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F*ck you, we'll sing what we want
Wednesday June 27, 2012 09:33 by YBIG
"Rent a drunken Paddy"
"They are only there for a sing song"
"Singing away while we are humiliated"
"They are an embarrassment"
These are some of the abuse leveled at the Irish fans who travelled to the Euro's by a small, yet loud, number of fans who stayed at home. To those of us who travelled we have a different story to tell.
It's a rocky road to Poland. Our group of 40 took off from Berlin to each of the games early in the morning. Bohs fans, Pats fans, comrades all, Cork fans, Rovers, Shells and Drogheda. We were on the one road, maybe the wrong road but we were together now who cares? The expectation was high on the journey to the Croatia match. Many of us expected some form of result, we needed it as the next game against the best team in the world wasn't giving us any hope. As we arrived into Poznan the whole bus broke into chants and singing. We were there to be the 12th man. As the result turned out we actually needed a 13th or 14th man as we were simply outclassed both by superior players and superior tactics. Our one equalising goal gave us false hope and we broke into the poznan in Poznan. Even though we were losing most of the game we kept on singing throughout, we are supporters after all, not bandwagonners who jump on to support a team only when they are winning. The bus back to Berlin was subdued, our analysis of the game would have been the same as most fans at home. Ireland simply weren't good enough.
The second game against Spain in Gdansk was an even longer and rockier road. We had realistic expectations but still we had dreams. Even if we managed a draw somehow we could beat Italy and qualify. As we arrived into the old town we could hear the singing of the Irish fans. The square was packed full of thousands of Irish fans singing and cheering. There were many Polish fans who had taken to supporting Ireland because of the atmosphere that the Irish fans were creating. There was no trouble, no violence and no disgrace. Irish fans posed with Polish fans and Spanish fans for photo's. We were all here for the football and to enjoy ourselves. The match itself was less enjoyable for the Irish as Spain gave a masterclass in how to play football. We were down and out of the tournament. Around the 82nd minute (and not the 87th as some media reports had it) the Fields of Athenry broke out. As each minute went by more and more fans joined in the singing. By the end of the game there were easily over 20,000 Irish fans singing it in the ground. It was a genuine hair raising moment, one that we didn't have on the pitch. We did have dreams and songs to sing but we were now out of the tournament. There was to be no similar stories to tell like the Ray Houghton goal or that Packie Bonner save. We weren't going to have any stories like ringing home to get more money to go to the quarter finals. The rendition of the Fields of Athenry was going to have to be ours.
The reaction in the press the next day was phenomenal. It made the front page of a German newspaper who quoted Spanish fans who said they cried the last 5 minutes as they watched us sing at the end. Countless other newspapers all over Europe praising the Irish fans, called us Europe's No. 1 fans. Numerous You Tube clips of the singing were viewed hundreds of thousands of times by people. Fans from all over Europe were praising the Irish fans. Back home many joined in the praise but a small number of loudmouth begrudgers began to attack the fans. People who don't know the difference between a TicTac and a tactic derided the fans for singing as we were demolished on the pitch. It seemed they expected us to tear off the seats and riot. Some seemed to be deluded enough to blame the fans for the performances as they believed the FAI will be happy to serve up these kind of performances as long as the fans keep on singing. Some smug people called us 'not real' football fans as we didn't go to League Of Ireland matches. As a season ticket holder to a LOI team this smugness pisses me off no end. Nobody will be encouraged to go to LOI games if they think they are going to be standing beside some smug prick who thinks he is a 'real fan'.
As our bus made its way to the Italy game we met fans from other countries who were driving down to see the atmosphere of the Green Army looking for tickets off us, our singing hadn't made an impression on the Irish team but it did on fans all over the Europe. Once again we sang throughout the game, once again our team wasn't up to scratch. We ended our participation in the Euro's with another rendition of the Fields of Athenry. 'We had dreams and songs to sing' but now it was all over bar the plane ride home. Many Polish fans thanked the Irish fans for the atmosphere that we created, one even asking to teach him how to sing 'we all dream of a team of Gary Breen's'.
As supporters we had done our part throughout the tournament. Our team was substandard, the performances were awful and the tactics used are simply outdated and terrible to watch. I didn't meet one Irish fan over there who wasn't giving out about the games. Our analysis was no different then most fans. We could see the faults in the team, probably better than those at home as we could see the entire pitch and team set up. We can criticise the Irish fans who don't go to LOI games but we should encourage them to go, not abuse them for not going. Many of the LOI games I have been to this season have been far superior to the performances dished out by the Irish team. But the problems in the LOI and the Irish team run deep. A lack of investment in youth infrastructure and LOI clubs has to be addressed "Some problems can't be sung away" was a Bohs banner in the first LOI fixtures after the Euro's though the reality is no problems can be sung away. But the Irish fans in Poland weren't there to sing our problems away, we were there to support.
And to those small number of loudmouth begrudgers, you are clearly only jealous as you missed this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vemnEAuaKfg
Maybe most people wont remember us singing it in 10 years time, maybe they will only remember the football. I can guarantee that those of us who were in the stadium that night will remember it.
Anyway You only sing when you're winning