LAST week’s piece about soccer’s early history drew many interesting comments, so, this week, before the season again gets into full swing, I will take a look back at the early years of organised soccer in Ireland, and the somewhat traumatic beginnings of the FAI and the League of Ireland itself.
The early FAI
Soccer in this country was initiated in Belfast around 1880, when some of the local clubs in that area got together to form the Irish Football Association, and over the next 40-years or so, this association organised what went on countrywide in Irish soccer, to which some southern clubs also affiliated in time.
There were, as the years went on, some developments in the south, for in 1892, the Leinster FA was formed, and were soon enough to be joined by the Munster FA. During the early part of the 20th century, the southern contingent many times expressed their dis-satisfaction with the ruling regime in Belfast, and with the political situation at the time also very volatile, three southern clubs, St James’s Gate, Bohemians, and Shelbourne, withdrew from the IFA, although still taking part in the IFA Cup competition.
The crux came in 1921, when Glenavon played Shelbourne in the final of that cup. The game was played in Belfast, and ended in a hard-fought draw.
When the replay was again fixed for Belfast, this IFA ruling was not accepted by the southern club, for Shelbourne were adamant that the replay would be in Dublin, and refused point-blank to play in Belfast.
They were over-ruled, so they withdrew from the final, and thereby forfeited the cup. This was the signal for all the southern clubs to break away from the IFA, and led to a historic meeting between the clubs and associations of the whole southern region in Molesworth Hall, in Dublin, on June 1st, 1921.
At this meeting, the southern clubs voted to establish the Football Association of Ireland as a separate entity to the IFA, and soon became the FAI that we know so well today.
The new league began with eight Dublin teams, which were soon joined by Athlone, and of course all of the other teams down the years.
St James’s Gate won the first title, and added the FAI cup in 1922.
By 1923, after much controversy and numerous discussions, the FAI were finally accepted into the FIFA family in 1923.
I hope that you enjoyed this little cameo of our soccer comings and goings.
If you soccer fans want any of your favourite games or players recalled, please contact the base, and I’ll do my best to accommodate you.
Now for some transfer news, some of which has been flying around for days. I’ll begin with the news that South African star Pienaar, who enjoyed a loan spell at Everton last season, has made the move from Spurs permanent, after a price of £4.5 million was agreed between the clubs.
The unfortunate Rangers, who have been unloading players, have sealed the deal with former Hearts player Ian Black and have also re-signed striker Andy Little.
A sad Everton will be saying their goodbyes to the talented Tim Cahill, before he reluctantly leaves the Toffeemen to further his career in the USA with the New York Red Bulls.
West Ham have made a bid of £2 million to secure Liverpool striker Carroll on loan for the coming season, with a further payment of £17 million at the end of the season if the player remains at the Boleyn Ground. Carroll himself holds the key to this deal going through, for the striker is not too keen on a move to London, preferring to go back to Newcastle, or some other northern Premier team.
Spurs on-loan striker from Man City, Adebayor, looks like making his stay at Tottenham permanent, after sustained talks between the two clubs.
Lastly, for this week, the ongoing saga of Arsenal striker Van Persie is still up in the air, for, despite his earnest wishes to have away, Wenger is still holding tough, even though substantial interest has been expressed by Juventus, and both of the Manchester clubs, so the eventual outcome should be interesting.
Well, that’s all for now, but we can be looking forward to the coming season!