Sunday, June 10, 2012

Euro '88 Remembered #COYBIG

Today is the day after 24 years waiting that Ireland participates in the European Championship finals for only the second time. This evening we take on Croatia in the first group match - with Spain and Italy to come, this may be Ireland's only chance to get a result. While I'm hopeful that Ireland will do well, I'm not as confident as the thousands of Irish fans who have descended on Poland for this match. However, I have to remember that in 1988, I wasn't confident either!

Come on you boys in green!

I watched the Ireland vs England game on 12th June 1988 in my then neighbour Dave's house in Llewellyn Park in Rathfarnham. I had plenty of time on my hands because I had just finished my PhD and had not yet got a job. Perfect timing for a footie feast! The history of the game is legendary at this stage - Ray Houghton scored in the 6th minute (I still give a cheer every time I see it) and Ireland held on for a long 84 minutes to record a famous victory. I remember the game well - I even fell on my knees when Houghton scored. Ireland had won a game we should have lost.

Ray Houghton puts the ball in the English net.
Image link to Sportsfile.
In the next game against Russia, who could forget Ronnie Whelan's famous shinner, or George Hamilton's famous commentary "...and Bonner has gone 165 minutes of these championships without conceding a goal. Oh danger here..." which of course has now inspired the excellent website. Ireland were brilliant in that game, but ended up drawing a game they should have won. In the final group game, which Ireland needed at least a draw to qualify for the semi-finals, Ireland kept Gullit, van Basten, Rijkaard, Koeman, and Co out for 82 minutes - but not Wim Kieft who scored a freekish goal to break Irish hearts. Ireland had lost a game they should have drawn, and a famous football odyssey was over.

The 1988 Euro finals inspired a nation, and Christy Moore caught the mood afterwards with his brilliant song "Joxer Goes to Stuttgart" - so in memory of the summer of 1988, here he is singing the song on RTÉ in 1990:

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