In exclusive extracts from his new autobiography, Roddy Collins remembers his glory dates at Dalymount Park and how it fell apart
It was over. We (Bohemians) had won the league. We all hugged each other and celebrated, then we went outside to celebrate with the fans.
I spotted the committee men. They’d been waiting since 1978 for Bohs to win the title. And here they were, champions at last – and the manager who delivered it was a man they didn’t want in the job. It must have killed them. Were they supposed to feel happy or sad?
I remember Gerry Cuffe walking past me on the pitch. There was no handshake. There was no ‘well done’. He just smiled and sort of flicked his Bohs scarf in the direction of my face.
When I was interviewed by Gabriel Egan of RTÉ, all of my anger came to a seething boil. ‘I don’t know how we won this,’ I said. ‘This club is run by Stone Age people.’ And with those words, I sealed my fate.
We still had the FAI Cup final to look forward to against Longford Town the following weekend. We’d beaten Shamrock Rovers in the semi-final and now we had a chance to take the other trophy that Ollie (Byrne) told me I’d never get my hands on.
But first we celebrated the league win.
On the Monday we went to The Belfry in Stoneybatter. All the plasterers and labourers who worked for me got the day off and I put on a free bar for everyone in the pub.
Tony O’Donoghue rang me from RTÉ and asked me to do an interview with him in Dalymount Park. I said, ‘Tony, I’m up to my neck in pints. You’ll have to come here,’ which he did.
Bad teams can win cups but only good teams win leagues. I was thinking I could do it again next season.
All I needed to do was add one or two players and we could win four in a row like the great Rovers team of the 1980s.
But in the back of my mind, I knew I couldn’t put myself and my family through another year of torture. Maybe what I said to Gabriel Egan was an act of self-sabotage.
A board member rang. I stepped outside the pub.
‘Is everything all right?’ I asked.
‘No,’ he said, ‘everything is not all right. As a matter of fact, I think I’m going to have to sue you.’
‘Is that right?’
‘You defamed the whole board – when you said we were Stone Age people.’
‘You f**king are Stone Age people,’ I said. ‘You’re a f**king joke. Sue me if you want.’
So that, for me, was the start of cup-final week. On the Tuesday, we all checked into a golf and country club in Howth.
I surrounded myself with good people. Shaun Edwards flew over from England and spent a few days with us. I was determined to enjoy the match.
I saw the committee men hanging around the hotel and I got a sense that the final was going to be my last day out with this group of players.
Longford Town were a decent team, managed by the current Ireland manager Stephen Kenny.
They played good football, but I knew we were too street smart for them. Our right-back ‘Toccy’ (Tony O’Connor) scored the winner.
The club had put up two marquees in Dalymount Park to celebrate the double. I had no intention of going, but Caroline persuaded me that I should. I went along and thanked all the players for what they’d given me. But I knew in my heart that I was finished.
I was called to a meeting – another end-of-season review. Caroline and I were taking the kids to Florida and I said it could wait until we came home. We were in America when Caroline had a call from her sister, who said, ‘It’s just been on the radio that Roddy’s been sacked.’
It ruined the holiday for me. Lying in the sun, my mind wandered back to all the good times we had and I forgot all about the daily battles with the committee and other figures within the club that wore me down. I’d built something very special at Bohs and I wasn’t ready to just walk away from it without a fight.
I went a bit off the wall then. We came home to Dublin and I staged a rally in the boxing gym that my brother Paschal ran on Capel Street.
A hundred or so Bohs fans came along to support me and I told them that as far as I was concerned I was still the manager of Bohemian Football Club.
I don’t know what I was thinking. It was cheap and shabby. My pride was hurt.
I should have walked away with my head held high.
Don't miss part Two in tomorrow's Irish Independent and on Independent.ie.