Thursday, July 03, 2008

We're Fluxxed

No AIL! No problem with providing the extra money for the Landsdowne Road overrun. Clubs balancing on precarious financial tightropes to sustain professionalism and competitiveness. Advertisemnets, CPO's, initiatives, lures, special offers.

We are trying it all and this week I bring my 11 year-old nephew to his first eL game. A fairweather football fan whose knowledge doesn't carry much more depth than the sticker albums he treasures. Begotten of parents with no interest in sport he was been assuaged with Barca jerseys purchased on a visit to the Camp Nou - while holidaying in Salou - and latterly a Portugal top courtesy of a June holiday on the Algarve.

His lifeplan is to become rich and famous, preferably through playing football. He hasn't joined a club yet, so progress has been hindered somewhat. This particular Celtic Cub attended his first 'live' game when Ireland last graced Croke Park - this is what he will measure the meeting of Shamrock Rovers and Cobh Ramblers against.

Sugared up to his follicles, the presence of Keane & Co. in the flesh was enough to maintain his mood on what was a memorable occasion for him. Obviously, I haven't yet explained where we are headed tomorrow - other than to say we are going to a game. There will be much groundwork done on the journey to Tolka Park and it's whatever you fancy at the chipper.

We need goalmouth action aplenty, unforgettable goals and saves. Moments of skill and crunching tackles; and plenty of noisy atmosphere. I cringe when thinking about how I am to explain the vast expanses of red plastic seating, untouched by human arses.

Bohemians invited the entire population of DCU to a game recently. Finn Harps allowed all kids in free last week. On neither occasion were the clubs in question overcome by the sheer force of population descending upon their aged stadia. In fact, last week's Harps v Bray fixture was remarkable for the poor attendance at Finn Park.

Realistically, Irish domestic football is the anti - M50 toll booth of sport. Time and time again motoring organisations and lobbyists - Senator Shane Ross notable amongst them - called upon the authorities to allow traffic to pass through without stopping at the M50 toll booth for just one day. They contended that we would see such an improvement in traffic flow that it would be folly not to eliminate tolls for good and bask in the serenity of free-flowing traffic around our capital city.

Of course, the b's that power were never going to cede to such a request - once it worked they were royally f'd and all that lovely toll money would be lost. Painful as it is to type - were all eircom League grounds to throw open their gates to the populace tomorrow I suggest that the increase in attendance would be minimal. A few curious schooligans intent on rustling up trouble of course...maybe a dog or two. Most folk wouldn't cross the road to bother attending an eL game- even a free one.

This is the low base from whence we climb. People's realities have been polluted by multiple camera angles and replays with HD pictures and Dolby Digital Surround sound. This weekend its 'Build Me Up Buttercup' and 'Don't Let Me Down' Hoops and Rams. My maths tells me that if we can all attract one more fan, then we double attendances.

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