Go stand in the members bar and look at the pitch side wall and you’ll see that a huge, framed photograph dominates the wall. It shows 25 men with four trophies seated in front of the old main stand of Dalymount. Of those 25 only twelve are the footballers of Bohemian FC, the remaining gentlemen are committee members as well as the coaching team of Bobby Parker and trainer Charlie Harris. Parker was a Scottish centre forward who went to War as the English First division’s top scorer and returned with a bullet in his back, while Harris had been a top athlete in his youth who also trained the O’Toole’s Gaelic Club and the Dublin County team on occasion.
This is not only one of the greatest Bohemian teams of all time but arguably one of the greatest League of Ireland sides in history. This was a side that swept all before them, winning the League, FAI Cup, Shield and Leinster Senior Cup. Seven of that squad had, or would be, capped by Ireland while Johnny McMahon from Derry was selected by the IFA. Others, like the English born Harry Willits and Billy Dennis were selected to represent the League of Ireland on numerous occasions.
The record for that season for all competitions reads – played 36, won 29, drew 5, lost 2 – Goals for 108, goals against 35. While the team photo does show only 12 players several more were utilised during that remarkable season, however it is true to say that the team starting XI was fairly fixed and six players played in all 36 matches while goalkeeper Harry Cannon played in 35.
Among those players to feature in all 36 games were the Robinson brothers, Christy, at inside forward, and Sam at right back. Both men had been actively involved in the War of Independence, Christy being involved in the raid on Monk’s Bakery when Kevin Barry was captured, while Sam (real name Jeremiah) had been a late addition to Michael Collins’ “Squad”.
Sam almost missed the FAI Cup final when some dressing room hijinks saw a bucket of scalding water tipper over his leg after yet another victory. However, the attentions of Dr. Willie Hooper ensured that Robinson was fit and read for the final against Drumcondra. Despite Drums taking the lead Bohs never panicked and goals from Jimmy White and Billy Dennis secured the victory.
Dennis scored 26 goals in all competitions that season although with only 12 in the league he was some way behind Charlie Heineman, Fordsons’ English centre forward who topped the league scoring charts with 24 goals. In the Shield, which only consisted of eight games, Bohs won seven, only drawing once, while in the Leinster Senior Cup Shelbourne were dispatched 4-1 in a replayed final.
Ireland’s only international that season was in Liège against Belgium, where an Irish side featuring Bohemians Harry Cannon, Jack McCarthy as captain, Sam Robinson and Jimmy White won 4-2 with White grabbing two second half goals for Ireland. Little did they know but many of those players would be returning to Belgium the following year to enjoy more success.
There was change again in the 10-team League of Ireland as Pioneers raised a glass of squash and bid adieu after four seasons. This side, which began as a sporting branch of the Pioneer temperance movement are still around today playing in the Leinster Senior League. Pioneers place was awarded to Dundalk GNR – the GNR standing for Great Northern Railway and the team would have worn amber and black stripes rather than the more familiar white jerseys that we associate with Dundalk today. In that debut season Dundalk used no fewer than 47 different players, including many with experience in the Irish League, ultimately, they finished in 8th position.
Bohemians battled it out with their Dublin rivals for the title, finishing 3rd behind defending champs Shelbourne in 2nd place and Shamrock Rovers who claimed their third title. Shorn of the goals of Billy “Juicy” Farrell, Rovers turned to the diminutive, young, striker David “Babby” Byrne who finished that season as joint top alongside Shelbourne’s Scottish striker Jock McMillan with 17 goals.
For Bohemians Dr. Jim O’Flaherty and Ernie Graham were the top marksmen but a young English forward, once of Port Vale, named Billy Dennis was also beginning to make his mark. One of the more unusual scorers for Bohs that season was goalkeeper Harry Cannon who scored his solitary goal from the penalty spot. Cannon tried the trick again on a short midseason tour undertaken by Bohs but missed in a game against London Caledonians, that match was quickly followed by another games against Tottenham Hotspur a few days later.
In the FAI Cup there was to be something of an upset as Leinster Senior League side Drumcondra FC, who had only been re-founded in 1924, defeated League of Ireland side Brideville in the final. Granted, Brideville had finished bottom of the league that year but they were still heavy favourites despite the fact the Drumcondra had already accounted for league sides Jacobs and Bohemians en route to the final. The match went to a replay and with the scores tied at 0-0 after the second 90 minutes extra time was played, it was former Bohemians player Johnny Murray who final grabbed the late winner and insured that Drums could bring the trophy back to their Tolka Park home.
On the international front Ireland hosted the return fixture against Italy in Lansdowne Road, again the Irish were on the losing side, but did get on the scoresheet thanks to Bob Fullam, the score finishing 2-1 to Italy but not before Fullam had come close a second time with a free kick that was struck so hard that it knocked an Italian defender unconscious.
While Bohemians finished the season empty handed an impressive squad was being developed that was on the verge of greatness that would be fully realised the following season.
My English brothers and sisters know, It’s not a case of where you go, it’s race and creed and colour. From the police cell to the deep dark grave, on the underground’s just a stop away. Don’t be too black, don’t be too gay. Just get a little duller.
In 1960 the coal industry produced 177m tonnes of coal a year from deep mines and employed over 500,000 miners at 483 facilities. One of those coalfields was in Burnley the most northerly portion of the Lancashire coalfield, where men had been digging coal for five hundred years. By 1984 as four thousand, six hundred police officers in riot gear carrying staves twice the size of truncheons smashed ‘the enemy within’ in fields beside a Rotherham smoking plant, only one mine remained open in Burnley.
Twelve days after Orgreave two friends Mark Ashton and Mike Jackson decided to found the group London Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM); both had Lancashire roots. While miners stood on pickets in 1984 one hundred and eight cases of HIV Aids were reported in Britain with forty six deaths – within four years Margaret Thatcher’s answer to this horrific illness was Section 28 banning the promotion of homosexuality by all local authorities in the UK – at the Conservative Party conference the so-called Iron Lady stated: ‘”Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay”.
Mark Ashton was born on the 19th of May 1960 at a young age his family moved to the seaside town of Portrush in Co. Derry in Ireland. Seventeen days before his birth the great Jimmy McIlroy sat on the Burnley coach, it was the 2nd of May 1960 and the bus was parked outside Maine Road, Manchester.
With strapping on his thigh Jimmy veered and dodged that night in Moss Side; unhurried in possession and coolness personified as Burnley were crowned English First Division champions.
Sixty five thousand nine hundred and fifty nine people paid in through the turnstiles as thousands more Clarets paced up and down outside kicking every ball, listening on wirelesses. Burnley the team of quiet men had spent all of the 1959/60 season chasing Stan Cullis’ Wolverhampton Wanderers side, only five days before the Maine Road encounter they had beaten Birmingham City one nil to move up to second place behind Wolves on goal difference. The outfit that cost less than £15,000 to assemble drew their final home game against Fulham while Wolves were victorious in their final game.
As men, women and children from Burnley arrived in Manchester the league standings showed Wolves with a final total of fifty four points with Tottenham second on fifty three points. Burnley sat in third also on fifty three points with an inferior goal difference and one last game to play; the mathematics were simple for the Clarets victory was a must. Burnley made the best possible start to settle their nerves. After just four minutes, winger Pilkington cut in from the by-line and fired a powerful shot which deflected off goalkeeper Bert Trautmann and the post to hit the back of the net. However, within two minutes Manchester City were level twenty one year old Denis Law, who had joined from Huddersfield that season for a record fee of fifty three thousand pounds, miskicked the ball in the box incredibly the ball found its way to his colleague Joe Hayes who found the net to equalise. John Connolly, Burnley’s striking talisman had been forced through injury to sit out the game in his place was reserve winger Trevor Meredith, who had broken his leg earlier in the season. It was to be his night on 31 minutes, during a melee in the goalmouth; he suddenly found himself with the ball at his feet and volleyed a shot sweetly past the despairing Trautmann.
For fifty nine minutes they kept City at bay as Stan Cullis looked on from the stand as the hordes of Burnley fans broke police cordons to celebrate on the Maine Road turf with their heroes, Wolves would be denied the double. In the sanctuary of the dressing room there was no league trophy and City had to provide the champagne it was not until Jimmy and his colleagues sat on the bus that the enormity of their achievement hit home. Undoubtedly the supporter’s favourite player was the inside forward, McIlroy, dubbed by the press as the “Brain of Burnley” with his uncanny ability to unlock defences with his skilful, precision passing.
McIlroy was born in the small village of Lambeg about an hour from Portrush, its damp climate making it the perfect location for the growth of flax and so a centre for the linen industry in the North of Ireland. Football was in the families blood with his father Harry lining out for Distillery, however, young Jimmy had his sights set on technical college. Glentoran football club of East Belfast had other ideas spotting his talent, and because his family needed the money, he took up the offer and signed for Glentoran in 1949.
After 26 games and 9 goals at the Oval in his first season Burnley took him to Turf Moor for a paltry £8,000, and he served them for 13 years, playing 439 times in the First Division and scoring 116 goals. Aside from the First Division title win, he helped Burnley to fourth, second and third places in the league over the next three seasons, and was instrumental in getting them to the 1962 FA Cup final, which Burnley lost 3-1 to Tottenham Hotspur. Such was his status that when the footballers’ maximum wage was abolished in 1961, he became one of the first players to be paid £100 a week. If McIlroy was loved on the terraces of Turf Moor he was adored in the streets of Belfast making his international debut in 1951 in a Home International against Scotland. As part of that Northern Ireland side of the late 50s, he struck up a wonderful relationship with the equally influential Danny Blanchflower, the side’s captain and right-half. The two of them shared sensational technical skills and a sophisticated approach to the game that made them the creative force in a side which, astonishingly, beat Italy in Belfast to knock them out of the World Cup eliminators in 1958. In the cauldron of Windsor Park McIlroy opened the scoring that night in a 2-1 victory only two months earlier police had to baton charge fans after the original tie became a friendly. This was due to the Hungarian referee Istvan Zolt, manager of the Budapest Opera House being fog-bound in a London airport.
He never made it to Belfast and so the qualifying tie was moved at the behest of the Italian FA. Behind closed doors at the Old Midland Hotel a compromise was reached when the match was reduced from a World Cup-tie to a friendly and re-arranged again for January. The document was signed by Dr Barassi, Irish FA president Joseph McBride and Belfast Lord Mayor Sir Cecil McKee. Subsequently, in the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden, McIlroy played in all Northern Ireland’s games as they reached the quarter-finals, only to be knocked out by France. By the time he finished his international career in 1965, he had won 55 caps and scored 10 goals. Back on the club front in early 1963, McIlroy fell out with the Burnley manager, Harry Potts, after which the club chairman, the abrasive Bob Lord, unexpectedly allowed him to be transferred to Second Division Stoke City for a derisory £25,000 – much to the chagrin of the Burnley fans. At Stoke, McIlroy found himself partnering the great Stanley Matthews, quickly striking up an ideal partnership and enabling Stoke to return to the First Division. He also played in the 1964 League Cup final, which they lost 4-3 to Leicester City.
McIlroy remained at Stoke until 1966, in January of that year he arrived in the town that Mark Ashton was born, becoming player/manager of Oldham Athletic. He lined out thirty eight times for the Latics scoring one league goal and as manager in 1967 he led the Boundary Park outfit to tenth place in the old Third Division, but left after a poor start to the 68/69 season. After Oldham, McIlroy returned to Stoke City as assistant manager to Tony Waddington, before taking on the same position at Bolton shortly thereafter. McIlroy became assistant manager to the great Nat Lofthouse at Bolton Wanderers.
In 1970, when Lofthouse left, McIlroy took over as manager – but departed after only two games in charge, after a row over selling players. Jimmy brought his family back to Burnley and by 1984 was working as a bricklayer while the communities around him were dying – Not long into the strike the slogan was invented, ‘close a pit, kill a community’. The miners – an all-male occupation – were powerfully backed by their wives, who saw clearly that without the pits there was little hope for their children’s future or the viability of the mining community. They set up support groups to run soup kitchens and put together food parcels for striking miner’s families, raising money from local pubs and clubs and then further afield, nationally and later internationally. In London Mark Ashton’s initial idea of a collection for striking miners at the Pride March of 1984 turned into LGSM (Lesbians & Gays Support The Miners) with the group’s headquarters at the aptly named Gay’s The Word bookshop.
Eleven people attended the group’s first meeting and over sixty people were involved in LGSM by the end of the strike in March 1985. LGSM built solidarity links with the South Wales mining communities of Dulais and also donated funds to the Nottinghamshire Women’s Support Group. The money raised was used to sustain striking miners and their families throughout the duration of the strike. Money was raised primarily from collections at gay pubs and clubs and on the pavement outside Gay’s The Word bookshop. The group raised over £20,000 with a benefit gig headlined by Bronski Beat raising £5,650 alone. It took place in the Electric Ballroom in London and was entitled ‘Pits and Perverts’ in response to a slanderous article by the right wing The Sun newspaper. At the event Dai Donovan a miner from the Dulais valley spoke at the event: ‘You have worn our badge, and you know what harassment means, as we do. Now we will pin your badge on us, we will support you. It won’t change overnight, but now 140,000 miners know that there are other causes and other problems.’
In 1999 Burnley finally honoured their greatest player when the East Stand at Turf Moor was renamed the Jimmy McIlroy Stand – ‘I now feel part of the club which I haven’t done for 30-odd years. Somehow I feel I am now back with my club.’ Jimmy told the press. By 2011 the Queen was honouring James ‘Jimmy Mac’ McIlroy as he became an MBE. On the 11th of February 1987 Mark Ashton took his final breath on this earth he was only 26; in his memory, the Mark Ashton Trust was set up to support people with HIV. On the 19th May 2017 the Irishman was honoured with a Blue Plaque at Gay’s The Word Bookshop, 66 Marchmont Street, London. Today the LGSM group fight to have Mark Ashton honoured with a Blue Plaque in Portrush, he would be the first Gay Rights activist to be honoured in this way in Northern Ireland – it seems appropriate.
In the 1700’s the street we know today as Wexford Street wasn’t known by that name. Instead it was called Kevin’s Port, taking its name from the nearby St. Kevin’s Church. Like today it was a key access route to the south of the city of Dublin but the area was much less developed and would be unrecognisable to us today since much of modern Camden Street was simply fields and tracks.
Little remains from the 1700’s, the church of St. Kevin is little more than ruins and its graveyard is now a public park, along the east side of the graveyard lies Liberty Lane, present on the early maps of Dublin, and on the other side of the lane lies the rear of Whelan’s pub and music venue. While the date above the door of Whelan’s may say 1894 the history of the pubs on this site stetch back much further. There are records of a public house being run on that spot as far back as the 1770’s when it was in charge of a Christopher Brady of Kevin’s Port (sometimes spelled Kevan’s Port) and there are plenty of interesting characters who come in succession to Christopher.
One of the first we encounter are members of the Gorman family. Patrick Gorman senior at various times in the first two decades of the 19th Century is found running a public house at 23 Kevin’s Port and then later at 27 Kevin’s Port. Later still there are various Gorman’s running businesses from numbers 25, 25 and 27 on Wexford Street after the street was renamed in the 1830’s. Patrick Gorman junior is the man who is running a pub from number 25 Wexford Street from at least 1840. Number 24 Wexford Street seems to have been a grocery store run by other members of the Gorman family and in 1847 Patrick Gorman placed an advertisement of this premises “To Let”, in the ad it is described as “a large shop” which contained “seven apartments” with a kitchen and a yard and was described as being suitable for “bakers, druggists…or provision dealers”.
In May 1848 Patrick Gorman passed away after what was described as a “long and painful illness”, just a year later his relative Julia Gorman who seemed to have taken over the running of number 25 also passed away after a “lingering illness” and it seems that much of the Gorman family interest in the property comes to an end here. This was after all around the time of “Black 48” the deadliest year of the Irish famine, while the Gorman’s were relatively well-off class or wealth was no boundary to the likes of Typhus, Dysentery and even Smallpox which were spread rapidly during the Great Famine and it may have been illnesses like these which killed Patrick or Julia. By the 1850’s the pub was being operated by Bernard Brady, perhaps he was a descendant of the earlier Christopher Brady who ran a public house on the street back in the 1770’s? There is a suggestion that Bernard Brady was Christopher Brady’s son and had been involved with running the bar since the 1820’s with the Gorman’s running neighbouring premises at the same time. By the 1950’s Brady was a tenant of landlord Thomas Pim, a prominent businessman from the famous Quaker family who are probably best known for Pim’s department store which was founded on South Great George’s Street around this time. By this stage Bernard Brady was already a prominent publican and was also involved in local politics. He was the secretary of the Grocers and Vintners Trade Protection and Benevolent Society, a member of the Society for the promotion of Irish manufacturers and industry, he was a Poor Law Guardian for the South Dublin Union (meaning he was responsible for the administering of an early form of social welfare for some of the city’s poorest citizens) and was also active in local politics where he helped to nominate people within his local ward for positions on the City Council.
Bernard Brady passed away in 1862 after a short illness, he had travelled down to Cork in the hope that fresh air might help him but it seemed to only aggravate his ailment and he died on May 7th at home in 25 Wexford Street before being buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. He was obviously a hugely active man with a wide range of interests in business and politics. His companions in the Grocers and Vintners Society remembered him fondly, saying of him in their first meeting after his death that there “was never a more high minded, single-hearted or honourable man” and they praised the work he had done for the society and the vintners trade in general.
The premises seems to have been run by a William Daly for a time but the lease was back on the market again in 1872 when 25 Wexford Street was bought by a man named Daniel Tallon for £920 while the neighbouring number 26 was bought by a Theodore Rafferty for a more modest £185. Daniel Tallon was perhaps one of the most interesting characters in the long story of Whelan’s. He was born in 1836 in Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow and came to Dublin as a young man to work for the Leeds Woollen Mills based in the Cornmarket area of the city near Christchurch. Such was his success that he was soon able to go out on his own in the tailoring business before, in 1872 he opened that bar on Wexford Street which became known as Dan Tallon’s. Later still he opened another bar at 46 South Great George’s Street (at the corner with Stephen Street). He was also a chairman of the Licenced Vintners and Grocers Association and helped to expand the organisation during his time there.
Daniel’s skills were not limited to the area of business he was also a hugely prominent politician, at various points he served as High Sheriff of Dublin and also as Lord Mayor, from 1898 until 1900, the longest term of any Lord Mayor since the Council was reformed in 1840. A larger than life character his public houses, as well as his prominence as a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party meant that he was namechecked in both James Joyce’s Ulysses and in Finnegan’s Wake. In Ulysses Daniel’s appearance is about the ranks of famous Dublin publicans and it gives rise to the famous Joycean riddle about whether it was possible to cross Dublin without going by a pub. The quote goes ‘Then, lo and behold, they blossom out as Adam Findlaters or Dan Tallons. Then think of the competition. General thirst. Good puzzle would be cross Dublin without passing a pub.’
Tallon was a prominent Irish Nationalist and a great supporter of the deposed leader Charles Stewart Parnell. Tallon along with Irish Parliamentary Party leader John Redmond travelled to the United States of America to help fundraise for the construction of the Parnell Monument that sits at the top of O’Connell Street today. The tour was hugely successful and Tallon spoke in many US cities, he and Redmond were even invited to dine in the White House with President William McKinley. A couple of years prior to this Tallon had been to the forefront in fundraising to help avert a crisis in parts of the west of Ireland, especially Mayo, after a series of crop failures left many poorer farmers facing starvation.
While a staunch Parnellite and a big personality Tallon was not as advanced a nationalist as some emerging politicians, he was booed in 1899 when laying the foundation stone for the Parnell monument because he had failed to attend a meeting organised in sympathy with Boer cause in South Africa. In 1904 Daniel lost his seat and decided to retire from politics. He passed away in 1908 at the age of 72. In 1894, early into his political career and with a view to opening his new premises on South Great George’s Street Daniel Tallon had sold Tallon’s of Wexford Street to John Galvin. This new owner, John Galvin immediately decided to invest in a significant amount of funds completely refitting the pub and rebuilding the whole frontage of the building. It is from the time of John Galvin’s ownership that the year 1894 appears above the door. This work was overseen by prominent architect John Joseph O’Callaghan who was a founder member of the Architectural Association of Ireland and its first president.
Despite investing huge sums of money John Galvin didn’t get to see it bear fruit, the pub was put up for sale in 1896 owing to a deterioration in Galvin’s health, he passed away a year later aged just 36.
As the pub entered the 20th century it did so under the stewardship of Peter Gilligan and it bore his family name above the door. He paid for a newspaper ad campaign highlighting his re-opening of the “old established licenced premises” (see side panel) and promising a great selection of Dublin whiskey. Peter Gilligan was a Cavan man who married a Dub named Maggie and they had three children together. As was standard practice at the time the whole family lived above the pub along with their bar staff and servants and their dog “Laddy”. By the 1911 census there were nine people living in number 25 Wexford Street, sadly Maggie wasn’t around by this stage, she had died aged 29 in 1907 leaving Peter to raise his daughter Ethel and sons Arthur and Frederick.
Peter Gilligan was also interested in politics like his predecessors Dan Tallon, William Daly and Bernard Brady. He was active in local politics and lent his public support to several candidates. It is worth noting that the right to vote was still limited to men, and required them to be property owners though some of the restrictions were beginning to ease by the end of the 19th century.
Given this background with a smaller voting base it is clear why the support of property owners/leaseholders and prominent business people like Peter Gilligan, Dan Tallon and others would be very desirable for candidates. In 1905 Peter proposed John Reynolds as a Councillor for the Mansion House ward, Reynolds was a businessman on Redmond’s Hill only a short distance from Peter’s bar and they were likely friends and neighbours. John Reynolds was successfully elected but in 1907 did not seek re-election as a Councillor. A new candidate was proposed, and his nomination was seconded by Peter Gilligan for the vacant seat, this man was Richard O’Carroll, General Secretary of the Bricklayers Union and a founding member of the Irish Labour Party in 1912 along with James Connolly, however in 1907 he was running as an independent. O’Carroll lived on Cuffe Street not too far from Wexford Street and the seconding of his nomination by Peter Gilligan suggests that perhaps Gilligan knew O’Carroll personally, or maybe he had a sympathy with the workers rights causes that O’Carroll espoused?
O’Carroll was successfully elected in 1907 and again in 1910 and 1912. He was injured during the 1913 lock-out and later went on to join the Irish Volunteers. He was involved in the organising committee for the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa (the occasion of Padraig Pearse’s famous graveside oration) and was also involved in the 1916 Rising but with tragic consequences. One account states that Carroll, a member of “C” company in the Irish Volunteers was pulled from his motorbike on Camden Street and shot in the chest by the deranged British Army Captain John Bowen-Colthurst who went on a killing spree during the Rising where he also infamously had the pacifist activist Francis Sheehy Skeffington executed by firing squad.
Poor Richard O’Carroll struggled on with a bullet in his lungs for a number of days before dying on May 5th leaving a wife and seven children. As the only sitting Councillor to die during the Rising 2016 decided to name their meeting chamber in City Hall in his honour in 2016.
Returning to Peter Gilligan, he ran a successful pub for many years, in 1909 he was even advertising his own brand of “Gilligan’s Whiskey”, and the pub seemed to have been prospering, he did however end up being cautioned by the police on a couple of occasions for serving beyond permitted hours. Peter continued to run the pub until 1933 when he died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 64. The Gilligan family continued to operate the pub until the early 1950’s before selling up to a Stephen Bourke in 1952. Peter’s son Arthur continued in the pub trade afterwards, by the 1960’s he was running the famous Dawson Lounge on Dawson Street.
Stephen Bourke is now commemorated in the newly refurbished “Bourke’s Bar” created by the present owners at 24 Wexford Street in memory of a larger than life publican who ran the bar for several decades. Bourke’s of Wexford Street became a regular meeting spot and was the watering hole for some local hurling clubs in the district and also by the 1970’s it was beginning to host occasional musical acts. In 1989 Dublin-born actor Gary Whelan purchased the bar along with business partner Ian Keith. Whelan was well-known for his roles in Eastenders, and later for parts in Brookside, The Bill and Ballykissangel. After years of Gilligan’s and Tallon’s it was the Whelan name that now appeared above the door. There was a grand opening and many of Whelan’s celebrity friends attended, including, somewhat randomly Peter O’Brien and original cast member of Australian soup opera Neighbours. The pub changed ownership again, first being bought by Liam Hanlon in the 1990’s and then later by the Mercantile Group who still run it today. Since its opening as “Whelan’s” the bar has become synonymous with live music in Dublin, and has been gradually developed with new stages, separate bars and a smoking terrace. Hundreds of framed photos line the walls of the famous venues recording for posterity the many musicians who have graced the Whelan’s stage, Jeff Buckley played a solo gig there when virtually an unknown in front of a small devoted fanbase while the venue has been packed out for the likes of the National, or Teenage Fanclub.
During the late 90’s – early noughties boom in Irish signers and songwriters it was Whelan’s that became a sort of Mecca for aspiring Irish musicians like the Frames, Paddy Casey and Mundy. The venue remains as vital as ever with new acts performing nightly in a wide range of genres, while it is still home to quintessential Dublin indie disco you are as likely to see a folk or jazz act grace the stage. In it’s long history the Whelan’s bar has had many connections to the wider life of the city and country, whether that be through politics, music or indeed revolution, the history of the pub is approaching a quarter of a millennium so who knows what the coming centuries have in store.
The 1925-26 season was a last exit for Brooklyn as the southside club withdrew from the league, being replaced by another Dublin side, Brideville FC who were the original League of Ireland side to compete out of Richmond Park in Inchicore.
Shamrock Rovers were defending champions but there was stiff competition expected from other quarters, mainly from the Fordsons team who started the season strongly and had added Bohemians striker Dave Roberts to their ranks, as well as from Shelbourne for whom John Simpson and Fran Watters provided the bulk of the attacking talent.
Despite all the striking talent in the league in the goalscoring stakes it was once again Billy “Juicy” Farrell of Shamrock Rovers who topped the scoring charts with 24 league goals. An all-round sportsman, Farrell excelled at hockey, cricket, Gaelic football and even billiards. However, the 25-26 season would be the last one in which he would play regularly, a broken leg after a serious motorbike accident in May 1926 prematurely curtailing one of the most promising careers in the League.
For Bohemians their top scorer was the South African, Billy Otto, pressed into service more often as a centre forward after the departure of Roberts, with the likes of Dr. Jim O’Flaherty (another in a long line of Bohemian doctors), Jimmy Bermingham, and Joe Stynes (a prominent Republican during the Civil War and former Dublin county footballer) all chipping in through the season. Between the posts the Irish Army Officer, Harry Cannon had made the goalkeeper spot his own.
As mentioned Fordsons had a particularly good start to the season but it was Bohemians who became the first side to win against them in Cork, securing an impressive 2-0 win. However, this win and the two points that came with it were overturned and awarded to the Cork team after a protest that veteran Bohs player Harry Willits had been listed on a team sheet for the game as “Henry” Willits. The league committee awarding Fordsons the victory due to the mis-spelling of the name of one of the league’s best known and longest serving players.
Despite that dubious victory Fordsons would only finish 3rd in the league, Shelbourne capturing the title for the first time in their history with Simpson and Watters scoring 33 goals between them to propel them to victory. In the Cup however it was to be Fordsons year, they defeated Shamrock Rovers 3-2 in the final in front of a record crowd of 25,000 in Dalymount.
Key to their victory was their goalkeeper Billy O’Hagan, the Donegal born former IFA international saved a penalty from Bob Fullam with the scores tied at 2-2 to inspire his team onwards, and with five minutes to go Paddy Barry scored the winner to bring the cup to Leeside for the first time. Harry Buckle, (who we met in the last issue) made history by becoming the oldest player at 44 years old, to win the cup, a record that still stands to this day.
In terms of trophies Bohemians had to be content with the Leinster Senior Cup which they won 2-1 in a replayed final against Shelbourne, Dr. Jim O’Flaherty grabbing both the goals in the game played on April 19th as one of the final matches of the football season.
A month earlier the League had secured its first inter-league victory, defeating the Irish League 3-1 in a comfortable victory in Dalymount in the first ever meeting between representative teams from the island’s two leagues.
And just a week after that history was made as an Irish international side under the auspices of the FAI took to the field in Turin to face Italy. Despite a 3-0 reverse it was an important first step in world football for the national side, among the starting XI that day were Bohemians Harry Cannon in goal and Jack McCarthy in the defence.
Between 1864 and 1961 seventeen men were hung in Crumlin Road jail, the first four executions were carried out in a specially-built gallows in the front courtyard. On September 17th 1972 Private Frank Bell from the Wirrall, aged 18, was wounded by a single sniper shot on patrol in Ballymurphy a district of West Belfast, three days later he passed away in the Royal Victoria Hopital he was the 100th British soldier to die in the war in Ireland. In the spring of 1973 Liam Holden, also 18, became the last person in the United Kingdom to be sentenced to hang for the killing of Private Bell, ‘”You will suffer death in the manner authorised by law” were the judges words. Handcuffed to a prison officer Holden was escorted along the underground tunnel that led to Crumlin Road jail on the opposite side of the road. There he was taken straight to C wing – to the condemned man’s cell. A fortnight previous William Whitelaw, the first Secretary of State of Northern Ireland, had pardoned Albert Browne a UDA member from hanging following the shooting of an RUC officer in October 1972. Liam Holden didn’t hang his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and shortly after capital punishment was abolished in Northern Ireland bringing it in line with the rest of the United Kingdom – Holden would have his murder conviction quashed four decades later by the court of appeal in Belfast.
That same spring 1973 a tall sparse figure stood at the door of a London hotel room heart beating, palms sweating, full of nervous tension as he knocked on the door. Alexander Derek Dougan from the staunchly Protestant heartland of Newtownards in East Belfast, was born at 41 Susan Street in the shadow of Harland and Wolf where his father worked as a boilermaker; he was capped 43 times and captain of his country Northern Ireland.
He had been the youngest member of the 1958 World Cup squad and was presented with a gold watch as Ulstermen descended on Sweden for the teams first finals. The Doog though stood for more than simple ball-kicking, he was the proud owner of human sentience, a majestic temper, venomous tongue and a fearless spirit – that same year of ’73 he had instigated the PFA awards. Dougan had never respected convention, he was Britain’s first football mod skinhead; he had walked into a Blackburn hairdressers in 1959 and had his head fully shaved. As Dougan entered the hotel room in England’s capital his body language was palpable history in the making was in the air, across the room sat two men Harry Cavan IFA President and Secretary Billy Drennan. Dougan took a seat and outlined to the blazers about two phone calls and the idea of an All-Ireland XI to face world champions Brazil in Dublin… speaking about leadership, healing divisions and building bridges he was faced with deathly silence…
Harry Cavan informed Dougan tersely that he would put the matter to the IFA. Billy Drennan, much more enthusiastic, told his captain that he would keep him posted about developments. Neither would ever speak to Dougan again.
The Northern Ireland team were gathered in London en route to play Cyprus for a World Cup qualifier;
Dougan was plying his trade with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the top division in England – John Giles and Liam Touhy felt he was the man to help knit things together between Northern and Southern players. Giles still then the general of Don Revie’s midfield at Leeds United was soon to take over as manager of the Republic of Ireland – he would pick up his phone in Yorkshire and speak candidly and passionately about the idea to Dougan. The second phone call came from Giles brother-in-law Louis Kilcoyne who had lobbied Jao Havelange, Brazil’s FA President, a man ambitously interested in unseating England’s Stanley Rous as head of FIFA. With elections coming in 1974 Kilcoyne felt he could deliver an FAI vote for Havelange,if he could deliver the lustre of Jairzinho and Rivelino to Lansdowne Road. That spring 1973 while Liam Holden faced the uncertainty of the gallows in Crumlin Road jail the boys from Brazil were on a 1973 European tour helping them acclimatise for the 1974 World Cup which was to be held in Germany. Havalange had agreed to the game but Brazil had two requests: firstly the game had to be played for charity and the secondly the team had to be 32-county in make up, this is why Dougan was contacted.
On the 3rd of July 1973 nine days before the local Newtownards District LOL marched on the streets of East Belfast Alexander Derek Dougan set foot on the hallowed turf of Lansdowne Road in front of 35,000 spectators. As the two teams emerged alongside the Doog was Allan Hunter, Martin O’Neill and Pat Jennings on the bench sat future Northern Ireland manager Bryan Hamilton and Brian Clough’s future right hand man at Notts Forest Liam O’Kane all had travelled south. That day the St. Patrick’s brass and reed band would strike up a nation once again.
Brazil would win out 4-3 but the Irish would hold their heads high coming back from a 4-1 deficit to narrowly lose out – Dougan would net the third with Dublin Northsiders Terry Conroy and Mick Martin also scoring. Mick Martin was the son of the great Con Martin a brilliant sportsman who had won a Leinster Senior Championship medal back in 1942 given his preference for soccer he would not receive his medal until 1972. Mick’s father was involved in the last team to be made up of Northerners and Southerners a World Cup qualifier against Wales in Wrexham for the IFA’s Ireland team, five months earlier he had scored for the FAI’s Ireland team – the year was 1950 and as attitudes hardened and FIFA’s new criteria kicked in there would be no more dual Irish internationals. Four years earlier Cornelius Joseph Martin had moved from Drumcondra to Dougan’s local club Glentoran the pride of East Belfast; CJ Martin would find digs in Ballysillan near the top of the Shankill mixing daily with both Protestant and Catholic.
On that day in July as the game was beamed out live in Irish homes; the team that took on the best team in the world was called “Shamrock Rovers XI” there was no mention of ‘Ireland’ or ‘All-Ireland’. Harry Cavan had been busy behind the scenes speaking with Stanley Rous making sure there would be no ‘Ireland’ in the title. That evening after the game Dougan, Hunter and Craig all northern Protestants drank in Dublin’s fair city with Mick Martin, Don Givens and Terry Conroy all southern Catholics. The idea had been a great success and Dougan wrote afterwards: ‘They didn’t say it couldn’t be done, they said it shouldn’t be done. It was done and afterwards they couldn’t find any fault with it, so they said nothing.’
Within three months of the match taking place the two associations sat across from each other in Belfast the meeting was described as ‘lengthy and amicable’; another meeting was held in 1974. Four years later both associations went further issuing a joint statement following discussions in Dundalk about ‘the possibility of an All-Ireland Football Federation which would be responsible for football on the island’. However, the European Championships draw for 1980 would be the ruination of all the progress made the two Ireland’s would be drawn in Group One alongside England. In North London at Highbury stadium after the groups were made six Irishmen messers Brady, Jennings, Rice, O’Leary, Stapleton and Nelson sat down and faced up to a sickening and depressing reality.
For the vision he showed Derek Dougan would never play for Northern Ireland again, Cavan advised then manager Terry Neill not to pick him. There would be no second gold watch for being capped 50 times to go with the one received in 1958.
In 1997 after a near fatal heart attack Dougan ran for parliament in his local East Belfast ward running on a ticket which proposed integrated education, a referendum on the province’s political future, and peace through appreciation of difference. Among the bureaucracy and the blazers Alexander Derek Dougan nearly broke the mould.
The split from the IFA and the formation of the FAI in 1921 was an acrimonious one, and the bad blood seeped beyond our own island as the English, Scottish and Welsh football associations roundly supported their colleagues in Belfast. This placed the nascent FAI in a difficult position, it had to look further afield for opponents leading to them joining FIFA, entering a team in the 1924 Olympics and inviting clubs from the Continent to visit Ireland. They knew however that the bigger draw for the sporting public were always going to be for teams from the British associations and if a full international match couldn’t be secured, then the next best thing would be an inter-league game. With an improvement in relations with the other associations after a conference in Liverpool in 1923, this was something that for the first time seemed achieveable.
In February 1924, almost three years since the split from the FAI, an inter-league match was scheduled against the Welsh League, with the match due to take place in Dalymount Park. This was the first time since the creation of the FAI that they would have any sort of representative game. All that would be needed now was to select a team…
There was much discussion about the make-up of the team and not all Irish football supporters were happy. The newspaper letter pages at the time we’re deluged with criticisms and alternative XIs (they had to do something without Twitter) but ultimately side was picked by a Free State league selection committee and was made up of players from Bohemians, Shelbourne, Jacobs, St. James’s Gate and Shamrock Rovers. The Welsh, for their part selected four Cardiff players, three from Llanelli Town and one each from Swansea, Newport, Mid Rhondda and Pontypridd. Neither the League of Ireland team nor the Welsh side limited themselves to Irish or Welsh players only. For the Welsh League the likes of Cardiff’s English goalkeeper Herbert Kneeshaw or forward Jack Nock were selected. Similarly, the League of Ireland side featured English players, the Bohs’ forwards Harry Willitts and Dave Roberts were both born in England. Roberts had even had a brief career in the English league with the likes of Shrewsbury and Walsall.
It was quite an eclectic League of Ireland side, completing the Irish forward line alongside Willitts and Roberts were Hugh (Jimmy) Harvey, Jack (Kruger) Fagan and Christy Robinson. Harvey was a winger for Jacobs who, like Willitts had served in the British Army in World War I, he would later go on to have a career as a music hall performer and comedy actor. Robinson and Fagan, two of the younger players in the side, from Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers respectively, had both been involved with the IRA during the War of Independence.
The side was captained by Shelbourne’s Mick “Boxer” Foley (they loved a nickname back then) who was among the more experienced players on the side having been on the books of the now defunct Leeds City for almost ten years either side of the War. One player who was picked but who would have to be replaced late-on was Val Harris, at almost 40 Harris was back with Shelbourne after a distinguished career in England with Everton, however a late withdrawal saw his place taken by Bohs’ Johnny McIlroy. On the bench was Charlie Harris, the Bohemian FC trainer who also moonlighted as a trainer/physio for O’Toole’s GAC and occassionally the Dublin County GAA side, including on the infamous occassion of a match against Tipperary in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday 1920.
The night before the game the Welsh delegation were treated to tea in Clery’s department store tearooms followed by a show across the river at the Theatre Royal.
The match itself was a success, a sizeable crowd of 15,000 generated gate receipts of £850, a record soon broken when Glasgow Celtic visited Dalymount to play the League selection later that month. The St. James Brass & Reed band provided entertainment and English referee T.G. Bryan (who would go on to referee the 1928 FA Cup final) was brought to Dublin specially for the match. The crowd were given the best possible start to proceedings when Ernie McKay of St. James’s Gate, and a worker in the GPO for his day job, open the scoring early on, McKay earned special praise for his performance in the game and was complimented for rising to the occasssion and showing leadership in midfield. For the Welsh side Jack Nock quickly equalised before Jimmy Jones of Cardiff put them in front.
Deep in the second half the Welsh did well to preserve their lead but with just 12 minutes to go Bohs striker Roberts who had been having a quiet game scored twice in quick succession to briefly give the Irish the lead. Jones however scored his second of the day which meant that this first ever representative game organised under the auspices of the FAI would end 3-3 and history was made.
Bios of the players involved:
Frank Collins: Collins had two spells with Jacobs, either side of a a short spell at Glasgow Celtic where he saw little first team action, he was restricted to just two first team appearances due to the primacy of regular Celtic custodian Charlie Shaw. While at Celtic he was capped by the IFA in a game against Scotland. He returned to Jacobs in 1922 and continued to play with them for a further ten years. The fact that Collins had played professionally in Scotland probably meant that he missed out on an appearance at the 1924 Olympics, however, he was capped by the FAI in a 3-0 win against the USA in Dalymount directly after the Olympics as well as the 1927 game against Italy.
Stephen Boyne: Boyne and his brother Eddie were both regulars for Jacobs around this time. They were from Bride Street and Stephen worked as a van driver for the Jacobs factory. He had received a significant ban in 1920 after altercations that took place during a game against Olympia.
Herbert (Bert) Kerr: Beginning as a a youth player with Drumcondra, Kerr later joined Bohemians when Drums disbanded during the First World War. Kerr represented Ireland at the 1924 Olympics and won three caps in total. He later became a club captain and a prominent member of the Bohemian FC management committee. A younger brother, Kevin Kerr, also later captained Bohemians. In 1920 he set up his own insurance and bloodstock agency. Bertie had a love of horses and Kerr and Company remain in business to this day. He purchased and sold on four horses that later won the Aintree Grand National as well as a Kentucky Derby winner. He passed away in 1973 aged 77.
Mick (Boxer) Foley: Born in Dublin in 1892 Foley made his name at Shelbourne from where he was purchased by Leeds City along with two of his teammates in 1910. Foley made more than 120 appearances over the next ten, war-interrupted years, for Leeds before the club dissolved in 1919 due to financial irregularities. Foley quickly re-signed for Shelbourne winning the IFA Cup on his return. His grandson Paul played in the League of Ireland and in Australia.
Johnny McIlroy: Another one of the veteran players in the team, McIlroy had made his name with Belfast Celtic, appearing in both the 1917 and 1918 IFA Cup finals. He featured for the Falls League XI in a friendly match against Bohemians in 1921 and was soon signed by the Dublin club for whom he would have great success, winning league titles in 1924 and 1928 as well as the 1928 FAI Cup.
Ernie McKay: The son of a Scottish soldier, McKay was born in Richmond Barracks in Templemore, Tipperary, now the Garda training college. McKay played for St. James’s Gate but did not work for Guinnesses, instead he spent decades working in the GPO on O’Connell Street, as a teenager he was working there as a telegram boy when the Easter Rising broke out. It was around this time that he first became involved with St. James’s Gate as a footballer. Like other members of this XI he also featured in the 1924 Olympics. McKay won the double with the Gate in the first season of the Laegue of Ireland and formed an imposing half-back line alongside Frank Heaney and Bob Carter. He later retired to Essex and was one of last surviving members of the team, passing away in his later 90s.
John (Kruger) Fagan: “Kruger” as he was known in tribute to one of the heroes of the Boer War, grew up around the Markets area of Dublin. During the 1916 Rising he assisted rebels in the Four Courts in getting to safety and arranging for a safe house. A diminutive forward at just 5’2″ Fagan became part of Shamrock Rovers famed “Four Fs” forward line alongside Bob Fullam, Billy “Juicy” Farrell and John Joe Flood. He was capped by Ireland in the 1926 game against Italy in Turin and made history when his son Fionan, who starred for Manchester City was also capped by Ireland, making them the first father and son to achieve this honour. A talented all round sportsman he won a Leinster title in handball and later worked as an assistant to the first Dáil librarian before moving to the Werburgh Street offices of the Department of social welfare.
Harry Willits: Harry Willits was born in Middlesborough in 1889 and already made a strong impression as a footballer in his teens, when he played for Middlesbrough Old Boys, Cambridge House and the famous South Bank club where a team-mate was later English international George Elliott. He moved to Ireland in 1908 to work in the Civil Service and began playing for Bohemians around this time.
He joined the British Army in late 1915 and was seriously wounded in the leg in 1916. Despite this he returned to football and was an intergral part of the Bohemian side that won the league in 1924. Even before his playing days with Bohemians finally ended, Willits became involved with the club’s Management Committee, also later the Selection Committee, and he served as Vice-President.
Dave Roberts: From the English midlands Roberts had spells at both Walsall and Shrewsbury before moving to Bohemians. He had also served briefly in the British army before his footballing career in Ireland. He was top scorer in the 1923-24 season as Bohs won the league, later moving onto Fordsons in Cork. Roberts had a wife and two children living in Birmingham at this time and in 1925 while playing in Cork he was sentenced to a month in prison for child neglect for failing to pay the Birmingham Guardians £172 for the care of the children. At the time Roberts claimed his salary was only £3 and ten shillings a week. Roberts continued with Fordsons until 1927.
Christy Robinson: Born around the markets area on Arran Street in 1902, Robinson was a skillful inside left and one of the stars of a Bohemian side which won the league in 1924 and a clean sweep of trophies in 1928. He also had spells at both Bendigo and Shelbourne. Prior to his involvement with football he had been an member of Na Fianna Éireann and later a member of the First Battalion of the Dublin Brigade during the War of Independence. During this time he was involved in the raid on Monk’s Bakery where Kevin Barry was captured. He would later name one of his son’s Kevin in his honour. He was a Captain in the Free State army until his departure from it in 1924. Robinson was another player who travelled to the 1924 Olympics and featured in a friendly match against Estonia directly after Ireland’s exit from that competition. His brother Jeremiah (Sam) would also play for Ireland and would have a successful club career alongside his brother at Bohemians before moving onto Dolphin. Christy Robinson passed away in 1954 in Dover, England. He is incorrectly listed as S. Robinson on the match programme pictured above.
Hugh James Harvey: Hugh James Harvey, was better known as Jimmy Harvey and was born in Dublin in 1897. He had been a physical instructor in the British Army during World War I and had played for Shelbourne on his return to Dublin, featuring in the 1923 FAI Cup final where Shels had surprisingly lost to Belfast side Alton United, Harvey had the unlucky distiction of being the first player to ever miss a penalty in a FAI Cup final in that game. Harvey was useful in several positions across the forward line but found a new lease of life after his sporting career. During his time as a Jacob’s player records list him as a labourer. However, his father (also Hugh) was a “Variety artist” and the younger Hugh, decided to follow his father into show businesses. He excelled as a comedian as part of a comedy troupe known as the “Happy Gang” who performed in many theatres around Dublin and was also an accomplished singer, dancer and actor.
Name a footballer who has won a cup winners medal in three different countries across three separate decades? Quite the pub quiz brain teaser but if you answered – Jimmy Delaney award yourself 5 points. Delaney the scintillating and pacey Scottish international winger, won a Scottish Cup with Celtic in 1937, the FA Cup with Manchester United in 1948 and the IFA Cup with Derry City in a twice replayed final against Glentoran in 1954. Delaney came within 12 minutes of winning a fourth cup medal, in 1956 with Cork Athletic, but fate, and Paddy Coad intervened.
With Cork leading 2-0 with 12 minutes to go (Delaney then aged 41 had put Cork ahead after 34 minutes) a tactical change by Shamrock Rovers player-manager Paddy Coad helped get them a late lifeline through Tommy Hamilton and two more goals followed between then and the final whistle to deliver the cup to Rovers. The Cork players, including their veteran player-coach Delaney were left in a state shock. Such had been their confidence one of the Cork directors had left Dalymount early to buy bottles of champagne! Delaney had his own theories as to why Cork Athletic lost the cup – mainly around the team diet. As quoted by Seán Ryan he stated that “Soup, spuds, cabbage, meat was their usual diet while I had a poached egg or something light. They ate too much but they were a grand bunch.”
Despite that down-note at the end of his career Delaney, born in Cleland near Motherwell to Patrick and Bridget in an area populated mostly by generations of Irish immigrants, enjoyed great success on the biggest stages. Signed by the legendary Celtic manager Willie Maley, Jimmy made his Celtic debut as a 19-year-old as part of a squad that included the likes of Celtic’s record goalscorer Jimmy McGrory. Delaney was a key component of a Celtic revival in the late 1930s winning two league titles and the aforementioned Scottish Cup, while thrilling crowds with his skill, pace and workrate down the touchline. A severe injury to his arm in 1939 would put him out of the game for a time but would also have likely have exempted him from military service as the Second World War broke out soon after. He did however, work in the mining industry to support the war effort while continuing to line out for Celtic in war time games.
After the hardship of War the opportunity to join fellow Scot Matt Busby at Old Trafford proved too good even for a die-hard Celt like Jimmy to resist and in 1946 he joined Manchester United and became an integral part of Busby’s first great post war team. He played an important role in the 1948 Cup Final as Manchester United, captained by Irishman Johnny Carey, defeated Blackpool. Jimmy set up the opening goal for Jack Rowley with one of his pinpoint crosses.
Just after his move to United he enjoyed one of his finest moments in a Scotland shirt, when in April 1946 he scored the only goal as Scotland defeated England in a post-war “Victory International” in front of a crowd of over 130,000 in Hampden Park. He finished his War-interrupted international career with 15 caps and six goals for Scotland, often playing in front of record-breaking crowds. He was posthumously inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2009
After finishing up at United aged 38 further spells with Aberdeen and Falkirk were followed by Jimmy’s Irish adventure in Derry and Cork. Football also continued in his family, his grandson was Celtic centre back John Kennedy whose career was curtailed by injury but who has since successful moved into coaching with Celtic FC.
This piece first appeared in the 2022 Ireland v Scotland match programme.
For the 1924-25 season the League of Ireland remained a 10- team league, Midland Athletic – the railway works team withdrew from the league, as did Shelbourne United, who withdrew just after the season had started. The League however, took on a more nationally representative characteristic with two non-Dublin clubs joining. The wonderfully named Bray Unknowns, (though still playing just over the county border in Dublin before reverting to the Carlisle Grounds a few seasons later), and Fordsons of Cork City.
Fordsons had been beaten in the previous season’s Cup Final and were associated with the Ford Factory, but they may never have become a sporting power if it wasn’t for Harry Buckle being thrown in Belfast Lough. Buckle was an Ireland international (IFA) who had starred for Sunderland but was back in his native Belfast working for Harland and Wolff. As a Catholic he had been subjected to sectarian attacks and decided to swap the shipyards for the Ford Factory. While there he helped re-establish the Munster FA and drive forward Fordsons to become Cork’s first (but not last) league of Ireland side where they’d finish a credible fourth in their debut season. His son Bobby Buckle, and great-grandson Dave Barry would also enjoy soccer success on Leeside.
At the top of the League it was Bohs and Rovers battling it out for supremacy and despite only losing once during the 18-game season Bohemians had to settle for 2nd place in the table. Shamrock Rovers went through the league season undefeated, with their famous “Four F” forward line propelling them to victory with a +55 goal difference. Top scorer that year was Billy “Juicy” Farrell with 25 goals and the other “F”s being Bob Fullam (who we met in an earlier instalment) Jack “Kruger” Fagan and John Joe “Slasher” Flood. Footballers and fans of the 20s clearly enjoyed the use of nicknames! Bohs top scorer that year was Ned Brooks, who we met in the last article after he had scored a hat-trick against the USA on his Ireland debut.
In the Cup Rovers made it a double with Fullam and Flood scoring in a 2-1 win over Shelbourne in front of 23,000 in Dalymount Park on St. Patrick’s Day 1925. Both teams were still playing in their original homes around Ringsend so the cup final made for something of a super-local derby.
Just three days before the Cup final the LOI had played its second ever inter-league game, once again the Welsh League provided the opposition with Bohemians’ Dave Roberts getting the only goal for the league as they lost 2-1 to their Welsh counterparts.
Roberts was to have an eventful season the following season but most of it would be spent away from Dalymount.
Second and third place finishes saw Bohs begin the first years of the League of Ireland as nearly men, despite being one of the most well-established sides in the new league. The third season however, would finally deliver some major silverware to Dalymount in the form of the clubs first League title as well as winning the League of Ireland Shield.
Joining an experienced group were some newcomers; adding firepower to the Bohs’ forward line was Englishman Dave Roberts who had previously played for Walsall and Shrewsbury Town. Roberts would finish the league season as its top scorer with 20 goals, followed by his teammate, the skilful inside forward Christy Robinson with 12. There were goals throughout the Bohs side that year with Mick O’Kane registering eight, and another recent arrival Billy Otto getting five from midfield.
Otto, the captain for that title winning season, had been born on Robben Island just off Cape Town and had ended up in Ireland via the trenches of the Somme and later a Civil Service job in Dublin. He led Bohs to victory as they would finish four points clear of their nearest rivals Shelbourne, clinching the league title by beating St. James’s Gate with a game to spare.
Dublin United, Olympia and Rathmines United had all exited the league that season, with only Brooklyn (named after Brooklyn Terrace off the South Circular Road) joining what was now a 10-team league. In the Cup it was Athlone Town who triumphed in the St. Patrick’s Day final, they defeated Cork side Fordsons 1-0 with a goal coming from their veteran forward Dinny Hannon who had been a part of the Bohemian side who had won the Irish Cup way back in 1908. Athlone had knocked Bohs out in the semi-final that year and amazingly won the cup without conceding a goal in the entire competition.
At international level February 1924 saw the first League of Ireland XI play an inter-league match, an exciting 3-3 draw with the Welsh League at Dalymount, the LOI side featured five Bohemians that day; Bertie Kerr, Johnny McIlroy, Christy Robinson, Harry Willits and Dave Roberts who scored two of the League’s three that day. Of those players Robinson and Kerr would be selected to represent Ireland in football at the 1924 Olympics along with their fellow Bohemians Jack McCarthy, Johnny Murray, John Thomas and Ernie Crawford. Ireland opened the tournament with a 1-0 victory over Bulgaria thanks to a Paddy Duncan goal before exiting at the quarter final stage to the Netherlands who won 2-1 after extra time.
Further international games were arranged by the FAI including a 3-1 win over Estonia in a friendly in Paris directly after elimination at the Olympics as well as a first home international, another 3-1, this time over the United States in Dalymount in June 1924. The star of the show was hat-trick hero Ned Brooks of Bohemians who had helped the club to success in the League of Ireland Shield a few months earlier.