Most people have come across the English music hall tune ‘’Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside!” at some point. The tune is most famously associated with Reginald Dixon and the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool, but it was first popularised by Mark Sheridan in the early twentieth century. He had another number called ‘’at the football match last Saturday’’ – perhaps he was the world’s first football-terrace tune-smith!
For many years we used to strike up ‘’Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside’’ in the old Seymour Road stand in the Carlisle Grounds in Bray whenever Wanderers scored a goal. It was always a joyous moment. The tune seemed very apt. Bray people do like being beside the sea. We had a promenade you could stroll along. You mightn’t come across a brass band playing ‘’Tiddely-om-pom-pom!” though, unless maybe it was a Sunday in summer.
I thought of the tune last Friday. What a joyous moment it was to wrestle a win from the jaws of a draw against Derry City, the side who had leap-frogged us into third spot just prior to the mid-season break. We reclaimed third spot with the 3-2 victory. We leap-frogged them back up to third; in fact they finished the night in fifth after Shamrock Rovers moved up to fourth thanks to a 1-0 win away at Finn Harps.
The result was a real statement of intent from Bray, us laying down a marker for the second half of the season. A Marvelous opening couple of months had been punctured a bit by the loss to Cork at the end of April, and we’d limped through May and early June with only one win [along with three draws and three defeats] from the following seven games. We had unraveled a bit, so we needed to show we had got back on track.
Once Darragh Noone put us ahead in the fifth minute we felt the three points were on. Ronan Curtis equalised but Ryan Brennan’s effort saw us into the interval 2-1 up. Nathan Boyle again leveled for Derry early in the second period but Tim Clancy’s goal ten minutes from the end sent the Bray fans home happy.
Normally when I can’t make a Bray match I go to watch Shelbourne as I live near Tolka Park. I’d be checking the live feeds to see how Bray are doing during the match. Last Friday was a first in that I found myself checking how Shels were doing during the Bray match. They weren’t too far away – just up the road in Belfield taking on UCD. 1-0 down at half-time. Equalizer from James English. Substitute Alan Byrne with the winner late on. Nice one. The UCD Bowl is always a bogey place for Bray. A difficult place for any team to come away from with anything.
There were big crowds in Bray on Friday, drawn to the seaside by the good weather. The crowds got bigger as the weekend progressed and the mercury kept going north on the thermometer, like a high-striker heading for the jackpot. The numbers actually reminded me of the first time Derry City had come to Bray, for a First Division game in 1985-86. Like ourselves they’d just been admitted to the new second tier. They brought thousands with them to the game, and the whole seafront was lined with coaches. They don’t travel in quite the same numbers these days but their fans that do are no less passionate.
Bray is a great place when the weather is good. The atmosphere is fantastic and everyone is in a good mood. If you’re a Wanderers fan and you’ve just won a game then it really is a case of ‘’Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside!” Roll on Galway next week!