The Gibraltarian Bohemian

Ireland take on Gibraltar at the Aviva Stadium in an Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday. Ahead of the game, Gerard Farrell and Michael Kielty take a look back at an unlikely link between Bohemians and Gibraltar.

Given that Gibraltar are one of the newest members of UEFA you wouldn’t expect there to be much of a footballing history between the tiny British Overseas Territory and Ireland, but what if we told you there was a prominent footballer from Gibraltar playing in Dublin at the very dawn of organised football?

That man was Gonzalo Canilla and he was a fixture on the Dublin sporting scene of the 1890s, lining out for both Bohemian F.C. and Freebooters F.C. as well as excelling on the cricket pitch.

Canilla was born in Gibraltar in 1876, he came from a pious Catholic family, with his uncle and namesake having been made Catholic bishop of Gibraltar in 1881. The younger Gonzalo was sent to England to further his education, where he attended the prestigious Catholic boarding school, Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, and this is where his connection with Irish football first emerges.

Among his fellow classmates were many young men from prominent Dublin families, including Oliver St. John Gogarty and the Meldon brothers George and Philip.

READ MORE

Gogarty found his greatest fame as a writer but was also a talented athlete, he was a strong swimmer and was also a Leinster Senior Cup winner with Bohemians as an outside right, while Phillip Meldon, one of the founding members of Freebooters F.C, became an Irish international footballer. Freebooters, one of Dublin’s earliest clubs, were based in Simmonscourt, near the present-day Aviva Stadium and were also founding members of the Leinster Football Association.

Dr. Canilla, front row, holding a cricket bat

Canilla, played for both clubs after leaving Stonyhurst for further studies in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. He even took his preparatory exams in Bell’s Academy on North Great George’s Street. Several students at Bell’s Academy had been among the founders of Bohemians in 1890. It was during this time that an 18 year old Canilla first appears for Bohemians as a full back against Athlone in January 1895.

By then Canilla was also playing cricket for Phoenix Cricket Club. This was quite common at the time and many of his footballing teammates were also colleagues or opponents on the cricket pitch. By 1897 there are reports of Canilla lining out for Freebooters and by the end of the following year he had formalised this by switching his registration to them, from Bohemians. The club, with Canilla in their side at full back finished in second place in the Leinster Senior League.

By 1899 however, having successfully completed his final examinations in the RCSI, Dr. Gonzalo Canilla departed Ireland for his native Gibraltar. Newspaper reports described him as someone “long and favourably associated with cricket and football” and that a “large crowd of sportsmen” gathered to see him off from Westland Row station to the strains of Auld Lang Syne. In total Gonzalo Canilla’s Irish sporting career lasted about four years which saw him play at the highest level in Dublin at the time.

Canilla married his wife Antonia in 1904 and they had at least two children. Gonzalo practiced medicine in England until 1916 then becoming the Rio Tinto mining company doctor in Huelva, Spain. He played competitive cricket in Spain and then recreational golf until his retirement, he was also said to have been possessed of a fine singing voice, he passed away in 1955.

His grandson David Cluett was also a successful footballer, he won 69 caps as a goalkeeper for Malta, including an appearance in a 2-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland in 1989 as well as winning numerous honours in the Maltese game, primarily for the Floriana club.

With special thanks to the Canilla/Cluett family for their assistance.

Dr Canilla 1901

JOE WICKHAM: RADICAL, BOHEMIAN AND FAI CHIEF

Fifty years ago, on 30 October 1968, Joe Wickham died in service as Football Association of Ireland secretary. He suffered a heart attack at half-time in a Poland v Ireland match in Katowice.

Wickham was at that time FAI chief and the public face of football in Ireland for 32 years. He was an internationally respected football administrator. He was also popular in his own country, being awarded the Soccer Writers’ Association Personality of the Year in 1964, described by one of those writers, Tony Reid, as having “administrative genius”, but being “extremely humble”.

Wickham is often associated with big moments in Irish football (and political or social) history. In 1938, he invited the new president, Douglas Hyde, to a match against Poland in Dalymount Park; Hyde’s attendance there led to him being removed as patron of the GAA.

READ MORE

Joe Wickham top left with Eamon de Valera, Douglas Hyde and Oscar Traynor

A BOHEMIAN LIFE – THROUGH THE EYES OF MICK MORGAN

As we celebrate our 128th birthday day today – the Bohemian Football Club was founded September 6 1890 – we thought now an appropriate time to add another extensively researched article by GERRY FARRELL of Bohemians gone by.

This time Gerry looks back at the life and career of Mick Morgan, a goalkeeper during the 1930s, who had the unenviable task of having the famous Harry Cannon as his rival for the No 1 shirt.

A BOHEMIAN LIFE – THROUGH THE EYES OF MICK MORGAN

Bohemians

IRELAND AMPUTEE TEAM TO COMPETE AT THE HOME OF IRISH FOOTBALL THIS WEEKEND

International football returns to the Home of Irish Football this Friday when the Ireland Amputee team host neighbours England at Dalymount Park in the first game of a three-team tournament at 7.45pm.

On Saturday, the tournament continues as Poland play England at noon followed by Ireland taking on Poland at 4pm.

Admission to all three games is FREE.

It caps a breakthrough year for the sport in Ireland following the establishment of the Irish Amputee Football Association National League.

A veteran of the game, Chris McElligott has been a leading light behind the growth of amputee football in Ireland – as both a player and a coach – and was the key man behind the establishment of the league.

He said: “This year has been fantastic. I couldn’t have dreamed of where amputee football is going at the moment.

READ MORE

Neil Hoey 2/5/2018

Leading The Line

AN INTERVIEW WITH DINNY CORCORAN

Up to last Friday, a vital injury-time winner in an early six-pointer against Bray Wanderers had been the highlight of an injury-hit season so far for talismanic Bohemian striker Dinny Corcoran.

But a late two-goal salvo at Richmond Park has surely surpassed that as Dinny rescued a deserved point for Bohs in the derby with St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday. His second goal deep in injury-time was first credited to Keith Buckley and then in most media to Kevin Devaney. But among the lads and the Bohs management, the goal is definitely going to Dinny Corcoran!

“It was great to get something out of the game,” he beams, “especially after a dismal first half. It was brilliant to get on the scoresheet. The second goal definitely hit my leg. I thought it might have hit someone after that but I watched it back for the first time on Sunday and it looks like it goes straight in. So I’ll try to claim it!”

To be fair, you could not begrudge the big man a bit of better fortune after an injury-plagued pre-season has left him behind the rest in terms of fitness and sharpness. The 29-year-old has found the going a bit tougher. But as the saying goes, form is temporary, class is permanent.

READ MORE

It’s relatively early doors yet and as soon as Dinny regains full fitness for the cut and thrust of Premier Division football, normal service in front of goal will no doubt resume regularly as it did last Friday.

The Donabate man first joined the club in 2012 from Drogheda United when Aaron Callaghan enticed him to the red and black. He was to score four times that season in 21 appearances in what was a very difficult campaign for the club.

His second spell at Dalymount in 2014, when he scored 13 goals in 27 games under Owen Heary, secured him hero status among the Bohemian faithful. He backed that up last term when he rejoined from St. Patrick’s Athletic notching another 16 goals in 25 appearances in a stellar fifth place finish.

He sees plenty of reasons to be positive despite Bohs’ rather precarious position in the table. Performances have been good but tight battles have been lost. No team has played through us, he feels, and once the commitment and passion is retained, he has no doubt we will begin to climb the table.

As always Bohs fans have been very understanding and encouraging but at the same time, very few know of the trials and tribulations that he has been dealing with over the close season and early weeks of the league campaign.

“Yes the fans have been brilliant to me as always. That’s been a huge plus actually. There have been there for the team week in, week out and have got behind us no matter what.

“On a personal note, no disrespect to any of the clubs I’ve been at, but the Bohs fans are the best I’ve played for. I feel they’ve been with me all the way, through the good times and the bad.

“I love getting the texts and messages after a game when I’ve scored but let me tell you, you appreciate them even more when you’ve had a bad game or lately when I’ve been injured. They’re always there to encourage you rather than dish out a slating.”

THE START OF THINGS

Dinny’s niggling injury is in a tendon in his groin, a frustrating knock that has been stubborn in its refusal to clear up. Innocuous enough at the time, it has dogged his winter preparations and pre-seasoon, something he is still paying the price for now as he approaches full fitness again.

“It happened in the off-season when a few of us were having a workout on astroturf to keep fit, Bohs players and a few I’d know well from other clubs. I did something to my groin but I didn’t think it was anything serious. It was sore and I took a few days off from running to recover.

“I thought that was the end of the matter but when we started back into pre-season training it flared up again. Pre-season is very intense, as you’d expect, and I felt it go again. I had a scan which revealed bad inflammation in a tendon in the groin.

“It didn’t need an op but it did need rest and management. But it kept recurring. I’d rest it, train for a day or two and then I’d be out for a few days. To be honest, it has left me four or five weeks behind the rest of the lads when it comes to fitness levels.”

ON THE MEND

For a player so used to playing and so used to being a central figure in the team, it has been a bit of a nightmare for him.

“Yes it has been so frustrating as I feel I have a lot more to give,” he says. “I haven’t trained or played as much as I needed to so you feel a bit sluggish. The problem is that midfielders and defenders are all about endurance, long distance running, stamina.

“As a striker, it’s all about short bursts of pace and getting beyond your man, quick movements and anticipation. And that is exactly what the groin was preventing me from doing. The darting runs and quick accelerations that being a striker is all about were not possible for me in pre-season.

“I’d get through a session well enough but the next day it used to be killing me so I’d have to miss a few days’ training. In that regime, it’s very hard to build up your core strength. In hindsight I should have rested it more, managed it better. But when your first game of the season is home to Shamrock Rovers, it’s a hard thing to do to give up on playing in it! Who sits out Rovers?

“It’s been horrible to miss sessions and watch lads play matches but it’s all forgotten now, I’m nearly there!

“In my previous two campaigns at the club, I’ve hit the ground running and started scoring early,” he continues, “but I haven’t been fit enough or sharp enough to do that this time. The confidence does take a hit, but I know continued hard work will change my luck soon. I just need a run of games once I am fully fit to get that confidence going again.”

The good news is that Dinny feels he is well on the mend and not too far off being in the condition he wants to be in. St Patrick’s Athletic can bear testimony to that!

“It’s better now, it’s not giving me any bother. But it has been tough because I have been short on training and games so now I need to keep catching up and getting the match sharpness back. I’m getting fitter every week and hopefully I’ll be back to last season’s levels very soon.”

OFF THE MARK

That winner against Bray reminded us of what he is really all about, a goal that gave him as much satisfaction and relief as any he has scored in the red and black.

“Yes scoring against Bray was huge, more so because it was a vital game we had to win, not just because it was my first goal. The first one can be the hardest to get! I’d like to have kicked on but my body wasn’t quite ready to let me.

“Luckily there is still a long way to go for me to get back into the side, make my mark on the team and cement my place. Last week was a very important game for me and as a striker, goals are what you are all about. It’s been hard with all of the two-game weeks, any player trying to recover from an injury would relate to that I think.

“I certainly wouldn’t use it as any class of excuse for the team. We have players good enough to win any game and we know better than anyone that we should have more points on the board. It’s just been tough for me personally as I am trying to get my sharpness back and the games have come a bit too thick and fast for me.

“We have played very well and been very unfortunate not to have more points.. We’ve produced good football but a few silly mistakes and poor finishing have cost us dearly. There’s no cause for panic though, I honestly think we are improving as the games pass.

“I believe our luck will change as we will force it to by continuing to play good stuff and retaining the work ethic we have shown. Good football or not, we know it is a results business though The Rovers wins were fantastic and it’s hard to say why we haven’t got results like that more often.

“But the team is full of character – there we were in Tallaght battling to the end with our left-full up in the box after 99 minutes!”

GOING TO THE WELL

In our league games thus far, up to and including the 2-2 draw at Richmond last Friday, Bohs have only been ahead for 18 minutes of the season. It seems incredible but it’s true.

Falling behind as often as we have has given the team a lot to do.

“It is a pity as I think that if we could be more solid and take the lead I think we’d be hard to pin back,” Dinny agrees.

“It is hard chasing games every week, sometimes against solid teams like Cork and Dundalk. We keep giving ourselves a lot to do like at St Pat’s. We have to change that as we are playing well enough to have taken a lot more than 13 points.”

Add in the fact that Dinny and his partner Leighanne have been blessed with a baby, 17-month-old Freddy, who gives Dinny a thorough daily workout and a meaner man-marking job than any league centre-half, and his whole life has been turned on its head this past year!

But he says he wouldn’t change any of it for the world and is at last smiling again after these tough few injury hit months.

“It’s been some change all right, at the click of a finger! My football has been going great too at the club before this injury and as I said earlier, the support of the fans has been immense for me. I just need to play to get back to where I was last year and reward their faith in me with a few goals.”

St Patrick's Athletic v Bohemians - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division
Website by Simon Alcock