I was thinking of getting the DART to the first-ever El DARTico on Friday, but Blaise vetoed the idea. The idea of the walk to and from the station before and after the game didn’t appeal to him. So we found ourselves in the unique situation of driving to the El DARTico listening to the soundtrack of ‘The Boat That Rocked’. Not quite planes, trains and automobiles; but boats, trains and automobiles, which is close enough!
A lot can change in a year. Twelve months ago we were freezing under a blanket of snow dumped on us by The Beast From The East; this week Dublin was hotter than Barcelona. Barcelona have their ‘El Classico’; now we have an ‘El DARTico’.
A year ago following Wanderers was a tough gig. Things weren’t right behind the scenes and fans were staying away. The threat of property development on the Carlisle Grounds and other issues forced people to abandon their club. Thankfully many familiar faces were back on board on Friday last as a Bray invasion gave Cabinteely a bumper crowd.
Stradbrook was looking good. There was a small stand for the youth players to watch the game from, a matchday programme on sale for the first time that I can ever recall there [and a good one it was too], great music from the PA system [the teams came on accompanied by ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’ by Emerson, Lake & Palmer much to my delight; ‘Blue [Da Ba Dee]’ by Eiffel 65 was also given a spin, much to Blaise’s] and an electronic scoreboard in the corner [well, the clock did stop at 49 minutes but the score kept incrementing every time Bray added another strike].
Gary Cronin’s new-look Wanderers produced an assured and accomplished display. They soaked up the pressure from Cabinteely in the first half [Marty Waters was particularly impressive for the home side, as was goalkeeper Gabriel Sava for the visitors] before cutting loose in the second period with a brace from Dylan McGlade and a Dean O’Halloran strike.
As the crowd headed home [via DART and car!], other results from the night filtered through and as expected Drogheda had started strongly. Shelbourne had edged it in Galway and most impressively Athlone had won; I’d heard rumblings that something was reawakening in Athlone this season. A promotion push from Town would be great to see. This is a club with a great history and it has been sad to see them struggling over the last few years. In my lifetime this is a club that have won trophies, squared up to AC Milan in Europe and played glamour friendlies [I recall a game against Manchester City in 1996].
As we drove home I explained to Blaise why I’d come up with name ‘El DARTico’ for the Bray versus Cabinteely derby. Talk of trains prompted me to tell him about that other great train involving Wanderers – The Gandhi Train. Many faces who were on The Gandhi Train 30 years before were in Stradbrook for the first ‘El DARTico’. A club back on track, for sure.