It was very interesting to hear the news last week that Dublin City Council has made a bid to buy Dalymount Park, the home of Irish Soccer.
If reports are true then the Council will take control of the ground that has seen so many great Irish and World Players grace the hallowed turf.
The agreement would also see the council re-acquire Tolka Park, home of Shelbourne, for free. With both clubs struggling financially, they are thought to be keen on the deal, which would see them share Dalymount Park.
I personally would be sad to see Tolka Park close.
It was Tuesday February 26, 1985. Waiting at Tolka Park was a full house of 10,000 Irish supporters and an England Under-18 team that boasted the names of Tony Adams, Michael Thomas, David Rocastle and Des Walker. Under the management of Liam Tuohy and the late Noel O’Reilly I was part of the team that turned in a solid performance to beat England 1-0. Tommy McDermott scored the all-important goal on the night and we could afford to miss a penalty on the way to that famous 1-0 victory, the first side representing Ireland to have beaten England since 1949.
Add that to Dundalk’s 2002 FAI cup final win over Bohemian’s where a double strike by Gary Haylock earned me a winner’s medal at the tender age of 38 and Eoin Hand playing a big part in bringing me back into Irish football when he signed me from Preston North End in 1995.
You can see now why I have fond memories of the stadium and the club, memories I will always be grateful for.
We have to look forward now and a new rejuvenated Dalymount will be a fantastic turnaround from its current hap hazard state.
I watched Bohs play under the great Jackie Jameson back in the early 80s when Dalmount Park was a special place to visit. It lost some of its character for me when I returned to see half of the Connacht St. side stand turned into a car park.
The knock on of this investment from the council will give the old lady a badly needed facelift. With the help of the FAI and the Council both Shels and Bohs will have a new modern Stadium that will help them attract new sponsors and fans alike and in turn allow them to spend badly needed income on other key areas of the clubs?
Ground sharing is not a new concept in Soccer you only have to look across Europe for some productive models. The San Siro stadium is owned by the local council and this has not prevented Inter and AC Milan hovering up trophies in Italy and Europe for decades.
In Rome, too, the Olympic Stadium is shared by Lazio and AS Roma. In Genoa, Sampdoria and Genoa share a home. A site visit by all stakeholders could give us some positive feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of such models.
Yet in Britain ground-sharing has never taken off and the mere mention provokes revulsion in some boardrooms and with fans.
Recent ground sharing stories between West Ham and Spurs, Liverpool and Everton seemed to be swept under the carpet for now.
With the current economic climate in Irish soccer continuing to hamper the development of our clubs it just makes so much sense and I hope the powers that be, Dublin City Council, the FAI and both clubs can make a collective decision for the benefit of Irish Football.
A few tears will be shed if Tolka Park is no longer but the history and heritage of both clubs must always remain intact.