cool hit counter

Who ate all the pies

Dip in to scour the latest Deadline Day titbits...

Who Ate All The Pies Logo

Bullets On The Brain – The Terrible State Of Football In Northern Ireland

By Anonymous

The history of Northern Ireland is, for lack of a better expression, fucking horrible. As a young man who grew up at the tail end of the Troubles I was merely seven miles removed from the worst atrocity of the conflict, Omagh.

The country has changed since then. Peace had been embraced a year previous in the Good Friday Agreement and life has gone on with brief glimpses of our horrible past brought up in memorials and anniversaries. However, one aspect of the conflict remains; the terrible state of our football, not only in quality but in organisation and support. When it was mooted that the Northern Ireland national team stopped using the dilapidated stadium at Windsor Park it was an excercise in futility. A new site could not be agreed and millions were spent in plans that were never used, so Northern Ireland continue to play in a stadium officially described as a ‘fire risk’ because a significant section of the largest stand is made of wood. I think that bears repeating: the national team currently play in a stadium which is still wooden and is deemed a fire risk. A UEFA delegate called it ‘Third World’.

The history of football in Northern Ireland isn’t actually all that terrible. As a nation we have produced footballers as talented as – first and foremost – George Best but also Martin O’Neill, Pat Jennings and Norman Whiteside, whose career was brutally cut short. Glentoran FC were one of the first clubs from the UK and Northern Ireland to win an international club tournament in winning the inaugural – and also the last – Vienna Cup, albeit back in 1914. Also, as one of the first Football Associations the IFA has one of the five votes on the International Football Association Board (the body that determines the Laws of the Game). In the post-war era Northern Ireland have reached the World Cup three times, making the quarter-finals once and finally, since the Troubles ended, we have beaten both Spain and England at Windsor Park.

Northern Irish football has not come a long way since the days of George Best

Though the international team is not reflective of the national game, Northern Irish teams have been whipping boys in UEFA competitions for as long as I can remember and our local teams have not produced a top-flight player in that time either. In contrast, from the Republic of Ireland in my lifetime Roy Keane has moved from Cobh Ramblers to Nottingham Forest, Seamus Coleman has gone from patrolling the flanks in Sligo to a Merseyside Derby in just two years, and (less widely known) an uncapped Irish striker recently signed for a team in the Portuguese Liga (Padraig Amond for Pacos Ferreira, if you’re curious.)

However, the actual quality of football and footballers in Northern Ireland is the paint that covers the cracks. Rather nice paint when you watch Matty Burrows’ wonder goal, though look at the state of the stadium he performed it in. Something much more sinister, much more reprehensable lies just beneath the surface. I say this of course with the absolute authority of a person who doesn’t go to local games. Does that undermine my position? No, because there is a reason why I can’t go to my local games (not that I would anyway) – it’s because I don’t feel comfortable and I don’t feel safe.

Sectarianism is rife in Northern Irish sport, football being predominantly a Unionist sport. Clubs with any form of history tend to come from the industrialised areas of the country, which were historically largely Protestant, whilst the rural areas – largely Nationalist – played and still play Gaelic sports, and therefore have very few teams in the IFA Premiership. Currently only one team comes from the south west – Dungannon Swifts – whilst in Antrim there are currently seven Premier League teams, five of which are from Belfast, a modest city roughly the size of Sunderland.

This has led to a rather exclusive support for the local game. Whilst Gaelic games continue to sell out stadia for local, schools and inter-county games, the IFA have been dealing with declining attendance numbers for several years. Married to this is the threat of hooliganism. After that final in Heysel, hooliganism has been thankfully little more than a footnote in the English game, with flashes of unrest being exactly that: brief glimpses of the trouble which once cursed the game. Across the Irish Sea, it’s a different story.

To quote a recent edition of the Londonderry Sentinel (January 3rd 2011):

“The stoning of a Linfield supporters’ bus in Londonderry, sectarian abuse hurled at Derry City stewards, and a slashing incident at the Irish Cup final, which resulted in Greysteel killer Stephen Irwin going back to jail, were amongst 28 reported incidents at sports stadiums in Northern Ireland over the last six years.”

That’s right, a ‘slashing’ involving a man who was convicted of the ‘Greysteel Massacre’ and the stoning of buses leaving a match after a Setanta Cup (an All Ireland tournament) match.

February 2005: Buses carrying Linfield supporters were attacked by stone throwers as they left the Bradywell in Londonderry, after a ‘friendly’ between Derry City and Linfield

All of this is not to say that football is not the predominant sport in Northern Ireland. Quite the opposite, however the majority of support is for teams on the mainland with most young supporters choosing not only a team in the English Premier League but also one of the Old Firm. That is a history well documented, however when you add the political and paramilitary history of Northern Ireland you can get the toxic atmosphere where anyone might think it’s appropriate to send bullets to professionals who have the temerity to be of a certain religion or play for a certain club.

It is not only the recent evil involving McCourt, McGinn and Lennon. Fernando Ricksen indicated that he had received bullets in the post during his time in Glasgow. It is as Lennon put it himself, stupid. It is also reductive, pointless and only serves to highlight the failures of each set of ‘fans’ who send them. Football is tribal at the best of times but religious discrimination appears to be the last bastion of the football hooligan in the UK and Northern Ireland.

It is vile but that is the nature of the discourse in Northern Irish football. It is not with hope or pride but trepidation that I look forward to the Carling Nations Cup match with the Republic of Ireland due to take place in May 2011 in Dublin. I fear that the game will become a rallying point for the very worst elements. Indeed, one must only look at the problems when a group of Polish supporters came to Belfast – for a fight – and multiply that by history, sectarianism and a hot summer evening.

The author asked for his identity to be protected

Editor’s note: In the original article the author claimed that Loughgall FC had never – to his knowledge – fielded a Catholic player. We fully accept that this is not the case and are happy to set the record straight. Apologies.

In terms of other comments, the author “stands by” his opinions.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
By Ollie Irish on January 25th, 2011 in Featured, Opinion, Scottish football. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
comments

55 Responses to “Bullets On The Brain – The Terrible State Of Football In Northern Ireland”

  1. Rich says:

    cracking article

  2. MariborKev says:

    Absolute guff.

    Does WAATP offer the opportunity for a right of reply?

    ” say this of course with the absolute authority of a person who doesn’t go to local games. Does that undermine my position? No, because there is a reason why I can’t go to my local games (not that I would anyway) – it’s because I don’t feel comfortable and I don’t feel safe.”

    Er, you don’t go to game and you can proclaim from the pulpit about the state of the game?

  3. El Robtinho says:

    “Take for instance the IFA Championship club Loughgall, who – at time of writing – have yet to field one Catholic player, and proudly so.”

    I wonder when this was written then?

    Perhaps Loughgall ought to visit their lawyers with a copy of this trash.

    This whole article has been written by someone who appears to be a completely ignorant idiot who clearly knows nothing whatsoever about the game in Northern Ireland.

    Absolute dirge.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Disgrace of an article,you have no idea.

  5. NTSC525 says:

    “This is not restricted to football; Gaelic games were once the sole remit of Papists but that has fallen away now.” Er “cobblers”. The sole Northern Protestant to participate in these so-called “Gaelic games” was hounded out of his club side, simply because he was a “protestant”. There are GAA clubs, who not only “proudly” haven’t had a single protestant play for them, with the numbers of clubs and competitions named after dead “IRA Volunteers” don’t care if they never do. As for Sam Maguire and Jack Boothman…..

  6. PM says:

    I bet the author wishes to remain anonymous, given that’s is full of faults.

    I detest Loughgall FC, but he’s wrong on that one. The Polish incident was just that, a Polish incident – involving different factions among their support. But then it’s so much easier to just imply that it was the intolerant, Unionist support of the NI team who decided to fight the Catholic visitors.

    The balance of Premiership clubs – happens in plenty of countries, especially one where the population is so Belfast-centric. Football is very much a mixed game in NI, more so than any other sport perhaps. There are plenty of clubs who in the past have been associated with one side of the community or the other, but equally you’ll find that nowadays that division is eroding, just as it is in our society.

    Your hooliganism line doesn’t really go too well, either. A couple of serious incidents over the years, but not really a very high figure over 6 years. Well done on throwing in that brief mention of all the improvements and campaigns that have occurred at the behest of the IFA over the past few years though …

    And the best part is undoubtedly this: “I say this of course with the absolute authority of a person who doesn’t go to local games. Does that undermine my position? No, because there is a reason why I can’t go to my local games (not that I would anyway) – it’s because I don’t feel comfortable and I don’t feel safe.”

    Well, firstly by answering ‘no’, your position and authority becomes greatly weakened. And as for your reasoning, well, maybe it says more about you – maybe you want to be offended and want to feel uncomfortable. Irish League games are not sectarian-fests, but if you get offended by colours and flags, maybe in your mind you have created a problem.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Uninformed, innaccurate trash, no doubt written by some armchair Man Yoo “supporter” who’s idea of a home match is when the Red Devils are on Sky. No idea…

  8. GOTM says:

    “Take for instance the IFA Championship club Loughgall, who – at time of writing, and to my knowledge – have yet to field one Catholic player.”

    Absolute garbage. Shea Campbell, Aidan McVeigh, Paul Carvill to name but three and I’m sure there could be more.

    “Does that undermine my position? No, because there is a reason why I can’t go to my local games (not that I would anyway)”

    I think it does undermine your position.

    What misinformed, utter rubbish. Poor show.

  9. The Dude says:

    Sorry, but as an Irish League supporter of many years, & whilst I in no way would try & claim that our local game is in any way perfect I’ve never read such a pile of poo in my life.
    This blog has more holes in it than Blackburn, Lancashire according to Sgt. Pepper.

    No wonder the author withheld his name, no doubt in some sort of ridiculous attempt to gain kudos for his article by alluding to concerns for his own safety.
    He should be more worried about people pointing at him & laughing as he walks down the street.

    Quickly, as I dont have all day;

    A significant part of the largest stand at Whinger Park is NOT made of wood.
    The comment about Loughgall FC & their playing policy is utter bollox.

    Stating that you don’t go to local games because they are not safe is bad enough (& not true either) but betraying the fact that you wouldn’t go anyway is daft in the extreme.

    I’d also like to know when & where Gaelic games became (unlike football) a mass-participation cross community sport as there’s no evidence of this anywhere except in the authors narrow-mind.

    I could go on……………..

  10. GOTM says:

    Oh, and this:

    “Though the international team is not reflective of the national game, Northern Irish teams have been whipping boys in UEFA competitions for as long as I can remember…”

    How can the writer say this after acknowledging that NI have beaten Spain and England in recent years? Indeed in the last UEFA competition (Euro 2008) we finished third in our group on 20 points behind Spain and Sweden and ahead of Denmark?

    “and our local teams have not produced a top-flight player in that time either.”

    The best example I can give is David Healy, who played for Lisburn Youth as a child, and is currently with Sunderland. You might remember him, he was the first player to score 13 goals in qualifying for a UEFA competition (you know, that thing we are meant to be whipping boys in).

  11. Jordan says:

    My dad played for Loughall.
    He traveled 60 miles on a Saturday when I was 4 so he could play, and we still had hardly any money to get by after his wages.
    They have played catholic players, and tried to make the team equal. I’ve even played in lower leagues under a protestant housing estate name, and we’ve had catholic players, a Russian player, and someone from who just moved from the Ivory Coast in our squad.
    So the author of this can go fuck themselves because they know nothing, I’ve lived it first hand, and so has my family.
    You talk about the terrible state of football in Northern Ireland which is just made even worse by authors like this fucking moping about saying we’re in a state.
    Shut up, and kick a ball for god’s sake.

  12. Mickey Marley says:

    Long time since I,ve read such biased, hateful nonsense!
    You claim that “football fans” sent the bullets to Neil Lennon, McCourt and McGinn, if you have this information on who sent them then take it to the Police, because they don’t have a clue who sent the bullets or where they came from. If you have NO EVIDENCE and your just guessing, then shut up!!!
    It would probably also surprise you that one of Niall McGinns best mates is a Glasgow Rangers player.
    So Loughgall have never played a Catholic….. well mate you are VERY VERY wrong there, but then as you say yourself, you,ve never been to an Irish League game so what would you know?
    You also sing the praise of the GAA who regularly sell out their “stadiums”… would that be for the regular IRA Martyrs events and commemorative tournaments then? You save you live 7 miles from Omagh so you could then explain the Drumnakilly Martyrs Tournament to us then no doubt!
    Crawl back into your 1970,s hole or sign yourself into the T&F, its just down the road…..

  13. JD says:

    I wonder if this Anonymous happens to know a failed journalist from the same neck of the woods, Jerome Quinn?

  14. Jo says:

    After reading some of your comments, I decided not to read this article. Not reliable at all it seems

  15. Chris Adams says:

    Far be it from me to defend the IFA, or indeed the quality of Northern Irish football as someone who, you know, actually watches it. Which I thought would have been a pre-requisite for someone writing about it. Their incompetence, wastefulness and lack of business, administrative or organisational structure has long pained me, but most of this article is complete shite. I’m not suprised the author asked to remain anonymous! I’d be embarrassed to put my name to this piece of ‘journalism’ as well.

    “A significant section of the largest stand is made of wood.” It’s actually the third largest stand. In a ground that currently only possesses three permanent stands. Therefore making it the smallest stand. Yes the ground is fairly dilapidated, but for crying out loud get simple facts correct.

    “Our local teams have not produced a top-flight player in that time either.” For sure, the Irish League hasn’t produced someone of Roy Keane’s stature, or as exciting a prospect as Seamus Coleman, but yet again, get your fucking facts right. Do you think that none of the Northern Irish players playing in England started at Irish League clubs? Obviously the cream of the crop get signed up at 14/16 by academies now but a good deal be on the books of Irish League sides before then. Michael Ingham moved from Cliftonville to Sunderland when they were in the Premier League. Chris Baird left Ballymena United for Southampton. Notable late-bloomers include Gareth McAuley (Linfield/Crusaders/Coleraine – Lincoln City now Ipswich Town), Jeff Hughes (Larne – Lincoln City, Crystal Palace now Bristol Rovers), Stuart Elliott (Glentoran – Motherwell, Hull City, Doncaster Rovers now retired) and Ivan Sproule (Omagh Town/Institute – Hibernian now Bristol City). Robbie Weir currently of Sunderland, began his career at Larne. Roy Carroll started at Ballinamallard United. Gerard McMahon starred for Glenavon before joining Tottenham Hotspur.Michael Hughes played for Carrick Rangers before he left for Manchester City/West Ham/Wimbledon/Crystal Palace and (less widely known) an uncapped Northern Irish striker recently signed for a team in the Bundesliga (Liam Boyce, Cliftonville – Werder Bremen, if you’re curious.) All of the top of my head, by the way, ’cause I actually pay attention to my local league.

    It’s you comments on hooliganism that scare me most. “28 reported incidents at sports stadiums in Northern Ireland over the last six years.” 28! IN SIX YEARS! LESS THAN FIVE INCIDENTS PER YEAR! Go and look at the statistics for arrests at football matches in the English Premier League or Football League. You sanctimonious cunt. Then come back and realise how ridiculous this sounds. No-one wants to witness violence at football grounds. I was at The Oval in April 2003 and saw some of the worst of it when Linfield and Glentoran fans clashed after Chris Morgan did his deed. But you’re trying to say you don’t feel ‘safe’ or ‘comfortable’ in an Irish League ground? I say self-pity bullshit. I, and other Irish League supporters will make no apologies that they’re not über-sanitised, corporate-box-friendly, soulless ‘arenas’. Nobody’s denying that grounds need to become more user-friendly, with better facilities for kids and families etc etc, but no Irish League ground is unsafe, of that I am sure. Nor unsafe for you, or me, or my granny or whoever the fuck else wants to watch Bangor v Glebe Rangers on a Tuesday evening. Stop wallowing in denial.

    That murdering Greysteel bastard being at a football match isn’t the fault of the Northern Irish football authorities or any of the supporters. It’s the fault of the appeasing twats at the British and Irish governments for letting a load of paramilitary scum out of jail early/at all.

    “Take for instance the IFA Championship club Loughgall, who – at time of writing, and to my knowledge – have yet to field one Catholic player.” You know the religious make-up of every player that’s ever played for a club in the second tier of an amateur league you admittedly don’t have an interest in? Holy hypocrite Batman! Do you have any idea how much of an idiot you sound? I met a former Loughgall player, who was then plying his trade in the English non-league, in the bar I work in last year. I have no idea if he was a Catholic or not. I don’t care. But, looking at his name, and since you brought religion into it, I’d be fucking amazed if he wasn’t from a Catholic/Nationalist background.

    “Gaelic games were once the sole remit of Papists but that has fallen away now.” Aye, ask Darren Graham about that. It’s the most sectarian organisation on the planet.

    I’ll be in Dublin in a couple of weeks’ time and in May when we play Scotland and the Republic, and there will be Northern Ireland fans there whose sole motivation is to sing Protestant/Rangers songs. They will be in the minority, and everyone else will do their best to drown their shite out. No-one is denying we have problems with a small section of our support, with our governing body’s infrastructure, or with the quality of our league’s players and stadia, or the fact that kids grow up thinking it’s ok to support Rangers or Celtic but not Ards or Newry City.

    As you can see I care passionately about football in my country, and I’m actually pretty disappointed with myself that I’ve put this much effort into a reply. But if someone doesn’t stand up to the bile that you and other media outlets continue to come up with, then people will start thinking you’re telling the truth. And you’re not. We exist, get over it.

  16. Iain says:

    Rubbish, ill-informed nonsense.

  17. mike says:

    anyone who thinks Northern Irish football is in a good state is deluding themselves. The support is a bunch of bigots which makes it hard for the country to compete, whenever a good Catholic player breaks through to the national team he is treated extremely poorly and usually threatened.

    Also the day of the game against Poland Protestant thugs were going arounds the outside of Windsor Park asking fans what religion they were, those who said they were Catholic were told to leave or they would be beaten.

  18. BelfastRed says:

    Embarassing article written by someone with an agenda or simply completely biased against the Irish League for whatever reason. All the talk of hooliganism being rife is a total lie and the comparison with England is again badly off the mark…hooliganism across the water or simply violence at games is much, much worse than the Irish league. Your own stats back that up btw – 28 incidents in 6 years? That’s an average of under 5 a year for an entire league. Very encouraging if truth be told

    As for sectariansim and Unionist domination, I’m a Catholic who follows his team every week home and away. I beg to differ. Perhaps you should go to to a game and find out for yourself

    BTW attacking the GAA would just be playin into the hands of the author…

  19. Basil Fawlty says:

    Total and utter bollocks. How dare you even THINK about commenting on (or should that be demeaning and slandering) Irish League football, when, even if you WERE to feel ‘safe and comfortable’, you freely admit you wouldn’t get off your fat arse and go to a game anyway! You know absolutely fuck all about domestic football here, yet you see fit to do nothing but slabber about how the sport is sectarian! I have no idea how you think location of clubs in the Premiership qualifies your assertion that football in Northern Ireland is a predominantly unionist sport? Have you conducted a poll? Or are you just being a bigot, perhaps?

    Tell you what; if you want to talk about sectarianism, let’s talk about the recent disgraceful show by a large number of Celtic fans regarding the wearing of a poppy on the team’s shirts. How’s that?

    As for your comment that our league hasn’t produced any talent to succeed in England (or even Scotland), again, nothing but ill-educated nonsense. You’re obviously forgetting about Stuart Elliott, Andy Kirk, Peter Thompson, Rory Patterson, and Niall McGinn, to name a few. Oh yeah, and they’re all internationals, so stick that up your arse and smoke it. And if you want to play Billy Big-Balls about the Republic having players transferred to foreign clubs, please see Cliftonville’s Liam Boyce, now at Werder Bremen!

    Your comment about Loughgall is abhorrent, unfounded, libellous, and disgusting. I sincerely hope the club reads what you have written about them and sues you for every penny you have, because that’s exactly what you deserve.

    Finally, I have to take issue with your ridiculous implication that hooliganism affects only football in Northern Ireland. There are incidents of football hooliganism everywhere in the world, with central and eastern European clubs especially having ‘firms’ who actually organise battles against rival supporters. When put into context, Northern Ireland is not exactly a hotbed for fans getting stuck into each other, but of course, you wouldn’t know that, because you don’t go to any matches, because you think you won’t feel all snuggily-wuggily!!

    Diddums…

  20. Ian says:

    An article which, without doubt, says much more about it’s author than the subject it looked to address.

  21. Sickboy says:

    There are individuals within the supporter crowd that are still of the backward mindset. But how on earth could you bring up the Republican GAA and an event like Omagh and not think to yourself that there might just be a connection.

    Not only its supporters and member’s aid, celebrate and therefore encourage sickening past terrorist acts, but its very leadership who sanction the naming of cups, chubs, grounds and competitions. The same sickening GAA that permit the IRA to hold commemorative gatherings within its grounds to celebrate and remember the very people that destroyed 29 lives in the worst terrorist slaughter that took place seven miles from this ‘Anonymous’ sightless fool.

    Maybe some people who are clearing pushing an agenda might want to reword and look closer to home. Nearer to where the real pain, hurt and sectarianism is within Sport in the country of Northern Ireland. Because while we know you will always get rogue ignorant individuals within any group of supporters, we also know that our leadership does not support terrorists and their sickening acts of terror. It does not encourage the celebration of individuals and groups like the IRA who slaughtered 100’s of Catholic and Protestant people, many of them still buried in bogs all over this sporting island of equals.

    Mr Anonymous, you’re as ignorant as the rogue individuals that we seek to destroy from our sport.

  22. FBC says:

    What a complete pile of utter rubbish. You a very misinformed person.

    Blatant sectarian garbage.

  23. millbrookred says:

    A highly uninformed and ignorant article, which fails to identify any of the true problems of Irish League football.

    This website would be better served with an article by someone who actually has a working knowledge of the game in NI.

  24. Coachers says:

    Shame on this site for publishing such a poor articles filled with so many inaccuracies that if scrutinised would leave only the following, except the answer to the question would be ‘Yes’.

    ‘I say this of course with the absolute authority of a person who doesn’t go to local games. Does that undermine my position?’

    Please remove.

  25. Bugsy says:

    “No, because there is a reason why I can’t go to my local games (not that I would anyway) – it’s because I don’t feel comfortable and I don’t feel safe.”

    So the author didn’t feel safe going to his home town club, Omagh Town when they were in existence? He wouldn’t feel safe now going to watch other County Tyrone clubs like Dergview or Dungannon.

    I have watched numerous matches at all these clubs and can only conclude the author is either extremely paranoid or completely ignorant to the reality.

    There’s that many inaccuracies and holes in this article I don’t know where to start so I’ll just leave it at that.

  26. Steve Bradley says:

    A dreadful, dreadful article which manages to combine very poor research with ou-dated biased views and straight-forward lies. Soem feat.

    I would pull out the numerous inaccuracise and fantasies within the article, but I just don’t know where to begin.

    No woner the author wanted to stay anonymous, as I’d be ashamed to put my name to such a woeful attempt at amateur sports journalism. But I’m very happy to put my name to my rebuke of it here.

    P.S. I’m not even an Irish League supporter – I support a League of Ireland club. But I do get to the odd Irish League game, and am infinately better educated on the state of the game in the north than the moron who wrote this article.

  27. Irish League Fan says:

    As a Northern Ireland and Irish League fan, i’d love to post a response, but sadly my fingers are too stubby from all that bigotry to type properly

  28. iluvni says:

    Anonymous, you are full of shit.

  29. JD says:

    “In terms of other comments, the author “stands by” his opinions.”

    Can he stand over his “facts” too? Let’s see.

    “Northern Ireland continue to play in a stadium officially described as a ‘fire risk’ because a significant section of the largest stand is made of wood”

    Wrong. The stadium is not described as a fire risk. Part of one stand was and steps to minimise risk have been taken. Neither is it the largest stand.

    “Though the international team is not reflective of the national game, Northern Irish teams have been whipping boys in UEFA competitions for as long as I can remember”

    Wrong. This years results show that is not the case.

    “and our local teams have not produced a top-flight player in that time either.”

    Wrong. The author fails to recognise or deliberately ignores the number of players that have crossed the sea from all levels of football in Northern Ireland. Roy Carroll? Liam Boyce?

    “though look at the state of the stadium he performed it in.”

    You could look at it, but then you could also take time to look and the many new wonderful stands and facilities at all the other grounds. Seems the author wants to ignore these.

    “Whilst Gaelic games continue to sell out stadia for local, schools and inter-county games”

    Wrong. There have been no sell out GAA games in Northern Ireland for many years.

    “Currently only one team comes from the south west – Dungannon Swifts”

    Wrong. There are hundreds of IFA affiliated teams in the South West.

    “the IFA have been dealing with declining attendance numbers for several years.”

    Wrong. The Irish League has been showing year on year growth in attendances. The stats are available to all.

    “The stoning of a Linfield supporters’ bus in Londonderry”

    Wrong. The author uses this example to back up his claim of sectarianism in NI football yet this incident happened away from a football ground and the attack was not carried out by rival football fans. (Ironically that night Linfield were playing Derry City, a team under the control of the FAI not the IFA- I wonder why the author is not pointing fingers at the FAI.

    “were amongst 28 reported incidents at sports stadiums in Northern Ireland over the last six years.”

    Wrong. Although the author uses a quote from a paper to back up his claims, a simple check of the source of that story would have been easy. The 28 incidents are over a 10 year period. The quote says they happened ‘at’ the stadiums. The fact is the vast majority didn’t and few actually were sectarian related. That would leave or two sectarian incidents over a 10 year period. These figures and the details were recently issued by the Justice Minister and can be scrutinised.

    “It is as Lennon put it himself, stupid. It is also reductive, pointless and only serves to highlight the failures of each set of ‘fans’ who send them.”

    Wrong. There is absolutely nothing to link the sending of bullets with rival football fans. Police have indicated paramilitary involvement.

    What is it they say, never let facts get in the way of a good story? It is a disgrace that these ‘facts’ are being used to discredit the IFA and football in general.

    As for his so-called opinions, well I leave that to another comment.

  30. Keith Bailie says:

    I think Ollie-Irish should really remove this from his website if he wishes to retain any sort of credibility, or at the very least allow someone with a working knowledge of Northern Irish football reply.

    Once you’ve found out one glaring inaccuracy (flip me, Dessie “The Dundalk Hawk” Gorman played for Loughgall – I wonder if the author has even heard of him?) it undermines the whole article.

  31. Glen Quagmire says:

    I have followed Irish League football for many years and this article could not be further from the truth.

    The one thing that really stands out to me is the lie about Loughgall. My son plays for Loughgall and his best friend is one of his Catholic teammates. How’s that for proving him wrong. And what’s more the Loughgall manager, Niall Currie, is a personal friend and he would never take on a job if he was told that he couldn’t sign a player because of his religion.

  32. Andrew mccluskey says:

    That is the biggest load of bullshit(pardon my french) that i have ever read, your judging something you’ve never been to before?!?!?! terrible absoloutely terrible

  33. Leonard Nimoy says:

    The most accurate picture of Northern Irish football is, much like society at large here, located somewhere between the article and the comments below it. Football is thankfully no longer the preserve of the Unionist population as evidenced at national level by players like Baird, Johnson, McCourt and McGinn and there is no instituional sectarianism on the part if the IFA (or the GAA for that matter). The vast majority of fans also have no interest beyond merely enjoying the football. That said, there is some truth in the article: There is a substantial sectarion element at club and National games which is sickening. As a Catholic, I would not fear the vast majority of Linfield fans streaming out of Windsor park if I was in the locality. Though there is an element that I would be wary of, I am quite aware that most fans have matured along with society as a whole here to a point where chants referring to Fenian bloodbaths etc are no longer tolerated. For the record, many of the posters were quick to point out misguided assumptions and factual inaccuracies of the main article while going on to make similar laughable assumptions about “Republican” GAA – this is a prime example of the bigotry which sadly still exists in NI although thankfully, these sorts are in the ever-shrinkening minority and this fine part of Ireland is finally becoming a rather nice place to live again.

  34. Leonard Nimoy says:

    PS: The author is correct about Windsor Park – As true Northern Ireland fans do you not all think that you deserve better?

  35. I was saddened to read this article, so I’ve taken time out to reply to it in full. The article can be read on my website or if I’m allowed to post a direct link then it’s here http://clocknhens.blogspot.com/

    I’d love to hear your opinions on my views.

  36. John Spence says:

    You really need to take a look at this article and treat it as one specifically designed to stir up and create bitterness and division. It mixes about 10% fact, taken out of context, with 90% lies.

    You should be embarrassed to have this remain on your site.

  37. PM says:

    Moderators,
    Please remove this ignorant, clearly ill researched and downright insulting piece of crap. “Anonymous” clearly doesnt have a clue about the topic which he is so keen to run into the ground.

  38. Concerned says:

    Did the contributor get paid to produce this or is it essentially a blog piece? If it’s the former the commissioning editor should really be asking some serious questions about his fact-checking. If it’s the latter, it’s still dismal, but at least it’s just another ignoramus spouting nonsense of the internet.

  39. norn iron fan says:

    OMG what total utter rubbish, why is this bigot allowed to publish his lies, uefa gave norn iron fans an award, has this fool ever been to a game? no so what does he know? nothing!has he ever heard of ‘sea of green’,or football for all? kudos to all involved for allowing a small minded bigot to sprout such nonsense. WNBWNI.

  40. Leonard Nimoy says:

    Whilst I agree with Sickboy that sectarianism in Northern Irish football has now been relegated to a bunch of clowns up the back of the terrace chanting idiotic slogans, I want to take issue with the following: “…how on earth could you bring up the Republican GAA and an event like Omagh and not think to yourself that there might just be a connection.” Many of the contributors above were very quick to point out potential defamation against Loughgall FC in the article and in my view, you are all correct. Where are you now though may I ask. This comment, linking the GAA, an organisation which is now a positive force in the North with a tragic massacre is trully shameful and much like Louhgall’s lawyers, Im sure the GAAs lawyers would be interested -thats if they could get through the bemusement. Well, I guess you’re one of the petty minority who think – Catholic + GAA = IRA. For that sir, shame on you!

  41. LBL says:

    As a sports journalist myself, this article is one of the worst I have ever read on Northern Irish football.
    Out dated research and written by someone who has no idea about Northern Irish football at any levels.
    Go back to your Sky Sports and stop writing utter nonsense about football in Northern Ireland.
    Twat

  42. The Devils Advocate says:

    Leonard Nimoy,

    You appear to be an expert on the political background of Northern Irish footballers, and the the virtues of the GAA.

    You said:

    “Football is thankfully no longer the preserve of the Unionist population as evidenced at national level by players like Baird, Johnson, McCourt and McGinn”

    And:

    “the GAA, an organisation which is now a positive force in the North”

    Perhaps you could combine these talents, and enlighten us as to how many GAA players from a Unionist background have respresented ANY Northern Irish Senior County team at ANY time in the past 50 years?

    Feel free to contact the GAA Lawyers, if you are struggling with that one.

    As for the article – it does a great disservice to the integrity of this website.

    You couldn’t make it up – except the author did!

    Poor.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Rugby is an inclusive sport on the island of Ireland. The only difference being you don’t get a load of chavs following it, which you do in football. I don’t think there has ever been trouble at any rugby match involving teams from Northern Ireland, or when Ulster play Munster etc.
    Down south you get all types supporting rugby. But for some reason, you don’t get numpties at the games who want to cause hassle.

    I will also add that there are quite a lot of Protestants playing GAA down south and it’s not an issue. There seems to be a more fanatical crowd involved in the GAA up north.

    I suppose that’s the difference down here. Your religion doesn’t have to define the sport you play. I could see how the names of GAA clubs and tournaments are a prickly issue. But I could make the same arguments for “Royal Yacht clubs” etc. down here. But I won’t.

    Watch it kick off when Norn Iron play the Republic. I’d say there’s bunches of lads on both sides getting hard ons at the thought of this match, and not for the rubbish football we’re likely to see…

  44. Tony Yeboahs Rampaging Libido says:

    I find that Leonard Nimoy seems to be the most level headed of the commentators so far. I know there may be some sticking points, but its the same with pretty much each and every post.

    The GAA has a history with the Original IRA, not the bunch of cunts that is the “Real IRA” tho no doubt there are some of those dicks involved in their local clubs. The GAA has done extensive work to try and make itself acceptable to all religons and races, but there are old school fucks who go out of their way to they and stop that.

    There is a horrible amount of Sectarionism going on in this comment section, alot aimed at the GAA, but what about the Orange Order, who have a parade every year, in which the overlording and killing of countless Catholics is celebrated. And, no, they martyr cups in GAA circles are not any better. Im not trying to pick sides, I’m abhorrhent at both sides, it ran my family out of Belfast.

    Also, the article itself is such an amount of bollocks, its choking!

  45. The Dude says:

    Anonymous said;

    ” I could see how the names of GAA clubs and tournaments are a prickly issue. But I could make the same arguments for “Royal Yacht clubs” etc. down here. But I won’t.”

    Jeezuz H, no mate, it would be better if you hadn’t ffs!!!
    I’ve really heard it all now, we’re all talking about football & you’re comparing GAA trophies celebrating dead terrorist murderers to “Royal Yacht clubs” lol, lmao etc etc…..my sides they ache!!!!

    Tony Yeboah said;

    “There is a horrible amount of Sectarionism going on in this comment section, alot aimed at the GAA, but what about the Orange Order, who have a parade every year, in which the overlording and killing of countless Catholics is celebrated.”

    It just gets worse doesn’t it???
    Wtf has the Orange Order got to do with this, this is about sport, the GAA is supposed to be a sporting organisation ffs, if you can’t see the difference between them then you need a reality check.
    The Irish Football Association doesn’t name trophies The King William Cup or The Duke of Schomberg Shield & it wouldn’t be acceptable if they did, but as for the GAA…………..they allow trophies & clubs to be named after terrorist murderers & yet they try & convince us its a cross community organisation ffs!!!

    But anyway, afaik the parade the Orangemen are walking on celebrates a battle 300 odd years ago in which both catholics & protestants died on both side, so maybe you need to stop the MOPEry & get over it a bit ;)

  46. bazza says:

    Sorry , the Dude, but as you said, the GAA associates names to IRA bla bla, etc.
    If I wanted to make a point about the “Royal Yacht Club”, I could ask what good royalty was for the majority of Ireland, hence the Royal Yacht Club? (Indirectly responsible for many deaths etc. and so on). I could make that argument, but I don’t really care about flags, anthems, etc etc. We all have to get up for work in the morning.

    A question for you. I am an Protestant southerner and proud of it. I am Irish. Am I allowed to bring my flag up to the 12th. Probably not, as it would get shoved up my ass..

    Anyways I went WAY off topic.

    All I’m worried is the Northern Irish numptie fans will smash up the Aviva stadium out of jealousy…

  47. bazza says:

    could save everyone a load of replies about this and that, but the conclusion would be:

    Side A:

    “we’re not too found of folk from a nationalist background playing for Northern Ireland”

    Side B:

    “we’re not too fond of folk from a unionist background playing GAA for _________ ”

    That’s it in a nutshell, and each side wants to get the last word on the other. It’s been like that since day one, will always be like that.

    99% of the Western World have no time for this carry on..

    The country is built on religious lines, and it permeates in every section of society. Now if any of them could actually prove that God exists, it might be worth something….

  48. [...] a couple of blogs this week regarding sectarianism in Northern Irish football. Firstly, there was this anonymous posting on “Who ate all the Pies” an online football magazine. Now, first up (and ignoring the [...]

  49. The Dude says:

    Right Bazza, “a protestant southerner and proud of it” who doesn’t appear to believe in God (me either) so not really a protestant at all then?

    Do Royal Yacht clubs discriminate on who joins their clubs (apart from the rich probably) do they name trophies after Edward Carson, unionist leaders of the past or *insert various “loyalist” terrorists* etc….no, they don’t, do they?
    They probably go sailing the odd time & drink far too much.

    Can you please tell me what good the IRA have done for the people of Ireland, as I suspect, if one is being realistic & honest, they’ve done a hell of a lot worse than the Royal family, & lets not even mention the Catholic Church!

    Again we have this nonsense about the Orange Order & the 12th of July, I’m not sure what it has to do with this, but in any case, its called the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland (the essential bit is the last word) so you have perfectly good Orange parades down your way to attend if you so feel the need, where I’m sure you can wave whatever flag you like ;)

    Your second remark (no 47)is basically a load of shite & betrays what you know about the situation, although we are well aware that 99% of the world dont care, thanks.

    As for the AVIVA, we unfortunately already have a toilet in Belfast in which to watch football, but at least we didn’t ask an architect to design a new stadium which looks like one you’d find in a home for the elderly.
    Speaking of conveniences, or the lack thereof, have they got the bogs in that new conference centre in Dublin plumbed in yet, a publicly funded building with no access to the sewage network….almost as bad as building a tunnel which certain types of vehicles can’t go down!

    Where else would you get it?

  50. Tony Yeboahs Rampaging Libido says:

    Sigh….nobody wins in arguments like this do they :), they turn xenaphobic in seconds. Lets have no more arguments!

    A point….. both the north and south sides are shit!

    Also…Rugby… may be to some seen as a “protestant” sport, but it’s united the countries, and with no trouble or ill will…and we’re pretty good at it….How come it’s always us footie fans that are bothersome.

    And “the dude”…. you do make some good points. So does Bazza tho.

  51. Mike says:

    Anyone still here?
    http://clocknhens.blogspot.com/2011/01/ballix-on-brain-terrible-state-of.html?zx=d77aa4531a52233d
    Found him
    Ryan McDonnell
    Anonymous is only as strong as us all.

  52. Actually Mike,

    You’ve found me there, that was an open reply that I’d posted on my website and indeed in these very comments having read the original. Have a read of my article, there is a slight difference in the headline…

  53. [...] at it, the English media can be just as bad, as recent stories in The Guardian and website “Who Ate All The Pies?” have [...]

  54. [...] Still waiting on a link. That's all. I googled his name along with 'bullets' and 'mail' and found almost nothing. 'Fernando Ricksen indicated that he had received bullets in the post during his time in Glasgow.' [...]

  55. Sebo says:

    A fine blog reduced to peddling this dirge. A sad day for a once proud blog.

Leave a Reply