A GOOD friend of mine has been living in North London for some 50 years. Pat got interested in Arsenal and became the proud possessor of two season tickets. He has a “To Let” sign on one of them and over the years he has done deals with supporters of most of the other Premier League clubs and is able to do swops which enables him to attend away matches in many of the Premiership stadiums.
So it came as no surprise that he procured a ticket for the Euro final in Wembley Stadium. He phoned me from Wembley Stadium just half an hour before kick-off in the Euro final as I settled down to watch the game on TV in St Enda’s clubhouse.
He told me that he witnessed scores of English fans openly snorting cocaine in full view of police officers. “It was a complete disgrace,” he said, “ Cops just stood and watched.”
He described that as he stood in a queue outside Wembley the gate was broken down and he was swept into Wembley in a flurry. When he located his seat he was told to “piss off” by a well satiated cocaine snorter who promptly went to sleep. He had to sit on steps to watch the game. The racist abuse of English players was incredible, he said and Wembley was a tacky, sordid affair saturated by cocaine, booze and most probably a load of Covid-19 transmissions. However, he was not downhearted! Two weeks earlier he had bet £200 on Italy to win the tournament
This was English football’s biggest day in 55 years but as I listened on the phone to Pat I was not too surprised. I had worked at Wimbledon selling cushions in June 1966. I had absolutely no interest in tennis (still don’t). We sold the cushions for sixpence each. If spectators left their seats we quickly retrieved the cushions for resale. My memory is of hundreds of faces turning left, right, left as the ball moved. Very often at the end of a long rally the crowd would stand up to give the players an ovation. We would move in and retrieve as many cushions as possible which were bought back again shortly afterwards.
After Wimbledon I worked in Wembley Stadium during the World Cup finals. While the crowd scenes were not as sordid as a month ago I was not very happy with what I saw back then as I despised the partisan attitude of the English supporters. However I was able to smuggle my brother Peter into the final, giving him my worker’s pass which he then handed back to me through a gate. Thinking back we could have made a fortune!
This summer has been dominated by sport and not a little controversy. I read an article in the Irish News a few weeks ago about the formation of the Henry Joy McCracken hurling club. Apparently the club was formed in February but has not yet been ratified by Antrim County board. Gabhain Curran complained about “being told that the ratification issue has to go before a full county board meeting in September which means the future of hurling in the New Lodge and Carrick Hill will be in the hands of 48 other clubs, some as far away as Cushendall and Cushendun.”
“Our basic point is that, as per the rules, the county executive can ratify us without having to wait for a full board meeting.”
Gabhain will keep the county board on its toes. He has been associated with St Enda's, Loch Mór Dál gCáis, Henry Joys and Mary Ann’s. He has as many clubs as Rory McIlroy!
Rory participated in the Olympic Games last week. He stated that he was not a very patriotic person but thought it right to take part for the sake of golf!
'I never tried so hard in my life to finish third' - @McIlroyRory on his 'brilliant' Olympic experience, which just came up short of a medal.#tokyo2020 #RTESport #golf #olympics— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 1, 2021
📺 Watch - https://t.co/lLKXNhKPkF
📱 Updates – https://t.co/Dp4ZmIlWr1 pic.twitter.com/s4oVVJBPf3
On Sunday after failing to win a medal he stated,” I made some comments before that were probably uneducated and impulsive but coming here, experiencing it, seeing, feeling everything that goes on, not just Olympic golf but just the Olympics in general , that sort of Olympic spirit’s definitely bitten me.”
It goes to show that if you keep talking you can eventually please everybody.
Nearer home as Rory was completing his round a mighty battle was being fought in Ballyclare Golf Club. That was the venue for the annual match between the golfers representing the Glen Inn and the Bellevue Arms. The competition has been taking place annually for twenty five years and while the Bellevue men had dominated affairs for the past four years the Glen Inn troops, known as the Dirty Dozen, stepped up to the mark on Sunday and won 13.5 to 6.5 so the Challenge Cup returns to Glengormley Square.