Rory Dwyer’s Story

Rory DwyerRory Dwyer, born in 1932, is one of Shelbourne’s most celebrated centre forwards. He holds the current club record of 40 goals in a season in all clubs competition. He played his schoolboy football in Drimnagh, before signing for Shels in 1951. His wages were £3 per week, with an extra £1 if team won, and he also worked as a refrigerator mechanic. Rory talks about the Shels training regime, how injuries were treated, and the camaraderie between players during his playing days from 1951-1957. The memories he shares include playing in Iceland as a guest of Waterford FC (1953), winning the Irish Independent sports star of the week following his hat trick against Dundalk in 1954, and when he was wrongly blamed for missing a League of Ireland team meeting before a match against the Scottish League (1954).

Listen here [play time: 33:15 mins] or Download Audio (mp3) [file size: 15.2 MB. Right-click, save as…]

Duration: 33:15 mins.


Project Name: Shelbourne FC Oral History Project: Phase 1

Track Number: 04

Name of the Interviewee: Rory Dwyer (RD), also present his daughter Ciara Dwyer (CD)

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: 19 April 2011

MR: This interview is taking place on the 19th of April 2011 in the lab on Foley Street.  Present are Rory Dwyer and Ciara Dywer and the interview is being carried out by Mark Redmond on behalf of Dublin City Archive.  Rory and Ciara thanks a million for your time, for coming into today.  Rory can I ask you  your full name and your date of birth and where you lived as a child?

RD: Yes Rory Dywer and I was born in Dublin in 1932.

MR: And what part of Dublin were you living in at the time?

RD: Inchicore.

MR: Inchicore.  Who did you first play football with?

RD: I played football with St. Finbar’s, they were a team from Drimnagh.  This was schoolboy football.

MR: Right.

RD: And they were managed by a man named Gerry Doyle who later become Manager of Shels.  And he was responsible for … before playing for them I won a school boy international cap against England and we played in Upton Park, West Ham’s ground in Upton Park but we were thrashed 9-1 at that match.

MR: How long ago would that have been?

RD: That would have been about 1949.

MR: Right.

RD: And then I was playing with Finbar’s, it was the street leagues in Drimnagh at that particular time.

MR: Yes.

MR: Did you play any other sports as a young boy?

RD: Not really no, just chestnuts and swimming in the canal and marbles, you know the usual.

MR: Yes, yes.

RD: That was about our …

MR: How did it come about that you signed with Shels?

RD: Well Gerry Doyle was a scout for Shels and he was responsible for getting me into Shels when I was 19 years of age and I was a Refrigeration Mechanic at that time earning 25 shillings a week, for 6½ days a week, and Gerry got me in and he negotiated £3 a week for me and if we won we got an extra £1, that was £4 a week.  And £4 a week was very  nice.

MR: And that was in the early 50s?

RD: That was in the early 50s yes.

MR: And what are your memories of the first match that you played for?

RD: The first match I played in Milltown against Shamrock Rovers and Rovers had a very good team then and they beat us 1-0 but the transition from playing school boy football into senior football like that is a bit daunting, you’re coming up against seasoned players and older men …

MR: Yes.

RD: … and I was only 19 years of age.  But I had plenty of stamina, I’d two great feet and I was very good with my head.

MR: Yes.

RD: And I wasn’t afraid and after a few games I got going and started banging in the goals.

MR: Settled in.

RD: Yes.

MR: But at that time where did Shels play their home games?

RD: We played in Tolka Park because their former ground was Shelbourne Park the dog track but they got an opportunity at buying it and they didn’t buy it, they thought it was too expensive, so we played our home matches in Tolka Park and later on in Dalymount Park – our home matches.

MR: Just as regards yourself and your own performance on the field what would you say your strengths were on the playing field or your weaknesses?

RD: Well I was pretty useful, like I was very good at shooting, I shooted with both feet, I was very good, and I was more dangerous with my head than with my feet, you know, because the ball came across and it was in the back of the net.  I was a very good header of the ball.

MR: Yes.  And how many times a week would you have trained normally?

RD: I would have trained two nights a week.

MR: Two nights a week.

RD: We used to train down in Irishtown, that was a ground that Shels acquired …

MR: Yes.

RD: … but it never came to fruition as regards playing there because it was … they hadn’t got the resources to build stands and develop it.  They built a running track around it.

MR: Around it.

RD: Billy Morton, the impresario with Clonliffe Harriers promised them a lot of things but never came through at all.

MR: And you were a full-time football player at that stage.

RD: No part-time.

MR: Oh part-time.

RD: I trained two nights a week.

MR: And your day job was the refrigeration.

RD: My day was Refrigeration Mechanic, yes.

MR: And what was your lifestyle like when it came to things like nutrition and alcohol or smoking, did you …?

RD: Well I never … I was very fortunate that I didn’t drink because I took a few beers early on and I used to get violent headaches.

MR: Yes.

RD: So I said to myself no I’m not going to drink and I didn’t smoke because I knew smoking was bad for you and what else?  Gambling, I never gambled because my brother (laughs), he never had any money at all but he was a terrible gambler, he didn’t smoke or drink but he gambled the few bob he did have.

MR: How about injuries?  Did you have any bad injuries over the years?

RD: No, well no I steered clear of injuries.  I was very fortunate with injuries.  I’d no injuries at all until later on in my life.

MR: But injuries that you would have witnessed other players getting, what type of treatment would they have received on the field at that stage that you can remember?

RD: Well they would be mostly muscle injuries.  What’s the word?  The hamstring.  We never heard: of hamstrings before.

MR: Yes.

RD: But we had a masseur who was good, Sammy Pearson was the masseur.

MR: Yes.

RD: And he was a chain smoker and if you were getting a massage from him you’d be up on his bench and he’d be massaging you and the ashes from the cigarettes would fall on your knee or your thigh (laughter) and he’d be massaging the ashes into you (laughter).

MR: And who was managing Shels at the time when you played?

RD: A man by the name of Bob Thomas.  He was the Manager then and then we had a trainer by the name of [Dick Hearn] who was a famous amateur boxer in his day, he used to train us.

MR: And what were their … what would you … what type of training did you …?

RD: Well the training wasn’t very comprehensive, it was plenty of laps and exercise and what else?  We didn’t get much ball work because the floodlighting was very primitive then.

MR: Yes.

RD: It didn’t have much light.

MR: Do you remember any of the other backroom staff from that time?

RD: No, Sammy would be about the whole lot, just the manager and the trainer, they were the backroom lads.

MR: Can you tell us about some of the other players that you would have played with at the time?  You would have been around Eddie Gannon’s time I guess.

RD: Well Eddie came a bit later.  When I started to play Eddie wasn’t there.  Eddie was playing over in England with Sheffield Wednesday but there was lots of good players then.  Rovers had a great team then.  Paddy Coad he was the best player ever I saw who didn’t go away to England to ply his trade, he was a brilliant player and he was with Shamrock Rovers.  And we had Sean Haughey, a brother of Charlie Haughey playing right fold and we had Dermot Curtis who later went away to Swansea Town, he came after I left, Dermot Curtis was there.  And we had George Lynam, Paddy Cunningham, Peter Keely – he was a good wing half, he was near the end of his stage then – and Georgie Lynam, we were a good useful team.  Sean, my brother Sean, he played left half too, a good left half.

MR: And what were these characters like off the field?  Would you have socialised much off the field or …?

RD: Well usually when we were finished our training we used to go up to the Palm Grove and have a Melancholy Baby ice-cream and what not.  (laughter)

MR: Okay yes.

RD: Some of the lads went for a few pints, I didn’t drink at all.

MR: Yes.

RD: But the rest of us used to go out and have a Melancholy Baby in the Palm Grove in O’Connell Street.  (laughs)

MR: And I’m just going through here [press-cuttings relating to Rory Dwyer’s playing career] some of the matches that you played in the 50s.  The first match was it around August 1951? [1]

RD: Yes, that was the one in Milltown against Shamrock Rovers and they beat us 1-0.

MR: That was August 1951.

RD: August ’51 yes.  That was in Milltown.  We used to get great gates.  I mean the crowds would be walking up from Portobello Bridge, up Ranelagh, Glenmalure Park was the name of the ground then that Rovers had.

MR: Yes.  And then December 1952? [2]

RD: Yes we beat Transport  2-1 that day.

[Editor’s Note: Article refers to 1:1 draw between Shelbourne F.C and Transport]

MR: So it was mainly through the 50s and you had other dates like January ’52, you were centre forward for this.

RD: I always played centre forward, I couldn’t play in any other position, no I never played in any other position, I felt ill at ease being switched to play anywhere else, centre forward was my position.

MR: The Sunday before here it says January 3rd 1952, the Sunday before you’d scored a hat trick against Sligo. [3]

RD: Yes I remember playing against Sligo alright.

MR: Can you tell us a bit about this match here, May 27th ’53, in Iceland? [4]

RD: Yes Waterford had a very good team then and they had a Scotch inside forward by the name of Jimmy Gauls, who was a brilliant player, and he later went to Everton and subsequent on to Charlton Athletic but in this, 1953, a brilliant centre forward by the name of Jack Fitzgerald well he sustained a knee injury, he had a cartilage operation, so I was invited to go as a guest with him to Iceland.  We flew out to Iceland and we came back by boat.  But the Icelandic players were very good.

MR: That must have been an amazing experience getting to see a place like Iceland.

RD: It was, perpetual daylight there.

MR: Yes.

RD: In Iceland.  That was in May, yes May, May the 27th.  But the Icelandic team players were very good.  The cost of living there was very, very high because the yanks have an air base there by the name of Keflavik that was the air base, and the yanks were there and they were able to spend plenty of money and geysers were there where all the hot water came up out of the grounds.

MR: That must have been a very unusual thing for a Dublin lad to be seeing in the 50s was it?

RD: It was, it was yes, it was.  Ah it took nearly a week to come back on the boat (laughter); bit rough coming back!

MR: I’m just looking at here, Shelbourne’s 3-1 win pleased David Jack and this was in August the 24th 1953, do you have any memories of that particular match? [5]

RD: Well David Jack was the Manager of Middlesborough, he played with Middlesborough in the early 20s and he came over here and was our Manager but he was solely a figurehead there, I think he was brought over to try and sell a few of us to English clubs.

MR: Yes.

RD: But he didn’t but his coaching was harmless, he didn’t coach us at all as a matter of fact, he was only a figurehead there to try and offload some of us to the English clubs.

MR: And looking at here in 1954, in March 1954, you’re named actually in the title of the article itself, ‘Dwyer leads Shelbourne attack in Cup’. [6]

RD: And that was against Drumcondra I think we were playing … (reads article here) tomorrow’s game out … Shelbourne bring back … no, we were playing Drumcondra in Tolka Park at that one.

MR: And there’s another article here, Irish Times, March 27th 1954, [7] ‘… in connection with Rory Dwyer’s failure to attend the appointed place and time on the occasion of the match at Dalymount Park between the League of Ireland the Scottish League at St. Patrick’s the Special League of Ireland Investigation Committee last night interviewed the player.’  What was the background to that?

RD: That was very interesting that.  I was picked to play on the League of Ireland team against the Scotch League for Dalymount and apparently the FAI were supposed to have notified me to attend a pre-match talk in the Maples Hotel for a tactical talk now I didn’t, I wasn’t informed at all about it so I went up to Dalymount about an hour before the match and there as no-one there.  Subsequently the players started to come in and I was collared by one of the officials and they said to me “Where were you?  Why weren’t you at the tactical talk?” and I said “I wasn’t informed about the tactical talk at all” so they had drafted in one of the subs as centre forward because they said they didn’t want to upset their plans, their tactical talk, because I wasn’t there so I had to sit in the stand and watch the match and we were beaten 4-0 by the Scotch team.

MR: And how did you feel about that?

RD: Well I didn’t mind, I was after getting the 20 quid for sitting in the stand (laughter) but it was crazy but then Shelbourne denied it but it seemed that that particular day they had … it seemed crazy … they had four centre forwards playing instead of one (laughs).

MR: And they still got hammered?

RD: And still got hammered yes.  (laughs)

MR: And the Irish Times Monday October the 25th 1954 you’re named again in the actual title of the article here, ‘Dwyer’s good display for Shelbourne, Shelbourne 5, Dundalk 0.

RD: Nil that’s right.  That day I got my … I scored a hat trick that day and I got the sports star of the week from the Independent the following Friday.

MR: They’d have a picture of a player every week?

RD: Yes.

MR: Excellent.

RD: Well it was kind of a big honour to get the sports star of the week …

MR: Oh yes.

RD: … because there were other sports involved in that too so the fact that you got it, that you were picked out for sports star of the week was kind of a big honour, to the exclusion of other people who might have done well in other sports.

MR: And then the following year in Dundalk ‘Shelbourne prove too good for Dundalk’, this was Monday January the 10th 1955, it was only a few months after this other match, and you beat them 3-1.

RD: Yes, that was up in Oriel Park in Dundalk yes, I had a good game that day too, I nearly got two goals.  With football I always maintain some great English footballer said ability is not enough but he said footballers are born not made, that’s what he said, footballers are born not made and as well as having talent you’d want to have character, you know.  Some people have a lot of talent but they mightn’t have the bottle or the courage to do things that they should do.  Now Cork were very partisan, you’d score a goal down there and there’d be silence (laughter) and when they’d, when the home team would score the house would come down.

MR: And what about your relationship with the Shels fans and stuff like that?

RD: Ah I was very popular with them because I was banging them in, you know, ah they were, you know, if you were playing well you were top of the pops, you know, you were well …

CD: Would you tell Mark about the time … tell him about the knocking the goal post down, what happened about this, when was this?

RD: I was playing in Tolka Park one day against Drumcondra and the winger sent the ball flying across the goal and I came flying in and I missed it, I missed the ball, and I ran into the back of the net and I grabbed the net and the whole goal … the upright snapped and the net had me trapped, I was like a fish (laughter) caught in a net and the photograph the next day which I haven’t got …

CD: It was in the paper right?

RD: … it was in the paper and I’m caught in the net (laughs).  People always remind me of that, the day you knocked the goal post down (laughs), I say yes, you know, people kind of embellished it as a story.

MR: Absolutely yes.

CD: Yes.  And what about the time when you had the bandage when Bobby Andrew saw you?

RD: Yes we were playing the [Lanarkshire] League, the Leinster League, there was players just picked from Leinster to the exclusion of the other counties, we were playing in Dalymount, a Scottish team from [Lanarkshire] in Scotland and they came over here to play us and the second half I went up to head the ball and I collided with one of the Scotch players and I got a very bad cut on my forehead so I went off and they bandaged the head up and I came back on and the first thing I did when the ball came across I went to head the ball and the blood came spurting out (laughter).

MR: Would that have been kind of normal at the time where they’d just basically … that you’d get an injury and they’d just wrap you up and you’d go straight back out?

RD: Ah the first aid group was harmless.

MR: Yes.

RD: A bottle and a sponge, you got a belt of the sponge like no matter what was wrong with you (laughter).

MR: When was your last match played for Shels?

RD: Well I had … I was with Shels a few year and then I had a dispute with them over wages and I went to Bray Unknowns and I only played six games with Bray Unknowns and I got this knee injury and that more or less finished me, it was cartilage trouble.  I had two operations on the knee and then later on I think in 1955 I came back, Shels asked me would I re-sign again and I re-signed for Shels again but I only the one game, the knee went again on me.

MR: And is that injury that had been accumulating over the years or did it just happen one day?

RD: No the knee is very tricky, you know, cartilage or ligaments, I suppose surgery wasn’t as effective then as it is now …

MR: Yes.

RD: … when you were operated on.  The knee or the ankle are very … there’s more stress and strain on soccer players with their knees and their ankles than there is in any other sport because you’re stretching yourself.

MR: And all kinds of pressure on it and that type of thing.

RD: So that was my last game in ’55 with Shels, just the one game and I never kicked a ball since that.

MR: And did you continue to follow the club after all those years?

RD: No I didn’t.  I kind of lost interest on account of not being able to play I lost interest.

MR: Yes.

RD: And then the football … in the early 1960s the manager of the England team, Alf Ramsey, he dispensed with wingers, up to then you’d two wingers going to the back line, pulling the ball back and you’d head the ball into the back of the net, but he dispensed of the wingers so the way the game evolved wingers were cut out completely …

MR: Yes.

RD: … so it meant that it’s more difficult in the modern game to score goals due to that, they have the system 4-2-4.  Another factor too is the offside, I dislike the offside rule because it favours the defender.  If you’re in front of any of their players when the ball is kicked you’re offside, you’ve just the goal keeper and there’s no other … if you get on the other side of the full back, you must have a player behind you.

MR: Ah-ha, I see what you mean, yes.

RD: That’s why …

MR: Between you and the goalie?

RD: … yes exactly.

MR: Yes.

RD: But the offside, I think it’s … the government bodies, the FIFA crowd that run football, they’ve no imagination at all.  In my opinion they should dispense with the offside and it would lead to more goals, that’s what the crowd want to see.

MR: Yes.

RD: 4-1, 4-2, 6-1, you don’t want nil all or 1 nothing, if it’s only 1 nothing it means that defences are on top.

MR: Yes, yes.

CD: What about subs dad?

RD: Well that’s another factor too I mean subs the governing bodies in the soccer world are very slow to allow subs.  There’s many a Cup Final in Wembley was spoiled if a team got one of their players injured and came off, there was no substitutes allowed.

CD: And years ago when you played at Shelbourne were there subs.

RD: No, no – no subs.

CD: Okay.

RD: It was stupid not to allow subs.  Later on in the 70s and 80s they allowed subs but up to that especially in Wembley, beautiful turf with 10 men playing against 11 men the 10 men would run out of gas and the other team would inherently win.

MR: And if you were unlucky enough to suffer two injuries or three injuries …

RD: Exactly.

MR: … yes.

CD: Did you enjoy it?

RD: Oh no I loved it, when I was playing yes I did I loved it.

CD: Why?

RD: Well you got a great buzz out of it.  No, in a crowd, like the bigger … to play a match without the crowd it’s a bit empty, there’s no atmosphere.  It’s like going to a play …

MR: Yes.

RD: … and there’s nobody in the audience, the actors and actresses are playing to an empty house.  The bigger the crowd – especially playing in Dalymount, there’s a great atmosphere in Dalymount – the crowd would inspire you in Dalymount to play well.

MR: Well like there was a lot of moving around with Shels as well wasn’t there?  I mean they were in Shelbourne Park initially and, you know.

RD: You see the fact that they could have … they didn’t purchase Shelbourne Park, the dog track, when they could have …

MR: Yes.

RD: … they backed off so they were kind of tenants everywhere, in Dalymount Park.

MR: And was that a frustrating thing for the players as well as the supporters?

RD: Well not really no but it would have been better if they had their own say home grounds to play on.

MR: Yes, yes.  It was mainly Tolka then …

RD: Tolka, Tolka or Dalymount, yes this sort of thing.

MR: … or Dalymount.  Did you have any particular preference for grounds?

RD: Well I loved playing in Dalymount.  Dalymount was great.

MR: Yes.  Any grounds that you hated going to for whatever reason, facilities or otherwise?

RD: Well I found it very difficult to win in Milltown.  Milltown seemed to be a bogey ground for us. There was always a great tradition there, tradition means a lot in a club.

MR: Yes.  There was a couple of people I interviewed as well had said that the ground that they were about to build down near Poolbeg there …

RD: Yes.

MR: … but they said that it had a tendency to be a kind of a miserable place to be training, with that wind coming in off that sea in the winter and stuff like that, you know.

RD: Well sure you’d be running around in the dark you couldn’t see, you know.

MR: Yes.

RD: Ah the training wasn’t very comprehensive, no.  Well say if you were playing in Limerick or Cork usually being a Catholic you’d have to go to early mass and then you’d be brought … you’d have to meet at a certain spot in town, on the outskirts out of town, to be picked up by these big limousines to bring us down to Cork or Limerick or that.

CD: And what about food – diet and, you know, the way people are talking about drinking water?

RD: Oh yes, well before a game now you wouldn’t eat, it was just a bit of toast, a cup of tea, ah I never ate anything before a game.  A cup of tea and a bit of toast, that was it before a game, you wouldn’t have a big meal.

MR: And do you think that generally with the other players was it anything out of the ordinary for the lads to be drinking and smoking?

RD: Ah I’d say they do stuff today.  There’s some of them … most…some of the directors kind of frowned on some of the players taking a few pints after the match but it didn’t make any odds …

MR: Yes.

RD: … but it wasn’t … well, you know, you weren’t too popular.  If you weren’t playing well especially they’d blame it on having the few pints.  (laughs)

MR: And if you had gotten the opportunity would you have quit the day job altogether to play full-time?

RD: Well I think if I had got a decent offer I would have gone away to England to play but I don’t think I got any concrete offer.  But there again you must remember that the wages then in England it seemed very good, it was £20 when you were playing in the winter and £16 in the summer.  It seemed good but when I look at what they’re earning today … (laughs)

MR: Yes.  Did you have any other memories or stories generally that you’d like to share about either particular matches that stand out or …?

RD: Well a comical episode  was if we were winning and it was coming near the end of a game one of our full backs used to say “Kick that so and so ball out over the stand to delay time” (laughs) because it meant a pound extra.  (laughter)

MR: And what kind of camaraderie would you have had with the other lads at the time?

RD: Ah yes you got on well with most of the lads, we got on yes.  Sean Haughey now, Charlie Haughey’s brother, he was right full, he worked in the Corporation, but he was very good at taking penalties, never missed a penalty Sean Haughey.  A good full back.  You could shoulder charge the goal keeper then, later on that was stopped.

MR: How do you mean, you’d physically …?

RD: Yes, you gave him the shoulder, you shouldered him, if you could.  They didn’t like that the goal keepers.

MR: I can understand.  (laughter)

RD: And one thing well I mean I don’t go to any matches now but I believe the language is something terrible now …

MR: Well yes a lot of fans …

RD: … you know with supporters which is unnecessary.

MR: … a few of the supporters and people involved with the club now had said that yes some of the chants and the jibes are getting very personal and it’s over the top, you know.

CD: Were there any Shelbourne songs or anything?  What did they cheer?  No?

RD: No, no, no, no.

CD: Would you be booed as well if you missed a goal?

RD: (laughs) Ah you wouldn’t no.  Ah it was a good, good spirit then.

CD: What would you do after a match?

RD: Well we’d go to a dance.  Go to a picture.

CD: Where would you go?

RD: We’d go to the Crystal or Clery’s or the Metropole as they were then.

CD: Would you not be exhausted?

RD: No not at all, we wouldn’t.  We were fit so.

FR: Yes.

MR: But definitely you reckon you’d have preferred to play the game back then than now in the modern era for various reasons …

RD: Yes, yes.

MR: … yes, the offside rule in matches and that.

RD: With the … if the abolished the offside, I keep harping back on this, if they abolished the offside I think it would be more entertaining, football would.  You take say Manchester United they had Ronaldo …

MR: Yes.

RD: … and they had Tevez playing now … then you’d  John O’Shea, the Irish lad playing, Ronaldo – this is what I find, I know it’s very hard to overcome this but Ronaldo might be on 160,000 or 170,000 a week for Manchester United ‘cause he scores a few goals …

MR: Yes.

RD: … but John O’Shea doing good work in the defence he might be only on 50,000 or 60,000 so it seems a bit unfair.  (laughs)

MR: Yes, yes, yes.

RD: And what annoys me with modern football this … when they score a goal, this diving on the ground and everybody jumping on top of them, you know, that shouldn’t be allowed, the people that administer football, run football, shouldn’t allow that.  When you scored a goal years ago you just got a pat on the back and went back to the halfway line to start again.  You see with television, I think television has a lot to do with it.

MR: It created a lot of prima donnas kind of thing?

RD: Yes exactly, yes.

MR: Yes, yes.  That was kind of what I mentioned a minute ago basically, you’ve got loads of these individuals who all think they’re great and the whole concept of playing together as a team is almost beneath them, you know, that they think they’re that good that others don’t matter as well.

RD:  A lot of players I don’t think they’re too bright, they have football ability but apart from that I don’t think … a lot of them, not them all, a lot of them haven’t got savvy.  The full-time players they train them up in the morning I don’t they train in the afternoon now in England.

MR: What would you like to see for Shelbourne in the future?

RD: Well I haven’t been at a match for years and years …

MR: Yes.

RD: … I kind of lost interest in football, I’m disenchanted with it.

MR: Yes.

RD: There’s too much histrionics with soccer.

CD: Well tell him what was the last match you went to.  The last football match, who did we see?  Near UCD?

RD: Oh yes (laughs), my daughter Ciara …

CD: It was your idea though.

RD: … we went out to UCD to see Ireland ladies play …

CD: And do you know who they were playing?  They were playing Italy were they?

RD: … I think it was Italy yes.

CD: But who was playing?

RD: Katie Taylor was playing.

CD: The boxer.

RD: Women are very competitive when they play, no matter what sport it is – hockey or soccer or basketball – they give everything, you know.

CD: Dad there was something … it was on the Shelbourne website I think that he had a record: for the most goals in Shelbourne and that for years later that was still maintained so that’s …

RD: Yes, I think I scored 42 goals the first season I played.

MR: Wow!

CD: Yes, sorry it was kind of a huge thing that he forgot to say. (laughs)

RD: Which is pretty good, you know.

MR: 42.

CD: Yes.  (laughs)  Now you can see why he’s disenchanted by nil all or …

MR: Or the offside rule thing.  (laughs)

CD: 42 goals in the first season, yes, yes.

MR: Yes.

RD: See my memory is not great now.

CD: Yes.

RD: Oh yes, when Ireland were playing international matches they usually played on a Sunday afternoon in Dalymount Park.  Now the players who played on that team would have played a day previously for their clubs in England and I don’t think there was any planes then, they came over by the mail boat …

MR: Yes.

RD: … by sea on Saturday night and got out and played an international match on the Sunday afternoon against Spain or Yugoslavia or some of these other teams in contrast to the Irish team now they rest in a hotel for a week, training, being well looked after …

MR: Yes.

RD: … so it just goes …different times.

MR: Do you reckon the players back then were hardier people?

RD: Well the times that were in it, you know, money was scarce, if you consider I was getting 25 shillings a week for working 6½ days a week and then getting nearly 4 quid a week playing for Shels (laughs).

MR: Yes.

RD: Which is unbelievable.  Everything is relative.

MR: But even generally in terms of the actual physical condition of the players and their stamina and those type of things, I mean when you consider in the 50s you wouldn’t have any of the luxuries that the players have now and big training facilities and physios and all.

RD: No, no, no.

CD: You wouldn’t have been doing weights or any of that would you?

RD: No, no no, we weren’t, no.

MR: But do you think as a consequence that the players back then would have been tougher men than the …?

RD: Well I’d say they’re much fitter nowadays with all the equipment.

CD: Yes.

RD: The training years ago was a bit haphazard but now you see them in England they train before a match starts, they’re out running and exercising, and after the match they train down.

CD: Train down.

MR: So you reckon it’s more beneficial obviously to do it under the new system now where they’re …?

RD: Ah yes, for training.  I’d say players today are much fitter.  Much fitter now.  But one other thing we used to love, I used to love anyway, the international matches in Dalymount Park, you had the St. James’s Brass and Reed band, they had a great band leader and when he’d be marching up to each corner he’d give a swirl of his stick and he’d get a gee up from the crowd in each corner of the ground, a great atmosphere there.  But all internationals were only in Dalymount, they were nowhere else.  But he’d get a gee up from the crowd at each …

CD: They’d all be cheering.

RD: … and he’d always … he had one favourite tune, he always started it off with Old Comrades, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard it?

MR: No I know it yes.

RD: (Hums the tune) Catchy.  (laughter)  James’s Brass and Reed Band, they still have their premises at the bottom of Mount Brown now.

MR: I’m sure my grandfather played Trombone with that band.  (laughters)

CD: Ah!  (laughter)

MR: Nick Delaney.

RD: In Dalymount there was one communal bath …

MR: Oh right yes.

RD: … and we all got into it (laughs) then when you got out of the bath then you could have your shower.

MR: Oh right yes.

RD: But we all got into it.  Take the soreness out of your legs, you know.  (laughs)

CD: And would it be all high jinks. Yes.

MR: The inevitable question really is do you miss it?  Would you do it again?

RD: Ah yes, of course I’d do it again, yes I would.  I would, I would.

MR: Anything you would do differently?

RD: I would have liked to have played in England to see how … I would have liked to have played in England yes.

MR: Right, that’s fantastic.

RD: Yes.

MR: Thanks a million for your time and for coming in and …

RD: Right Mark.  Listen Mark, can I ask you one thing, am I going on ‘This Is Your Life’? (laughter) with Eamon Andrews (laughter).

CD: Remember you said to your pal Joe “You look me up on google”, we looked them up one day and it comes up ‘Rory Dywer of Shelbourne …’.

RD: I do be joking with them, I play pitch and putt every day up in Erin’s Isle in Finglas and I say to them “Do you realise that I’m famous.  You look me up on your computer there”.  (laughter).

MR: Rory that’s fabulous thanks very much for coming in, thanks a million for your time.

RD: You’re welcome Mark. (recording ends here)


  1. ‘Only Goal won for Rovers’, Irish Independent 20 August 1951
  2. ‘Great football in Dalymount Draw’, The Irish Press, 22 December 1952
  3. ‘Young Soccer Players who may make the Grade’, Irish Independent, 3 January 1952
  4. ‘Waterford Leave for Iceland’, The Irish Times, 27 May 1954
  5. ‘Shelbourne’s 3-1 win pleased David Jack’ Irish Independent, 24 August 1953
  6. ‘Dwyer Leads Shelbourne Attach in Cup’, Irish Independent, 19 March 1954
  7. The Irish Times, 27 March 1954

* Please Note

If you would like to read any of the articles Rory mentions you can access the The Irish Times and Irish Independent online in Dublin City Library and Archive Reading Room or in any branch of Dublin City Public Libraries. Back issues of The Irish Press can be read in the Reading Room.


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