I would contribute a lot to that that people are tanking up. And unfortunately the young lads and the young people today, which was probably the same in our day, we all thought we could knock back a lot more than we actually could. And would result, they’re half shot before they even go to the match. And then the nature of the beast, people get short fuses and some people can get very abusive and very insulting to people. And unfortunately that leads to rows and unfortunately today…in our day at matches and growing up there wasn’t the viciousness that you see today. I mean I remember two men fighting on Pearse Street outside one of the pubs and the men made a circle. And the guys took off their coats and they handed them to guys and they put them down nice and neat and they stood up and put their fists up to one another and they…and of course everyone was shouting “Go on get him” We didn’t know who any of them were. It was exciting so it was. And one of the guys actually…they were just throwing a few digs and next one of the guys rolls his foot and kicked the other fella. Now he kicked him in the leg but one of the crowd jumped in, or a couple of them and they grabbed the fella who had kicked the guy and they gave him a few dents and just threw him there and said, “Right, fight’s over here” and walked off. That sort of thing wasn’t condoned. But nowadays it seems to be the bigger weapon you have the better or whatever, which is you know unfortunate it’s the way it is and there’s not an awful lot we can do about it unless the…it’s up to the judiciary and all to oversee these things and deal with them accordingly.
MR: There’s something true in all that. What would you say is your greatest moment as a fan of Shels? Or is there any one particular match that stands out? Or one particular year or season?
EDB: Well one of the biggest moments was when my cousin John Sherlock signed for, played for and signed for Shels. He also at the same time he signed for Shels, Ben Hannigan signed for Shels because Ben and John played on the one team. We all played for the Bru Lorcain around here in Gardiner street and three lads from the team John Sherlock, Ben Hannigan and Jimmy Sutton Lord rest him. He – they went to Shelbourne. Jimmy, Jimmy Sutton, he didn’t make it so much so Jimmy went back to junior football. Ben as you know is a household name who he was a brilliant footballer Ben Hannigan and then, but John Sherlock was the Duncan Edwards of them all. And he was a beautiful player with both feet. A very quiet unassuming guy, he could put a pass on a shilling with both feet, he was great. And unfortunately they were trying to…he was going to sign for a professional, but they wanted him to get his amateur international cap before that. And there was a match on up in Tolka park which I was at myself, like the probables and the possibles. Now John had been told, “look you will be playing on the team, this is just a match.” But he got broke up at that game and he had to get a knee operation and one thing and another and he was never the same again. And consequently that was the end of his league of Ireland career. Which was very sad because he was such a brilliant player and it was a great moment for me that a cousin of mine was there. One – another occasion that I felt very proud was Shelbourne won the Cup. Now this would have been way back in the sixties and Brendan O’Brien was the full back. And I think I was going to meet a girl up in O’Connell street or something like that and who comes walking down only Brendan O’Brien, and I went over and said, “Well done, you won.” And he was in street looking at me thinking, “who the hell are you?” and I was just saying, “Well done, janey you had a great victory.” You know and he was all “Thanks very much” and all that you know. That was another occasion that you know.
MR: But you did see these boys knocking around town and all that? You would have seen them every now and again just out around town?
EDB: They were just walking. He was going, I don’t know where he was going. He could have been going to meet his girlfriend or his wife, I don’t know who he you know. One other guy that I haven’t mentioned and that played for Shelbourne earlier on was Eoiny Fitzsimons because he lived in Markievicz flats down in Townsend Street, which is just down the road. And he played for Shelbourne before he went off to play for Middlesborough, and he played over there for years. And again he was a very tricky inside forward. I met him actually at the thing in the library [Shelboure 115 Years Exhibition] recently. Now I didn’t…somebody had to say to me “this is”. Like the chap is probably eighty years of age now. But again it was a pleasure. They were lovely players. And I was speaking to Eoiny Fitzsimons about going…he went…he was one of the only people that went foreign from an English club and I was speaking to him about that and he was telling me that he went to Turkey. Now someone had told me he went to Spain or Italy or somewhere, but when I asked, he went to Turkey and he spent five years in it and he said they were a terrific five years of his life in Turkey.
MR: That must have been…how long ago would that have been now? That would have been.
EDB: Well he was playing up into the fifties, into the late fifties.
MR: So even then, I mean Turkey, that would have been a hell of a journey.
EDB: A hell of a move. Like no one went. I mean John Charles went over to Juventus and that was a big thing in Italy. And he’s a brilliant footballer all together. I liked to see him play, he is beautiful but. And then a few others then followed on into Italy and very few of them went to Spain. It was only later on with the Real Madrids and things like that that people started…but not an awful lot. And even to this day there’s not many English players go to Spain unless they are going to the big clubs you know. But not you know…the only one that I remember going to Spain from here was a nephew of ours, my wife’s godson, Alan Campbell who went from Rovers to Racing Santander. And he went and got the boot one year because he went and some fella from Scotland went to Barcelona or something, one of the Scottish players from Celtic. I think he went to Barcelona and Alan had scored about ten or twelve goals and your man still hadn’t broken his luck. It was a bit like Torres today you know (Laughs). And the papers were saying, “Barcelona you bought the wrong Celt.” (Laughs) This is yes.
MR: Out of the, even out of the people you just had of mentioned so far, who would you say if you could put a definitive on it, who would you say is your favourite Shels player?
EDB: Favourite Shels player? There was a few but as I say Eddie Gannon would have stood out with his trapping. Another guy out of our class, which I didn’t mention and played for Shels, Eugene Gannon. He was a full back and he played and I have an interesting story about Eugene if you want to hear this one?
MR: Go on yes.
EDB: We had moved to the North side over here and I started playing. John Sherlock my cousin had got a…he said, “I’m playing for a team called Harts,” in the Sodality, you have to be in the Sodality League to come over. And they were playing in Fairview Park and he brought me out to Fairview Park and we were playing a match. And of course I obviously played well because after the game your man asked me would I sign for Harts. So I signed for Harts but it meant I had to sleep around in my aunt Mags here in Railway street, to go over to the church for the sodality to get in. But after I played with them I met Eugene and the schoolboy league was starting and he said to me “I’m playing for Johnville” says he, “Eddie bring your boots. Come up and see a fella called Jim Kennedy in the park. Now you will see him he will be holding his bike. And come up to him and I will tell him you are coming.” And so I brought the boots up and I went up to the park and I was going around and after about an hour wandering around the fifteen acres asking everyone “Do you know where Johnville are?” People were “No” and I ended up walking into this dressing room and I saw this guy in there called Barney Farrell who lived in Moss Street, another fella who would have been involved. He would have been either Shamrock Rovers or Shelbourne Park. Barney…Big Barney was in there and he says to me “Eddie what are you doing here?” and I said, “I’m looking for Johnville” and he said “Oh no Johnville are not here. What are you looking for Johnville for?” says I “I want to join them” and he said, “Sure why don’t you join us, we’re better than Johnville” and I said, “Yes here”. “Sign the form. Now you’re now a member of Donore” and I ended up playing for Donore. And I ended up playing for Donore and consequently as you say, I never went to Johnville. And I met Eugene after and he says “I was looking for you” and I said “I’ve joined Donore” and he said, “What you do that for?” “I’ve joined Donore” and he said, “They are crap, they are no use.” And I said “well I’m will Donore now” and I ended up playing against Johnny Giles for Donore and they beat us one nil and Johnny Giles scored.
MR: That’s mad.
EDB: Giles would have been…I was under fourteen and Giles was about twelve at the time and I was about two years older than Johnny Giles. But they thought then that he was…you could see then that he was a bit of class. And the talk then was that he was going to England. It was “This fella is going to England. He’s this and that and the other” you know. And he was a class act and so I had the distinction of playing against Johnny Giles for Donore.
MR: What was that like?
EDB: It was quite unique in the way things happen and as I say Eugene went on from playing for Johnville and ending up with Shelbourne you know.
MR: Yes. Yes.
EDB: One other player that I always had…and he wore his heart on his sleeve in the modern times was Rory Dwyer the centre forward. Like he would always wait for a G up and getting into the keeper, especially against big Paddy Neville. He would be out and I remember Rory one day in Tolka Park, he ran into the net Rory, and the whole goal collapsed on top of him. And I don’t know if it was in some other match then and they were playing in Tolka Park, Shelbourne, it was against Rovers. Shelbourne were leading Rovers and there was about ten or fifteen minutes to go and a load of the Rovers guys all ran in on the pitch and Thornsy, the ref, he took off like fork lightning, jumped the wall. Never even went for the gate, just jumped the wall. Straight in and got out of there and the match was abandoned and we were all delighted that we were beating the old enemy there Rovers and the whole lot. And then the match was abandoned and it was “Oh no” and they were occasions like that you know.
MR: And who would you say of all the managers you can think of or is there anybody that stands out for either the best reasons or the worst reasons?
EDB: The only manager fella involved with Shelbourne I would have known after was a fella called Tommy Rowan and I think Tommy may have been a Chairman or something because that was his link. He worked in the Irish Timber Industries place down in East Wall and Sherlock and Sutton worked there. And then there was a connection then with the brew, that he was keeping an eye on them then and brought them and he would have been instrumental in bringing them to Shelbourne, and then Hannigan as well you know. At the time, Tommy Rowan as regards the other guys, as regards to the other guys with Shelbourne, there would have been the goalkeeper Flood. He’s a chap who was involved with Guinness’s and he seemed to be doing good work for them. But then I supposed it’s like everything else in life, there’s fellas that do good jobs. There’s fellas that try to change things and then they come up against obstacles and they can’t. It may be something like when Shelbourne were offered the chance to purchase Shelbourne Park and I don’t know whether you heard this one or not?
MR: I think this.
EDB: That they all adjourned to the pub.
MR: That’s right. Chris was talking about that earlier on.
EDB: Yes. And so you already know about that?
MR: No, well if you can run that by me again because we’re trying to get different peoples different experiences and how they went.
EDB: Now I got this from my father you know. And apparently they…the pubs they closed from two until four or something at the time and they would have…they adjourned the meeting. The meeting was for four o’ clock or whatever, when the pub opened. And they went into the pub and they sat down and they discussed the chance of buying it. It was up for sale for five hundred pounds and so after long drawn out questions and probing and all the rest, it came up…they were there until closing time which at that time I think was about half ten, and the decision they came to by the end of the evening was that they wouldn’t buy the…no that five hundred pounds was too much to pay for it. And they were probably after spending a hundred pound of that five hundred pound on drink while they were there when the board were discussing that. And says he, how stupid can they be? Like you know they would have owned…they could have leased it back to the greyhound people and made something out of it. But it didn’t come to pass and that’s how Shelbourne didn’t…well they moved out then to the place on the Pigeon House road. But that was a bleak spot and again the funds weren’t there and there was no sponsorship then to improve conditions. And when you went to a match up in it, sure if there was any sort of a wind at all it was like being on the steppes of Russia. Especially if the East wind was blowing out of the bay. It wasn’t the place to be standing looking at a match you know.
MR: Were there ever times when you were frustrated with the club a bit about like the decisions you just mentioned about deciding not to buy the club or were there any other decisions?
EDB: No well I wouldn’t have been that much involved with it to be frustrated by it you know.
MR: How do you think their decision would have affected the fans generally? Do you think the ground swell of the fans would have actually liked them to go ahead and actually buy that premises at the time?
EDB: Well I don’t think so because at that time the fans went to the games, but the fans weren’t as interested as who was running the team or who was paying for this and that. As long as they could go and see the match and pay their tenner in they were happy enough. There wasn’t this fan power or base that is…generally, wherever the team came from, that was the fans base for the club. And you had Shamrock Rovers and Shelbourne who were Ringsend dominated and all that part of the city. And then it was only latter years that people moved out to Crumlin and they moved out to Drimnagh and they moved over North side that people who supported these teams were out. And even though they still would support them they would come in on buses and they would meet people who … all this, and you had these small sections dotted around the city from these.
MR: What do you think in your opinion would be the lowest point in the club’s history? The most difficult period? Either in terms of winning or losing matches or a time when supporters?
EDB: No I would say when they were nearly coming to closure. That time when it was at Tolka Park they were in financial trouble and one thing and another and there was a chance for that they were going to just be thrown out of the league and all that. And I would say that would have been a very, very low point if Shelbourne would have been put out of the league.
MR: And would you have…would you have been following or supported or had a passing interest in any of the other clubs in Ireland?
EDB: No. In Ireland, well Drumcondra would have been another club we would always have shown our affiliations to you know because again, we were on the North side here and it was either Bohs or Drums. And then there was some characters played for Drums, like the Benny Hendersons and Bunny Fulhams, Shea Noonan and all these guys. Horsey Kinsella. I’m calling him Horsey. The man whose name was Thomas or…I apologise to his family in any way. But that is what they called him when he was playing football. No there was always, there was just that. You went with your mates. We went up to Tolka. If someone said, “We’ll go to Dalymount” then we went to Dalymount.
MR: And what kind of relationship do you think there is between Shelbourne and the wider community?
EDB: Well at the moment I think it’s…No Shelbourne are…They have spread their wings more into the suburbs now because I know of some nieces of mine and they follow Shelbourne and they live in Kilbarrack. And they go I’m surprised to say they go to see Shelbourne playing and I don’t know where it came from but that’s the way. And I don’t think they knew of anything about a connection with their granddad playing or anything. It’s just that…and they are Kilbarrack. Apparently there is a good few people around there do that.
MR: And what do you hope to see for Shelbourne in the future?
EDB: Well I would like to see them remain in the league and as I say if they can win something well and good, but winning is not the be all and end all of what the game is about, as the old saying from the Olympics is, “It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts”. But I always say don’t tell that to here a champion because he is only interested in winning. And to be up there with them and to get support in but there is a lot of things that could be…it’s…if they can get the thing to be more family friendly. I mean it’s hard to say. You bring children to matches and all the rest now and you bring them to these matches and the amount of language and abuse at it is shocking. Now I…it’s very hard to know how do you get rid of it and how do you don’t. I mean I was over in London myself there just before Christmas and I went to a game and to listen to the…I was going to bring my two grandchildren only for they were playing football that particular day so we went ourselves and I was delighted we didn’t bring them because the language was choice and not only that but after paying in forty quid to see the game, every time the home team were attacking and everyone stands up. And you’re there…There was three goals scored and I saw one and you know so. I didn’t enjoy it and they have to, again the same in England, they’ll just have to make it more family friendly. I know we haven’t got the American discipline of when you go to these hockey matches and things, you can bring family and sit down. It’s a day out. If a team, if any team can do that here and get someone to come out for a day out and pay the money they will do well. And I think that is the avenue they should be pushing at the moment because you look at the cost…you want to go and see a show down in the O2, what are you paying? Forty, fifty, sixty euros even more depending on who is on. So to pay into a match…I mean I’m sure families would pay fifty euro to go in and see a match, husband and wife and two kids, fifty euro. You have a special, two coffees, two snack bars or something, throw it in for another twenty euro. Seventy euro, sit down. Have two coffees each if you like and just sit down and have them. Enjoy the match. Put a bit of entertainment on at the half time. Bring in a band, bring in something. Bring in just to liven up just before the match. Put on, bring on bands, there’s loads of young lads around the place, loads of young groups would give their right arm just to go out and play for ten or fifteen minutes and bang away at their guitars and that. That would be my approach to it. To make the whole thing family friendly. And if they go that…hopefully if they went that route, well as you say it’s a day out. Again the other thing is the weather in Ireland.
MR: Yes that is a challenge alright.
EDB: That would be the big challenge. Now either you get the places enclosed with enough stand space that the stands would be reasonably dry, that you would be kept dry. You can’t expect someone to be sitting there for two hours, two and a half hours and they are getting drowned.
MR: In the lashing rain.
EDB: And regardless of how good the fans are but it can be overcome and teams should try it. And maybe the FA, instead of their lashing out money on this, maybe to concentrate on two teams, see how they work. Bring out, give young bands a chance. Give them…you don’t…paying wise you could say right look, we’ll lay on the electricity for you and the whole shebang and you give them a hundred euros or something like that and that could come out of FAI coffers. You could say right, every match we are going to have entertainment and the entertainment budget for that game is going to be five hundred euro. That’s it. And you know it’s going to be spent on bands, groups. You could put on short plays. People could put on things that…a play for ten minutes, a one act play for around ten or fifteen minutes. It’s different. You have to try and you have got to…if you don’t try you never succeed.
MR: Okay. Before we finish is there anything at all that you would like to add?
EDB: Yes. There was a chap who played centre half for us in the Bru Lorcain and his name was Paddy Delahide and he played centre half for our team, he was very good but he had never been at a match and we to played a team up in the Bogies up in Cabra. We were to play St Finbar’s and myself and Paddy went off to Milltown on the morning, on the Sunday morning to see his brother Joe playing centre half for Shamrock Rovers, the B team, and they played Queens Park. And we were looking at the team and there was a guy who played for Queens Park called Paddy Cole who I hung around with his brother Bernard, and I didn’t know even Paddy played football. And there he was playing left full playing great for Queens Park. So that was another surprise but when we were coming home, we left the match early to get home to play our game and we were to meet at Moran’s Hotel at Talbot Street at two o’clock and we arrived in D’Olier Street at about twenty to two. We legged it up the North Wall, into the flats, grabbed our boots, back out, told Mam “Put the dinner on hold” and again legged it up the boundary wall and up Talbot Street to Moran’s Hotel. When we got to Moran’s Hotel, all the boys are standing and we arrived and were saying “Thank God we made it” and Charlie Jackson turned around and Charlie said, “You didn’t make it you’re ten minutes late. Now Eddie, you’re Captain and it’s a bad example you have showed here today. You’re not playing and Paddy you’re not playing.” And we said, “We’re playing. You’re playing this team that’s supposed to be the best in the league. They beat our B team five nothing.” And he said “Well you still aren’t playing.” But however, we went off to the Bogies in Cabra and thinking, well he might change his mind. But Charlie did not change his mind. He left us on the sideline. Our team kicked off and scored a goal. They were winning one nothing but when half time come, our team were getting beaten five one. And we decided we had seen enough. We headed off and we were going down Phibsboro on the bus and of course the crowds were going to Dalymount and the bus was stuck and he was saying “What’s going on?” and I said, “They’re going to the match” So we decided right, we hopped off the bus and we went down. Now the crowd was so large that the…down at the Phibsboro end of the ground, the big gates were open to let people in and out and we went in. and of course me being me the little fella that I am, I mooched my way down to the front, the same and him hanging out of me and we got down to the front and we got our positions and the match was going ding dong and everything was going fine and there was something happened between the players and one fella got upended and thing, and one fella was Maguire of Shamrock Rovers, he was a Scotch man and I think he’d floored Cadbury the Shelbourne winger and Martin Colfer came over and decked Maguire. And the place was in uproar and pandemonium and Paddy Delahide, the chap that I’d brought to the match he was one…he said he thought that’s what happens at every match. (Laughs) So the match, I forget whether it was abandoned or what but it may have been restarted but he thought he would never get out of the place because of the way all the crowd were
EDB: Agitating one another and egging one another on. The crowd…between the crowd that ran in on the pitch and the fellas that were on the, along the hill. But that was his baptism of, his first football match to go and see which was a League of Ireland, Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers. And as I say, Paddy Delahide, they moved off to England then after, I don’t know what ever happened to them. So there we are.
MR: Do you think that there is…some of the agro and all that you see, it seems to be only kind of since the seventies, would that be…even the other people there interviewed earlier didn’t have those kind of problems in the forties and fifties.
EDB: Oh no. No. Well you see we hadn’t got the integration of the different nationalities and the cosmopolitan atmosphere that’s around now. And our history would show, even if you went back to the American Civil War, a lot of the people in the South who didn’t want slavery taken away because they were the labourers in the fields, and a lot of them were Irish people. And people say about the Irish, we’re very hospitable here and we’re this and that and the other but against that there’s a terrible snobbiness with the Irish and it’s from you could say the bottom-up or the top-down, there’s an aloofness there and regardless of what town you go to in Ireland or where you are there’ll be people will say “Oh that crowd up the top oh they’re bad eggs” …
EDB: … and for what reason, something silly.
MR: Yes Chinese whispers, yes.
EDB: And, you know, and they’re looking down on … and they look down on people. I mean we had it here in the ‘50s like everywhere, you’d Ballyfermot and we were down in Sherriff Street and all the rest and like when you wrote … if you were looking for a job and you put your address on it very few people got a reply but … so you’d to put your granny’s address or someone’s address on it (laughs) so, you know, you were telling them you lived there and it was your granny’s or your aunt’s address and things like that to get a …
EDB: … and this, and it went on.
MR: Yes, yes.
EDB: I mean in this country there is unfortunately … there’s an old saying in this country ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ …
EDB: … and it is very, very true unfortunately and you’ve got the same with the government and the whole lot, it goes right through, it’s who you know and there’s people getting brought in from this place and the other and again it’s a parochialism …
EDB: … because you got people who, for argument sake, if I was tomorrow in a position in a big company here or I’m in a town from the country somewhere, a town with 300 or 400 people around well everybody knows who Johnny Walsh is the postman, Marc Redmond is the radio man, De Barra is the photographer, Joe Smith there oh he’s the big job, so and so, and then the lads are “Joe is there any jobs going up there? Can you fix the son up?”, “Ah yes Mrs Murray tell him to write in” and he’s brought in and next Johnny ends up and he’s working for ESB, CIE and all the Semi-State companies.
MR: Yes, yes.
EDB: But if you or I go along, like if it comes down to push and shove who is going to get the job?
EDB: It’s the guy who is in the know is going to get it and unfortunately it holds people back because a lot of our people in the country, a lot of good people with the brains, they got fed up with that and they just moved off to other countries …
EDB: … where they’re experience was appreciated and unfortunately it’s an Irishism which we have to get out of.
MR: That’s great. Eddie thanks very much.
EDB: Not at all. (recording ends here)