Thursday, March 18, 2010

Seanie Fitzpatrick

They arrested Sean Fitzpatrick (Seanie to his mates) today on charges which will no doubt prove to “unenforceable in a court of law” and therefore short-lived. Or worse still maybe if won’t be short-lived and the taxpayer will pay for years and years of protracted legal debate and dispute culminating in many people forgetting what it was all about in the first place. Those that remain in jobs, or regain employment, in typical Irish fashion will lose interest in the rightful pursuit of justice. After all, I’m all right Jack.

On this day, therefore let’s lament another and much earlier instance of greed and ruthlessness, when the legacy left by the bankers and developers was not the destruction of the financial future and well-being of so many, but rather the cultural and social heritage of a small but important sector of our society.

Pictured above is Glenmalure Park, home of Shamrock Rovers football club from 1926 until midway through the eighties. In 1986, the then owners of the stadium, the Kilcoyne family sold the stadium to property developers. The family had acquired their ownership of Rovers in 1972, and their freehold interest in the stadium at a subsequent date (purchased from the Jesuits).

While the Kilcoynes pointed to the fragile state of the LOI at the time, and their difficulties in attracting crowds, it is not circumstantial that large profits were made from the sale of the ground. The Kilcoynes’ proposal to the local football community was to move home games to Tolka Park in Drumcondra, a plan which they themselves must have known would not have worked. If it was difficult to get bums on seats in Milltown, how could moving the club to the northside make “social” sense.

And therein lies the rub.

Football is built around local communities and it remains an integral part of the social fabric of the cities and towns in which it is played. Witness and understand the fanaticism of the ultra supporters in the Italian cities, or the devotion of the father and son combinations trudging along Saturday after Saturday to Burnden Park (Lowry’s famous painting Going to the Match) and then ponder the irrationality of the proposal to move the Hoops from South to North Dublin. In selling Glenamalure Park to the developers the Kilcoyne family showed no appreciation for the core values and motivations of ordinary people and like so many others (nowadays) opted for the money. Thankfully the worst of those days are behind us for a while. Long may they stay away.

If ever there was a silver lining to a story, it is that over twenty years later, Rovers are thriving in their new stadium in Tallaght. Crowds of in excess of 4,000 are commonplace and if the club can put a management structure in place to match its’ fine surroundings, it is likely that they will dominate League of Ireland for years to come.

And good luck to them, they might just deserve it ……. the latter bit said through gritted teeth.