Home > Shamrock Rovers Programme General Articles > Hooped band of brothers and sisters

Hooped band of brothers and sisters

Published in Hoops Scene Issue 10
(Shamrock Rovers v St. Patrick’s Athletic – 3 July 2011)

And shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
For he today that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother…
And gentlemen…Shall think themselves
accursed they were not here.

Henry V – Shakespeare

With a limited geographical spread for clubs in the Airtricty League it can mean that Shamrock Rovers can go a number of weeks only playing games located in the Dublin environs. Before Derry City’s promotion this season, last year in the league with Dundalk and Drogheda only a short trip up the M1 motorway, the Hoops really only had two long away journeys to make a couple of times during the season which were to Galway and Sligo. However, there were two full on away trips in the Europa League with the games against Bnei Yehuda in Israel and Juventus in Italy.

It was an elite unit of fans that travelled into action to support the team in Israel. A small band of hooped brothers and sisters totalling no more than 100 travelled to Tel Aviv and saw the team gain a famous away victory. It was commented on following that trip that the bond between each of the fans and the team was very strong and helped secure that vital away win in the Middle East. Thinking of Shakespeare, it was a case for the fans in Israel that they were the happy few celebrating the win with the players whilst those of us left behind in Ireland watching the game on the internet were cursing that we were not there in the Holy Land to see the win ourselves. And so it came to pass that ten times that number travelled out to Italy in the next round to see Rovers play Juventus in the biblical rain in Modena.

There is a certain badge of honour that comes with supporting an Airtricity League of Ireland football club. Whilst some football fans look down on those who follow the League of Ireland, we know the joy that comes from supporting our team in the flesh and not when the flesh is stuck to a barstool. There is a level of respect when you can say that you support your team both home and away. You are not just a fan, you are a supporter and as such there is a badge of honour that comes with supporting your own club. Indeed, there is literally a badge for those that are also club members. In military circles, those that serve overseas receive tour of duty medals. With Rovers, there were some pin badges made up with Rovers and Bnei Yehuda and Juventus crests for last year’s Europa League trips. After Rovers were recently drawn in the Champions League against Flora from Tallinn, a new away campaign was quickly being organised with another European invasion being planned for the trip from Tallaght to Tallinn; Operation Estonia.

The support of home fans is vital for the success of any team. A Shamrock Rovers season ticket was the gift of choice for many Rovers fans last Christmas. Over 1,600 had been sold by the end of 2010, a full two months ahead of the kick off of the 2011 season by which time nearly 2,500 were sold. The club are currently selling another round of season tickets which offer great value in attending the remaining home games here in Tallaght including the upcoming home Champions League tie. It is worth contemplating that for over two decades Rovers never played a proper ‘home’ game with maybe the exception of the period in the RDS. The club under previous regimes prostituted herself around the football grounds of Dublin and then shamefully had a one night stand in Cork for one ‘home’ game, all before finally getting to play in Tallaght a little over two years ago where our average crowd now stands at the 3,500 mark.

Whilst home support is crucial for any team, a colourful and vocal away support can make all the difference in a tight game. Not to push the military analogy too hard but travelling to an away game can at times be like heading behind enemy lines. There is a certain commaraderie forged amongst away fans surrounded by a large home crowd. Generally, the Rovers away section is well received at away grounds because we bring an atmosphere. It is also the money we bring in for the home club through the large number of travelling away supporters and from the home fans who “are only here to see the Rovers” as the song goes.

The friendships gained from travelling across Ireland and beyond in away trips are strong and many fans can remember great trips and away wins over the past decade such as the European victory against Odra Wodzislaw in 2003, the 2005 Paddy McCourt inspired 3-2 victory in Derry, the 2006 FAI Cup quarter final win in Athlone or maybe Gary Twigg’s hat trick inspired win in Galway in 2009 to name but a few. Trips to Ballybofey, Limerick, Sligo, Waterford and Monaghan can be very rewarding. It can be a great trip irrespective of the result but a win does make the journey home sweeter. It is through Shamrock Rovers that many people have gained some of their closest friends and this writer is no exception.

Back in 2000, it is an FAI Cup away trip to Cork that sticks in the memory for this writer. In the first week of the new Millennium, Rovers’ FAI Cup campaign began and ended with a tie against Cork City. The ‘home’ game in Morton Stadium was a 1-1 draw and with no floodlights in the Cork venue, the replay was fixed for a Wednesday lunchtime with kick off at 1.30 pm at Turners Cross.

It wasn’t the cup replay result or the performance that makes it memorable for me but it was a people I met and the away section I felt very much part of that day that sticks in my mind. There was semi official supporters club booking with Iarnród Éireann for the match. I made the decision, much to the incredulity of my work colleagues, to take the day off work and travel down by train to Cork to watch the Hoops. On the journey and in Cork ahead of the game, I got chatting to other Rovers fans many of whom I didn’t know. But as we got chatting we were introduced with some mentioning their Internet user names allowing me to put faces to names.

It was a small Rovers crowd that had made that journey which all too inevitably ended in defeat that day. Billy Woods scored for Rovers but Cork found the net three times with the Hoops eliminated from the cup at the very first hurdle. However, the camaraderie amongst the away section that day left a lasting impression on me; singing their hearts out irrespective of the result. I was back for more at other matches that season and in subsequent seasons cementing friendships that started that day and cementing my love for watching Rovers play both home and away.

In 2011, Shamrock Rovers have a number of supporters club who travel to away matches including the Hoops SC, Tallaght Hoops and the Pride of Ringsend Supporters Club. They would be only delighted for new fans to book a place on their bus, enjoying the view, chat and singing that ensues on the journey. There is a tongue in cheek terrace chant which Rovers have their own version of. And whilst we don’t actually hate the home fans who won’t go away, hopefully, you will be inspired by the football on display here in Tallaght and maybe be encouraged to an away game coming soon to a League of Ireland ground nowhere near you.

“We are the pride of all Ireland and everyone know,
We hate St. Patrick’s and especially the Bohs,
We say what we like and we like what we say,
We hate the home fans who don’t go away”

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