John’s Story

John FrazerBorn in 1988, John is part of the new generation of Shelbourne FC fans. His earliest memory is attending 1992 FAI Cup Final with his father Mark Frazer. John discusses Shel’s great rivalry with other Dublin clubs (Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers, and St. Patrick’s Athletic), travelling by car to their match against Lille in 2004 UEFA cup, and his favourite player Mark Rutherford. He also explains his voluntary role videoing all of Shels home and away matches since June 2007.

Listen here [play time: 35:55 mins] or Download Audio (mp3) [file size: 16.4 MB. Right-click, save as…]

Duration: 35:55 mins.


Project Name: Shelbourne FC Oral History Project: Phase 1

Track Number: 05

Name of the Interviewee: John  Frazer (JF)

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 Transcribers: E–quip Business Solutions, amended by Ellen Murphy, DCLA

MR: This interview is taking place on the 29th of March 2011 in the lab on Foley Street.  Present are John Frazer and Mark Redmond carrying out the interview on behalf of Dublin City Archive.  John thanks for much for your time, thanks for coming in.

JF: You’re very welcome.

MR: Could I just ask you to tell us your full name, your date of birth and your occupation?

JF: My name is John Frazer.  My date of birth is 5th of July, 1988 and I am a computer programmer.

MR: And how long have you been supporters of Shels?

JF: All my life.  I was born into it.

MR:  I mentioned earlier that your dad was in and he was saying that his dad had been involved and there was a lot of family connection.

JF: That’s right.

MR: What would you say your earliest memory is of supporting the club?

JF: Well my earliest memory is probably the day of the FAI Cup Final in 1992.  I know I had been a match before that, I’ve been told I was at a number of matches before that but that’s the earliest one that really sticks out to me because it was a big day.

MR: Right.  And you would have gone with your dad?

JF: That’s right yes, my dad and all my uncles as well.

MR: That you can remember from it, the atmosphere likes at those early games or not even that particular game but the earlier games that you started to go to, the first few games, what can you remember that stands out for you?

JF: What I remember of it is the atmosphere I always thought was great, I absolutely loved going to the matches and seeing all these people there because back then there was fairly big crowds still going to the League of Ireland games.  You know, at that stage we would have been … for the Cup Final, the old Lansdowne Road would have packed out, 30,000 people.

MR: Right.

JF: And I just loved being there, being part of everything and seeing all the colour and hearing all the songs and hearing all the cheering and being part of the buzz, it was a great feeling.

MR: And has this changed over time?  That would have been … ’88 would have been in and around nearly 20 years ago now or more.

JF: That’s right.

MR: How do you think that’s changed over time?

JF: Well I’m not sure, just there seems to have been a drop off recently in attendance figures and enthusiasm for the league.  I don’t know if it maybe has something to do with the overall mismanagement of some clubs is kind of putting fans off because they don’t want to get emotionally invested in a team which could end up gone come the next year.

MR: And the early games would they have been down in Lansdowne or any other grounds that you would have visited?

JF: Well Shels I think started playing at that time in Tolka Park where they still are now and yes back then I don’t remember all too much about it back then but it’s …

MR: And how about away matches, have you been to many away matches?

MR: Oh I’ve been to loads of away matches over the years.  More so recently because I film the matches for Shelbourne but yes I absolutely love going to away games.  I used to sometimes used to go to them on the bus and that was always a great, a great enjoyment, the coach trips down.

MR: And you started filming these as well.  I mean can you describe a typical day like that from beginning to end?

JF: From my point of view?  Well yes okay.  What I’d usually do is depending on when the match is, presuming it would be a Friday I’d be in work during the day, depending on if it’s an away game I might have to leave work early, get a half day off work and travel to it.  But once I get to the match I’ll usually try to find someone in charge and ask for permission there to find out where I can film from or where I can set up all my gear and that sort of thing and that’s usually it then until the match starts when I actually start filming it and there’s not really all that  much to it you just point the camera at what’s happening.  And after the match we’ll usually grab a few players or the manager or something and get some interviews, talk to them for a bit, and then head back on the way home.

MR: Which grounds in Ireland did you most or least like going to for whatever reason?  Did you have any preferences generally or …?

JF: I did have my favourites.  I know I’ve always liked going to Bray, I always liked Bray, it’s a nice small ground where everything is nice and compact, I feel it’s good.  I used to also like going to UCD’s old ground in Belfield Park, that was the same idea again it was all nice and compact and the old shed when everyone was singing in it there was great noise.  And then of course I’ve got great memories as well of going to the likes of Dalymount Park where Bohs play …

MR: Right.

JF: … and Richmond Road where St. Patrick’s Athletic play because they were also the big derby games and that’s where I remember playing those or seeing those even.

MR: How about supporters of other clubs, were there any particular clubs that you got on better with, their supporters, or were there any particular clubs that you were apprehensive about games because of the relationship Shels might have had with the club?

JF: Yes, always the big games were really … as you said you’d be apprehensive about them so there’s the big derby games which would be the main three other Dublin clubs, Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic, there’d always be kind of a bit of a heated rivalry between the two sets of fans and as well Shelbourne because they were successful and they were always doing well in the league they’d always have a great rivalry with other teams who were challenging for the title …

MR: Of course yes.

JF: … so we had great rivalries as well with Cork City when they were challenging and Derry City as well when they were up there and causing hassle, they’d always bring a great crowd to the matches and there’d always be great banter between the two sets of supporters back and forward across the pitch and across the length of the pitch.

MR: And you’ve been there, you would have been filming a lot of these matches in some cases, did you ever have any unpleasant experiences with violence between fans or chants maybe that may have been a bit close to the bone?

JF: Not particularly since I’ve been filming but I do remember a few years ago we were playing Shamrock Rovers in Dalymount Park, we were away, and as per usual – as always happens – the away fans get kept back behind for 10/15 minutes to allow the home fans to disperse but unfortunately they didn’t do that and the powers that be within the ground on that night, the security people, decided ah we’ll just send the Shelbourne fans out anyway and they started to send us out and all of a sudden bottles and stones started flying up and over the gate in towards us.  And yes it’s not a nice thing to happen, to be involved in stuff like that …

MR: Of course yes.

JF: … and to have things thrown at you but it worked out in the end they just kind of herded us down to the other exit at the other end of the ground and sent us out that way, sent us on our way and that was kind of fair enough.

MR: Do you think that that’s something that’s getting worse over the years or I mean I know that a couple of people have mentioned to me that even in terms of the chants now some of the chants have gotten very personal, they might be having a dig at particular players or even dragging in chants about the girlfriend or the families or whatever and stuff has even appeared on Facebook.  Do you think that’s another …?

JF: I don’t think the trouble … I don’t think that’s really gotten that much worse I mean there’s always kind of been an element that are going to matches just to cause trouble, just to cause hassle and that sort of thing.

MR: Right.

JF: With regards to personal chanting, yes I do think it’s gotten a bit too much at times, really personal attacks on people.  I mean there was one a few years ago where there was … I think he was a Drogheda player there was some things being said about his wife who was very ill at the time and that’s just not, not on, but there’s some people that just … most fans that I’ve talked to have been condoning it, it’s just a few of these kind of started and drag a few people along with them.

MR: Do you think aside from just downright nastiness do you think it’s a kind of a way that they’re trying to psych out or freak out other players on the night, trying to maybe keep them off form?

JF: Well maybe it is yes I mean I know whenever I wasn’t filming and I’ve been watching the matches you do join in with the cheering because it’s great to get behind your team and to support them but it’s also good to kind of try and psych out the players.  Maybe not necessarily with personal attacks but, you know, general good natured jeers and poking fun shall we say.

MR: Yes.  And how about European competitions, did you manage to travel abroad for any of those?

JF: Yes we managed to go to two European matches out of all of the big ones.  I was very young at the time so we couldn’t really travel that far and we weren’t exactly flush with money as well to travel to all these away games …

MR: Right.

JF: … but we managed to get to two.  In 2005 we went up to Glentoran in Belfast so that was essentially just a bus journey and the year before in 2004, that was in Shelbourne’s big year when we went all over the place in Europe – we had a great run in Europe, we went over to Lille in France and there was, yes, we decided … we looked at all the different ways that we could have got there, we could have flown over into Belgium and got the train over or rented a car, but we decided that the best way for us to get there would be a great big road journey …

MR: Excellent yes.

JF: … so we left from Dublin.  We went, we got the boat, the ferry, over to Holyhead and we drove through the night, all the way down the length of England down to Dover, from there we got the train across into Calais and then from there we drove two or three hours into Lille where we then spent about the same length of time trying to find our hotel (laughs).

MR: Oh right yes.

JF: When we did eventually find it we kind of had to just kind of throw our overnight luggage into the hotel room and then straight back into the car and try and find the stadium then.

MR: And what was the atmosphere like at those away games?  Would you have had many supporters going over for these games?

JF: Well back in those days, yes, there was always a decent enough crowd travelling to these.  I mean I know Lille was relatively nearby and there was a decent crowd there as well, there was 400 or 500 people maybe there and I know there was more when we went up to Glentoran there was maybe nearly 2,000 people up there if I remember correctly.

MR: What would the atmosphere or the general behaviour of the fans be or the atmosphere, what would it be like in an away situation like that, was it always fairly good natured or it was a good kind of weekend away?

JF: Yes in those European matches it was always a … we weren’t really going expecting to win.

MR: Right.

JF: We were going, hoped to do well, maybe get a decent result and then try and nick something in the home leg but more so it was a trip away, a trip to the sunshine, a chance to see how your team can do against a team from a higher ranked league, in this case it was Lille from the French league which are one of the top five leagues in Europe and it was good to travel to that sort of thing and the atmosphere was always great at those because, as I said, you weren’t really worried about the result.  If you got a result great but otherwise it was just singing and cheering and having a good time.

MR: And what would say your greatest moment … I mean you would have had a lot of these, would you have filmed a lot of those games, away games, as well or …?

JF: No I didn’t film those.

MR: No?

JF: I didn’t start filming until the year after everything went downhill for Shelbourne but …

MR: Right.  What would you say your greatest moment was in terms of the definitive game that is burned into your memory?

JF: For me it would be a series of two games, there was the 1996 Cup Final against St. Patrick’s Athletic, we played the first leg in Lansdowne Road, I remember I was behind the goal and fairly early on into the game our goal keeper Alan Gough got himself sent off and for some reason we didn’t have a substitute goal keeper on the bench so Brian Flood, a mid fielder, he got given the jersey and stuck in the goal for the rest of the match.

MR: Right.

JF: As far as I know we even conceded a goal straightaway after that from what … the keeper was sent off for handling the ball outside the penalty area.

MR: Right.

JF: So I think St. Pat’s scored from the free kick directly or fairly shortly after and it was looking like it was all done, Shelbourne were doing quite well with ten men to hold … and with no goal keeper as well to hold St. Patrick’s off and not score anymore but out of absolutely nowhere very near the end, near the death, one of my favourite players ever, Tony Sheridan, scored one of the best goals that I’ve ever seen.  He’s running along about 10 yards outside the penalty area, the ball flicks up, sits up perfectly for him and he just –bump- hits it in …

MR: Belted it straight in.

JF: … straight in and got us a replay and we went back to Dalymount Park the following weekend and again it was a tough match and we managed to win it 1-0 in the end, I think it was Stephen Geoghan might have scored in the end of that one and that was just, it was just perfect, I think it sums up Shelbourne.  We do things the hard way.

MR: Would you say that Tony Sheridan was your favourite Shels player or would there be anyone else in contention for that title?

JF: He’d probably be my second favourite player.  My favourite player put in the cross for the next winner in the next game, that would be Mark Rutherford.

MR: Okay.

JF: He’s my favourite player ever.  I used to remember when you would be playing football in school everyone would be “Oh I’m Ryan Giggs and I’m David Beckham, yes I’m Mark Rutherford”.  Who?  (laughter)

MR: And in terms of younger players coming up now anybody currently playing for them that you think has got serious potential or anybody that you think people should keep their eye on for the future?

JF: Oh there’s a few.  We did have one a couple of years ago, Paddy Madden, he’s gone on to play in England now, he’s doing well.  This current crop there’s a few excellent players in it.  Sean Byrne, our left back, he’s still quite young, he’s an excellent left back he could do very well if he can kind of get his head in the game a bit more and kind of put in a bit more effort he could be really, really good.  Tiernan Mulvenna, he was with us and I’m not sure what’s happened with him, there’s some registration problems but it looks like he will be back with us eventually, he’s a very good player as well.  I’m surprised that he’s come to Shelbourne because he could really play for anyone in the league and I’m surprised he wasn’t even snapped up by anyone, anyone else.

MR: And how would you have typically celebrated a Shels victory, particularly later when you started going to matches on your own and stuff like that with your mates?

JF: Ah well usually it was just enjoy the match and then go home, there was no real celebrations unless it was a major win over a big rival we might go into the bar and have a couple of drinks afterwards but usually it’s just enjoy the atmosphere there and then head on home.

MR: And in terms of the players some of the people that you mentioned how much or how easy is the access for your average Shels supporter to the players?  Are they fairly approachable people?  Would you get to meet them to have a chat with them?

JF: Ah yes definitely I mean I know I do find it easy because I do the videos on it and I can grab them for the interviews …

MR: Of course.

JF: … but I think even then if I wasn’t doing it a lot of them they’re all very nice people and you could quite easily if you wanted to hang around after the match for 5 minutes and grab interviews or grab chats and have talks with them.  I know lots of people meet them, meet them on the street, they’re just ordinary people at the end of the day, they do see them and they have chats or whatever so they’re all really quite nice people.

MR: So fairly accessible.  Did they always have time for the supporters?

JF: Oh yes, yes they know that at the end of the day, you know, they’re there because the supporters are, you know, if the supporters aren’t going there’s no money coming into the club they’re not going to get paid to do this so they’re really …

MR: Yes.

JF: … yes I’ve not really had any experiences where any of the players have been standoffish, they’ve all been very approachable.

MR: And how about club management over the years, any particular managers that stand out for all the right reasons or all the wrong reasons?  Have you got anything to say about that?

JF: (Laughs) There’s a huge slew of them.  I mean every manager as their upsides and downsides, you know, for the last few years we’ve had Dermot Keely with us and that’s in his second spell with the club, he was with the club at the end of the ‘90s and he ended up winning us the double in 2000 and he’s a great manager, he knows his stuff, he knows really how to get the players going but he’s said it himself as well that he’s kind of stuck in his ways, he’s an old man of the game, he’s not really … it’s always 4-4-2 formation, never anything different.  Some other managers, Pat Fenlon, great – excellent man manager, he did great things with Shelbourne and unfortunately he kind of resided over us as the money went bust, as the money disappeared.  So it kind of hangs over him that it was his overspending that caused us to go but was it his overspending or was it that he was being give the money that he was being asked for?

MR: Right, right.  And losses and disappointments like that, how did you … did you ever feel personally frustrated with that type of thing?  And how did fans express this, how do you think they would have expressed it?

JF: There was a number of times yes when we were frustrated after losses I mean even the year that we won the double, we won the league with a couple of games to spare and we played Bohemians on the last league game of the season and we got beaten 4-0.  Now I know that at that stage it doesn’t really matter because we’d still won the league …

MR: Right.

JF: … but it’s always not nice to lose to your … one of your nearest rival.

MR: Yes.  (laughs)

JF: So we were giving quite a bit of abuse to the management because we weren’t happy that they kind of held back on that match, saving up for the Cup Final, we really wanted to, you know, we’re the champions and we’ll beat you as well.

MR: Send it home so to speak.

JF: Yes.  And disappointment unfortunately has kind of become an annual event now with Shelbourne, now we’re in the First Division, the last 3 years we’ve been almost there, to getting promotion, we missed out by a point winning the league one year, we missed out the next year again by one point to win the league and then last season we got to the play-offs and missed out in the play-offs again so.

MR: But just in terms of the financial problems the club has had and then moving around from ground to ground initially, the last game in Shelbourne Park was in ’49, 1949, and they’ve been in various different places since then, how do you think that that has kind of affected club support?  Obviously would you have thought it would have been better to have had a permanent definitive Shelbourne ground?  Do you think it would have made much difference?

JF: I think it would have made a bit of a difference if there was somewhere.  If we’d been able to stay in Ringsend you might have had more people going from that Ringsend area because I know my family still … my dad’s brothers still live in the Ringsend area and they do always say that there’s people that know they are Shelbourne supporters and they ask them “Ah how did we do?”, well you can’t really say how did “we” do this week if you’re not at the match can you not part with the “we” if you never go to the matches?  So you never know if we had stayed in the area maybe they would have kept going, maybe their children would have been going as well and their grandchildren as well so.

MR: Do you think that Shels has a role then in the wider community in terms of their relationship between the club itself and the people in the general vicinity?

JF: I think it could have a great role in the area, it just kind of needs an area.  At the moment we’re in Tolka Park in Drumcondra but it’s up in … with the current ground situation we don’t know how much longer we’re going to be there, you know, we could quite easily be out of Tolka Park next season so I think the club are afraid or unwilling maybe or not able… or undecided on whether they want to branch out and start becoming more part of the community because you do see that if a club – looking at Shamrock Rovers, I’m from Tallaght myself and that’s where Shamrock Rovers play – if they get out into the community, if they extend and get into the schools, start talking to the school kids and that sort of thing, supporting all the under-age football set up around the area they’d get great crowds because these kids then see Shamrock Rovers as their team and they drag their parents along to the match each Friday night and it’s just kind of par for the course.

MR: It’s quite an impressive stadium, I’ve passed that stadium a couple of times, do you think that that has – in Shamrock Rovers case – added to their stamp on the local community up there, the fact of the existence of the ground itself because it does look quite impressive?

JF: It does, it definitely does and the fact that it’s a new up to date stadium as well that’s obviously a great help because, you know, you don’t really want the teams to be coming to … or you don’t want families … families won’t come to stadiums that are falling down and don’t have facilities …

MR: Right.

JF: … and I think having a good stadium like that really helps them out.  Yes the fact that because they had … they kind of knew for years that they were going to be moving into Tallaght so they were able to slowly move things over there like.  I mean as far as I know they had a shop at one stage that they were selling things out of.  Even before they moved in, they were still ground sharing – they were still renting Tolka Park from Shelbourne, they still had regular things going on up in the Tallaght area like they’d have meetings with people in the area, they’d be doing events to encourage people to support the team.

MR: Do you think there’s anything that Shels could learn from that given the break in the future?  If the opportunity came up to secure new premises and was somewhere more permanent, how much benefit do you think that would be to the club?

JF: As much as I don’t like to say it I think if we did get a new ground, we’d do exactly what Shamrock Rovers did, I don’t like to say that they were right but they were absolutely spot on in doing what they were doing …

MR: Yes.

JF: … and getting themselves embedded into the area, embedded into the hearts and minds of the people in Tallaght because I’m a  Shelbourne fan, I live there and you do see Shamrock Rovers sweatshirts and jersey walking around the shops and you wouldn’t have seen those 5 years ago.

MR: Right.

JF: Now that they’re in there people kind of hopped on board and, right, the fact that Shamrock Rovers have been successful as well is a great help but they did a great job in getting themselves set up and I think Shelbourne really could learn a thing or two if someone was to come along and say okay we’re going to build a stadium for you or here’s a patch of land for you to build a stadium on.

MR: And do you think there’s any relationship or do you think there’s any spin-off, positive spin-off, from the performance of the national team and things like the European Cup and the World Cup?  So for example the early ‘90s, in 1990 we had a great World Cup performance under Jack Charlton, everybody seemed to be football crazy that year, do you think things like that have a positive effect on football clubs like Shelbourne?

JF: Maybe the under-age teams because you’d get a lot more kids, they see the Irish team doing well, the national team, and they think I want to play football and they start signing up for the under-age teams so you never know one of those lads that do sign up because they saw that they could go on to become a big star and eventually help the team but in terms of attendance and support less so.  You might get some people that think … some people might go to an international game and they go we enjoyed this is there any way that we can do this more often and they’d look at the local clubs and see that …

MR: Yes.

JF: … but really I don’t see there’s too much because there’s no real connection there between the international players and the club players, there’s no Shelbourne players on the international team, there’s no League of Ireland players on the international team and even some of Shelbourne’s good ex-players aren’t getting called up.  I mean Wes Hoolahan, an ex-Shels player, is currently playing with Norwich playing out of his skin every week, playing excellently, still hasn’t got a call and he could really do something with the international team’s mid field in my opinion.  Richie Foran, another
ex-Shelbourne player, he’s banging in the goals up in Scotland and again he’s not even got a sniff of a call up so … and if those types of players, ex-players who have gone on to do well for themselves in the higher standard that exists in England …

MR: Right.

JF: … if the club players aren’t going to get in I can’t really see that people would go to matches to see players that they don’t know.

MR: Exactly yes.  And aside from actually being a long term supporter of the club you also are involved in the club in the other area of actually filming games and stuff like that, how did you become interested in that?  Were you doing a media course or did you start off just filming one and then just decide to compile them up?

JF: Yes my uncle had the idea the year after we got relegated my uncle had the idea of filming the matches and doing up highlights and putting together an annual or a twice annual DVD but he wasn’t able to commit the time to it.  At the time as well I’d just finished secondary school and started college and I had a great timetable so I decided well I’ll give it a go.  I got a loan of his video camera for the first couple of matches and after that bought my own and just started out just pointing the camera at it and learning as I went along how to do it, I didn’t have any real interest in filming and that sort of thing before so I just kind of learned as I went along and got feedback from people.  People who watched the DVDs and watched the highlights and they’d say this is good but maybe you could do it this way, maybe do this thing slightly different and I just learned as I went along.

MR: So overall the feedback you’ve gotten from other club supporters has been positive like that and as well as the fact that you’re actually visually documenting – similar to what we’re doing now in a sense, an oral history.

JF: Yes.

MR: How much material would you have approximately, how much material would you have at this stage or when did you start actually doing it?

JF: Well I started in June 2007 and I’m missing one half of a match but other than that I have everything from then so …

MR: That’s excellent isn’t it?

JF: … yes, it was one thing that I wanted to do as well, keep back-ups, keep a record as well …

MR: Absolutely yes.

JF: … because I thought it would be good to have one day, you never know, someone might be interested in it.  If I could go back and tell myself a better way to do it now I would because I’ve found a much better way to archive everything now whereas back then I didn’t know what I was doing really so I was burning DVDs which aren’t exactly the best of DVDs but it’s some sort of a record.

MR: Right.  And do you know any women that are supporters of Shels?

JF: Yes there’s a few.  There’s not many.  My mam and my sister are supporters, they kind of, after myself, my dad and my two uncles went on the trip over to Lille we managed to convince them that it would be good fun to go to a match and they did and they enjoyed themselves and they ended up … they started going more and more often and getting more and more involved and they had a good time.  There are a few others as well around the grounds, some that just turn up as just supporters and some that help out, some that help run the club shop and some that help sell raffle tickets and all that as well.  So there are a few but they are vastly outnumbered unfortunately.

MR: And what about … many of the other …older  supporters that I interviewed that were going to matches in the ‘40s and ‘50s said that it was very much a family day out and, you know, you’d have a father and two and three sons or whatever and the father and his mate with his kids going to matches, do you think that there’s ever a time where it will go back to that because the only reason I ask is that some of the people now that have been interviewed have said that sometimes some of the chanting is a bit too rich for kind of young kids’ ears and stuff like that and do you think there’s any possibility of bringing it back to the family day out as opposed to a gang of the lads going out to the match or would you think there would be any benefit of that or …?

JF: Ah no I’d say it would be great to have the kids coming.  I mean there are still quite a few, you do see men bringing their sons and their son’s friends and that sort of thing, you know, it really depends.  As you mentioned about the flavourful chanting …

MR: Yes.

JF: … yes it depends on really how do you … you’d have to kind of just tell the kid look at the football you can do that, you can come in and you can f and blind and curse all you want …

MR: Yes.

JF: … but as soon as we leave the ground I don’t want to hear it from you.  It’s just a case of, yes, you’d kind of have to … it’s always going to exist at football, that there’s going to be bad language.  Maybe some of the chanting is a little bit too much but there’s always going to be bad language so you kind of have to just tell them to chill out on it.  When you’re at the match do it but relax.

MR: And if you had a wish list for the club would you have any … is there any one thing that you would wish for for the club in the future?

JF: Some stability for the club, maybe to find a new home for Shelbourne that could be a good home for a number of years in the same way as Shamrock Rovers have.

MR: Right.

JF: Because if they get a new home that you can kind of branch out into the area you can start to really sort out any sort of money problems, if everything is run correctly which I think it is at the moment there’s really no danger of the club being wound up and that’s the main thing that no Shelbourne fan wants to see, they don’t want to see the club go so that’s …

MR: Do you think all the moving around over the years has kind of attributed to some of the money problems and the kind of lack of permanence and paying rent to places and stuff like that, do you think that may have added to some of the instability?

JF: Yes a little bit maybe because I know – it was probably a little bit before my time – that when Shelbourne moved to Tolka Park from Harold’s Cross and when they moved from even Shelbourne Park into Harold’s Cross and everywhere else they did lose some fans on the way and I think, yes, it has kind of caused the money problems that Shelbourne have now because we sold the ground and rather than using the money from selling the lease on Tolka Park to build a new ground the money was spent on a pie-in–the-sky dream by paying exorbitant wages to the players to try and get into the next stages of the Champions League …

MR: Into the big time yes.

JF: … because if we had managed that, if we got into the Champions League, yes the financial windfall would have dwarfed what we had been spending to get there.

MR: Yes.

JF: But unfortunately it didn’t come off, it was a gamble that didn’t come off for Shelbourne.  It happened with Bohs, it happened with Drogheda United, it happened with Cork, it happened to an extent with Derry.  Shelbourne were unfortunately the trailblazers in that sort of thing, we kind of set the standard for going for the dream and falling short and because of that we’ve no money left to move into a new permanent home.  Whether we stay in Tolka Park at the beginning of every season it’s a ‘Will we be here for the year?  Will we not?’ and it’s contributed it to it, yes.

MR: Before we finish is there anything at all that you’d like to add?  Is there any individual or any group of individuals that you’d like to thank or you’d like to voice your appreciation to or is there anything else that you think maybe I’ve forgotten to ask you?

JF: Well I’d like to thank the current Board of Management and as well in the time … in the summer, in 2007, when everything was up in the air for us.  Bobby Brown and Finbar Flood as well they were temporary Chairmen during that stage and those people kept the club going, they are the reason why there is still a Shelbourne here 4 years later.  Right, we’re not back where we want to be but we are on the way.

MR: Any other final thoughts?

JF: Not really no.  (laughs)

MR: Okay.  Even in terms of how difficult … or even just take in terms of say the current economic climate, do you think that even though it’s fairly grim everywhere you know you got a lot of people 5, 6, 7 years ago going away on two holidays a year and going off here and going off there do you think that despite of, or even in spite of the recession that may bring back kind of an interest in local teams where people might be interested more in what’s going on in their locality as opposed to going off to their apartment in Bulgaria for 2 weeks?  Do you think that there’s even a small possibility that there may be some level of rejuvenation or interest in local football?

JF: I would be nice, you know, it’s an awful lot cheaper to head down to Tolka Park and spend your 15 euros than it is to get the boat over to England to see Manchester United or Liverpool play each week but I think the League of Ireland kind of has a … it’s not the greatest standard of football which kind of puts off a lot of people from going.

MR: Right.

JF: The state of most of the grounds is lacking, they’re not great, they’re old stadiums and that kind of puts people off but you never know, there have been people that have started going again recently, they had supported Shelbourne years ago or they had supported other clubs years ago and for some reason now they’ve decided oh we’ll start going back to the matches and that.  I don’t really know if there’s any other way to encourage people to come to local matches as opposed to going to foreign matches or going away on holidays but it would be nice if there were people that would see Shelbourne, going to a Shelbourne match every Friday night as the event that I see it.

MR: Yes.

JF: To me it’s always great, the season has just started back and I’ve been to two matches in Tolka Park now so far this season and it’s good to see all the old friends that I haven’t seen since last November when the season ended.

MR: Yes.

JF: And that you see every week and now they’re back and it’s a shame that more people don’t kind of have that because there is a great sense of camaraderie between all the people there because we know that it’s us against everyone else and it’s us against … trying to convince people “Ah come on down to Tolka Park tonight, no need to watch the Liverpool match tomorrow, this will be more entertaining” even though it will probably be a boring nil all draw (laughs) it’s still it’s …

MR: Have you any particular hopes for this particular season?  Any matches that you would really like to win or any particular matches that you’re looking forward to for whatever reason or any old scores that you want to settle?

JF: (Laughs) Well the main hope is that we get promotion at the end of the season.

MR: Right.

JF: And that’s a long way off but we’re doing well so far.  We are actually playing Limerick this Friday and I always like to do well against Limerick because in 2008 they denied us the chance to go up, we were 1-0 up against them, 5 minutes to go, and they had the audacity to score against us and the match finished a 1 all draw and we missed out on promotion so it’s always nice to kind of beat them because when they scored they celebrated as if they had just won the World Cup so it’s nice to beat them.

MR: And you’ll be out with camera in hand anyway this season as per usual.

JF: Oh definitely yes.  I have to keep track of it.  Hopefully this year will be the season that we’ll go up and I’ll have a good record of it.

MR: John, thanks very much for coming in this afternoon.  It’s been a pleasure meeting you, thank you.

JF: You too, thank you very, very much.  (recording ends here)


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