Craig Sexton believes the combination of tangible aspirations, trusting coaches, first-class training facilities and a high-performance atmosphere provides young players the perfect platform to develop and flourish at Bohemians.

While all eyes are on the first team reaching the FAI Cup final for the first 13 years, Bohemians are competing for silverware at underage level too.

Sexton was speaking as his Bohs U19 side travelled to the Brandywell ahead of this evening’s Enda McGuill Cup final against Derry City.

In July, both Sexton and Seán L’Estrange returned to the Bohemians U19 coaching set-up where they previously won the SSE Airtricity U19 League twice, won the Enda McGuill Cup, and competed in the UEFA Youth League in successive seasons.

They were joined in the set-up by 2009 Bohemians league-winning midfielder Paul Keegan and former Bohs goalkeeper Shane Supple.


Craig Sexton team talk

Bohemian FC and Bloody Sunday

Today is the 100th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a day remembered in Irish history for actions that morning when Michael Collins’ “Squad”, supported by members of the Dublin Brigade, carried out a series of assassinations across Dublin which helped to cripple the British Intelligence network in the city.

It is also remembered for the brutal reprisal that took place in Croke Park later that day when a combined force of RIC, including the Black and Tans, and Auxillaries along with British Army troops opened fire at a Gaelic Football match between Dublin and Tipperary, causing the deaths of 13 spectators and Tipp player Michael Hogan.

Though Dalymount Park sits only a short walk away from Croker, any connections with Bohemians and the events of that day would appear remote or non-existent, though that is certainly not the case. Both in the streets of Dublin that morning and in Croke Park that afternoon there were men who were, or would become, players, coaches, administrators and supporters of Bohemians.

We will begin early that morning on the streets of the south inner city, Charlie Dalton, the 17-year-old Drumcondra native and IRA intelligence officer has been preparing the attack on 28 Pembroke Street, making arrangements with Maudie, a maid who worked in the house to gather intelligence on the six suspected British intelligence operatives residing there.

At the appointed hour of 9am, Dalton and several other Volunteers burst into the house. Dalton’s job was to ransack the house for documents and intelligence files. His colleagues were tasked with the other work. Lieutenant Dowling and Captain Price were shot dead in their beds. Four other British officers were also shot in a volley of bullets in the hallway – Colonel Montgomery was killed and although the other officers were badly wounded, they survived.

Dalton was a member of Bohemians and an occasional player for the lower Bohs sides. His older brother Emmet, a British military veteran, had also joined the IRA by this stage and was also a member of Bohemians, playing for the first team as an inside-forward and becoming club President in 1924. By the end of the War of Independence, Emmet had become the IRA’s head of training.

Charlie Dalton (left)
Charlie Dalton (left)

Teenaged Jeremiah “Sam” Robinson was was out that morning acting as a lookout for his friend Vinny Byrne, one of Collins’ famed “12 Apostles”. Their destination was 28 Upper Mount Street – their targets British Lieutenants Aimes and Bennett.

This was a late change to the plans due to a recent piece of intelligence received Charlie Dalton. Byrne and fellow Squad member Tom Ennis led the party. In Byrne’s witness statement, he mentioned that they were a party of about ten men and that the operation did not go as smoothly as hoped.

The sound of shooting aroused the attention of other British military personnel in the area and the men keeping an eye on the entrance to Mount Street came under fire. Most of the party fled to the river and rather than risk crossing any of the city bridges back to the northside where they could be intercepted. They crossed by a ferry, and Sam and the others disappeared into the maze of streets and safe-houses of the north inner city.

Sam, along with his brother Christy, another IRA Volunteer, would go on to enjoy a stellar career with Bohemians as part of the all-conquering 1927-28 side and was capped twice by Ireland. But his cousin William “Perry” Robinson would not escape Bloody Sunday unscathed. He was the second youngest victim in Croke Park. Perched in a tree near the Canal End, he was struck by a bullet through the chest and would die in Jervis Hospital. He was 11 years old.

On Ranelagh Road was Christopher “Todd” Andrews, a Bohemian fanatic, who would later become a prominent public servant in the 1930s. He helped establish Bord na Móna in the 1940s, before going on to chair Córas Iompair Éireann and the RTÉ Authority, and began a political dynasty. His younger brother Paddy would enjoy success with Bohs in the 1930s, becoming club captain and would be capped for Ireland.

However, for Todd, his thoughts were with the headache caused by a clash of heads during a match for UCD the previous day as well as his duty that morning, the shooting of Lt. William Noble.

As he later recalled:

“I had increasing fears we might be surprised by the Tans. If that happened and we were captured, we would have been shot or hanged. It is not an agreeable prospect for a nineteen-year-old psychologically unattuned to assassination.”

In the end, Andrews did not have to fire a shot – their target had escaped. Noble had left at 7am that morning. Andrews’ home was raided later than night, and his father, also Christopher, was lifted by the Black and Tans. Todd was forced into hiding, searching for a safe house in the south Dublin suburbs.

Charlie Harris with the Dubs

Charlie Harris with the Dubs

That afternoon in Croke Park, strange as it may seem, there was also a strong Bohs connection. Many of the Dublin side were taken from the O’Toole’s club from Seville Place in the North inner-city, they would become the dominant club side of the 1920s in Dublin, winning seven county football championships over the course of the decade. Their trainer was Charlie Harris, and he was also assisting the Dubs that day from the Croke Park touchline.

A former athletics champion, Croke Park was familiar terrain for Harris, he had even raced against a horse there in 1912, narrowly losing! Harris had also been the trainer of Bohemians since 1916, and was involved with the club for over 30 years as an integral part of many successful Bohemians teams.

He even coached the Irish national side on a number of occasions, including at the 1924 Olympics. Harris, like most of the Dublin team was likely among the group that was rounded up by the RIC and detained in the Croke Park dressing rooms before finally being released later that day after threats and intimidation.

Gerry Farrell

Dublin Team Bloody Sunday


Manus O’Riordan writes on incidents in the politically charged year of 1913 that involved Bohemian FC and our supporters.

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Football Fans for Feminist Freedom

The original Bohemians: The Bell brothers and Dudley Hussey

Among the 18 young men who attended the founding meeting of Bohemian Football Club on 6 September 1890, the names of Bell and Hussey stand out.

Dudley Thomas Hussey, then 18, chaired that meeting and had the casting vote on the new club’s name. He, like brothers Hamilton Paul Bell and Samuel Charles Bell and others who attended the meeting, was a student or former student at Bell’s Academy, a civil service training college run by Hamilton J. Bell, uncle of the two younger Bells. Their father, Samuel, was a tutor there, though he later set up his own college.

Bell’s Academy at 46 North Great Georges Street in Dublin city centre was active from 1880 and its students formed a football team in the late 1880s. This was subsequently renamed Richview FC and it provided several of the players and committee members for the Bohemian FC. Samuel C. Bell and Dudley Hussey were also captain and secretary, respectively, of the Bohemians Cricket Club, established at the start of the decade.

Hussey was the first secretary of Bohemian FC, with Hamilton P. on the first committee. Hussey’s home at Annadale Avenue, Fairview, became the correspondence address for Bohemian FC.

In their working lives, Hamilton P. joined the civil service, working in the Prisons Board, later in the Department of Justice, and Samuel C. got his BA degree from the Royal University and was a tutor, eventually Principal, in Bell’s Academy.

The Academy’s founder, Hamilton J. Bell, had been active in the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language from the early 1880s. He was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in May 1884, on account of “A Knowledge of the Irish language and addiction (sic) to Historical and Archaeological as well as Scientific pursuits”. His nephew, Hamilton P., inherited that interest in the Irish language, joining the Gaelic League.

Meanwhile, Dudley Hussey had entered the Department of Agriculture where he was to work for forty years pre- and post-Independence. In 1892 Hussey became the first secretary of the new Leinster Football Association of which the first five clubs were Bohemians, Montpelier, St Helen’s School, Leinster Nomads and Dublin University.


In October 1893 Hussey was elected secretary – yet again – of a non-sporting organisation. This was the newly founded Eclectic Club of which Hamilton P. Bell was record secretary and treasurer and the president was W.B. Yeats. The club hosted debates and talks at meeting rooms in O’Connell Street with sometimes provocative topics.

In October 1893 Hamilton Bell was a speaker for Yes in debates on the question, Were the Irish right in supporting James II?, and Should Railways be a State Monopoly? In November 1893, Bell was in the chair for a debate on the motion, That the character of Cromwell should command admiration; this was voted 12:11 in favour. This rather eccentric involvement in current affairs may indicate that these Bohemian FC stalwarts were also somewhat bohemian in nature.

While working in the Prisons Service at Dublin Castle in 1903 the Bell, now 30, came to the attention of Detective Richard Revell, who had observed him in the company of ‘suspects’. Revell later reported, however, that Bell was keeping himself to himself, teaching Irish classes in Phibsborough on four evenings a week.

After Independence, he worked in the Department of Justice up to his retirement in 1936. He died in 1953, aged 81, and was living at that time in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. His older brother, Samuel C. had died in 1916, when he was a tutor at the Royal University, single, and living in Ballybough.

Hamilton P. had two sons and a daughter; one son, Desmond, was called to the Bar alongside his brother-in-law Vincent Grogan, later Supreme Knight in the Knights of Columbanus. Both were well-known senior counsel, and Desmond Bell stood unsuccessfully as a Fine Gael Dáil candidate in Dublin North-East in 1954 and 1957.

Dudley T. Hussey and his family moved to Rathgar in the 1900s and his sons played rugby for the local Palmerston club, where Dudley junior (Dudley D.) became captain and later president. In turn, Dudley D.’s son, John, was to be a player and officer at St. Mary’s RFC and later a senior figure in the IRFU, serving a term as president. Sports administration was, it seems, a family way of life.

Long after Dudley T. Hussey has ceased to be actively involved in Bohemians the Irish Times marked fifty years of Bohemians referring to the club’s first secretary as still having “the same bright sense of humour as in the days when he first became an honorary official of ‘soccer’”. Dudley T. Hussey died, aged 73, in 1944 but a decade later was recalled in another Irish Times feature for his crucial role with Bohemians; among other contributions he gave the club its long-standing motto, It Can Be Done.

dudley hussey

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.


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

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