Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hill 16 has never seen the likes of Heffo's Army

The official boys in blue move in on Hill 16 to restore calm

The passing of Kevin Heffernan brings us back to a different era, and the only time I willingly crossed the divide that exists in our country between the codes of Association Football and Gaelic Football. Both names capitalised in the interest of impartiality.

Since 1983, when Chelski and I joined Heffo’s army for a brief sojourn my distaste for the GAA and its negative impact on Irish society has intensified, and by my own admission, at times now borders on the irrational.

But I’m not going to dwell on that paranoid aspect of my psyche, rather I’m going to reminisce on the glorious summer of 1983 when the Dubs were going through a revival which ultimately culminated in a defeat of Galway on a very un-summery Sunday afternoon at Croke Park in mid September. Of that match, I remember the driving rain, the dangerous throngs at the Canal End and the revelation in learning we (the Dubs) had three men sent off rather than two. Two players (one from each team) had been sent off immediately before the half-time whistle and in driving rain we had missed their departure.

Dublin finished the Game of Shame with twelve men and Galway with fourteen.

The summer of ’83 was hot, we were free from exam pressures, a few bob in our pockets, and  Culture Club and Spandau Ballet on the radio driving us forward with an air of confidence we haven’t recaptured since.

With no World Cups or European Championships to distract us, the antics and heroics of Joe McNally and Jimmy Keaveney (the Weapon) – both moulded out of the same oversized cast – caught our imagination and together with our devoted “moths”, we joined the already over-populated bandwagon that was the Dubs in flight.

Memorable trips to Croke Park – sitting on the perimeter wall at the Canal End with a two hundred foot drop behind us springs to mind – interspersed with an away game at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork where the Rebels were ruthlessly, efficiently, and to their absolute surprise, put to the sword by 4-15 to 2-10. Call that a stuffing or what?

The concern on Marie's face was less to dfo with the drop on the other side of the wall, and more to do with being left aone with a bunch of half-naked Dubs.

What was it that caught our interest, none of us with roots from the city or with any great love of the game? The feeling of community? The power and euphoria of victory and involvement? The money and time in our pockets? Who knows which but I know it was good and looking back I have too admit that my one incursion onto “the dark side” is filled with strong and vibrant memories.

To the extent you gave us that, thanks a million Heffo, and good luck on the other side yourself.

Away trip to Cork - Boomtown Rats style

Monday, January 28, 2013

This one's for Mise le Meas

The best way to deal with adversity is to tackle it face on, as Gareth Bale is seen to be doing in the photo above.  Accept your defeat and move on.

Well done to Leeds, the romance of the Cup is still alive and best of luck at the Itihad in the next round. 

For Spurs, the old cliche - at least that distraction is out of the way and so to the pursuit of the Champions League 4th place spot.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I'd fly over Trinity tomorrow and....

While the last post referred to events we witnessed from afar (Amsterdam; Germany) this report now copied below recounts the activities at a sequence of events we participated in.

During the Rag Week Storming of the Trinity Bastille in 1977, I gazed down at the events from the snooker room in Trinity and hoped, in the event that the mob reached that area, that I would be able to explain that I was actually "one of their own".  My dilemma never ultimately occurred and I  watched with delight as the boys from the country, who had their lunch at midday, gave one to the ill-prepared defenders of the last educational bastion of the British Empire.  Pride, go for it boys, pride.


UCD Rag Week hit the headlines again in 1976 when hundreds of students ran riot through the centre of Dublin. Traffic was severely disrupted when “several hundred undergraduates … congregated at the top of Grafton Street”. The first garda called on the scene was pelted with eggs and flowers and was forced to retreat. The assistant manager of the Ambassador Cinema on O’Connell Street rang the UCD Students’ Union to complain about what he called the “disgraceful” behaviour of students who tried to force their way into the cinema without paying. UCD students also jumped into the River Liffey en masse.

Later that evening, a group of students from Bolton Street College of Technology telephoned The Irish Independent and claimed that they had kidnapped the organiser of the UCD Rag Week, Mr. Billy McGrath “in retaliation for their attack on Bolton Street”. ‘Captain Blue’, a spokesperson for the Bolton St. students demanded back the College clock which they accused UCD students of stealing. They were also requested a barrel of Guinness and a £10 donation to a charity of the Irish Independent’s choice.

In February 1977 as part of Rag Week celebrations, over one hundred UCD students invaded Trinity College, the College of Surgeons and Kevin Street College causing £3,200 worth of damage.

Newspaper reports describe how the UCD students “scaled the walls of Trinity by rope” after the gates were closed to them

Once inside, the UCD mob used a car belonging to a member of TCD staff as a battering ram to get into the Museum building. They also stole a large notice from the college entrance. A Kevin Street College of Technology laboratory was also damaged during the rampage. Eamon Gilmore, current Labour Party president and the then president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), blamed the trouble on a “fringe hooligan” element who he said should be identified and made to pay the bill for the damages they cost.
Condemnation came from various circles in society including the Irish Housewives’ Association. Charles McNally, the then UCDSU president announced, that the Union had voted for fundamental changes to the College’s Rag Week, in future “it would be a Community Week devoted to helping the community and city centre forways would be banned”

The Rag Week pranks and “high jinks” of UCD which were a staple annual event are now just a distant memory. Who knows if they’ll ever return?

Belfield Punk Festival 1977

Sitting upstairs in the relatively quiet main canteen in Belfield today, it’s hard to imagine it as the scene of an event that altered the Irish music industry forever.

 In the summer of 1977, Belfield Canteen was host to Ireland’s first ever Punk Festival. During the gig, a fight broke out in which an eighteen year old youth was stabbed to death.

The concert, billed as the ‘Belfield Festival’, saw the cream of the crop of Ireland’s emerging punk and new wave talent.  Headlining were The Radiators from Space, a Dublin-based punk band fronted by Philip Chevron who later became lead guitarist with The Pogues. Their debut single Television Screen, released in April of that year made history by becoming the first punk single to make the Top Twenty anywhere in the world.

Next on the bill were Derry’s power-pop Punk legends; The Undertones who released their classic hit Teenage Kicks a few months after the gig.  Supporting were The Vipers, a Dublin punk and rhythm and blues band who had supported The Clash in their second Irish visit. Brian Foley, the band’s bassist later joined Paul Cleary’s power pop, mod influenced Dublin group, The Blades.

The next band on the line-up was Revolver, a prominent group on the late 1970s Dublin Punk scene. Their first demo, Bombscare Thoroughfare, was recorded in “a shopping centre in Crumlin” The band never made the breakthrough they wanted and broke up in late 1979.

The final band was The Gamblers, a group whose main claim to fame was that U2 supported them in The Project Arts Centre in May 1978.

According to Mark Perry, music journalist and founder of the UK’s first punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue, “the show attracted over 600 fans – an unprecedented figure”. The Irish Times put the figure at closer to 800. Perry is quoted as saying that ten minutes after the first band had started, a scuffle broke out in front of the stage, which, according to The Irish Times involved “about eight or nine people”. Michael Bradley, bassist from The Undertones, recalls that the fight was “over very quickly and the band played on”. Suddenly though, as Perry recalls, “the news crawled out on all fours – somebody (had) been stabbed”. An ambulance was called to take the injured man away. The show continued, albeit with a tenser atmosphere.

Shortly before The Radiators from Space were due on stage, their guitarist was surrounded by four bouncers and bundled into the dressing room. Rumours abounded that the individual who was stabbed was in a pretty bad way and someone had got the wrong impression that Pete Holidai from The Radiators had been involved in the fight. After “rough questioning”, he was allowed to go on stage with the band. During their set, the police arrived, stationed officers at all exits of the canteen and prevented the band from playing an encore. It was almost three o’clock in the morning. No one in the crowd was allowed to leave without showing identification and getting searched. The five bands were all forced into one dressing room where they gave written statements. At this point, word had gone around that the victim was in a critical condition in St. Vincent’s Hospital. An hour later news spread that the boy had died. The police finally allowed the bands to leave at 6.30am that morning.

The dead youth was indentified as Patrick Coultry, an eighteen year old from Cabra in North Dublin who suffered two stab wounds during the fracas.  The boy who killed him was only seventeen. Charged with manslaughter, he said in court that he “panicked during the row as he felt he was going to get beat up”. He also admitted that he had drunk excessively that evening.

The killing had an immediate effect on the music industry in Ireland. John Fisher, gig promoter at the time, remembers that before the stabbing “gigs in Ireland were pretty simple affairs, really. They were run mostly by enthusiastic amateurs with very little security … after Belfield, it became more regulated, more professional and safer”.

After the Punk Festival, the college authorities banned all gigs in Belfield for weeks after. This directly affected the Students Union which lost a much-needed income. The Radiators from Space found their gigs cancelled by promoters all over the country. The tabloid press wrote sensational, often fabricated stories on the inherent violent nature of punk rock.

For the musicians it proved to be long lasting emotional event as members of The Radiators from Space refused to talk about the night for years after, The Undertones, traumatised by the incident, didn’t play a gig outside the North of Ireland for over eighteen months. Gavin Friday, lead singer with The Virgin Prunes recalls the night’s significance – “I think that was the first murder at a rock gig in the British Isles”. As a result, music promoters found it much more difficult to organise gigs with the increased expenses of extra security and the personal insurance premiums.

It was a night that was formative in changing the face of the Irish music industry forever. Just how many students sipping their coffee in the canteen today know of the tragedy that took place a few feet away from they are sitting?   It’s true hidden history.  


Get up, you little prick


“That this house believes Eden Hazard’s kicking of the Swansea ball-boy brings Chelsea Football Club to a new low and goes far beyond the realms of tolerable behaviour for an institution with their influence”

While many believe that the ball-boy’s antics were cynical and deliberate, and that he deserved what he got, there is a larger groundswell of opinion that suggest this incident would not have occurred at any other club than Chelsea. The house will debate whether the standards of behaviour at this once-great club have plummeted uncontrollably since the arrival of Roman Abrahamovic.

For the motion – Brusselsblue, SSD Belgium
Against the motion – Chelski, EFC Dublin

Debate will be structured in written form in speeches not to exceed 200 words.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Poetry - If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master,
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
 Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on! '

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son!

Niall Quinn's disco pants are the best

Contrasting approaches to the same incident.

Niall Quinn's disco pants are the best,
they go up from his arse to his chest,
They are better than Adam and the Ants,
Niall Quinn's disco pants.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Horns of the Buffalo

In preparation for our visit to the WW1 sites, CDB focuses on Yiddo’s visit in 2010 to the site of one of the British Empire’s most comprehensive and devastating military defeats.

This event took place at Islandwana in Zululand on this date in 1879, one hundred and thirty-four years ago.

To drive to Rorke’s Drift (scene of another heroic battle several days later) from Durban one must pass through some particularly difficult terrain and if the Yiddo family found it a challenge in a four-wheel drive in 2010, one can only imagine what it was like when Lord Chelmsford led a force of 5,000 British troops there in January 1879.

The intent was to drive into Zululand and subdue the locals armies (led by King Cetshwayo) – a motive which was partly expansionist and partly protectionist - Zululand bordered onto the British colony of Natal and there were fears as to the threat created by the local chiefs.

Having set-up camp under the distinctive sphinx-like hill called Islandwana, Lord Chelmsford made the mistake of splitting his force and sending the main body (with himself in command) in a misguided pursuit of the Zulu army. The main body of Zulus were actually hidden behind Islandwana and at 11am on the 22 January 1879 they advanced on the remaining British force. The encirclement tactic employed by the Zulus was known as izimpondo zankomo, translated as “The Horns of the Buffalo”, a description of the movement of the victorious army as the centre is sacrificed or strategically deployed to allow an encirclement to take effect.

The British forces lost 1,350 men – 1,000 of their own and 350 local auxiliaries. The battle at Isandlwana stunned the British Empire and indeed the world. It was heretofore considered inconceivable that a primitive local army, ill-equipped - stabbing weapons only, could so comprehensively defeat the troops of a western power armed with modern rifles and artillery.

In the Ardennes and at Ypres we shall see white crosses commemorating the fallen – at Islandwana the last standing place of the British soldiers is marked with a mound of white stones, in keeping with local burial traditions.

The political ramifications of the defeat were significant and the recriminations over war-mongering and incompetence led to discord between the Prime Minister at the time, Disraeli and Queen Victoria. This by all accounts was a rare event. Chelmsford was recalled and in a strong position as a survivor, as opposed to one of the fallen, is reputed to have discredited one of the dead – Colonel Durnford whom he maintained did not send distress messages to the main British force from the besieged camp.

Queen Victoria supported Chelmsford’s position, Disraeli who felt the Zululand incursion was always a mistake, had opposing views and this lack of accord may have contributed to Disraeli losing the 1880 election a year later.

Chelmsford, with Royal privilege, lived to the age of 78 and died playing snooker at his gentleman’s club in London in 1905.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Scariest Christmas picture 2013

I'm sure the Liverpool players, including Luis Suarez, meant well on their hospital visit.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Poetry - Best Mates by Mixer

What he said to me was
“You’re a bollox and I wouldn’t give you the time of day,
If I was a ghost I wouldn’t give you a fright.”
He was that mean he owed himself money.
If there was work in the bed,
He’d sleep on the floor.
He’s that tight, when he walks, he squeaks.
His ma used to tie a bone around his neck so that the dogs would play with him.
So that’s the story of me and my best mate.

Mixer is a beneficiary of support provided by the Dublin Simon Comunity and this work appeared in their "Scrappy but Happy" publication of late 2012. 

You guys are my best mates as well, ya miserable fucks.

Video killed the Radio Star

Random thoughts about Christmases past centre around two diminishing or faltering stars and a quaint practice now seldom seen.

Selection box

In the post Christmas analysis years ago, as you listened to your mates listing off what they got, you could be guaranteed that embedded richly in the list was a Cadbury’s Selection Box, or two. Embedded richly indeed because the long slim box of chocolate bars and sweets punched well above its’ weight in those days. No Butlers or Lir chocolates (with real Irish cream) to compete with then and you could be sure that the Selection box wouldn’t outlive the Queens speech.

Nowadays sadly, it lies unattended to, at least until the tree begins to lose its’ pines and the bills start arriving back on the hall floor beneath the letterbox.  The three we bought for our kids (term loosely used) are still unopened and  it will probably be my nostalgic yearning, rather than their chocolate addiction, which will eventually lead to the ripping open of the familiar cardboard box.

Oh, Selection Box - some of us love you still.

RTE Guide

There was no doubt about it but the promise of the “Christmas Day movies” was something that would fill us with hope and expectation in the lead in to the big day. In our three channel world (RTE BBC and ITV) we actually planned what to watch over the holiday period and the RTE Guide played a major role in this planning. With pictures of Bunny Carr or Maurenn Potter on the front (the TV Times would have some piece of totty dressed up as Santa with a red cloak and white boots – hence it never got past our doorway) the RTE was in a word, indispensable. I bought it before Christmas this year (it now has totty on the cover) but it lay unopened on the magazine rack for the whole holiday season, a sad lament to the demise of the age of innocence and the domination of the techno era with channel hopping and average channel stays of seven minutes.

Oh RTE Guide – some of us love you still.

And finally, I started abruptly last night as I realised that in the rush leading up to Christmas, I had forgotten to attend to one of the customary obligations. I had totally forgotten to “look after the binmen”. And strangely enough they had failed to knock on my door to tell ne that they were about to empty my bins on December 21st or whatever date it was. They no longer come knocking and I no longer wish them a Happy Christmas. And why? Because the Celtic Tiger has come and gone, the health and safety rules means they don’t actually empty the bins, a machine does, and the environmental rules means I’m never really going to need them because they’re not allowed take away the old fridge away in the first instance.

Oh how it’s changed.

Happy New Year to all

Best wishes to everyone for 2013.  Should be an exciting lead up to the Champions League stops with Spurs, Chelsea and Everton in 3rd, 4th and 5th spots as I write.  May the best team win (unlike last year).