I mbliain 1988 tosaigh an ruile buile leis an foirean sacair Eireannach. Bhi sport, craic and damhsa mor againn agus bhi Christy Moore ag seinimh ceoil brea. Is e seo an chead uair a bhiamar i European finals agus chaigh sluaite mor o Eireann go dti an Gearmanach.
I was working in Dubai at the time and I made the trip from there, via Athens, to the game in Hannover against the Russians. A long journey but definitely worth it recognising that history was being made. I sat in the higher part of the stand on the same side as the TV cameras were and I participated fully in the pre-match revelry. In the first half, the novel (for me) Mexican Wave, carried over from the World Cup in 1986, symbolised our arrival on the stage of World football. I partook fully, throwing my upper torso back, arms outstretched, and laughing deliriously.
Take a look at the clip below and observe the Mexican Wave starting at the far side of the pitch as Mick McCarthy prepares to launch his long throw. Simple mathematics should have told me that the Wave would arrive at my section of the stand just as Whelan launches his volley but with the surrounding euphoria, it was basically fuck the mathematics. And as a result, as Ronnie scores one of the most important goals in Irish soccer history, my body is contorted backwards and I'm staring at the underneath of the cantilever stand which sits above me. I come down to earth as Ronnie boy is beginning his celebratory run.
And I've come three thousand miles to witness this event.
I sit back in my seat, smack myself around the face and pray for an avalanche of goals. Sadly only one more goal arrives, an equaliser for Russia, which I see perfectly. My first sight of the Irish goal was when I got back to the pub, having agreed with everyone I met that it was an absolutely perfect strike. I took comfort in the fact that none of them knew the West Stand in the Hannover Stadium was fabricated by Salzgitter AG.