As soccer finally made its debut appearance at Croke Park on Saturday (and there will be many considering how long the Landsdowne Road redevelopment will actually take – damn pesky D4 residents), there was the usual sniping from assorted letter-writers and phone-in show ranters. Foreign games being played at GAA headquarters was always going to be controversial but the embrace of rugby during the French and English games in the past few months has smoothed out many problems.
The GAA have been excellent in allowing its facilities to be used by games that have been its main rivals for decades. The higher echelons of the organisation seem to be confident enough in their own worth not to care about how big soccer or rugby gets. The GAA will always retain its rightful place as the sporting organisation that dominates most areas of Ireland.
GAA fans however, are slightly different. If I have to have another conversation with someone about how I’m a horrendous person for preferring soccer to Gaelic football or hurling I’ll want to wring their (generally) culchie neck. Gaelic fans often become obsessed with proving that theirs is a far ‘greater’ or more ‘pure’ sport. Men are men and pints are pouring blah blah blah.
The reason for this rant is simple… I received an email recently extolling the virtues of GAA over soccer and to be honest, it’s bollocks. There are some good points, but the thing is much of what it says aren’t really points at all; they’re just statements of fact that hardly prove anything about GAA or soccer.
The two codes can co-exist but GAA fans should stop codding themselves into thinking they’re on some higher moral ground here. It comes down to which sport an individual prefers, so don’t think a soccer fan is some scumbag because he prefers to watch the Champions League rather than the Championship. I like GAA, but the fucking gobshite who wrote this deserves to be told that not everyone agrees with them.
The ‘points’, as well as some Okeydokefootball comments, are listed below
1) The GAA player who played in front of 80,000 at the weekend will be teaching your children, selling you meat or fixing your drains on Monday morning. The soccer player who plays in front of 80,000 will be moaning about playing too many games and will be trying to sell you his personalised brand of leisure wear. ODF: Because the soccer player can; they don’t have to unblock drains because they ended up being professional footballers. Ask the guy “teaching your children, selling you meat or fixing your drains on Monday morning” if they’d like to play Gaelic or hurling professionally and we’d wager most would say yes. Then two weeks later they will be trying to sell you their brand of trainers or tracksuit. Trust me.
2) GAA nicknames are better. Soccer players just add a Y to their surnames. ODF: We like El Pistolero, The Divine Ponytail, The Black Pearl, The Octopus and Marco Goalo. All in our Legends section. Plenty of shite GAA nicknames out there by the way: ‘Davy Fitz… ya see lads da great joke der is dat his real name is Davy Fitzgerald’. What will they think of next eh?
3) Dublin vs Meath is a real derby. What does Liverpool Vs Everton mean to Kuyt or Yobo? ODF: I’d say whenever Na Fianna are playing their Dublin rivals, some of their players like Armagh captain Kieran McGeeney might be asked a similar question. How did Larry Tomkins feel when he played for Kildare against Dublin all those years ago, before heading back down to his native Cork? Years ago it was common for players to represent different counties if, for example, a football-playing Garda, was stationed in a distant part of the country. I’m sure Kuyt, Yobo, Johnson, Finnan and whoever else was in those sides were well aware of the rivalry seeing as they live in the city every day. There is a transfer market because it is a worldwide game. Unlike GAA.
4) How many soccer players does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer eleven. One to stick it in and ten to surround and kiss him after he does it. ODF: We like the way All Ireland winners shake hands with each other and calmly accept their prize at the end of the game. Oh wait; they go fucking mental like in any sport, not just soccer. On another note, goals change games completely in soccer and DEMAND huge celebrations so fuck off you fuckwit.
5) Soccer players go to the papers after a game. GAA players go to the pub. ODF: So do amateur soccer players. Ahem. And of course, GAA players never talk to the press. Ever.
6) John Terry would run a mile if he came up against Francie Bellew. ODF: No he wouldn’t, John Terry eats babies (allegedly); well he’s a hard bastard anyway, and could certainly handle Francie Feckin Bellew. Again, what’s your point? Andrew Flintoff would kick Ken Doherty in the balls and steal his lunch money without breaking sweat, does that make cricket better than snooker? You fuckwit.
7) GAA teams are numbered 1-15. A soccer team reads like the lottery results. ODF: You feel the fact that the numbers on GAA sides’ jerseys run in sequence somehow makes it a better sport? Is it difficult for you to count fuckwit? Did people make fun of you for being a fuckwit in school? Well fuckwit? Well.
8) All soccer players wear shin pads. Some hurlers wear helmets. ODF: Soccer players need shin pads as the game is played at their feet and should they be tackled on the shins they may well break a bone and spend six months in plaster. Not even remotely near being a good point. You fuckwit.
9) Television runs soccer. Schoolteachers run the GAA. ODF: Hmmmm… I suppose. Though aren’t Championship games often shifted around to fit the RTE schedule during the summer? Even GAA can’t be immune to TV money.
10) The GAA is about where you’re from. Soccer is about who you like. ODF: I’ve been supporting Liverpool since I was six, if you’re going to tell me I’m not a real fan then you can go fuck yourself. A fan must understand that you lump yourself with a team from early in life and stick with them through good and bad; not just jump ship to ‘who you like’. I’ve been made thoroughly miserable by Liverpool for a good portion of my adult life. ‘Like’ has nothing to do with it. It’s a penance.
11) No segregation at GAA games. ODF: Fair point. At last. But… if Ireland were playing say, Denmark, I could see Irish fans standing happily beside Danes and vice versa. It’s just not tradition. Plus the complicated ways that GAA tickets are given out for big days make full segregation very difficult.
12) No soccer team has a nickname quite as lovely as the Fighting Cocks of Carlow. ODF: What about the Liverpool Reds? Only kidding. Got us there I’m afraid.
13) Bubble perms never made it to Croke Park. ODF: Yes they did. Bomber Liston. Now, if you wanna break that news to all six foot four of him that’s fine by me. Oh and it was the seventies, there was plenty of them about and GAA players had beards, long hair and plenty of other questionable fashion choices. You fuckwit.
14) A scoreless draw in the GAA would be quite a novelty. ODF: It would be in basketball, cricket, baseball, snooker or table tennis as well. Y’know why? Because it’s a different fucking game. You fuckwit.
15) Roman Abramovich can buy the League. You can’t buy Sam! ODF: Hmmm…. Seems to me like a load of Irish Times, Examiner and Irish Independent articles have recently focused on how the “near-professional” level of certain teams (Kilkenny and Cork in hurling; Tyrone, Armagh, Kerry and Dublin) is keeping them at the top of their game. The bigger the GAA side the more favours that are called in to let players train and play. There are ways and means beyond cash that give an unfair advantage. Most of the 70s and early 80s Kerry side were school teachers and spent nearly every day in the summer in training. Some would say this is a kind of cheating. I certainly would because I hate you fuckwit.
16) The GAA may not appreciate its women as much as it should but at least we all know who Cora Stanunton is. The most famous woman in English soccer is Posh Spice. ODF: Well done. We’re really pleased for you. Do you know any real girls? Doubt it.
17) Under age players get to be part of the biggest days in hurling and football at half-time in the All-Ireland. ODF: Wholeheartedly agree. No, seriously.
18) Micheal O’Murchearaigh. ODF: Fair play, there’s no commentator in football that comes into O’Murchearaigh’s class. Not on Irish TV anyway. But overall with TV coverage… Joe Brolly V Johnny Giles. We say fuck off back up over the border ya Nordie cunt.
19) If a GAA player ever jumped at a spectator like Eric Cantona did the rest of his team would join in. So would the rest of the crowd. ODF: And this makes GAA better how? Surely the lack of segregation means such a situation couldn’t really arise, could it? I refer you to ‘point’ 11 and those ‘salt of the earth’ GAA fans. Well segregation boy? Well?
20) Vinnie Jones grabbed Gascoignes testicles. Paudie O’Se decked Joe McNally during the National Anthem. McNally learnt his lesson. Gascoigne just got worse. ODF: Hmmm… Don’t know enough about McNally to disagree but Gascoigne went on to be one of the players of a World Cup. On the issue of players losing the run of themselves, the GAA has a fair case to answer too. There isn’t a town in Ireland complete without a mid-twenties hellraiser who plays for the local side and “would be on the county panel but he’s a bit too fond of the oul drink”. A situation not helped by the free pints they get after a victory for the local team. It’s a recognised problem in GAA circles.
21) The GAA season always leaves you wanting more. The soccer season leaves soccer people demanding less. “Fewer games please”. ODF: No. It. Doesn’t.
22) Old soccer players get testimonials, Old GAA players just slip down to junior. ODF: They play junior while they’re under 40 in most cases, while soccer players drop down a division. This is different how? Testimonials have been dropped in most cases as, originally, they were for players who were plying their trade in a different age – when they were only earning £30,000 a year. Most testimonial cash finds its way to charities these days anyway, as Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Niall Quinn have shown.
23) Rural villages = A Church, A Post-office, a Pub and a GAA pitch. ODF: And teenage pregnancy; dodgy road safety; clerical abuse; cousins marrying cousins; heavy drinking; no jobs; small town racism et cetera. If you’re gonna name one thing fuckwit, name them all. Oh and how this makes GAA superior to soccer is still a bit of a mystery to us.
24) Pints after the match with the lad you knocked seven lumps of crap out of in the game. ODF: This happens in amateur soccer about as much as it happens in GAA. Another amateur game. Not to put too fine a point on it, professional soccer players can’t really go for pints after a game. Does this make them somehow inferior to GAA players? At the top levels of GAA, fellas like Colm Cooper, Eoin Kelly or Alan Brogan aren’t pissheads; they can’t be. ODF respect them, but not your opinions fuckwit.
25) Croke park on a Summer’s Day. ODF: Not if you’re gonna be there fuckwit. I’ll watch it in the pub.