There was a lot of big news around Drumcondra during the week. People were discussing the fire at the Metro Hotel in neighbouring Ballymun on Wednesday evening, a fire that thanks to the bravery of Dublin Fire Brigade resulted in no loss of life. They were discussing the news that, unless plans can be changed, local GAA club Na Fianna will lose their main pitch on Mobhi Road to facilitate work on what used to be called Metro North but has now been rebranded as MetroLink. There was also the confirmation of the Rolling Stones gig in Croke Park in May getting the green light.
I was reminded of the last piece of news as I entered Tolka Park on Friday night to see the Shelbourne versus Cobh Ramblers game. There were posters advertising the concert on the outside of the main stand. May won’t be long coming around, and no doubt it will sell out without any problems. I wish tickets for League of Ireland games could sell like that too!
The game saw Shelbourne record their second successive home win to move into the top half of the table. The Reds always looked in control, Dave O’Sullivan scoring the only goal of the game to add to the hat-trick he scored the week before. Cobh created chances and almost got back into the game on a couple of occasions, but the Shelbourne defence was able to stand up to anything that was thrown at them, even after the loss of organizer extraordinaire Alan Byrne to injury early in the second half.
So job done, or as my son Blaise said, ‘’they’ve earned their pizza’’ – from our vantage point above the tunnel we saw the boxes of pizza being delivered to the dressing rooms for the after-match meal. I didn’t know how to answer questions like ‘’Does the referee get some?’’, ‘’What about the subs?’’ or ‘’Does the goal-scorer get an extra slice?’’ so I had to improvise.
Other results from the First Division on the night saw UCD move into pole position, and Drogheda’s draw showed that they are mortal after all and can let in goals as well as scoring less than a half dozen in a game.
If Dave O’Sullivan is the forward that keeps on scoring then the Tokla Park jukebox is the sound machine that keeps on giving. The Style Council and The Cardigans were served up before the game started, and half-time saw a couple of Rolling Stones numbers [‘’Start Me Up’’ and ‘’Brown Sugar’’] given an outing in order to get everyone in the mood for May.
Back in the day The Beatles were the main rivals to The Rolling Stones and a Beatles number made an appearance on the night, courtesy of the fans rather than the jukebox – they sing an improvised version of ‘’Yellow Submarine’’.
Best of all though was the Fats Domino version of ‘’Red Sails in the Sunset’’ that was played as the crowd filtered out of the ground into the mild Drumcondra night. The song is a standard, having been done by everyone from Frank Patterson to Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers, but nobody surpassed the Fats version. It was actually his last top 40 hit single, in 1963. Back then Drumcondra were playing in Tolka Park, and finished third in the League behind Dundalk and Waterford. Shelbourne were seventh and won the FAI Cup, beating Cork Hibernians to earn a place in the European Cup Winners Cup. They also finished the season with three men in the top 10 goal-scorer charts – Jackie Hennessy, Eric Barber and Ben Hannigan. Those days have long-since sailed into the sunset, but Tolka Park sails on.