Dunboyne soccer club…beginning.
Around this time fifty years ago, the world and Dunboyne were somewhat different places than today. Covid-19 ( and that is the only time it will be mentioned from here on in ), mobile phones, Facebook, Love Island, Wheelie Bins, Digital cameras, Donald Trump, undetectable hairpieces, Remote TV controls, McDonalds, a Pope in the Park, a statue of Sean Boylan, …they were all unheard of.
So were Beechdale, Kilbrena, Woodview Heights, all the halls belonging to the Hamiltons, Lutterells, Plunketts and Sadliers, Millfarm …..And God knows where else. There was no community centre, no supermarket in Toms field nor houses in Dick Riley’s field, no St. Peters College, no trains up and running again,…and sometimes no water or electricity.
…and there was no soccer club.
In the sporting world, Dunboyne had a very enthusiastic local GAA club, and an equally enthusiastic athletics club. Horse racing was well catered for, with plenty of nearby courses. The doggies were also popular, and you could even play mini-golf up in Clonee.
But there wasn’t really a lot else to whet your sporting thirst….and yes, there was definitely no soccer club. Match of the Day every Saturday night, in a few selected pubs around the vicinity, was as near as we got to playing that game. In fact, the GAA ban on playing soccer was still in existence, even if on its last legs…it was to be abolished the following year. But none of all that bothered the committed and fanatical soccer lovers from the northwest of the parish. They had been playing their beloved sport ( and indeed the other sports too ! ) in Eamon Walsh’s field every summer when the evenings stretched out….and now the time had come to organise themselves better. They had, for over a year, discussed at length their great aspiration in forming a local club and were bursting with enthusiasm. There was no shortage of clubs in Dublin and there were even a few in Meath. Navan (Parkville), Ratoath (Harps) and Stackallen (Rovers) had teams. There was also a very strong club in nearby Leixlip and another in Clonsilla ( St.Mochtas ). A few local lads had turned out for Stackallen and young Mick Kane was now playing impressively for St. Mochtas underage.
Now the time had come to register for the following seasons amateur leagues, especially if you were a new club. The notices to such effect had appeared in the national papers. And so with everyone’s approval and best wishes, Kevin Poleon, Pat Brady and Mick McAuley (later to be joined by Mick Kane), took the 70 bus and headed for number 43 Parnell Square and a date with the formidable (and intimidating!) top brass of the Athletic Union League led
by their President, Mr. Jim Younger…and they didn’t come more intimidating than Jimboy.
Pat Brady, who, along with his brother Peter, sister Phil ( and also their father Jim ), were to play such a hugely productive and labour intensified role in the formation of the club, describes the meeting in an excellent account of those days, which he penned and gave me many years ago.
………..“ The not insignificant task of convincing the A.U.L that our interest was sincere in fielding a soccer team from what was a formidable Gaelic football and hurling stronghold. At the time, there was plenty of opposition within the league members, as (in their view) Dunboyne was out in the wilderness. So quite a number of stipulated regulations were laid down at the time….probably in the hope of maybe dissuading us”.
One stipulation glared out at us more than any of the others. Any club wishing to become a member of ‘their’ league, MUST have their own independent playing pitch…and Eamon Walsh’s field most certainly did not tick that box.
We returned to that same field, met the rest of the gang and discussed all we had been told. The pitch was the big problem and the clock was ticking. We wrecked our heads going through every possible bit of ground in the parish. Much as we would have loved to have it, the GAA pitch (Tom’s field)… was a non-runner for obvious reasons, (although it was to be used in a temporary arrangement a few years later…but that’s another story ! ).
In the end, one name kept cropping up as our only possible saviour. Mr. Joseph Bruton. He was known as a kindly man with a record of being a great parishioner and benefactor.
Pat Brady says in his notes…
……..“ We boldly decided to approach Mr. Joe Bruton on Maynooth Road, as he had generously given to the athletic club, and sure weren’t we just as important! Or at least we thought so. Kevin Poleon, Mick McCauley and myself arranged a meeting with Mr Bruton. With some trepidation, we arrived at his door. He openly greeted us, immediately making us feel welcome, whilst inviting us into his sitting room. Eventually summing up the courage to pop the question, we were gobsmacked by his enthusiasm and backing for the project. After explaining the pros and cons for such a request, he gave us the use of a field on the Summerhill road for a period of three years. We were elated and as far as we were concerned, Dunboyne soccer club was born that evening…our biggest headache had dissipated”.
And indeed Pat was right and we signed the necessary paperwork for Mr. Bruton….also agreeing that his cattle, at all times. had first preference outside match times!
Mr. Younger and his officers had put up other issues like the bus service to this ‘Godforsaken outback of civilization’, separate dressing rooms for teams and referees, finances and other such things. But we knew we could answer all these questions to his satisfaction…which we did.
Finance was the next big issue. Pat Brady knew the new local sergeant…… and he agreed to become our manager and advisor while we were getting up and running. He had played a bit in his day and could certainly bring something to the table. It was good to have him on board, and with Mr. Bruton’s name also associated with us, we were getting a bit of ‘street cred’ as they say, out there.
To quote Pat again…
……..“ At a second meeting with him (Sgt. Caesar ), we decided to write to every business, landowner, or anyone who appeared wealthy, for financial help. We co-opted a female as our secretary and divided the village by its roads. Using Sgt. Caesars and Mr. Bruton’s good names, we dispatched the begging letters, seventy-one in all. The money slowly came in and we ticked off names and amounts given. In all, twelve people replied, with one man, Mr.
Patrick Kearns, giving an amount to almost match the entire fund collected. We could now go back to the AUL with the main requirements met. We were provisionally accepted, on condition of a ‘facilities’ inspection at a later date……now the real physical work was to begin”.
And begin it did. At the outset, the new oncoming football team would be limited to those who had shown their ‘skills’ in Eamon Walshe’s field. This would more or less take in an area that included St. Patricks Park ( Condon Park ), St. Peters Park, the Summerhill road as far as Baytown and then across to the Back Road ( Kennedy Road ) and the stretch of the Navan road back into St. Patrick’s Park. Selfish it may have looked and selfish it may have been, but making sure all those involved got a game was the main priority. Expansion could come later. These lads were now already throwing in a weekly subscription off their hard earned wage and they would now have to roll up their sleeves for a few weeks of serious hard labour.
At the end of June/early July, Athletic Union League officials inspected the facilities and the work done by the dedicated members of the aspiring Dunboyne Soccer Club. Not only did it pass all requirements, but they let it be known that they were seriously impressed with the whole project. And well they should have been.
Endless days and evenings had been spent turning a part of Joseph Bruton’s fine big field into a lovely, if a bit bumpy, football pitch…complete with the required facilities.
The virgin ground was rolled and the grass was cut continuously. The cow’s turds were endlessly collected and dispersed to more suitable pastures. This was to become a permanent chore before every match…..( but a few were always overlooked, as there was nothing as satisfying as seeing the big boys from the city clubs brought down to earth by a good splatter of cowshit on their lovely football gear!).
Marking out the new playing pitch was a painstaking, time consuming and back breaking job. Water had to be brought from the nearby river, mixed with the bags of lime and then laboriously painted to the exact markings with nine-inch distemper brushes. Needless to say, it was carried out on a rotating system between all the lads. And like the cows’ droppings it was to become a necessary requirement before every game.
If the playing surface looked impressive, then the dressing rooms were the jewel in the crown. They were as good, and in most cases better, than anything to be found in the league. Pat Brady, his family and workmates, really came into their own. Let us return to Pat’s notes….
……….”The work involved consisted of constructing a dressing room, from the discarded carcasses of shipping cases, used for the importation of Opel cars. Being an apprentice carpenter/joiner at the time, the project was exceptionally well constructed, and always supervised by my mentor, Sean Lowndes. It consisted of two separate dressing rooms, each measuring 13 x 9 ft….which was ample room for the then eleven players only allowed. There was a separate lock-up area between the dressing rooms for the match officials, goal nets and six flag poles”……
The erection of the goalposts (timber), stanchions and nets, gave the perfect satisfying finishing touch to the great work. Jimmy Brady (Pat’s father), was a long established and respectable builder in the village. He was a great addition in the background, acquiring much of these vital elements and making the Brady workshop (at the rear of the old church) a busy place and available at all times. The company pick-up truck with Peter at the helm was in constant use and a regular sight in Bruton’s field.
By now the costs were mounting and bills had to be paid. A brief account of the expenses back then makes interesting reading. The average wage would have been around twenty pounds a week and the decimal currency had not yet arrived. Here were some of the costs in pounds, shillings and pence.
£. s. d.
Set of jerseys. 10 13 5
Shorts (knicks) 2 3 10
Socks. 1 4 6
Ball. 6 10 0
Numbers for jerseys. 1 10 9
Goalposts. 9 3 4
Nets. 13 10 4
Stanchions. 16 0 0
Dressing rooms. 54 0 0
(But for the undoubted subsidy of the Brady family firm at the time, one can imagine how higher these costs might have been.)
In the meantime, the boys also trained as good as every night. There were places to be fought for on this coming team and the competition was palpable. Long runs up to Baytown Cross and back became the norm, and muscles, ligaments and sinews, that had been unheard of, now began to ache….and this was before a ball was kicked. But making that team was a must.
The three lads returned to Parnell Square for a final time to be informed by James Younger that they were a very welcome addition to the Athletic Union League. It was a ground-breaking move for them also as they were now expanding further beyond ‘the Pale’ and into this unknown world!
They would however, go as easy on us as possible and we were to be assigned to their lowest Sunday league…division 3A. The fixtures would appear in the national newspapers on Tuesday 25th August with the first round of games to be played the following Sunday…August 30th 1970. The lads returned home. The task was done. Now it was time to fight for their places on the first Dunboyne soccer team ever.
On Tuesday 25th August 1970, the fixtures for the entire junior soccer leagues in Dublin were published in the Evening Press and Evening Herald. This would be the norm for the junior soccer season, along with the results from the preceding weekend games. It was compulsive reading for anyone associated with junior football and would fill two and at times three full pages of those national papers….and this was before the days of tabloids!
And now the lads (and lady!) of the new club from County Meath, joined the ranks of those avid Tuesday evening readers. The papers were duly purchased and the new club quickly found that their first ever game was to be away against Newbrook Celtic, who hailed from out Rathfarnham way. Not an easy start….but then again, what was an easy start?
They also noticed a separate article in the page, welcoming the new clubs and were chuffed to see Dunboynes name among them. What was also keenly read, was who were the rest of the teams who would make up Division 3A. Some were familiar names, others were not.
…..Greenfield Park, Lazio, Glopak, St. Catherine’s, Ballagh Rangers, Blessington, Ashtown Utd., Brefni Rovers, Southern Cross, Clapton Utd., Dominicans, Semperit, Rathdown Celtic, Orchard Utd., and of course Newbrook Celtic and Dunboyne.
And so on Sunday 30th August 1970, the minibus (the late Ger Kelly, if I remember correctly) departed the village with a full battalion of excited, if nervous footballers, bound for the foothills of the Dublin mountains and the village of Rathfarnham. A couple of hours later, Dunboynes first captain, Sam Conroy ( who else ! ) led his team (resplendent in the Brazilian colours) out on the field, took the toss, shook hands all around, and the first ball was kicked.
The team was….
Mick McCauley, Kevin Poleon, Sam Conroy, Pat Brady, Peter Brady, Francis McDonald, David Curtis, John O’Loughlin, Packie Sommers ( R.I.P. ), Michael Connife and Nicky Dalligan.
The team on the day was looked after by the late Paul Curtis, who although never a player, contributed and played his part throughout the opening period….a great man.
And of course that is just the eleven that played on that day. There were other lads, who were competing vigorously to get on that team, would continue to do so, whilst also loving the whole experience of the journey from Eamon Walsh’s field and on to Joe Bruton’s and beyond….equal and willing in every way.
As previously stated, Dunboyne had chosen the yellow and blue colours of the great Brazilian team that had just won the World Cup in Mexico a few weeks beforehand. That dashing gear, along with nets etc, was purchased in J.P. Mullens in Mary Street and the ball as far as I know was bought in a shop in Nth. King Street beside what was then the O’Neill’s sporting factory. Both these outlets were more or less the ‘go-to’ places for all football gear
and accessories back then. Mullens is still in Mary Street but now specialises in martial arts equipment.
Sadly the impressive strip of yellow jerseys and socks, complemented by royal blue shorts, was to be the only comparison that could be made with that marvelous Brazilian team.
Newbrook Celtic, in their replica Shamrock Rovers and Celtic kit, made sure of that!
Though Dunboyne tried gallantly, their opponents were in a different class and a hard lesson was learned. The official final score was 8-0. (Personally I think it was a bit more. and I should know. I was the goalkeeper that day, and I picked the ball out of the back of the net so many times, my back has never been the same since!).
But the referee was a decent old boy and his report stated the score was only 4-0 and thankfully that was what appeared in the papers . We had been brought down to earth with a thud, and returned to Kelly’s bar in Dunboyne to lick our considerable wounds. We were down surely, but certainly not out.
Nicholas Caesar reshaped the team for our second and first home game against Orchard Utd. ..(Needless to say I was relieved of goalkeeping duties but managed to make an outfield spot ). Although we were beaten 4-1, a ‘curious’, but good natured crowd turned up and we gave a much better account of ourselves. Sam Conroy (who else again ! ) scored the first Dunboyne goal ever, and he was to go on and score over forty goals in that season
alone….a fair ‘ol achievement. The legend was born.
It would be another nine games before Dunboyne A.F.C. scored their first victory ever. It was to be at home to Lazio who were, without any disrespect, the worst team in the league. They were a team with a distinctly Italian flavour as their base was from the Italian community in Dublin, synonymous with the cafe and fish and chips outlets. Based on the season’s results so far, we couldn’t wait to play them, knowing that if we couldn’t beat them, then we were
really in serious trouble.
Although it was close, the 2-1 result was met with unbridled euphoria and we celebrated like we had won the league. In fact, ongoing business at the local G.A.A annual general meeting that was being held on that same day, was interrupted in order to relay the great news…and that is the truth!
There were a few more wins (not many ) and draws ( not too many of them either ), and Dunboyne finished the season a bit battered and bruised but very proud of themselves and what they had achieved.
The club eventually opened up, as was inevitable. New people came in, committees were formed, and three years later in the 1973/74, Dunboyne A.F.C. emerged victorious in the Division 3 (Sunday) league. I played a very minor role but got my cherished plaque as part of the panel.
By then some great players had arrived on the scene and many of that first ever team had made way for them. Mick Kane came of age and blossomed into a fine player. The Mulreid family arrived home from the U.K. with the late Tom being a wonderful player and a major addition to the team. His father Paddy would eventually play a prominent role in the club in the years ahead.
Another family, the Ruane’s, had also arrived back from the U.K., purchased the old Logan’s pub and immediately immersed themselves in the club. Mick, Tom and the late David made huge contributions on the field of play (as would their younger brother Sean), so that Dunboyne had now become a bit of a force to be reckoned with…and of course, Sam was scoring with embarrassing regularity.
But this little exercise of mine (and I do hope you have enjoyed it ! ) is all about remembering with a great sense of nostalgia, the events that unfolded at this time fifty years ago.
It is also a very important exercise in setting the record straight and removing any doubt or ambiguity about the veracity and accuracy of those days. Accurate history is important, and especially so, when it concerns the birth of things. I will elaborate more about that later.
It is an exercise also, in remembering people no longer with us but prominent back then. People like Joseph Bruton, Patrick Kearns, Paul Curtis, Packie Summers, Jim Brady, Sean Lowndes, Nicholas Caesar and others who threw in their hearts, and their time and money, so that the dreams of a few madcap enthusiastic teenagers, who loved that game called soccer, could be realised. They are remembered with particular fondness at this time by
those of us, who were actually there back then.
In a book of short stories that I had the nerve to pen a few years back, I included two short stories concerning these events of fifty years ago.
The first was a tongue in cheek account called ‘The Boys from Brazil’ and I gilded the lily a bit and took poetic or whatever licence you want to call it, to make it, a sort of, fictional humorous story … based on the events of those days. It is NOT an accurate account of those times…(but not that far away either!).
The immediate follow up story ‘Play it again Sam’ was however a very accurate and honest account of my friend and neighbour Sam Conroy, who was such a prominent member back then….. A truly wonderful footballer and gentleman.
Both these stories can be found under ‘Files’ on this (Dunboyne Diaspora) page.
And so (for historical records sake ), a brief recap, if I may….
( i )….Dunboyne Soccer club was founded in the summer of 1970 by a group of lads led by Pat Brady, Kevin Poleon, Mick Mc Auley and Mick Kane….(‘The Lads’)
( ii ) …The first captain was Sam Conroy and the first manager was Nicholas Caesar.
( iii ) …The first secretary was Philomena (Phil Brady). **
( iv )….They played their first ever game against Newbrook Celtic on Sunday. August 30th. 1970.
( v )….They played their first ever home game against Orchard Utd. On a pitch in a field owned by Joe Bruton on the Summerhill Road on Sunday 6th September 1970.
( vi )….Their next four games were v Rathdown Celtic (away), Dominicans (home), Southern Cross (away) and Ashtown Utd. (home).
Dunboyne A.F.C. grew and prospered over the years to become the wonderful institution it is today…..And it is for others to chronicle that part of the clubs history. Other people came in and played their not insignificant parts. The club is a credit to them all. Long may it continue!