Shedding some light on Dalymount

Bohs v Arsenal programme

This article was originally published on A Bohemian Sporting Life.

I love a good Western and among many great practitioners of that ultimate piece of cinematic Americana was John Ford, born John Feeney in Maine to two Irish-speaking immigrants. Ford was a man who knew how to mythologise himself and he did plenty of myth-making in his movies as well. For better or ill his film The Quiet Man has probably influenced the American view of rural Irish life to this day. While, his westerns are far from historical documents of frontier life for European settlers in the American west, rather they are among the founding myths of American exceptionalism.

Of course Ford knew this, in one of my favourite of his films, The man who shot Liberty Valance a world-weary newspaper man utters the immortal line “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”. Ford acknowledges that very Irish trait of preferring the entertaining story to the truth. And so it is with football, there are plenty of myths that grow legs, that persist to the present day despite constantly being debunked.

In this piece I’m going to address the notion that Bohemian Football Club bought the iconic Dalymount pylon style floodlights second-hand from Arsenal, and that these same lights once adorned Highbury Stadium.

The origins of the myth

There are several fairly authoritative accounts that perpetuate the story that the lights were either sold or gifted by Arsenal to Bohemians. I had in the past shared this story on social media myself before doing a bit of digging on the subject. This myth seems to have arisen from the fact that Arsenal played Bohemian F.C. in an inaugural match for the new lights in March 1962.

This simple inaugural match has somehow morphed into a story that Arsenal sold the lights to Bohemians. There are a few ways to dispel this myth so lets begin with the idea that these were the floodlights that once adorned Highbury.

The Highbury dilemma

Arsenal began playing matches under floodlights from 1951, at which time league matches under lights were not even permitted by the F.A. They did however play a number of high profile friendly matches including one against Glasgow Rangers. While the glorious old ground of Highbury has since been turned into modern apartments, large sections of the stadium received listed status and still exist.

Anyone who ever visited the stadium will likely attest to its architectural beauty, it was however, also known for the compact nature of its dimensions, including an infamously narrow pitch, well exploited by managers like George Graham. Simply put, Highbury didn’t have the space for large pylon towers like those that stand in Dalymount today. In the photo below you can see Highbury Stadium from that 1951 game against Rangers. This is verified both here and also here on the official Arsenal website.

Highbury in 1951

From this early photo it is clear that there are no floodlight pylons, all the lights are roof mounted. It is worth noting that this photo is from a mere 11 years before the lights were supposedly “sold” by Arsenal to Bohemians, which would mean that any floodlight pylons would have to have been installed after 1951, survived less than ten years, and then been removed and replaced by another roof mounted lighting system.

From later photos it’s clear that there were no pylons at Highbury and indeed very little space in such a tight stadium for the location of large pylon tower lights. The two photos below are from circa 1960 (roof mounted floodlights again) and secondly from the last season that Arsenal played at Highbury in 2006. As before, roof-mounted lights.

Highbury in 2006

The only connection between Highbury and Dalymount is that they are both tight grounds located in residential areas and that portions of both stadiums shared a stadium architect in the early decades of the 20th century, namely Archibald Leitch.

The story of the lights

The insertion of the Arsenal Football Club and Highbury Stadium into the history of Dalymount is really by accident. Bohemians had organised a fundraising subcommittee to look at the cost and feasibility of installing floodlights at least as early as 1960. It also quickly became clear that once the lights were ordered that some form of inaugural game would prove popular.

To be clear, the Dalymount Park floodlights were not the first set of lights used in Dublin. Stadium lighting was temporarily installed in Croke Park for the Tailteann games of 1924, while Ruaidhrí Croke has written recently about the first games under lights in Tolka Park back in 1953 when it was home to Drumcondra F.C.

However, Dalymount Park was the de facto home ground of the Irish national team and the lack of floodlights meant that international games had to have earlier kick-offs, even when scheduled for mid-week which had an obvious impact on crowd numbers.

Taking inspiration from another national football stadium a preferred design and supplier emerged after from a visit to Hampden Park in Glasgow who installed their own floodlights in 1961. In a report in the Dublin Evening Mail from November 14th 1961 it was reported that the contract had been signed with “a Scottish firm” for the lights and that these would take approximately three months to manufacture, transport and install. The firm in question was Miller and Stables of Edinburgh who, apart from Hampden, had also provided floodlights (or drenchlights as they dubbed them) for Windsor Park, Celtic Park, Easter Road and many others.

Drenchlighting

Original lighting console from Dalymount pylons showing the name of the manufacturer, Miller and Stables (pic Graham Hopkins)

Earlier in January 1961 an edition of the Irish Times confirmed that the FAI had accepted the recommendations of their own Finance Committee in guaranteeing major matches for Dalymount Park for at least the next ten years in order to assist with Bohemian F.C. in funding the purchase of new floodlights. Even by that stage the lights had been costed at £17,000 including import duty and transportation costs. This figure rose slightly when the lights were installed early in 1962 and were reported as costing £18,000 or even £20,000 according to one report.

The floodlights themselves are 125 feet high and originally featured three banks of ten lights on each pylon and a special transformer station had to be constructed to meet with the power supply demands. With the new lights it meant that mid-week games could be played in the evenings, for internationals this should mean bigger crowds and with Bohemians getting approximately 15% of the gate from international games this meant greater revenue for the club.

Despite the expected future return on investment this was still a huge outlay for the amateur club. Initial notices suggested that the lights would be in place by September 1961, which was then extended to October and ultimately until February of 1962. In the words of Club Secretary Andy Kettle, as quoted by Ryan Clarke in his recent series on Dalymount, it also meant that Bohs could “invite many top clubs to Dublin from time to time”.

The first of which ended up being Arsenal, though they weren’t first choice. But before these glamour matches could be paid Kettle had to deal with some level of internal dissent from Bohs members about the level of expenditure and even had to engage in a little bit of what might be termed “crowdfunding” in the modern parlance. Kettle elaborated in the Dublin Evening Mail that the club had “approached their bankers, the Munster and Leinster Bank, their members, players, traders, FAI and League of Ireland for financial assistance”, before adding “Bohs are keeping open their fund and will only be to happy to receive any further contributions. No matter how small…”

Evening Mail article

The Arsenal Game

As Andy Kettle had hoped the installation of floodlights would help Bohemians raise additional funds by playing friendly games against some of the “many top clubs” that could be invited to Dublin. But the question remained which team should receive the honour of being first? There were suggestions from media commentators that Shamrock Rovers should be invited although the preferred option emerged as a game between a League of Ireland selection against a British based Irish XI. However, as this would require multiple clubs across England and Scotland to release players it quickly because clear that this was unfeasible.

Among the other clubs sounded out by Bohemians to fulfil this fixture were Sunderland and Leeds United, as well as Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers (both of whom declined due to FA Cup commitments). Attention was then turned to Arsenal, Celtic or Wolverhampton Wanderers with Arsenal finally being chosen from that shortlist of three.

From this is it clear that Arsenal, despite being a famous First Division side were realistically a fifth or sixth choice on behalf of the Bohemian’s committee for the role of opponents for this inaugural game. Arsenal were ultimately chosen and played in Dalymount on at least their third occasion (the previous two being in 1948 and 1950) and fielded a strong team including Welsh international goalkeeper Jack Kelsey, George Eastham, and future Cork Hibernians player-manager Dave Bacuzzi. The Bohemian XI featured players like Tommy Hamilton from Shamrock Rovers, Eric Barber and Tommy Carroll from Shelbourne as well as Ronnie Whelan Sr. and Willie Peyton from St. Patrick’s Athletic.

Arsenal would ultimately win an exciting game, played in poor weather, 8-3. However, throughout all the media coverage during the build-up to the game and afterward there was no mention of any Arsenal or Highbury connection with the lights other than their being chosen as the opposition.

Maybe it is a little bit of an inferiority issue with Irish football fans that we’d rather believe that we bought the most iconic set of floodlights of any stadium in the country, second-hand from a big English club rather than believe that an amateur club, working in partnership with the League, the FAI and ordinary fans and players managed to successfully fundraise a huge amount of money for a major infrastructural project.

For me that’s a bigger story than any mythic historical connection with a defunct football stadium in London. But as they say “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend” I’d rather it be shine your own light rather than bathe in reflected glory.

Dalymount today

Paddy Ratcliffe – A Bohemian Life Less Ordinary

Paddy Ratcliffe hailed from Dublin’s northside and lived an extraordinary life, he sandwiched two spells at Bohemians as a tough-tackling full back, either side of eventful service fighting the evils of fascism during the Second World War.

Paddy was a tail-gunner for the RAF in bombing raids over Germany, he survived being shot down, having two bullets lodged in his leg as well as the perils of the POW camps before returning to his beloved Dalymount.

Paddy also enjoyed a successful career in England before relocating to the United States later in life. This article covers his eventful footballing career, his military service and his later life.

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This article was originally published on A Bohemian Sporting Life.

Bohs during the War years

At the outbreak of the Second World War League football ceased in Britain almost immediately, the 1939-40 League season was only three games old when it was suspended and a full league season wouldn’t be completed until the end of the 1946-47 season. This robbed many talented players of the peak years of their careers. However, in neutral Ireland football continued as usual, or as usual as possible in the midst of a bloody and truly global conflict. There may have been food and petrol rationing but the early and mid-40’s gave the League of Ireland one of it’s most dominant ever sides, Cork United, who won the league five times between 1940 and 1946.

For Bohemian F.C. the 40’s weren’t to be their most successful era, victory in the League of Ireland Shield in 1939 and an Inter-city cup win in 1945 were pretty much all that the era provided in terms of silverware but as always the club was developing players who would rise to prominence elsewhere. While I’ve written previously about the likes of the famous O’Flanagan brothers perhaps a less well known story is of Paddy Ratcliffe, a talented full-back for Bohemians who enjoyed a good career in the English League, but by even having a career at all he had cheated death and defied the odds.

From the printers to Dalymount

Patrick Christopher Ratcliffe, better known simply as Paddy Ratcliffe was born in Dublin on New Years Eve 1919. Paddy was the son of Bernard and Bridget Ratcliffe. Bernard was a postman but he had also served in the British Army, joining at the age of 18 in 1904 and serving in the Royal Artillery. He later rejoined to serve during World War I.

Patrick first appears on the footballing radar as a player for Hely’s F.C. which was likely the works team of Hely’s stationers and printers of Dame Street. Hely’s were a large and prominent business in Dublin at the time and as well as selling stationery they also had a line in sporting goods, so you could buy a tennis racquet or fishing rod along with your pens and ink. Hely’s is also mentioned in Ulysses as a former place of employment for Leopold Bloom.

Paddy Ratcliffe is mentioned as having left Hely’s F.C. to sign for Bohemians in August 1939, he made his first team debut the following month in a 2-1 win over Jacob’s in the Leinster Senior Cup. The League season began in November of 1939 and Paddy was an ever-present as Bohs playing all 22 games at left-back games as Bohs finished eighth that year. He was also part of the Bohemians side that defeated Sligo Rovers to win the league of Ireland Shield for 1939-40. The following season saw significant improvement in the league with Bohemians finishing third, Paddy played 25 games across all competitions but only 10 in the league, the reason for this fall in appearance numbers had nothing to do with a loss of form however, because in 1941 Paddy Radcliffe joined the RAF to fight in the Second World War. Newspaper reports announced in April 1941 that Paddy had played his last game for Bohemians, and like his father before him he was off into the violent theatre of global conflict.

Paddy the POW

Paddy joined the RAF and became the tail gunner on a Lancaster bomber, Paddy’s role as a tail-gunner saw him sit in an exposed turret at the very rear of the plane, operating four heavy machine guns which would play a crucial role in the defence of these heavy bomber planes. It was also an incredibly dangerous job, the tail-gunner was a particularly vulnerable target to lighter, more maneuverable, fighter plans, there were risks of frostbite from flying at such high altitude often with open panels, and the small, cramped rear turret could be awkward to escape from in the event of an emergency.

Not everyone came home from the Lancaster bombing raids over Germany, for example the Lancaster was the main bomber used in the famed Dambusters attacks of Operation Chastise in May 1943. Of the 19 Lancaster bombers deployed eight were shot down over Germany. A similar fate befell Flight Sergeant Paddy Ratcliffe during one of those bomber missions when his plane was shot down over Germany. Paddy was lucky to survive as he had two Nazi bullets in his leg but he was destined to see out the War as a POW in Stalag 357 in North-western Germany. In these particular POW camps over 30,000 prisoners (the vast majority of them Soviet prisoners) died over the course of the War.

Irish newspaper reports from September 1943 even went so far as to express remorse at his death as it must likely have been assumed that Paddy and his crew had perished over Germany. We don’t know if even his family knew he had survived. But thankfully Paddy did survive the war and after hostilities had ceased he was straight back into the Bohemians team for the 1945-46 season. While playing usually in the position of left-back he also lined out as both an inside left and scored his only goals for Bohemians in a Shield game from that position.

A return to football

Ratcliffe’s performances in the early part of the season were impressive enough to secure a move across the water to Notts County as they prepared for a return to post war football. Notts County’s manager was Major Frank Buckley who had known Ratcliffe’s first manager at Bohemians, George Lax. Like Ratcliffe, Lax had also joined the RAF during the War. Perhaps it was on the recommendation of George Lax that Ratcliffe was signed? Paddy may also have come to their attention from playing wartime matches as there are reports of him lining out for the likes of Rochdale during 1942.

Either way, his spell with Notts County was short, by the time the first full, post-war league season was underway in 1946-47 Paddy had signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers. He joined Wolves as part of a deal that also brought forward Jesse Pye to Moulineux for a combined fee of £10,000. Pye would enjoy great success at Wolves scoring 90 times for them, including a brace in the FA Cup final which brought the cup to the black country. He was even capped for England in the famous Goodison Park game when they were defeated 2-0 by Ireland. Paddy, however, would only make two appearances in the English top flight before moving to Plymouth for the 1947-48 season.

This meant that Paddy had to drop down to Division Two to ensure more first team football. He made his Plymouth debut on the opening day of the season in August 1947 against Newcastle in front of a crowd of more than 50,000 in St. James’s Park. Paddy’s first two seasons were ones of mixed fortunes, he played only 25 league games in his first two years, and while he got a better run of games in the 1949-50 season (playing 21 games) Plymouth finished second bottom of the Second Division and were relegated to Division Three South.

Paddy going for a header on the soccer pitches of Los Angeles

Success and a first taste of the Big Apple

Despite the relegation the following seasons were some of Paddy’s best, he became the undisputed first choice as a right-back and began to contribute goals as well, becoming a regular penalty taker for the side. In the 1951-52 season Plymouth Argyle finished as Champions in Division Three South and kept clear of relegation when back in the Second Division. In fact Plymouth came fourth in the second tier in 1952-53 with Paddy as a regular. This remains Plymouth’s best ever league finish.

In the 1953-54 season there were greater challenges for Plymouth, they finished in 19th place in Division Two, only three points clear of relegation but they did take part in an ambitious end of season tour to eight cities across the the USA. Paddy boarded the Ile de France at Southampton on the 27th April 1954 and set sail for New York. The Plymouth Argyle tour would see them face local sides like Simpkins of St. Louis, the Chicago Falcons and various “All-Star” teams, as well as randomly playing two games against Borussia Dortmund in Chicago and then Los Angeles. The games against Dortmund were the only games which Plymouth lost on their tour where they racked up easy wins including a 16-2 trouncing of a supposed “All-Star” team in Denver. The tour ran through to the beginning of June when the Argyle signed off their visit with a 1-0 win over a New York All-Stars team in Astoria, Queens.

A short quote from “Irish soccer player” Paddy Ratcliffe appeared in the Big Spring Daily Herald of West Texas in June of 1954 where he asked what his impressions were of the United States. A somewhat wide-eyed Paddy described his experiences as follows: “Every city I’ve seen is like London at rush hour. Life here is a bit too strenuous for me. You Americans don’t take holidays. You don’t relax and lounge around. But you seem to have more fun. At home we’re in bed by 11. That’s when you people are going out”. An interesting first impression as we’ll later see.

The 1954-55 season was another tough one for Plymouth. They escaped the drop by a single place. The 1955-56 season was to be Paddy’s last in English football, he had been a regular up until this point but by the start of the season he was 35 years old and new manager Jack Rowley (a superstar as a player in his time with Manchester United) preferred others in the full-back berths. Paddy would only make 8 appearances that season as Plymouth were again relegated from Division Two. In all he had made 246 appearances and scored 10 goals for the Pilgrims.

Despite spending most of his career playing at a decent standard Paddy was never selected for Ireland, this is especially surprising given his versatility in either full back position. There were some suggestions that he should be called up aired in the newspapers, in the Dublin Evening Mail in 1953 and from “Socaro” the football correspondent in the Evening Press. The Irish selectors had the chance to watch Paddy in the flesh when he lined out one final time for Bohemians in May 1952. He was playing in a memorial match for the Jimmy Dunne, the legendary Irish striker who died suddenly in 1949. Dunne had played and coached Shamrock Rovers but had also been Paddy’s coach during his last spell with Bohs in 1945. A Rovers XI played a Bohs XI in Dalymount just before a national squad was picked for the upcoming game against Spain but Paddy never got a call up. Guesting for that Bohs XI were the likes of Tom “Bud” Aherne and goalkeeper Jimmy O’Neill who did feature in the heavy 6-0 defeat to Spain just two weeks later.

In America

While he may never have gotten that cap for Ireland and his career in England had come to an end with Plymouth this wasn’t the final act in Paddy’s footballing career. The tour of the United States had obviously made a big enough impact on Paddy and he decided to up sticks and move to the United States with his young family. Paddy had married a Dublin woman named Olive Privett in 1946 and they set off for a new life in Los Angeles in 1957. They moved to the Lawndale area of Los Angeles with their four children (two girls and two boys) and Paddy began a career in the printing business, becoming print foreman of Palos Verdes newspapers and occasionally penning articles in its pages about the beautiful game. Paddy also continued playing for a Los Angeles Danish side well after his 40th birthday, only hanging up his boots in 1962. He was also involved in coaching young American talent in football of the association variety. He even took time to catch up with former professional colleagues when they visited the United States, entertaining his old adversary Stanley Matthews when he was on a tour of America.

Despite being somewhat of an evangelist for soccer in the States, Paddy’s son Paul shone as a varsity American football player, lining out as a quarter back for his high school. When quizzed about the American variant of the sport, Paddy described it as “a daffy game – they call it football but a specialist comes on to kick it maybe ten times in a 60 minute game. How can they call it football?”

Paddy passed away in October 1986 at the age of 66 and was buried in Los Angeles. He had begun his career with Bohs before the War, lived a perilous existence as a rear-gunner on an Allied Bomber, survived the deprivations as a prisoner-of-war in Nazi Germany and returned to have a successful footballing career in Britain, despite having a pair of German bullets in his left leg. Even after his playing career had ended he began a new life and trade in the United States believing it presented the best opportunities for his young family but never forgetting where he came from or the sport he loved.

Once more, thanks to Stephen Burke for his assistance on Paddy’s early life and Bohs career, and for more on Paddy’s career at Plymouth check out the excellent Vital Argyle website. Featured image is from the profile of Paddy in the Greensonscreen website.

Paddy Ratcliffe

EBook: The Enduring Legacy of an Idle Youth

We are very fortunate that we have, within our membership, some dedicated historians who have undertaken great research on the past activities and personalities of our club.

We are conscious of boredom setting in during this current period of no football and all of us adjusting to spending more time at home, so we are going to endeavour to provide you with some reading material over the next few weeks in the hope that we can alleviate some of that.

First up we have the second edition of a pamphlet ‘The Enduring Legacy of an Idle Youth’ by club member Ciarán Priestley.

An Ebook/PDF version to download or view is now available.

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Originally printed in 2010, this 2020 updated second edition pamphlet focuses on the founding of the club in 1890 and some of the club’s key figures from that era and around the turn of the 20th century.

The author Ciarán Priestley writes:

“During a tumultuous period in Irish history, a small group of young Dubliners decided to embark upon an ambitious project to start a club from the ground up and play the emerging sport of Association football.

“While their well-heeled education had honed their skills and promised much, their young adult lives were afforded indulgence and little substance.

“In defiance of an overly-extended and idle youth, the Bohemian Football Club was created as a vehicle for ambition, improvement, victory and loss.

“While those who assembled at the Gate Lodge in the Phoenix Park on 6 September 1890 have long since departed, the club created in their image has survived many generations since.

“The Bohemian Football club of 2020 may live closer to the values of its founders than at any other moment in its history.”

Ciarán originally intended holding a talk on the pamphlet in The Back Page on April 1. That will now obviously be put on hold. But in the meantime, you can listen back to a talk he gave to Dublin City Libraries in 2014.

We will have more reading material in the coming days and weeks. But if you have any particular articles of interest that you would like to see revived and circulated among our members, please don’t hesitate to suggest them to me at pro@bohemians.ie.

Similarly, if you wish to submit a new article for consideration, please get in touch.

Leinster Senior Cup winner 1901/02

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.

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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.

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Joe Wickham top left with Eamon de Valera, Douglas Hyde and Oscar Traynor
Website by Simon Alcock