Friday’s 3-0 victory away at Finn Harps was a momentous result for Bray Wanderers. The win – achieved with goals from Gary McCabe, Ryan Brennan and Keith Buckley – kept the Seagulls clear of Dundalk in second place in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, and for this reason was significant. However, what made the occasion memorable was the fact that the game was Bray’s 1000th league match in the League of Ireland.
Bray have come a long way since their first steps on the national stage in 1985-86’s First Division campaign. There have been promotions, relegations, Cup wins, European exploits, high-profile friendlies and much more. We have never been as high up the league as we are now though, so this season is another exciting chapter.
Our 33 seasons in the league have been split in a 2:1 ratio between Premier Division and First Division. 13 of the 22 campaigns fought in the top-flight have been in a continuous run since our last promotion, making us the third-longest club in the current Premier Division after Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic. In the event of either or both of these clubs being relegated this season, we will ascend even higher [or even to the summit!] in this hypothetical table.
Hundreds of great players from many different nations have worn the green and white of Bray over those 33 years. Many local lads have represented their hometown and county with pride and distinction. We have had great managers, coaches and dedicated committee members who have kept the club going through some dark times, always coming through the tunnels and back out into the light. The light is certainly shining brightly now.
Let us not forget the supporters too. Some people have been to a high percentage of those 1000 games. Others have had to choose when they have been able to support their team, depending on work, family and other commitments. Some people have long since fallen away from active supporting, and some have come relatively recently to the cause. However, all have always been there in spirit, willing the Seagulls on.
We have a great bunch of players now, just as we have had some great individuals and groups in the past. Likewise with managers, coaches, officials, supporters and volunteers. Whoever comes to our club in the future, in whatever capacity, will stand on the shoulders of all these giants as they seek to bring the legacy further and add more success to our illustrious history.
It would have been great if we had been at home for our 1000th game, but the fixture computer takes no account of sentiment. While the team were hundreds of miles away in Donegal, the Carlisle Grounds was not idle. There was an Under 17 game against Shamrock Rovers and an Under 19 game against Cabinteely on Saturday, a double-header. They kept the pitch in shape for the senior Bray side, who will host Bohemians there next Friday. Here is to the next 1000 games!