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It was great to meet my hero’s hero!

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 10-Aug-2012

THIS Sunday I’ll be watching FA Cup Winners and Champions of Europe Chelsea play Premiership Champions Manchester City, in the ceremonial season opener, the Community Shield.

Yes, it‘s all about to start again, and as each big game comes along, a part of my mind will wander off to remember my Dad.

When a parent dies after a long slow decline, your mind races around trying to find memories of them that don’t correspond to the ailing, ageing person you just lost.

When my Dad died in 2008, my family and I found it difficult to recall how he had looked and behaved in his youthful healthy years, but one memory came to my mind and has stayed there ever since.

In some ways it’s more a memory of my childhood, but the fact that it has stayed with me for 43 years shows why we shouldn’t underestimate the influence that football has in parental bonding.

It was 1969, and a very excited Charlie Adley was bouncing up and down on his bed. Today was the day that Dad was taking me to Stamford Bridge for the very first time. We were going to see Chelsea play Sunderland, just me and my Dad, and as he walked into the bedroom he smiled excitedly and said: “Your namesake is playing today!”

We humans are funny buggers, aren’t we! The excitement I felt as a 9 year-old was so severely tempered by the embarrassment of not knowing what ‘namesake’ meant, especially at a moment when I really didn’t want to deaden our mutual excitement, that I remember it now, 43 years later.

Thankfully, my Dad respected anyone who wanted to learn, so I was not too afraid to ask: “What’s a namesake?”

“A namesake is someone with the same name as you, so my favourite player, Charlie Cooke, is your namesake!”

Off we went to the game to watch Charlie Cooke’s silky skills as he dribbled the ball up the wing, and over the next six years my Dad and I went to all the games we could together, including two cup finals at Wembley.

Without a doubt those Saturday afternoons were the most powerfully important times I spent with my Dad. Through our shared love of football, Chelsea and each other, we built a strong relationship that lives to this day, even though he is just a memory now.

Sure, just a memory. That’s why I’m sitting here choking back the tears as I write.

So, it was with delight and a thrill of pure excitement that early on a Sunday morning last year I drove across the city to Mervue United’s excellent facilities, to interview Charlie Cooke, who had come to Galway as part of his Coerver Coaching duties.

Exhibiting a mop of grey hair, a ton of enthusiasm and an undying love for the game, Charlie Cooke was working with young local lads in the training cages. He ran and shouted and laughed and ran some more, teaching his many and varied skills and deep understanding of the game to this decade’s young generation.

According to his assistant, I was meant to interview him during his lunch break, but there had been a breakdown of communications. He knew neither about me nor the interview, yet still he remained polite and patient. So it was that instead of a relaxed half an hour in which I could ask him all my prepared questions, I had only 10 minutes to chat with the man while he ate his lunch.

Abandoning the idea of a proper interview, I took the opportunity to ask him to sign a couple of old Chelsea Programmes from games that I’d seen him play in, and managed to slip under his nose a sheet on which I’d prepared my top all-time Chelsea XI, because yes indeed, very sad, but this is the kind of thing football fans do when a little starstruck.

Perusing the teamsheet, he traced his fingers from player to player, considered his thoughts for a few moments and then declared in utterly dismissive terms: “That’s bullshit, that is!”

We both laughed, but feeling rather like that excited little nine year-old Charlie, I didn’t dare to ask him why he though my choices were ‘bullshit’. This was the man who played years of beautifully slick and exciting football for Chelsea.

He helped us win the FA Cup and European Cup Winners Cup back in the 1970s, and more to the point he was my Dad’s footballing hero. My hero’s hero. So, if he thought my team was rubbish, it was rubbish. End of.

Watching the great man head off to coach another session, I wondered how many of today’s Premiership stars would turn out early on a Sunday morning to train young ’uns, and shocked myself by deciding that actually, the game is not in such bad shape.

Slagging off today’s crop of overpaid over-pampered out-of-touch-with-reality players is so easy, it’s not much of a sport, but you can’t blame young lads for chasing £200,000 a week, and although today’s Prima Donnas fall over and writhe in pain as soon as you so much as look at them, several of the Premiership’s current crop of players have opened training academies in Third World countries, into which they pour their pay, passion and performance skills.

We all need heroes, but far too often the reality of the person falls far short of our image of them. Meeting Charlie Cooke was far from an anti-climax. It was an absolute pleasure. Dad would have loved the opportunity, so I did it for him.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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