Friendly - Bohemians v Villa
24/7/10 - 3pm
Attendance: 5000 ish
Dalymount Park holds a special place in the annals of football in Ireland. The first ever international appearance at home of the then Irish Free State team took place at "Dalyer" back in 1924. (For the record, the home side defeated the USA 3-1.)
Between then and 1990, 82 internationals were played there.
It is estimated that 48,000 jammed themselves into the famous old ground on 19th May 1957 (the day my Dad turned 40 as it happens) for a World Cup tie against England.
Ireland scored first and were on their way to both a famous victory and a place in the 1958 World Cup Finals in Sweden. However, the late John Atyeo grabbed an injury time equaliser which instead propelled the men of Blighty on the trip to Scandinavia. It is said that when this happened, you could hear the silence of the crowd in O`Connell Street.
It was also towards the end of a match at Dalymount between Bohemians (whose home ground it is) and their fierce rivals, Shamrock Rovers, that an excited commentator scandalised those listening on Radio Eireann when he said - "Oh, s**t, Bohs have scored".
In 1973, our esteemed manager played in a game there between a "Shamrock Rovers eleven" and Brazil which ended in a 4-3 victory for the visiting South Americans. The local team was made up of international players from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and it had been planned to bill it as an all-Ireland selection but both the IFA and FAI objected as they (particularly the IFA - the northern association) saw it as setting a precedent which might encourage moves for the IFA to merge with the FAI. (Perish the thought! Imagine, an Irish team that might actually win something - never!)
Bohemians FC, founded in 1890, are the current League of Ireland champions (for the second year in a row) and are presently handily placed to be in the shakeout at the end of October. (The season runs from the early spring to late autumn.)
Villa have played at this venue before. I was there myself in the summer of 1990 when we ran out convincing 3-0 winners.
Alas, once again Martin O'Neill was scheduled to leave this famous old stadium having lost by the odd goal.
It was a dull but warm afternoon in Dublin as I took my seat with namesake son, wearing his 1996 League Cup Final shirt, his four year old son wearing an Ireland shirt, another of my grandsons (a precocious 6 year old who insisted on dressing in his Liverpool kit and a Chelsea-supporting son-in-law (who also happens to be French) who was giving his support to Bohs for the day.
There were perhaps 5,000 in the ground when the Villa eleven came onto the field led by Richard Dunne. The starting line-up was - Friedel, Lichaj, Dunne, Clark, Shorey, Albrighton, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Downing, Young, Agbonlahor.
MON was then seen crossing to the dug-out in a natty grey suit.
The game in total lacked both intensity and bite. It's the middle of the Irish football season and Bohs seemed that bit sharper. There was also the small matter of their being knocked out of the Champion's League in Wales earlier in the week with the severe financial implication of losing perhaps half a million euro in revenue, a huge blow for the club.
These footballers, some of whom had played last night in defeating Bray 3-0, had something to prove. They are currently full-timers but it looks as though they may be going part-time sooner rather than later, those who still have jobs, that is.
Villa started brightly and Downing was set up by Gabby after a few minutes but blasted wide. A corner shortly afterwards was wasted and then Bohs strayed offside.
Albrighton and Downing were swapping wings and Ashley seemed to have a freeish sort of role in behind Gabby.
Young then had a shot blocked and Gabby went close, the goalkeeper tipping his effort over the bar.
But in spite of all this Villa pressure, it was Bohs who went ahead after about 20 minutes.
There seemed little enough danger when Friedel rushed out to cut off the ball from a Bohs attack. Instead of just grabbing it, he essayed to kick it clear. My Granny (who died in 1965) would have made a better effort as he made a total haems of it and the ball spiralled out to a greatful Conor Powell who lobbed it into the net.
Even Brad's scalp tingled with embarassment after that. Come back, Peter Enckleman and Scott Carson, all is forgiven.
Two minutes later he was at it again as he failed to hold onto a shot which was then cleared hastily by young Eric at right back (who looked quite good IMHO).
Villa pressed again and it has to be said that throughout the game, the Bohemians defence impressed with the goalkeeper in particular pulling off some impressive saves and generally being very brave.
I lost count of the number of corners won by Villa (15 or 16?) and can only remember Bohs winning a couple. But most of them were wasted. The quality of crossing was not great and I cannot make up my mind about Downing. True, he was wearing a very nifty pair of boots but he flattered to deceive I think.
As half-time approached Villa pressed even harder and both Young and Gabby looked reasonably sharp.
But Bohs put their bodies on the line and went in still holding their slender lead. Sponsored as they are by Kellogg's Bran Flakes, they were full of running.
There was a rumour during the interval that Randy was on the premises but I never saw him.
All supplies of goodies and soft drinks having been consumed by the grandchildren, fresh supplies were purchased and we awaited better times in the second half.
MON made three half-time substitutions - Beye and Cuellar alongside Dunne and Shorey (who looked okay to me today- but then I think he always makes a decent fist at left back) and John Carew for Gabby.
Villa kept going forward but Bohs seemed reasonably comfortable although JC was making a nuisance of himself.
Albrighton was on the right now and was getting little change out of his marker who seemed to be able to match him for pace.
But the pressure was building and Young was ruled offside by a whisker and Carew hit the side setting.
We needed inspiration and on came Osbourne in place of Hokey Cokey.
Carew then won a corner and after the ball was cleared it was picked up by Albrighton, now on the left who skinned the right-back before directing an inviting cross which Carew despatched into the net with power and precision.
The game was about three-quarters over by now.
Friedel then gave us all a fit of the jitters again with another fumbled save before Carew again went very close with an almost identical cross from Albrighton.
Barry Bannon came on for Downing and almost made a immediate impact with a fierce drive from the right hand side. Two minutes later, another another Bannon scorcher was tipped over the bar.
With about 10 minutes to go, Petrov went off to be replaced by Jonathan Hogg and then Bohs scored with a well-taken goal after the entire Villa midfield and central defence seemed to have gone off to buy chips.
Villa were getting a bit shapeless now but kept plugging away and Dunne ran 50 yards with the ball in an effort to inspire the troops.
But it was becoming clear that Bohs were going to record a victory over the more illustrious opponient and who's to say it wasn't deserved?
Still, a pleasant afternoon for a segment of the BBJ family and the first ever football game for 4 year old Michael!
With thanks to BBJ
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