Where else could I start this week’s column but with the press releases that came out of Bray Wanderers at the back end of last week. You have all read them, I don’t need to analyse them here. They were an attention grab, a bit of kite flying, a PR stunt. None of this is a crime. We shouldn’t be surprised if people in charge of football things do strange things occasionally – we’ve all seen the Vincent Tans and Mike Ashleys of this world in action.
Perhaps the press releases ruffled a few feathers amongst the local councillors. Some guilt maybe that they haven’t done as much as they could to help Bray Wanderers develop the Carlisle Grounds over the years? Yes, the stadium isn’t Bray’s to sell, but how much have the council done to develop it as a sporting facility? Developing the existing grounds into a much-improved soccer facility would surely be the best way out of the current situation for all concerned?
Tongue-in-cheek press releases aside, the strangest Bray Wanderers story of the week wasn’t anything we did. It was new Indian I-League club Kerala Evergreen FC being launched with what appeared to be the Bray Wanderers crest. Our own bizarre press releases were trumped by something even more bizarre, on sale now at your local bazaar in Kerala.
The online reaction to all of the above could have consumed your free time at the back end of the week. There’s a funny side. Somebody saying that events at Bray ‘’were better than the storylines in Corrie’’ was my particular favourite. There’s also a not-so-funny side. Mentioning North Korea just as Kim Jong-un let off another missile wasn’t exactly good timing.
Once Friday night came along and the game against Finn Harps kicked off, that was all that mattered for me. There was a team on the pitch and a manager in the dugout that needed to be supported. A decent crowd had turned up, including a large travelling contingent from Donegal.
I thought Bray played well despite the circumstances. Their heads didn’t drop when they went behind to an early Eddie Dsane goal. Losing Hughie Douglas to a nasty head injury didn’t help the cause. Amazingly the referee didn’t produce a card for the incident that nearly decapitated Hughie, left him sitting in a pool of his blood on the pitch and needing five stitches subsequently. A raised foot is meant to be dangerous play. It would have been a different story if we’d been facing ten men. The second Harps goal, just before the break from Mark Timlin, was against the run of play and compounded the injustice.
Bray continued to create chances in the second half and deserved to get back into the game. The chances of that happening looked to have gone south when our goalkeeper Peter Cherrie was sent off in the 63rd minute. I have no issue with the sending off, but it should have been to level the sides at 10 each rather than to leave Bray facing an uphill battle against 11 men.
The rest of the game passed by in a blur. Aaron Greene got one back for Bray. Harps scored again through Ibrahim Keita. Ryan Brennan made it 2-3. There was a lot of injury time but we couldn’t break through for the draw that would have been a moral victory.
Harps, like Bohemians [who Bray play next], Limerick and St Patrick’s Athletic, are picking up points at a faster rate than Bray. These teams could well overtake us in the next few weeks if we aren’t careful. That could leave us sitting above only the bottom three of Galway, Sligo Rovers and Drogheda United. Yes, Bray may well end up in the relegation scrap if we don’t pull out of the nosedive. The survival bar will be higher this year than in previous years, given that 3 are going down. Time for the bizarre antics to stop and for us to recapture the spirit and endeavour of the first series of games.