The League of Ireland Fans Survival Guide
Updated: Feb 16
THE LEAGUE OF IRELAND FANS SURVIVAL GUIDE
All every die-hard fan needs to actually get through a season without taking their own life! We've all been here and by following this simple list you might just make it through from February to November in one piece.
1.OPTIMISM; Even if it’s hopeful, misplaced or pure blind, every fan from Dundalk to Derry, Waterford to Wexford, Saint Pat's to Shels and all in-between will have dreams somewhere between winning 36 games in a row or avoiding finishing last and not getting beat 17-0 by Fanad United in the first round of the cup. For the first game of the season we approach with so much optimism at 7.45pm on February 15th yet could want the team, board and tea-lady sacked if we lose the first game at home.
2. SAT-NAV: If you not a battle-weary fan who has remortgaged the house following your team and you intend travelling by car to Sligo and don’t want to end up stuck in Donegal talking to a farmer called Joe and his five sheep in the field you actually thought there was a football stadium in, then a Sat-Nav is a must. Sure they do lead the odd person into a bog when it’s a city centre you’re looking for, but if you don’t want the entire supporters club laughing themselves sick at you in the pub then invest in one.
3. QUIRKY CHANTS; Most club’s can be very mundane in their choice of chants to the opposing fans, so it’s handy to have an array of one-line put downs to quieten even the most nosiest of travelling supporters. Slogans like “Come in a taxi-You must have come in a taxi” are nice when there are three fans from UCD in your ground, whilst “Can we play you every week?” is a bit predictable when you’re 6-0 up after 15 minutes. More clever ones would feature “Your shish and you know you are” when there’s a Turkish player in the opposing side, or “Are you Salthill in disguise" when hammering your local rivals.
4. A SCAPEGOAT: The more common name for the person in the middle with the whistle in his mouth. Often known as “the b****** in the black” you can be sure there will be an array of officials that will “reportedly” have cost your team at least 78 points this season. It’s an impossible job, though sometimes it’s hard to feel any sympathy when your right back has been carried off on a stretcher with half his leg still on the pitch and the ref’s waved play on! Deep down we love giving the referee stick. It takes a special type of nut to don the black and face weekly abuse from middle-aged men and their kids.
5. MOANING FANS: No stadium is complete without the guy who happens to sit behind you every game, moans when your team aren’t 4-0 up after 45 seconds, wants the manager, board, kit man, tea-lady and “Sparky” the team mascot sacked. Even when your club hits a 95th minute wonder goal from 40 yards he complains the ball boy obscured his view, calls the team lucky and tries to tear up his season ticket before someone points out the obvious....it’s laminated.
6. LUCKY ITEMS OF CLOTHING; You may think the guy alongside you in that musty smelling trench coat is a vagrant who’s come in off the street to see if there’s any free soup going at your ground but chances are he’s wearing the dodgy smelling coat because he first wore it when Waterford won away at Cork City and now links a piece of fabric to the main reason 11 men on the pitch are winning every week. The older that fan gets the more utterly convinced HE IS the reason your side is winning and it's nothing to do with the 11 men on the field actually playing football.
7. A RADIO: This applies to at least one fan in every football ground. You know the guy folks. The one who spends half the time watching the game whilst pulling an array of faces the other half and tapping his right ear so he can make sure the voice over the airwaves said. Occasionally throws out the misleading “Bohemians 0 Longford Town 7” before getting kicked to death.
8. AN EX-PLAYER TO RIDICULE: They may have gone onto greater things since leaving your club but there’s nothing more gratifying then seeing an ex- player fail gloriously at about 15 other clubs, put on five stone and end up back in the very ground he started off at, on the opposing end, and then getting beat 5-0 (with him scoring three own goals) No matter who you support and who you play tonight, there is bound to be a player from the past , or present that really grinds your gears. As angry as you can get only the most suicidal of fans get in this players face as he walks back down the tunnel and the chances of a reciprocated nut to the head is always possible from any ex-player who snaps at your taunts.
9. A BANK LOAN - If you’re going to every home and away game. Though attendances have improved over the years (with hopefully another high in 2024) you'd be a fool not to think it comes at a cost. From your December season ticket to forcing your six year old son that he needs to be at every club game, decked out in replica shirt, scarf and hat and the obligatory programme and cheese-burger, you know it will cost a small fortune over the course of the season. In an era when cash is no longer king and we all tap to tune of Paypal and Resolut, chances are you'll have spent something in the four figure zone in supporting your beloved club each season.
10. THE DERBY . The first fixture you will always look up in mid-December when the seasons fixture list comes out. You'd be a fool to think Athlone v Longford is not as important as Rovers v Bohs. The crowd size may be different but the level of banter (and borderline abuse!) is the same. The glory of the League of Ireland is that you'll get four shots at your nearest rivals every season - two home, two away. A fixture NEVER missed by the die-hards. If you're foolish enough to get wed , go on holiday or collapse with heart trouble on the same day as a derby then you don't really support your club!
11. THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE BANTER IN THE OFFICE. There's nothing better than a thumping 6-0 win on Friday night then going into your office/factory on Monday morning and annoying the living shit out of your friends who support anyone but your team. And we've all done it. On the flip-side you may want to think about pulling a sickie should your team lose to a 97th minute own goal to put you bottom of the league. A cert is certainly warranted if you've been relegated or spotted on LOI TV with your head in your hands and caught mouthing "You show of dirty bastards" by those who are experts in lip-syncing.
12. THE FORM GUIDE. Studying your teams home/away/goals for/against is a must before each Friday night game under lights. During the week you regularly torment yourself with this, thinking you can forecast the result only to find all logic proves you wrong and all those hours checking statistics whilst you're on the bog come to nothing.
13. LEAGUE OF IRELAND OVER THE REPUBLIC. Although we all want to see our country do well on a national scale (and yes there would have been some pride seeing a former LOI manager in Stephen Kenny ) there's still a bit of taunting when it comes to supporting your League of Ireland club and the "Green Army" fans who often ignore there local club for the Aviva Stadium and an English club of choice. Many who watch LOI do attend Republic of Ireland games home and away but there are many who scoff at watch a local club whilst travelling to Celtic 67 times a season. The idea of the Republic of Ireland filling out games in Dublin and travelling in big numbers away from home is often a source of ire to LOI fans as the green Army seem to be happy whatever the score once there's a few jars and a laugh in it!
14. A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOUR – You need to be able to look on the bright side of life when your team are 6-0 away on a cold Tuesday night, the heavens have opened, the car has a flat tyre and the child’s just dropped your chips. The phrase "Grin and bear it" seemed to have been made for League of Ireland fans. One phrase you're likely to hear many times is "There's always next year"
And indeed there is!