Anthony McIntyre applauds Glentoran on their Irish Cup victory.

Arsenal might have done Chelsea over in yesterday’s FA Cup final, the last few minutes of which I bothered to watch, a glass of G&T in hand. Gin not being a particularly pleasant drink on my palate, it served as a tipple that reflected my taste for the match. The real cup final l had watched the previous evening, this time with a glass of Tequila-neat in hand. A fitting drink for a fine occasion. My boyhood Belfast team, Glentoran, took the trophy with a late goal in extra time. The two earlier goals, one from the Glens and the other from their opponents, Ballymena United, were fit to grace the English Premiership. 

It is the third occasion in recent times that I have had the opportunity to watch the Glens. The first, last year, saw them beaten 4-2 in the league by Linfield. Then last Monday they beat Cliftonville in a nail biting penalty shootout in the semi-final leading up to Friday evening’s game. Back in the day teams like Glentoran never featured on live television soccer. Even now, only for a friend from the H Blocks, a Cliftonville supporter, having sent me a text message telling me the game was on BBC2 live I would have missed the semi-final.

When I sent him a photo of me during the final wearing a Glentoran top – a much valued item obtained for me by a loyalist friend – he told me I was a "sad bastard." Not as sad as him, given that Cliftonville had earlier lost to Glentoran in the semis.

Circa 1979, during the blanket protest we would hear about Cliftonville being a focus of interest for many Belfast nationalists. The club seemingly having slipped into the niche earlier vacated by Distillery. I didn’t follow football on so called tribal lines, and had little interest in Cliftonville, remembering them as the team that others, like the Big Two, could beat 10 or 11-0, "the local game's favourite laughing stock." They always seemed to be at the bottom of the table. It was a fate matched, I think, only by the likes of Bangor, a side I then felt was more adept at kicking beach balls than  soccer ones.

I had been to a number of Distillery games but usually because my father’s work mate would take me,  including the 1971 cup final where they beat Derry 3-0 and which saw Martin O’Neill play a blinder as they termed it, netting twice for "the Whites" in the process. After the game the Distillery supporters had to gather en masse to shield the Derry fans and prevent them straying off course as a loyalist mob gathered to bottle and brick the emerging post-game crowd. The hated Taigs had colonised Windsor Park and they were having none of it. 

Ultimately, I had no great interest in Distillery and remained a Glens fan.

A friend asked me the other evening if I got much stick either from the loyalists or republicans in the jail over my support for Glentoran. I didn’t. My main interest in the jail was Liverpool and the Glens rarely got mentioned. Even those screws who were civil enough to tell us the scores from the English and Scottish games seemed to know little about the local scene. On the work out scheme in Maghaberry, I would talk local soccer with a loyalist prisoner from the Shore Road. I recall him only as Wesley and I think has has since died. He was a passionate Crusaders fan and the both of us would swap tales about the games we had been at.

He at least was able to resume his viewing at Seaview, whereas I would never have ventured to the Oval. It was much too risky. The last time I attended the ground was for one of those exhibition games. Not even a competitive fixture yet we paid the price. On the way home myself and my friend and schoolmate, Sticky, were attacked by a loyalist gang. He had a bottle broken over his head. The attack only ceased when a passing driver furiously blared his horn, prompting the assailants to run off into the backstreets of East Belfast.

We made our way across the Albert Bridge Road and into Sticky’s relatives' home in the Markets, where we were patched up. The police arrived, seemed sympathetic and offered us to return and assist in the search for our attackers. We were too frightened and tired, longing to make it up to the Lower Ormeau Road where we both lived, so we declined their offer. We continued to travel to school in East Belfast, situated between Tullycarnet estate which we caught the 20 bus to and Gilnahirk facilitated by the 76 service. But it was via the relatively safe mode of public transport, and the 20 would take us past Dee Street and the Oval. It was as close as we were willing to go.

The Exhibition game was the last ever time I stood in the Oval, where previously I had been to so many matches. I loved the derby games against Linfield and can still recall the Glens losing 2-1 at home to a Blues side depleted by having a man sent off. The Glens even managed to miss a penalty, leaving us feeling humiliated at the great rivals duffing us with only ten men. I also saw a number of top English sides play, Arsenal and Leeds being among them if memory has not conned me. 

I had been a Glentoran fan from my first introduction to the Oval, when in the company of my father. I saw them play Derry.  I think it ended in a 2-2 draw. So it was great to see them lift the Cup. The last time I had been at a Ballymena game, it was at Grosvenor Park where Distillery beat them 2-0. Gerry McCaffrey who later transferred to Glentoran, lost a contact lens, and after the game the fans were on their knees on the pitch trying to find it for him.  

At some point before I shuttle off this mortal coil, I would love once again to attend a Glentoran game at the Oval, preferably against Linfield. The chances are, I reckon, pretty slim.  Still, none of that can cast a shadow over the achievement of a rejuvenated side that has more in the tank. 

⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

Glentoran

Anthony McIntyre applauds Glentoran on their Irish Cup victory.

Arsenal might have done Chelsea over in yesterday’s FA Cup final, the last few minutes of which I bothered to watch, a glass of G&T in hand. Gin not being a particularly pleasant drink on my palate, it served as a tipple that reflected my taste for the match. The real cup final l had watched the previous evening, this time with a glass of Tequila-neat in hand. A fitting drink for a fine occasion. My boyhood Belfast team, Glentoran, took the trophy with a late goal in extra time. The two earlier goals, one from the Glens and the other from their opponents, Ballymena United, were fit to grace the English Premiership. 

It is the third occasion in recent times that I have had the opportunity to watch the Glens. The first, last year, saw them beaten 4-2 in the league by Linfield. Then last Monday they beat Cliftonville in a nail biting penalty shootout in the semi-final leading up to Friday evening’s game. Back in the day teams like Glentoran never featured on live television soccer. Even now, only for a friend from the H Blocks, a Cliftonville supporter, having sent me a text message telling me the game was on BBC2 live I would have missed the semi-final.

When I sent him a photo of me during the final wearing a Glentoran top – a much valued item obtained for me by a loyalist friend – he told me I was a "sad bastard." Not as sad as him, given that Cliftonville had earlier lost to Glentoran in the semis.

Circa 1979, during the blanket protest we would hear about Cliftonville being a focus of interest for many Belfast nationalists. The club seemingly having slipped into the niche earlier vacated by Distillery. I didn’t follow football on so called tribal lines, and had little interest in Cliftonville, remembering them as the team that others, like the Big Two, could beat 10 or 11-0, "the local game's favourite laughing stock." They always seemed to be at the bottom of the table. It was a fate matched, I think, only by the likes of Bangor, a side I then felt was more adept at kicking beach balls than  soccer ones.

I had been to a number of Distillery games but usually because my father’s work mate would take me,  including the 1971 cup final where they beat Derry 3-0 and which saw Martin O’Neill play a blinder as they termed it, netting twice for "the Whites" in the process. After the game the Distillery supporters had to gather en masse to shield the Derry fans and prevent them straying off course as a loyalist mob gathered to bottle and brick the emerging post-game crowd. The hated Taigs had colonised Windsor Park and they were having none of it. 

Ultimately, I had no great interest in Distillery and remained a Glens fan.

A friend asked me the other evening if I got much stick either from the loyalists or republicans in the jail over my support for Glentoran. I didn’t. My main interest in the jail was Liverpool and the Glens rarely got mentioned. Even those screws who were civil enough to tell us the scores from the English and Scottish games seemed to know little about the local scene. On the work out scheme in Maghaberry, I would talk local soccer with a loyalist prisoner from the Shore Road. I recall him only as Wesley and I think has has since died. He was a passionate Crusaders fan and the both of us would swap tales about the games we had been at.

He at least was able to resume his viewing at Seaview, whereas I would never have ventured to the Oval. It was much too risky. The last time I attended the ground was for one of those exhibition games. Not even a competitive fixture yet we paid the price. On the way home myself and my friend and schoolmate, Sticky, were attacked by a loyalist gang. He had a bottle broken over his head. The attack only ceased when a passing driver furiously blared his horn, prompting the assailants to run off into the backstreets of East Belfast.

We made our way across the Albert Bridge Road and into Sticky’s relatives' home in the Markets, where we were patched up. The police arrived, seemed sympathetic and offered us to return and assist in the search for our attackers. We were too frightened and tired, longing to make it up to the Lower Ormeau Road where we both lived, so we declined their offer. We continued to travel to school in East Belfast, situated between Tullycarnet estate which we caught the 20 bus to and Gilnahirk facilitated by the 76 service. But it was via the relatively safe mode of public transport, and the 20 would take us past Dee Street and the Oval. It was as close as we were willing to go.

The Exhibition game was the last ever time I stood in the Oval, where previously I had been to so many matches. I loved the derby games against Linfield and can still recall the Glens losing 2-1 at home to a Blues side depleted by having a man sent off. The Glens even managed to miss a penalty, leaving us feeling humiliated at the great rivals duffing us with only ten men. I also saw a number of top English sides play, Arsenal and Leeds being among them if memory has not conned me. 

I had been a Glentoran fan from my first introduction to the Oval, when in the company of my father. I saw them play Derry.  I think it ended in a 2-2 draw. So it was great to see them lift the Cup. The last time I had been at a Ballymena game, it was at Grosvenor Park where Distillery beat them 2-0. Gerry McCaffrey who later transferred to Glentoran, lost a contact lens, and after the game the fans were on their knees on the pitch trying to find it for him.  

At some point before I shuttle off this mortal coil, I would love once again to attend a Glentoran game at the Oval, preferably against Linfield. The chances are, I reckon, pretty slim.  Still, none of that can cast a shadow over the achievement of a rejuvenated side that has more in the tank. 

⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

17 comments:

  1. Ah the Red & Green of Mayo!

    We'll have to smash a couple of bottles some time soon ... come out west for a day or two ... salt, tequila followed by lemons (or limes) ... and the Gin in the second bottle will go done easy enough!

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    Replies
    1. I'll give the Gin a miss Henry Joy - it is like drinking disinfectant. On dark rum neat at the moment. Much better than Gin. Still, it is hard to beat the bourbon.

      Delete
  2. I would love to go with you a chara.

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    Replies
    1. we'll have to make a date of that Chris!!

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  3. I think you'd be fine now going to the Oval. Just wear a covid mask and nobody will know! I loved going there in the 80s for the derby, the ground was chock full and the atmosphere was electric. The violence was shocking at times, Adair's mob was always in the middle of it. The last time I watched a derby on TV the ground was only half full unfortunately.

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    Replies
    1. If you stand beside me Peter I'll go! There was no violence at the derby when I went but a serious amount of rivalry. I preferred the Derby when it was held at the Oval rather than Windsor for some reason.

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  4. I had a brief dalliance with the Glens thorugh friendship with Ian at University. We went to the riot-torn 1983 Irish Cup Final with Linfield and a few other games that I cannot remember.

    They have had a torrid recent history with financial shenanigans so it is good to see them back in rude health.

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  5. You're more than welcome to come to The Oval Anthony..There are still a few Richard Heads who attend the matches, but they are in the minority now... Le Jeu Avant Tout..( And no...Not that sort of Tout) ... :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for that Roy - It is something I would very much like to do. The game above all Glentoran!!!!

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  6. Nothing can beat Bohs V Rangers 1984, Pool V Man utd ( first fa cup semi) in Goodison , April 1985 for domestic mayhem. Was at both, clips on youtube. # 99 points # Ynwa

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  7. Think you need a new Glens top Anthony

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    Replies
    1. a smaller one Beano? Thought the current one was getting a bit big!!

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  8. AM
    Maybe I should have made it clearer but I'm a Linfield supporter, so if you want to stand with me it'll have to be in the blue end!!! As Steve R said, fuck the Glens LOL

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  9. I was in the Blues end as well - even at Windsor!! Just not wearing the colours

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  10. Yep, Linfield born and raised. First game many moons ago was 8-nil friendly win over Portadown. Lost touch with the game over there when I went globetrekking but try to take a game in when home which is few and far between these days!

    ReplyDelete