Tuesday 20 March 2018

Chant of 'Sepp Blatter, he paid for your ground' gets biggest applause in forgettable friendly

Republic of Ireland supporters chant for their team during the game.
Republic of Ireland supporters chant for their team during the game.

James Donoghue

There wasn't much for Irish supporters to applaud during the international friendly against England, but they did show their appreciation for the humour of their English counterparts.

The drab 0-0 draw was described as a "waste of an afternoon" by ITV pundit Paul Scholes, but the home fans did appreciate the chanting of "Sepp Blatter, he paid for your ground" that rang out sporadically during the lunch-time kick-off.

In a week where FAI chief executive John Delaney admitted to accepting a €5m payment from Fifa president Sepp Blatter, jibes were to be expected from the travelling support.

The Irish faithful located in the East Stand however responded in the best possible fashion by applauding their efforts.

One Irish fan even cracked his own joke to the Irish crowd around him “And what a fine stadium it is too” he said with a straight face.

The England fans also chanted 'Thierry Henry, Thierry Henry',  but were quickly  responded to with choruses of 'Ole, Ole Ole' from the Irish faithful.  

It was the first time since the England fans came to Dublin since 1995 when the old Lansdowne road was abandoned following rioting from the English fans.

A hostile atmosphere was expected again this time but the chants were as tame as the game itself, the only time boos rang out from the Irish fans was either a rendition of 'God Save the Queen' or Liverpool's want-away star Raheem Sterling touching the ball.

Gardaí in Dublin had been on high alert for the game and this was evident, hordes of Gardaí could be seen from O’Connell Street all the way to the stadium.

It seems 20 years has brought about massive change for both parties clearly evident in the moving standing ovation reception that befell Jack Charlton when he entered the ground before the kick-off.

The sectarian or anti-IRA chants which some had feared would rear its ugly heads were left underground on this occasion.

Both sets of fans threw parting shots before the final whistle as the Irish belted out the Fields of Athenry while the English supporters gave one last rendition of God Save the Queen but it was all in good nature.

Gardaí will maintain a high presence around town for the night as Temple Bar looks more like Templemore for the weekend but so far the English fans will be heading home with a gold star.


Online Editors

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