Wednesday 13 December 2017

'I was there in Drogheda when Saints marched to league title'

Irish Independent reporter and St Patrick’s Athletic supporter David Kelly celebrates behind midfielder Pat Fenlon after the team beat Drogheda in United Park to win the 1990 League of Ireland Premier Division title. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Irish Independent reporter and St Patrick’s Athletic supporter David Kelly celebrates behind midfielder Pat Fenlon after the team beat Drogheda in United Park to win the 1990 League of Ireland Premier Division title. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

There was something grimly defiant about this day which, like 1996, saw St Pat's clinch a league title, not in Dublin, and certainly not at home, but in Co Louth.

Exiled from our true home in Richmond Park, upon which I could see the sheep graze from my bedroom window, we had only meant to stay for a year. We stayed for four.

In between times, the real threat of extinction existed; at times, a few of us who manfully strove to fill pay packets by running Lotto schemes were locked out. Occasionally, the reserves were locked out of Harold's Cross too.

Various owners came, promised and left. I met George Best in the grandstand; he was embarking on a takeover attempt. The eager teenage scoop filed the story. Fake news triumphed even then.

Despite it all, the football team and its manager thrived in adversity; so too its players.

Con Houlihan, my hero, was detained in Fairyhouse at the Grand National; like him, I demurred from the press box when three elder lemons grimly warned me that there were only three chairs.

This was a family I longed for and this was our special moment. And, it seems, I lost my glasses. . .

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