Sunday, September 2, 2007

Pilgrimage to Knock

The bus departs at eight o’clock,
And booking is essential.
The annual pilgrimage to Knock
Is highly providential.

We’ll go around the church three times,
Reciting incantations,
And when the church bell slowly chimes,
We’ll make our presentations.

We’ll ask the good St. Bonicef
To grant us all a favour,
That, with a strong away-team ref,
We’ll get a win to savour.

We’ll bow our heads in silent prayers,
And sprinkle incense lightly,
And genuflect with graceful flair,
And clutch our relics tightly.

We’ll pray that Jayo’s goal drought ends
On Shels’ Icelandic saga,
And that our thirsty travelling friends
Can find a pint of lager.

To St. Jerome we’ll bend our knees,
Extolling his existence,
The patron saint of referees
And referees’ assistants.

We’ll offer up repentance for
The sins we have committed,
And pray the icemen do not score,
And that they’ll be outwitted.

We pray the weather breaks a bit
And won’t conspire to freeze us,
And hope Dave Rogers does not sit
On those Icelandic geysers.

We hope the Lord helps our attack
Upon the northern pagans,
And pray the coach will get us back
‘Ere closing time in Fagans.

Icelandic Medley – Fenlonssons Saga

The Challenge

In latitudes high in the chill North Atlantic,
O’er the island of Iceland, if you’re feeling pedantic,
A great silver bird with a wingspan gigantic
Came swooping down low from the grey, murky sky.
And as it touched down with much slipping and sliding,
From out of its belly, great warriors came striding,
As the local inhabitants went into hiding,
Gathering children as they scampered by.

The whole population was in a sheer panic,
At the sight of these warlords so fierce and satanic,
They tried to appease them with produce organic,
But Fenlon called halt with a wave of his sword.
He said, “We’ve been sent by the great god, Uefa,
Who holds all the glistening jewels that we pray for.
Akranes destroyed many dreams that we play for,
And thus we have come to have vengeance restored.”

Erik the Red

Erik the Red went to Iceland,
And visited each coastal village,
To proclaim loud and clear
That the Shels lads were here,
Not to rape or to loot or to pillage.

He sported a pointy-horned helmet,
Which he’d bought at considerable cost,
And a sword and a mace,
And a beard on his face,
And a shield with three castles embossed.

He swam on a seal out to Surtsey,
And plugged the ferocious volcano.
When asked for the reason,
He said “It’s the season,
And besides it’s so awkward to say no.”

He slid down the great Vatnajőkull,
And found the place much to his liking,
For, so boisterous and loud,
He worked well in a crowd,
Not quite like a CHF Viking.

He summonsed the Icelandic people
To the wide plain of old Thingvellir,
And the captive assembly
That would have filled Wembley,
Sat down with excitement and fear.

He told of the proud Redsmen’s history,
The source of the great Viking sagas,
And while Erik spoke,
He would light up a smoke,
And dispose of a whole row of lagers.

The Hoodoo

Let’s hope this Shelbourne hoodoo,
This European voodoo,
Will now expire
And not conspire
To land us in the doo-doo.

Is there some kind of treaty,
Some legalised graffiti,
That states we’re banned
From winning and
Achieving our Tahiti?

If we don’t end this saga,
We’ll drink ten pints of lager,
And, quite nonplussed,
We’ll get concussed
And end up going ga-ga.

Darkest Before Dawn

The message came so very late,
The strongest men did quail.
The convicts were all in a state,
Their faces gaunt and pale
They thought it wouldn’t be their fate,
To be let out on bail.
Though pessimistic, they did hate
To think that they might fail.
The stone walls did reverberate
With anguished moan and wail.
But then the gods did help create
A twist in this dark tale,
A denouement upon a great
And unenvisaged scale,
As stone-faced guards unlocked the gate,
And Shels got out of jail.


Don’t mess with our 2-2,
Don’t mess with our 2-2,
They had seven internationals,
So don’t mess with our 2-2.

In the cold North Atlantic,
We fell two goals behind.
Pat Fenlon going frantic,
Supporters resigned.
But as the whistle neared,
Wes went on the attack,
The defence disappeared,
Alan Moore got one back.

Don’t mess with our 2-2,
Don’t mess with our 2-2,
They’re the hottest team in Iceland,,
So don’t mess with our 2-2.

Then the tension mounted,
Ollie Cahill got the ball,
Put it in where it counted,
And we got a lucky call.
But there’s still time to falter,
So we’d better be wary,
Don’t forget Hibs of Malta
And that damned Chukunyere.

So don’t mess with our 2-2,
Don’t mess with our 2-2,
Please don’t mention the H-word,
But don’t mess with with our 2-2.

Shels 0 KR Reykjavik 0 – The Home Leg Medley

The Ad for the Match

The ad for the match was direct and explicit –
“Come early to avoid disappointment.”
So I got up quite early in case I should miss it,
And rubbed on my favourite ointment.

I dashed down to Tolka excitedly when
My joints were with ointment anointed.
And the ad told no lies, for by twenty to ten,
I wasn’t the least disappointed.

Wesley Wesley Houlihan

The ball comes to Wes and he traps it with ease,
Round the crowd there’s a bit of a buzz.
He skips o’er a leg like a straw in the breeze,
With a roar of approval from us.

He checks and he turns and he cuts back inside,
And another opponent’s left groping.
By now all supporters are bursting with pride,
Urging and willing and hoping.

But the final defender slides in with a foot,
Determined that Wes won’t get past him,
And Wes, dispossessed tries tackling back, but
Some fools in the crowd only blast him.

“Why didn’t you pass it when you had the time?
Why can’t you hold onto possession?
Losing the ball is akin to a crime!”
They rail at artistic impression.

Why must we discourage the tiny percent
Who’ve reached football’s greatest attainment?
The few for whom talent must be heaven-sent,
The few who provide entertainment.

An Unholy Opponent

Petr Podzemsky, the number eighteen
In Reykjavik’s black and white strip
Would not be well-known in our own soccer scene,
His name’s not on every fan’s lip.

But I watched him last night with a mistrustful eye,
I glared at each devious run,
For, unlike his teammates from latitudes high,
He’s not a traditional “son.”

Was he, like Macduff, from his own mother’s womb,
Grossly and untimely ripped?
Or does he reside in a sinister tomb
Beneath the stone walls of a crypt?

Of what devil’s work is this creature a spawn?
Do those sinister eyes have a soul?
But whatever he is, and however he’s born,
He still couldn’t notch them a goal.

Jason’s Misses

Psychologists say that you’re never the same,
When you find out just what wedded bliss is.
What chance has mere football compared to love’s flame,
When you’re constantly showered with kisses?
So last night the newly-wed shouldered the blame,
And the obvious reason for this is –
He’d chances a-plenty to settle the game,
So we’re pretty irate at his missus.

Probably the Shortest and Bitterest Ever Football Poem Composed During the Four Long Minutes of Injury Time When I was Certain That the Icelanders would Sneak a Totally Undeserved Goal and Snatch the Tie from our Grasp Just Like Hibernians of Malta Had Done Two Years Previously

Make ya sick.

The Ghosts of Tolka

The ghosts were all out in Tolka last night,
As glory and Hadjuk Split beckoned,
And though they were careful to stay out of sight,
Their presence was felt every second.

They guided our players and focussed their minds,
Breathed fire in their hearts and their tackles.
The Reykjavik lads’ inescapable binds
Were truly ethereal shackles.

The big disappointments of Tolka nights past
Were with that performance well banished,
And when the long whistle was sounded at last,
They raised a clenched fist and then vanished.

Wednesdae Delight

Pat went to Iceland, and scoured the freezers,
So tempting and brightly lit.
And there, between ice-pops and frozen Maltesers,
He picked up a Hadjuk Split.


My son says I’m a little rat, whene’er I grass him up.
My wife says I’m a little pig when slurping from a cup.
My mum says I’m a little deer [when helping out, of course]
But after last night’s shouting, well, I’m just a little horse.

Shels in Split Medley

Croatian Divorce

Snogging and hugging, they followed the Reds,
When the flame of their ardour was lit.
But the romance was ended
And rancour descended,
When they went to Dubrovnik and Split.

Going One Up in Split

The goal came so quickly and quite unexpected,
As Shels rose to levels we’d never expected,
And even the most extreme Shelbourne fanatic
Could never have been so supremely ecstatic.
And for full fifteen minutes, we rode our proud wagon,
Through uncharted landscapes,
Till Enter the Dragan.

The Ballad of 28th July 2004

‘Twas on July 28th, when Shels played Hajduk Split,
The reputations of the Croats fazed them not one bit.
They faced them with a steely eye and hearts of Irish grit,
And very shortly scored through a sublime Fitzpatrick hit.

But eighteen minutes on the clock and our balloon was burst.
Our fortunes were quite suddenly unluckily reversed,
A free-kick incorrectly launched and Blatnjak did his worst,
And Lady Luck and Fickle Fate were uniformly cursed.

But Shels stuck firmly to their task and matched them blow for blow,
Managing quite nicely to disrupt the Hajduk flow.
And then a chance for Stuey but he couldn’t keep it low.
It would have been a perfect strike with seconds left to go.

But when the second half began, Shels quickly fell behind,
When Petar Sutu showed our net was not too hard to find,
And Shels supporters knew the half would be a long, hard grind,
And some of us were really pessimistically resigned.

But giving up the ghost is not what Fenlon’s team’s about,
They never seem to show the slightest traces of self-doubt.
And Jayo’s volley seemed to put them back in with a shout.
Sadly though, it hit the bar, bounced down and came back out.

Then agony! Disaster! With just minutes left to play,
Thorn-like, Dragan Blatnjak notched his second of the day.
It was a cruel addendum to a sterling Shels display,
As Ger McCarthy got stripped off and quickly joined the fray.

But there was still a giant twist left in this epic tale,
As Alan Moore, like last time, got the Redsmen out of jail.
Ger McCarthy set him up and Alan didn’t fail,
To put the lads in sight of that elusive Holy Grail.

Tolka should be packed next week to help to lift the team,
To go that one step further and to lick Croatia’s cream.
The atmosphere ought to be intense in the extreme,
As Shels go hell for leather in their European dream.

Shels 2 Hajduk Split 0 Medley

Holidaying in Bantry

The mountains loom large in your personal karma,
Dark brooding shapes in the clear azure sky,
Kissing white clouds as they skim meekly by,
Dictating the sweep of the grand panorama.
Yes, the view ‘cross the bay is a breathtaking sight,
But oh, to have been back in Tolka tonight.

If the sheer cliffs of Mizen had power to talk,
What tales could they tell of misfortune and glory?
Each wreck off her coast can relate a sad story
Of heroes and death off the shore of West Cork.
But they pale ‘neath the deep rolling waves, in the light
Of the drama unfolding at Tolka tonight.

We drove down to the harbour, so tranquil and calm,
And gazed on the sparkles that danced o’er the bay
Like clusters of diamonds awash on the spray,
And beneath the cool moonlight, my wife took my arm.
The light lapping waters made everything right,
But oh, to have been back in Tolka tonight.

Hate and Love

I hate it when they fall to earth pretending they are dead,
Or roll around a dozen times with ands clutched to their head,
Or take an age to get the ball when it rolls out of play
And placing it correctly takes the best part of the day.
I hate it when a player goes off – can snails move more slowly?
And all the fuss when our attacker breathes upon their goalie!
But all that sheer, unbridled hate just dissipates, I find,
If the team who have been wasting time should fall a goal behind.

That Goal

What defines a work of art?
A fine aesthetic pleasure?
A sculpted form that might impart
Deep meaning in great measure?
A crafted work that might convey
Great joy or melancholy?
But how on earth does one display
That Davie Rogers’ volley?

You cannot hang it on a nail
Or stand it on a base.
The written word is bound to fail
To capture its sweet grace.
To place it in a public park
Would be an act of folly,
Yet I still see it, clear and stark –
That Davie Rogers’ volley.

His left foot painted such a scene
Of total jubilation
That Christy Brown, sure, must have been
This artist’s inspiration.
No canvas dignified by Man
[As I remarked to Ollie]
Ever wrought more feelings than
That Davie Rogers’ volley.

Art critics state without a doubt
That it’s their solemn duty
To tell the great unwashed about
Great works of lucent beauty.
But nothing of artistic fame,
In my opinion, quali-
Fies for more worldwide acclaim
Than Davie Rogers’ volley.

The Ndo Turn

“Bring it to the corner flag and keep the ball in play!”
We yelled at Joseph Ndo as the seconds ticked away.
But Shelbourne’s newest debutante ignored us to a man,
And turned the last defender with a Johann Cruyff élan.
Ten thousand voices in the crowd were wilfully ignored,
But, boy was he forgiven, when he crossed and Alan scored!

The Sweet Smell of Success

The sponge came out the oven
And was placed upon the tray,
The warm smell wafted through the air
With golden brown bouquet.
Then through the kitchen door came Davy
Rogers, strong and willing,
And with a spoon and flat-edged knife,
He ladled on the filling.
So sweet the almond mixture
And so generously afforded,
That everybody present gasped
With wonder and applauded.
But still it wasn’t finished, and
With bakers’ pride at stake,
Up stepped Alan Moore to put the icing on the cake.


Forget about cloud number nine,
We’re up on cloud eleven.
Everything is so divine,
I reckon we’re in heaven.

Such total joy is oh, so rare,
Such unimagined bliss,
I never even dreamt that there
Were moments such as this.

Treasure Ireland

Captain Fenlon turned towards the parrot on his shoulder.
“Since we were sunk last year,” he said, “I’ve grown a whole year older.
We’ve slipped the great Croatian fleet, a bunch of grizzled codgers,
And now, I think, its time to hoist the Jolly Davy Rogers.
From Iceland’s cold and distant shore, this journey’s been in motion,
Travelling o’er the stormy sea and cataclysmic ocean.
We boarded shiny galleons, and took what we could plunder,
And still their mighty cannons haven’t ripped this ship asunder.
I can’t believe the distance that this listing ship has brought us
And now we’re sailing boldly into strange uncharted waters.
It’s time we headed south to try and take that Spanish schooner,
So turn the ship around, me boys, we’re off to A Coruňa.”

Pat Fenlon Sandwich Maker

Pat Fenlon was making sandwiches,
To earn a few extra shillings.
He’d buttered the bread,
As the manual said,
And now he was making the fillings.

He boiled some eggs and then mashed them,
And smothered them in mayonnaise,
Then he spread some plum jam
On the slices of ham,
While still in a culinary daze.

The beetroot he sliced very finely,
Then got busy with scallion-chopping,
Then he added brown sauce
And some mustard of course,
And then spiralled the carrots as topping.

“These filings are really exciting,”
The coaching staff heard him to mutter,
“But although they’re great fun,
Sure when all’s said and done,
Let’s get back to the old bread and butter.”

Shels 0 Deportivo 0 Medley

A Man for all Seasons

Bertie’s a United fan,
An ardent Keane and Giggsy man.
A team from someone else’s nation
Earns his glowing adulation.

Bertie is a Celtic fan,
A real Bobo Balde man.
For it is widely understood
That green and white is in his blood.

Bertie’s a Drumcondra fan,
A daycent League of Ireland man,
And though their heyday’s long since passed,
Long does the fiery passion last.

Bertie is a Shelbourne fan,
A real Nutsy Fenlon man.
Accepting with impunity
Each photo opportunity.

Bertie is a soccer fan,
Association football man.
Casting a discerning eye
O’er each bandwagon passing by.

Alan Misses His Moment

Did no-one say to Alan Moore
That it was time for him to score?
Three late goals so far have it
The Icelanders and Hajduk Split.
But not last night ‘gainst La Coruňa
Although he nearly bagged one sooner.
Perhaps he didn’t realise
That time, when having fun, just flies.
But though he didn’t score tonight,
He’s still a chance to put it right.

Willo’s Act of Bravado

Twenty five glorious seconds to go,
The ball goes to Willo to break up the flow.
We’ve battled supremely; it seems now as though
The Spaniards can’t deal us a last crushing blow.
Our keeper, however, appears somewhat slow
[Unlike the performance of Shelbourne’s back row]
The attacker is closing, and dread starts to grow.
Why isn’t he booting it out for a throw,
Way up in the stands to the twenty sixth row?
Only Willo and God in his heaven can know.
Here comes the attacker! Will this end in woe?
Thwarted in cruellest terms by our foe,
After such a brave fight against Luque and co?
But Willo’s determined to put on a show,
And dummies the Spaniard with flick of the toe,
And boots it upfield towards Joseph Ndo.

And still the incredible candle’s aglow.

I Can See Heary Now

The Sugarloaf and Hungry Hill
Were lost in mist o’er Bantry Bay.
The summer rain was bouncing still
To shroud the picturesque display,
But in our holiday abode,
All eyes were fixed on Lansdowne Road.

And as the gripping match wore on,
And Shelbourne firmly held their own,
A tiny ray of sunlight shone,
And pierced the grey, forbidding stone.
Where it landed, nature glowed,
As we kept eyes on Lansdowne Road.

The tiny breach began to grow
Until a pool of blue appeared.
The summer rainfall ceased its flow,
As gradually the dark sky cleared.
And, in a field, a rooster crowed
To mark events at Lansdowne Road.

And when the final whistle blew,
The Sugarloaf and Hungry Hill,
Loomed large with features clear and true
That only nature can instil.
And summer sunshine overflowed
As we digested Lansdowne Road.

The Song of the Eircom League Fan

For all those sniggers, when you told
What football team had your support.
For all those jeering eyeballs rolled
At every Eircom League report.
For all those times when conversation
Turned to Arsenal and United,
Ignoring all the degradation
When your football team was slighted.
For all those times when loud-mouthed men,
Who claim to understand the game,
Scratched away with poisoned pen,
To Ireland’s journalistic shame.
For every word the mockers uttered,
Sneering at your one true passion,
Patronising cliches muttered
That the league was not in fashion.
For all those million football shirts
From every foreign side, it seems,
An industry which badly hurts
Your local Irish football teams.
For all those wet and windy nights
Of visiting your football ground
And cheering underneath the lights
With barely anyone around.

For all those years of scoffing bile,
This match made it all worth while.

For the Harolds Cross Brigade
[and Ollie in particular]

A smallish crowd at Harold’s Cross,
Terrace sprouting tufts of moss,
Performances that failed to woo
More than the dedicated few.
Position in the league quite stable
Near the bottom of the table.
Our periodic chanting drowned
At every Irish football ground,
Neither recognised nor hated,
For we simply were not rated.
So, for the dedicated few,
This really is a dream come true.

Depor 3 Shels 0 Medley

A Niggly Doubt

Should we dare to fly in hope,
To dream that maybe we might cope,
To think that maybe there is scope
To snatch the holy grail?
Or is it merely self-delusion?
Brains affected by confusion
In their self-imposed seclusion,
Knowing that we’ll fail.

But still the gnawing notion pesters –
What if Depor cannot best us
After their prolonged siestas?
What if Shelbourne catch them?
One small jolt of nervous tension,
Adding to the apprehension.
Surely it’s too daft to mention?
Surely we can’t match them?

Á Coruňa

The Spanish Armada set sail from this port
To conquer the English by sea, so they thought.
But most of their galleons received quite a shocker,
And ended up sitting on Davy Jones’ locker.

Meanwhile, at base camp, reviewing his goals,
Brave Captain Fenlon is winning at bowls.

El Shelbourne Modesto

If we could do it,
Somehow come through it,
What a marvellous night it will be,
So awe-inspiring,
No doubt acquiring
Legendary status-to-be.

Nobody rates us,
The Spanish press slates us,
They say we’re just lambs to the slaughter.
“El Shelbourne modesto,”
They’re not too impressed – oh,
Naΐve is the Spanish reporter.

Like A Virgin

It’s my first trip with Shelbourne,
I’ve never been before.
Of course we weren’t successful back
In nineteen eighty four.

Sometimes it wasn’t possible,
Sometimes I had no time,
Or my buddy in the local bank
Would not spare me a dime.

The hardened Shelbourne traveller
Recounts far-distant shores,
I feel like I’m a virgin in
A brothel full of whores.

Sheer Sporting Nirvana

Gene Pitney knew well of the mighty thin line
That can alter your future forever.
How life can be changed by a grander design,
Notwithstanding the strongest endeavour.
The angst that I feel for our starting eleven
Is starting to give me an ulcer,
For we’re twenty four hours from sheer sporting heaven,
Not twenty four hours from Tulsa.

Bin Dere Dun Dat

We went to the Torre de Hercules,
And trudged all the way to the top.
The steps spiralled round
All the way from the ground,
And we thought that they never would stop.

The Castillo was very impressive,
Jutting out in the picturesque bay,
And the remnants of Spain’s
Early Roman remains
Made a most fascinating display.

We took the old tram round the headland,
Till its progress was halted by buffers,
And we sat in a bar
Talking ‘bout games so far,
And if Deportivo would stuff us.

We lay on the Playa de Riazor,
And soaked up the rays from the sun,
And some got quite tanned
As we lay on the sand,
And some ended up overdone.

And now we’re just filling in hours,
And some are resorting to gin,
It’s really appalling
The way time is crawling,
Can’t wait for the game to begin.


Sitting on the front in Coruňa
Watching the waves rolling in,
The sun beating down
On this picturesque town,
And we’re rubbing lots of oil on our skin.
Everyone’s here
And the kick off is near,
And we’re confident of getting a win.

The old people walking the sea front
Turn round and stare quite bemused.
Some of them grin
And say Depor will win,
Most of them look quite confused,
And we’ll put on a show
In two hours or so,
And we’re confident we’ll keep them amused.

The folk who arrived on the day trip
Have added to the size of the crowd.
We’ll cheer on the boys
And make plenty of noise,
Displaying our emotions out loud.
Win, lose or draw,
We will stand up and roar,
And we’re confident they’ll do the club proud.

Ollie’s Acclamation

Ollie crossed the pitch to us before the game began,
And everyone applauded Shelbourne’s greatest ever fan.
He looked so very tiny, as he stood way down below,
But as his name rang round the stands, I swear his head did grow.

Kick Off Haiku

Ref demands restart.
Ball tipped sideways not forwards.
Know you’re in trouble.

The First Half

Ten minutes gone and the match was still scoreless,
Our work rate terrific, our selflessness flawless.
Just keep them at bay for a few minutes longer,
They’ll get frustrated and we’ll become stronger.

Fifteen, then twenty, we’re losing possession,
But Depor can’t seem to make too much progression.
Their passing is slick and their movement incisive,
But our back four is sharp and the tackling decisive.

A half an hour gone, which was more than expected,
Our hesitant start has been nobly corrected.
The scoreboard’s still blank, to our utter elation,
And we’re urging the lads to maintain concentration.

Five minutes to half-time, a cross long and arc-ed,
With flowing precision finds Jayo unmarked.
His header’s on target, but doesn’t have power,
But at least we’re still level, things haven’t turned sour.

The whistle sounds shrill and the dream is still burning,
For hope is irrational and quite undiscerning.
Our performance exceeded all expectations,
And we’ve taken our place among footballing nations.

Egg and Chips

When Wes lost possession,
We all bit our lips,
And Victor’s aggression
Meant we’d had our chips.

Poor Jamie dithered
And gave too much space,
And Victor, elated,
Put egg on our face.


If all our team were keepers
[And thank the Lord they’re not]
They’d all shout “Jeepers Creepers!”
As Victor took his shot.

Eleven stood together,
Prepared to stop the shot,
I’m very doubtful whether
They’d have kept it out or not.

Jayo’s Miss

A mistake at the back
And Jayo was clear,
All on his own
Without anyone near.
The ball sitting nicely,
The keeper advancing,
A lob o’er his head
Surely sends us all dancing.
The chip clears the keeper,
Our hearts have stopped beating,
We’ve started to crouch
To jump up off our seating.
But the angle’s oblique
And is grossly deceiving,
The ball’s high and wide
And we’re left disbelieving.
Defeat here in Spain
Might invoke desolation,
But a goal ‘gainst Depor
Would have been consolation.

The Sickener

The third goal was a bummer,
And was sickening because
Two nil made our summer,
The third removed the gloss.

I won’t pretend the scoreline
Was not what we deserved,
But if the two goal deficit
Had simply been preserved…

Coming of Age

Back in the Cross, when I was still young,
The Shels fans were always quite loudly outsung.
Our fan base was small and was not very vocal,
And would comfortably fit in the bar of the local.
Each team that we played always chanted much louder,
Their flags and their banners seemed larger and prouder.
They’d many more people who answered the call
[Except maybe Home Farm, who’d no fans at all]

But tonight at the Riazor, the Reds came of age,
And took their proud place on the world football stage,
A constant bombardment that drowned out the Spanish,
And caused those embarrassing memories to vanish.
A whole sea of red, waving, clapping and singing,
He home fans applauding the zest we were bringing.
To those that remember the bad days gone by,
It brought quite a sizable tear to the eye.


Despite the result, the warm air still smelled sweet,
Rubbing shoulders with one of the famous elite.
Thirty five minutes away from sheer bliss,
I could easily get quite addicted to this.

We enjoyed every minute, the game was immense,
Great happiness shackled to worry intense,
As raw as a wound, yet as pure as a kiss,
I could easily get quite addicted to this.

The colour, the noise, the perfume of success,
The interest shown by the lads in the press,
The festive occasion, despite Jayo’s miss,
I could easily get quite addicted to this.

Our appetite’s whetted, we’re greedy for more,
We want to be part of the world football lore,
Not teetering o’er a financial abyss,
I could easily get quite addicted to this.

The UEFA Cup Draw

The UEFA Cup draw is a glitzy affair,
Europe’s great football elite will be there.
Tiaras will glisten and cufflinks will shine,
Reflected in only the best of French wine.
Beneath the chandeliers of the classical hall,
They’ll waltz to the strains of the Monegasque ball.
Ballgowns will swirl at this great social bash,
And ankles and wrists will just glitter with cash.
And into this great bourgeois haven of folly,
Shels will be well represented by Ollie.

Shels 2 Lille OSC 2 Medley

The Akond of Lille

How do people really feel
‘Bout playing Lille?

Let’s hope we don’t get any crocks,
And any nasty, little knocks
Will heal,
‘Ere we face Lille.

We’re sure our firm back four will cope,
And furthermore we strongly hope
That we’ll
Tear into Lille.

The French supporters will not quake
But hopefully our team will make
Them kneel
And pray for Lille,.

We’ll hope to dominate the play,
But fear that they might break away
And steal
A goal for Lille.

Perhaps we’ll have to sit and wait
To play the cards that fickle fate
Might deal,
When playing Lille.

And, if our ship should rock, then we
Would hope to get back on an e-
-Ven keel,
When facing Lille.

If Weso plays the best he can,
Twists and turns and finds his man,
Then he’ll
Put paid to Lille.

“Ollie shows a turn of pace
And Stuey’s in the very place
To seal
A win ‘gainst Lille,”

No matter how they’re put away,
A sweeping move or even a
Back heel,
Will do for Lille.

Will they come over really flash,
Attack our flanks with great panache
And zeal,
These men from Lille?

Their keeper needs to be the biz,
A prisoner contemplating his
Last meal,
Defending Lille.

Some other fans are heard to say
They want the French to win. Are they
For real,
Supporting Lille?

The mind-games can get out of hand,
Don’t heed the French supporters and
Their spiel –
They’re up for Lille.

Emotions will run raw that night.
Are we afraid of what they might
When playing Lille?

The Gallic centre forward has
A bag of tricks as slippy as
An eel,
Inspiring Lille.

The permutations are quite high
Potential for a play by Bri-
-An Friel,
This match with Lille?

This match should be a tasty dish,
A platter of the finest fish
Or veal,
This game with Lille.

May Jamie be a roaring lion,
And Scouser be a man of iron
And steel
To face down Lille.

We hope the ground will quickly fill,
And that this thrilling contest will
With loads of lovely cash at stake,
Let’s hope the lads can win and make
Us squeal
By beating Lille.

We trust that bookings won’t accrue,
And that the ref will try hard to
His love for Lille

We’ll all enjoy this merry cruise,
So long as we don’t go and lose
A wheel,
When playing Lille.

If we should win by two to nil,
I’m not sure if my red blood will
When beating Lille

The excitement that is felt by us,
Was only felt before by Buzz
And Neil,
Who soared o’er Lille.

Pray Nutsy gets his tactics right,
A four goal margin would be quite
At home to Lille.

There’s revolution in the air.
Come on, Shelbourne, let’s storm their
Ces homes de Lille.

If Shels could overcome this foe,
The implications would be so
To conquer Lille.

Our prospects may look fairly grim,
And surely just a total im-
Would bet ‘gainst Lille.

Don’t bask in reputations won!
My A Coruňa skin’s begun
To peel.
Watch out for Lille!


My stammer’s disimproving
And I can’t pronounce my vowels.
Something strange is moving
In the bottom of my bowels.
I’m feeling palpitations
And a tremor in my chest.
I know my concentration’s
Not approaching near its best.
My mind obliquely ponders
All the pitfalls of the tie,
Then slides away and wanders
Through reports of games gone by.
I’m smelling sizzling bacon,
But my hunger’s gone astray.
The Beatles were mistaken,
Sure, this is a hard night’s day.

Seven Thousand Four Hundred

The rain it was sheeting,
Emphatically beating.
Onto sparse seating
It volleyed and thundered.
Surrounded by spaces,
The old Shelbourne faces
Sat down in their places,
Seven thousand four hundred.

Fans indivisible,
Large gaps too visible,
Atmosphere risible,
Someone had blundered.
Lower stand pretty full,
Barely a city-full,
Crowd numbers pitiful,
Seven thousand four hundred.

Kick-off time mess up,
Bringing our stress up,
Result cannot dress up
The chance wasn’t plundered.
We should have been backed more,
We tried to extract more,
But couldn’t attract more
Than seven thousand four hundred.

Tolka deserted
Of thousands red-shirted.
The fans disconcerted,
And many more wondered.
The reasons were touted
And earnestly shouted,
But seriously doubted.
Seven thousand four hundred!

Their Keeper

With bright white socks protruding
From beneath his golden kit,
Tony Silva looked just like
A giant orange split.

Lille Dish Out a Dose of Reality

To think we had the audacity,
The arrogant capacity
To think that we were up there with the rest!
A quagmire of self-delusion,
A mishmash of confusion,
Conspiring to deceive that we were blessed!

Like schoolboys in a battlefield,
More suited to a cattle field,
We stumbled as the French attack poured through us.
We simply stood there motionless,
Completely magic potionless,
Like frightened rats pinned to the ground with skewers.

Lille moved the ball emphatically,
Precisely, mathematically,
While we just scratched our sorry heads and wondered.
And though we battled pluckily,
At half time it was luckily,
A mere two slick, well-taken goals they’d plundered.

“Keep them out till half-time lads!”

“Keep them out till half-time, lads!”
I yelled, with sweat beads glistening.
“Keep them out!” I yelled, but I
Don’t think that they were listening.

Skulduggery at Half-Time

The winds they blew and cracked their cheeks,
The rain came pouring down.
Our back four sprang a lot of leaks,
The Lille lads went to town.

The hurricane blew hard and wet
In our defenders’ faces,
Which maximised the constant threat
Of Gallic runs to spaces.

The Frenchmen’s sails were billowed wide,
Pushed on by strong momentum,
Bolstered by a windy tide
And all the power it lent ‘em.

But then the wind, so fiercely armed,
At half time had recanted.
It suddenly became becalmed,
As if it were enchanted.

What trickery that lay abroad
Conspired to change the weather?
The natural scheme of things ignored,
Dismembered altogether.

Disciples of the cloven beast
Recited incantations.
Dark sorcery was thus released
To Shelbourne’s lamentations.

Was Prospero at Lansdowne Road
To soothe the raging foment?
Spread his wand and thus bestowed
Great calmness in a moment?

The gale-force winds no longer blew,
Their cheeks remained uncracked.
The Lille defence in stature grew
And thus remained intact.

Tetra Euro Blocker

Jason got his sun-block out
And spread it on his skin,
And then he ran onto the pitch
To help his teammates win.

But someone switched the labels round
[An evil Gallic plot?]
And Jason’s famous sun-block cream
In fact, alas, was not.

Instead it was an ointment which
Was meant for boring soccer.
The trade name it goes under is
“The Tetra Euro Blocker.”

It stops you scoring easy goals
In Europe’s competitions,
Tested on live monkeys in
Laboratory conditions.

And so, when scoring chances came,
Poor Jason couldn’t finish,
Stripped of his great powers just
Like Popeye without spinach.

When offering the stuff to Glenn,
Thank God he’d been rebutted.
No wonder Glenn was fairly chuffed
And Jason fairly gutted.

Limerick, You’re a Lady

When it came there was joy and relief,
An explosion that beggared belief.
Turned provider instead,
Jayo found Glenn’s blond head,
And he stole a great goal like a thief.

Such an outburst of sudden elation,
Including a standing ovation.
But though it was great.
‘Twas too little too late,
Although it was some consolation.

The mood-change invoked was detectable,
The scoreline was now more respectable.
But we just didn’t know
In three minutes or so,
It would go from “okay” to “delectable.”

A cross from persistent Dave Crawley
Was defended by Lille pretty poorly.
Jamie leapt out his skin,
And Glenn Fitz knocked it in,
With the keeper complaining quite sorely.

There were no protestations of knavery,
The net-bulge was both sweet and savoury.
And the place just erupted,
Our mind-set disrupted,
All thanks to our centre back’s bravery.

As Lazarus rose from the dead,
So did those brave warriors in red.
We swarmed where we’d once feared to tread.

And by that great brace we were spurred
And continued with strength undeterred,
And hero Fitzpatrick
Just missed his first hat-trick,
When he miscued a possible third.

Glenn Fitzpatrick

His goal instinct was frightening,
Bad marking paid the price.
His nickname isn’t “Lightning”
Because Glenn Fitz struck twice.

A Great Result Indeed

The crowd was small [because of greed?]
And colder than a naked Swede,
But Lille and Shelbourne did proceed
To serve up some fine fare indeed.

The Lille lads seemed a different breed,
Played football with a fluent creed.
‘Twas no surprise they took the lead,
And things looked very grim indeed.

In that dreadful first half, we’d
Looked always likely to concede.
They picked us off with pace and speed,
And looked so very sharp indeed.

It caused our stony hearts to bleed,
That fickle fate should intercede.
Those howling torrents did recede
And things got very calm indeed.

But Shels responded to the need
And paid the game more careful heed.
And twice, bold Jason Byrne was freed,
Though finishing was poor indeed.

And as we, with our gods, did plead,
Eventually they did accede,
And helped young Fitzer to succeed
By scoring twice with flair indeed.

The Gallic lads, no longer geed
Up by their coach, just went to seed,
As down the slippy slope they ski-ed,
And looked quite vulnerable indeed.

And so the tie is nicely teed,
Despite the things that one might read.
The lads can certainly exceed
All expectations. Yes, indeed!


The fair weather fans decided to
Heed the strong gale warning.
I hope they feel a sense of loss
This fine September morning.
To those of us who braved the storm,
It’s possible that we’ll
Forever keep within our minds
The comeback versus Lille.

The Memories Will Remain

When this odyssey has ended,
As inevitably it must,
When the ashes have been blended
And the dust returned to dust,
When the bullet has been bitten,
And when time has dulled the pain,
When the saga has been written,
Then the memories will remain.

When the banquet has been finished
And the dishes cleared away,
The smell is not diminished
Nor consigned to yesterday.
When the photographs are fading
Of Croatia and of Spain,
When the dark nights are invading,
Then the memories will remain.

No matter what befalls us
In the years that lie ahead,
No matter if fate hauls us
Where the angels fear to tread,
If the earth should stop revolving
And should never spin again,
If mankind were devolving,
Sure, the memories will remain.

The Lille Lament Medley

Oh No!

No, oh no,
Joey Ndo
Cannot go
To the show.

He took a blow
Down below.
Joey Ndo
Is laid low.

Woe, oh woe!
We’ll miss him so
The ebb and flow.

What a pro!
Toe to toe,
To and fro,
Quick, quick, slow.

We all know
Without our Joe,
The Gallic foe
Will loudly crow:-

“Mon chapeau!
Joey Ndo
Cannot go
To the show!”

An Unfortunate Accident

My wife and I went for a stroll
Atop the cliffs in Howth,
An exercise that cleans the soul
And enervates us both.

And as we walked, we spoke at length
Of Shelbourne’s game with Lille,
Of David Crawley’s inner strength,
Of Alan Moore’s sore heel.

By her good mood, I deemed it right
To broach the thorny question,
Hoping she might see the light
And warm to my suggestion.

These things, I knew well to my cost,
Must happen circumspectly.
One slip might mean the battle lost,
As I had found abjectly.

“If only we could have the chance,”
I said with visage pensive,
“To go and watch the lads in France.
It isn’t that expensive.

I’ve checked the flights out on the net –
There’s still some bargains going.
And isn’t it a tie that’s set
To get the juices flowing?”

She stopped quite still and cocked her head
And eyed me most maliciously.
“No wonder you’ve” [she slowly said]
“Been acting so suspiciously!

We had a deal, as well you know!
Coruna broke our budget.
And now you say you want to go?
Come on, now, don’t fudge it.”

“Ah, love,” said I. “Put trust in fate.
I’m sure we can afford it.
The plane is waiting at the gate –
It’s no great shakes to board it.”

“And who will mind your kids?” she snapped.
“You’re really too impulsive!
These marvellous plans that you have mapped,
I really find repulsive!”

I’m not too sure what happened next –
It happened very suddenly.
She slipped right off the edge, perplexed,
And landed very woodenly.

Perhaps a sudden gust of wind
Had caught her off her balance?
For steadiness, I’d often grinned,
Was not one of her talents.

Down the steep cliff path I ran
To summon some assistance,
Slightly miffed my cunning plan
Had met with such resistance.

They reached her body, bashed and scarred,
And I identified her,
Then tightly grasped her credit card
That they had found beside her.

I called the kids and told them how
Their mammy went to heaven.
They both can mind themselves by now –
They’re nearly eight and seven.

And I’m uncertain what I feel,
Still caught up in my sorrow,
But thrilled at flying out to Lille
By aeroplane tomorrow.

Kinger Outverbalises Rico Shock

If Shels should beat the French side,
The Kinger did explain,
The result would surely put them
Up on another plane.

Rico said he fancied
The Redsmen from Drumcondra,
But I bet that he was jealous of
The Kinger’s double-entendre.

Stuey Byrne Returns

Valeron was barely in it,
Could not get free for a minute.
Compare how much Senor might earn
To what is paid to Stuey Byrne.

The lads from Lille are playing well,
It seems that they’ve begun to gel.
They’re sure they’ll breeze through the return
But they don’t know ‘bout Stuey Byrne.

Dogged, skilful and persistent,
Valeron was non-existent.
Soon the Lille midfield will learn
About the brilliant Stuey Byrne.

The more the pressure games the merrier,
Stuey’s at you like a terrier.
Strange no English clubs discern
The qualities of Stuey Byrne.

Suspended from the first leg action,
Shelbourne lost their star attraction.
Yellow cards can cause concern
To those who follow Stuey Byrne.

The Frenchmen, famous for romance,
Will soon be asked up for a dance.
It will not be facile to spurn
The attentions of Shels’ Stuey Byrne.

The room they had will be eroded,
The dice have been precisely loaded.
No time to run, no space to turn,
Completely blocked by Stuey Byrne.

Looks like Peter Beardsley but
He has a stronger, surer foot
Effective at both bow and stern,
The superhuman Stuey Byrne.

The French team cannot formulate
A plan to bar him from the state.
Customs might try to intern
The mountain that is Stuey Byrne.

Let’s hope the Lillies do not try
To sign our hero on the sly.
Though doubtless any team would yearn
To sign a player like Stuey Byrne.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s Eoin Heary

Our captain is no fatty,
He isn’t overweight.
To think so would be batty
And quite inaccur-ate.

Burger? Will not try it,
Nor vinegar-soaked chips.
He has to watch his diet –
It all goes on his hips.

He doesn’t like a bevvy
And he only drinks what’s right.
So why’d they call him Heavy,
When the teams ran out last night?

The Flower Dies

In little under half an hour,
The French had crushed our fragile flower,
Plucked the petals, left them lying
O’er the barren wasteland, dying,
Flickered in the chill wind, but
Were roughly trampled underfoot.

The Song of Our Two Centre Backs

I said Hello Moussilou, goodbye heart,
Sweet Moussilou, you drove us far apart.
Well we knew from the start
Of your sweet art,
Well, hello Moussilou, goodbye heart.


The lads were writing a novel together,
An epic tale of love and weather.
“Their Own Misfortune” seemed to fit,
For they, alas, were the authors of it.

One Consolation

At least we weren’t unlucky,
We were beaten fair and square.
Our lads were strong and plucky,
But they didn’t have a prayer.
The French were worthy winners,
As most people will concur,
While we seemed like beginners,
Which in fact was what we were.


Did we get our tactics right?
Why not play four-four-two?
Fitzpatrick set our game alight,
As he is wont to do.

The four-five-one had served us well,
‘Twas difficult to change it.
The system gave the Spaniards hell,
Pat couldn’t re-arrange it.

But Lille are going well in France,
They have a great rapport,
Although we might have stood a chance
If we’d played eight-eight-four.

Going Left

The crosses went left,
The tackles went left,
The marking went left,
The passes went left.
The headers went left,
Decisions went left.

All through the night,
Nothing went right.

Two Nil

The view that we had oft expressed
Was we could hack it with the best
We lost two nil.

Our lads were chomping at the bit.
In spite, though, of our iron grit
And will,
We lost two nil.

We went for wets instead of slicks,
They could have bagged another six,
But still,
‘Twas just two nil.

Hand on heart, they were too good,
Despite what faith that Nutsy could
We lost two nil.

The Gallic lantern had been lit,
Deciding that a lesson fit
The bill
And won two nil.

We could not cope with Acimov,
A player who is not run of
The mill,
Helped win two nil.

The second goal just cast a pall,
Gutted us and made us all
Feel ill,
Behind two nil.

The road ascended all the time,
And soon we knew we could not climb
That hill,
Behind two nil.

Defending was supremely sad,
By half time, half our lads had had
Their fill,
Behind two nil.

A match we’ll try hard to forget,
The Autumn rain came bouncing wet
And chill,
‘Twas still two nil.

Commentators all agreed
They murdered us for strength and speed
And skill
To win two nil.

Like regimental soldiers who
Like all good pros precisely knew
The drill,
To win two nil.

The Lillies knew they could not fail,
Swallowed us just like a whale
Eats krill,
To win two nil.

Fitzer sitting on the bench,
Itching to get at the French
And thrill,
Though down two nil.

The French were singing in the crowd,
The final whistle blew out loud
And shrill,
Lille won two nil.

There is a Field in Northern France

There is a field in Northern France,
Beside the Belgian border,
Where once we had a golden chance
To make a new world order.
We bravely scrapped against our foe,
Our big guns blazing brightly,
Eye to eye and toe to toe,
The war not taken lightly.
But they’d more seasoned personnel,
Superior artillery,
And though we fought the battle well,
They placed us on a pillory.
Two shots rang out beneath the sky,
And all our hopes were shattered,
But this, our last and fatal cry,
Was not what really mattered.
For though we fell in solemn duty,
And many mourned our loss,
Even more perceived the beauty
Of the stark white cross.
The phoenix does not feel the pain,
All sorrows are depleted.
Our spirit, maimed, will rise again –
It cannot be defeated.


And now the dream is shattered
And it’s time to take our leave.
Our confidence is battered,
And we’ll shed a tear and grieve.
The French completely shattered
Any dreams we might achieve,
And our ego has been clattered,
More than many could conceive.
There’s some will say we flattered,
Flattered greatly to deceive,
But the thing that really mattered
Was the keenness to believe.

And Now It’s All Over

And now it’s all over.
Our run’s at an end.
No more the red rover,
Its homewards we wend.
The road that’s behind us
Combined joy and toil.
Tomorrow will find us
Back on home soil.
Lille did unravel us,
They tore us to shreds,
But Shels’ doughty travellers
Need not hang their heads.
They gave it their all
Against sizable odds.
The team should walk tall
For to us they’re all gods.
And the memories won’t wane
For a hundred years more
Of the mighty campaign
Of two thousand and four.