Sometimes a fixture change can work in your favour, sometimes not. This weekend’s Bray versus Cork City game was originally scheduled for the Friday, but got moved out to the Sunday due to the City’s involvement in Europe. As I was heading away on the Saturday, the fixture change meant no Bray Wanderers game for me. With trouble rumbling on at the club and the players putting themselves on the transfer list due to uncertainty about the club’s financial status, the dark days are far from over at Bray.
I used my Friday that was originally meant for a trip to Bray to go to see Shelbourne versus Wexford FC at Tolka Park. Blaise came with me. Usually the walk to a game in Tolka from our house involves the type of chat you can only have with a six-year-old. This week Blaise was confused. ‘’Dad, why are there two Tolka Parks?!”
It didn’t take long to get to the crux of the matter. The lads from St Patrick’s Boys National School in Drumcondra always cross over to the park after school for a kick-about. The park has the Tolka River running through it, the same river that flows by Tolka Park football stadium a few minutes further downstream. The presence of the river in the park has caused many people over the years to mistakenly think that the park is Tolka Park [it is officially Griffith Park].
The naming of the park cleared up, we headed in to the game. The music at Tolka Park is always excellent. This week we were welcomed in to the sounds of Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘’Mr Blue Sky’’ [very fitting for a beautiful summer evening], Bryan Adams’ ‘’Summer Of ‘69’’ [very fitting as I was born in summer of ‘69] and Pigbag’s [‘’Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’’ [completing a hat-trick of very fittings as I had acquired a new travel bag that afternoon for my trip].
Shelbourne started with intent and purpose. James English scored early and Shels went close on a couple more occasions. Wexford weren’t threatening much, but right on half-time they thought they had the ball across Dean Delany’s goal line only for the correct decision to be awarded, which was no goal.
At half time I thought of the two Tolka Parks again. In the Griffith Park Tolka Park earlier in the day I’d seen a crane wading in shallow water. I’d managed to get a decent picture of it. Staring out over the dilapidated terraces behind the east goal at half time in the actual Tolka Park there was a mechanical crane looming as a backdrop. A nice piece of two Tolka Park symmetry, or a reminder of the fate awaiting this stadium after 2019?
The half-time music brought me back down to earth. The Lightning Seeds track ‘’Lucky You’’ [very fitting as I always feel lucky to be at a League of Ireland game in the flesh] was followed by The Jam’s ‘’Town Called Malice’’ [very fitting as I’d been listening to The Jam on Spotify the day before].
Shelbourne should have gone further ahead early in the second half but didn’t convert the chance. You can never feel comfortable at 1-0 up, and this proved to be the case as Wexford scored a quick-fire brace through Thomas Croke and Micky Byrne. Wham Bam. Shelbourne couldn’t find a way back and slumped to an unexpected defeat.
On the way home we looked back at the impressive floodlights of Tolka Park shining out into the night sky. In contrast Griffith Park Tolka Park was slipping into darkness. There’s only two Tolka Parks!