Bray’s last away day in Dalymount Park before it is redeveloped resulted in a deserved draw for the Wanderers against a team that had beaten both Shamrock Rovers and Cork City in their last two games.
The point could turn out to be worth its weight in gold. It stopped the rot. Coupled with the Rovers defeat to Derry it keeps the quest for Europe alive for us. It sets us up for the visit of Cork in the FAI Cup this coming Saturday. Lee Stacey kept a fine clean sheet on his full debut. There’s the Irn Bru Scottish Challenge Cup to look forward to. Coming with the confirmation by the FAI late in the week that Bray’s financial situation is secure for the remainder of the season, this has been the best week for Bray Wanderers fans since early summer. The Ian Dury and The Blockheads song ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful’ comes to mind.
I’m not trying to brush the confirmation from the club during the week of their proposed plans for the Carlisle Grounds under the carpet. They want to get Wicklow County Council to rezone the land, allow residential properties to be built on it and use the proceeds from the sale and rental of these to fund the build of a new facility and ongoing operating costs of the club going forward.
It’s best that this is out in the open. You either agree with it, disagree with it or are neutral about it. I personally would prefer if the Carlisle was redeveloped as an improved soccer stadium for Bray Wanderers, but that’s just my opinion. The whole ‘land-grab’ saga has detracted from our season too much already. Politicians and businessmen will ultimately arrive at decisions and the rest of us will have to live with them. We can try to influence them but that only goes so far. For now, I want to enjoy the rest of the season and follow the team.
For those of us that follow cross-channel soccer in addition to League of Ireland, following your ‘other’ team is now back on the weekly agenda, given the start of the 2017-2018 season across the water last weekend. I’m a Rochdale fan, and we kicked off our League One campaign with a 2-0 away defeat to Portsmouth. We play Scunthorpe this coming Saturday at home – a game that will mark my debut writing for the club’s matchday programme. This is a dream come true for me – I now have columns in both the Bray and Rochdale matchday programmes.
Speaking of cross-channel soccer we had some high-profile friendlies here last week. Manchester United played Sampdoria on the Wednesday [a game I was at and thoroughly enjoyed] and Liverpool played Athletic Bilbao on the Saturday – both at the Aviva Stadium.
Obviously these games are generating revenue – for the FAI, to help pay off the Aviva debt, and for the clubs involved, to help pay their huge wage bills. Who can hold it against Manchester United or Liverpool for coming over here? They are probably the only two English clubs that could sell out the Aviva. These clubs are amongst the biggest in the world – it’s only natural that the football community here would have an affinity for them, especially as they are so close to us geographically and have had so many Irish playing for them over the years. Add to that the fact that Dublin is a major European city and Ireland is a relatively wealthy first-world country. The big gigs are going to roll into town – whether that’s music, football, some other sport or whatever. The demand is here to see the stars and if people have the money good luck to them.
You can support your local team as well as supporting a team from another country. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, they complement each other. The perilous state of our own league isn’t the fault of Manchester United or Liverpool, or Rochdale or whoever.