The best thing about friends is that even if you haven’t seen them for a while you can pick up exactly where you left off. I was reminded of that before Bray Wanderers hosted Wexford FC on Friday, when I met up with some of the Wanderers gang I hadn’t seen since last season for a pint before the match. A good friend of mine from Wexford came up to see the game too; James has made a habit of making an annual trip up to the Carlisle Grounds when we are playing Wexford and is always welcome.
Absent friends featured in our minds too on Friday, and the club held an impeccably-observed minute’s silence before the game for long-time fan Anto McCann, who passed away during the off season. The moment of respect was a twin one for Anto’s daughter Jade, who also died last year. Sadness striking the same family twice in such a short space of time is really too cruel to comprehend.
Having lost out in the ‘El DARTico’ derby to Cabinteely the week before, Bray needed to win the first south-east derby of the season so as not to lose any further ground. Get too far behind too soon in a season and playing catch-up for the remainder of the term can prove enormously stressful for the players, fans and management. Wanderers did what they had to do, winning the game against a decent Wexford side with a goal in each half.
Bray’s starting line-up featured three changes from the team that had been beaten by the wind – I mean Cabinteely – the week before, with Derek Daly, Tristan Noack-Hofman and Leigh Kavanagh coming in. Gary Shaw struck in the first-half, turning home a Dylan Barnett cross from close range for his second goal of the campaign. Andrew Moran scored Bray’s second late on.
The weather remained calm enough on the night, apart from some rain towards the end. The wind in the game the week before had given some of the lads in the pub before the game an idea though; we have Ardmore studios in Bray, so couldn’t we hire out a wind machine and place it strategically behind the respective ends to give ourselves a competitive advantage for the whole game? Imagine trying to get it through the turnstiles!
It has to be said that the atmosphere in the Carlisle Grounds on Friday was great. There is a real feel-good factor around the place these days, with all involved in the club at all levels there for the football and nothing else. The ground had a lot of sponsor signage which indicates good local business support and the pitch was immaculate, despite the suite of storms that have battered the country.
Wanderers face Longford away this week, a tough game for sure with Longford and Cabinteely the only sides in the division with 100% records still.