Gypsies return to `roar' of approval
WHEN the first stand at Dalymount Park was opened, on September 7, 1901, it had been tested for strength by 20 burly policemen from nearby Mountjoy who danced across the top of it!
Almost a century later, Roddy Collins is threatening to bring his Bohs' players for a roof-top knees-up tomorrow to mark the unveiling of the largest, and most expensive, stand in the Eircom League 3,000 seats at a cost of £1m.
``If it helps us get three points against Sligo, I'll give the lads a warm-up on the new stand,'' quipped Collins. ``It's nothing new to me. I used to climb on to the roof at the Shed End as a kid. Then the coppers used to come and chase us off,'' said the Cabra native.
Collins is not backward about being innovative in his preparations for matches. What other manager would have his players ducking under the ropes for sparring sessions in his Capel Street sweat shop?
``Mark Dempsey has the makings of a good boxer. Pound for pound, he's the pick of the crop. Avery John is a natural even after two sessions, Jamie Harris has a long reach and good movement. They can all look after themselves,'' said Collins.
Handicapped by having had to play their first ten fixtures away this season, Bohemians are handily placed on the heels of Cork City and Shelbourne and no one is dismissing their chances of bridging a 22-year gap between titles.
It's a year since Collins took over full control of first team affairs at Dalymount and while he has overseen a massive turnover in personnel, and had to cope with the trauma of a relegation play-offs, seven defeats in 38 games indicates progress has been made.
Had Bohemians bombed out of the Premier Division last season, the new stand would never have got off the ground, so Collins, in his own way, can take some credit for the magnificent structure astriding Dublin 7 today.
``It's going to be a special day for everyone involved in the club tomorrow. I could hear the roar from `Dalyer' as a kid down the road in Annamoe Terrace. I could get sentimental about what the club means to me but I can't afford to. I've got a team to prepare and three points to play for,'' said Collins.
Fittingly, Bertie Ahern will be on hand for the new Dalymount dawn tomorrow (2.0). After all, it was another politician, Dublin's Lord Mayor Tim Harrington, who officially opened the ground which was to become the official home of Irish football 99 years ago.
The first international was played there in 1904 when Ireland, then under the IFA banner, drew 1-1 with Scotland and the first of 81 full internationals under the FAI auspices took place in 1929 when John Joe Flood scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 over Belgium.
Other international milestones which spring to mind include 1957 when John Atyeo silenced the `Dalymount Roar' with a late equaliser for England in a vital World Cup qualifier. And, of course, 1974, when Don Givens scored a hat-trick against the might of Russia.
Finance was provided by the sale of a portion of the ground at the Phibsborough End for £550,000, while Ahern's government stumped up £400,000 in grants to meet the balance. Today, `Dalyer' is back on the map as a football venue and the return of the `Roar' cannot be too far away.