The sweet was the ice-cream that we got free with our match tickets on entering the Carlisle Grounds on Friday. I think only the kids were meant to get one, but Carol-Ann and I ended up with free ones too as well as the three children, which was fine by us. The youngsters had already been let in free to the game which was a nice touch from Bray’s new ownership.
Free ice cream always goes down well. The company I work for hired an ice cream van to come into the car park and give everyone free cones on the hottest days of the summer, which went down well. Goodwill like that is hard to put a price on.
Bray’s new ownership are certainly pushing all the right buttons in terms of generating goodwill, or rather winning back goodwill that had previously existed in the town towards the club. Friday’s game saw a lot of the old crowd returning, exciting by the sudden and welcome turn of events at the club in recent weeks.
As well as new owners we have a new manager, and Friday’s clash with Finn Harps in the FAI Cup was Gary Cronin’s first game in charge. Bray fans will remember Gary fondly from his playing days and the future certainly looks promising under him, even if we will most likely be starting as a First Division club next season.
The sour on Friday was obviously the result. Given our impending relegation and the troubles on and off the field we have had this season, we had hoped for a Cup run to lift the spirits. The draw was kind to us in handing us a home draw against a First Division side. Things were panning out nicely at half-time, as we led through a brilliant Ger Pender strike.
Credit to Ollie Horgan and Finn Harps though. They had other plans and fought hard to get back into the game and take the tie to extra time. The extra half hour came as a surprise to me actually, as it did to most of the crowd who assumed a replay in Ballybofey was on the cards when the final whistle at the end of regulation time blew.
Harps looked that bit fitter and fresher in extra time and thoroughly deserved their victory. We certainly wish Ollie and his men the best in the next round of the Cup, and in their promotion push. He’s probably heard this one many times before but Carol-Ann thought for a second it was Gerard Depardieu on the sidelines. There’s no acting with Ollie though, just genuine football passion.
So Dundalk are up next for Gary Cronin’s men in back-to-back fixtures in the Carlisle Grounds. This will be Gary’s first League game in charge of the club and hopefully we get a decent crowd on Friday as we move forward on our journey under our new owners.