Most weeks this season a song has come to mind to soundtrack the latest developments at Bray Wanderers. There was the Richard and Linda Thompson track ‘’I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight’’ when I got within sight of the Carlisle Grounds, complete with shining floodlights, for our first home league game of the season. There was the Small Faces song ‘’Itchycoo Park’’ with its line about ‘under dreaming spires’ that captured the excitement of the team’s trip to Elgin. There have been many other music moments – enough for a whole album I’d say. How about ‘’Music for Football’’ as a working title – very Brian Eno that!
The season seems to have had endless twists and turns and ups and downs for us. The Ronan Keating track ‘’Life Is A Rollercoaster’’ came to mind this week when we were plunged into the latest ‘down’ of alleged match fixing. However, I’d veto that track going on the album – firstly because I was never a Boyzone fan and secondly because a much more suitable song came to mind after Bray worked hard and grafted out a draw against an impressive Limerick side on Friday.
The song was ‘’Tubthumping’’ by Chumbawamba. It could just be the most apt song I’ve thought of in relation to Bray this season. The lyrics ‘’I get knocked down but I get up again / You are never gonna keep me down’’ suit so well. Harry and the players have been having a fantastic season, but have been knocked down by a succession of obstacles, circumstances and situations both inside and outside the club and the squad. Each time they have picked themselves up, dusted themselves down and got on with it.
The match fixing story came about because a complaint was apparently made about our recent 5-0 friendly loss to Waterford, and this resulted in the Fraud Squad [or whatever they are called now] interviewing team members and examining their mobile phones. There is no official outcome yet, so innocent until proven guilty. I’m expecting a resounding innocent verdict.
I’m not a betting man. A friend’s father regularly spent his wages in the betting shop when I was a kid, leaving my friend and his family hungry. Put me off betting shops [and their online younger sister] for life. I didn’t know you could bet on a friendly, though. Sure the teams [in this case] were just playing it to maintain match fitness. They could have done so behind closed doors. The squads were largely changed around at half-time, as is the custom in friendlies. Seems ridiculous that you could suggest a friendly was rigged, or that a bookmaker would take bets on a friendly. But then, I know nothing about betting.
Apparently the investigation might now be encompassing other games. Two against Finn Harps, the recent win over Drogheda and the Elgin game. I say apparently, because I read that in some newspapers, newspapers that have also suggested they were having abuse directed at them because they are running stories about Bray.
I bear no ill will towards the media. They have to do their job. I just wonder though, if I wanted to make mischief for an opposing team, could I just ring up the Gardai or the FAI or a newspaper and suggest there was something dodgy about a result involving that team? Would it be in the news the next day as ‘’Team X in match fixing probe?’’ or would the story not see the light of day unless I had incontrovertible evidence?
I’m happy to let the situation involving Wanderers play out in full. As I said, innocent until otherwise proven. I have seen nothing underhand from my team this year, just a great group of players having a great season despite difficult circumstances. They aren’t for quitting. There are four games left and a top six finish is within our grasp for the second year running. We get knocked down, but we get up again. You are never gonna keep us down.