Bray Wanderers meet Cabinteely FC at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday, 4 September. Due to Covid restrictions the match will be played with no spectators allowed into the ground on the evening.
Due to the limited attendance there will be no match day programme printed. Instead our regular match day programme articles from Michael Duffy, Brian Quigley and Mícheál Ó hUanacháin will appear as part of our match preview on the website.
Match Preview (Michael Duffy)
Cabinteely are top of the First division, two points ahead of second placed Drogheda United. Wanderers are fourth, five points behind the leaders. Cabinteely suffered their only league defeat of the season in their last league outing, a 3-0 home defeat to UCD. They were knocked out of the FAI cup last Monday by Bohemians. Bray Wanderers are unbeaten in their last three league games without conceding a goal.
Friday’s game is only the sixth ever competitive meeting of Bray Wanderers and Cabinteely FC. Wanderers won 3-0 on the opening night of the 2019 First division league season in Stradbrook with goals from Dylan McGlade (2, 1 pen) and Dean O’Halloran. Cabinteely defeated Wanderers 2-1 in the Leinster senior cup at the Carlisle Grounds in March 2019. This game was a Cabinteely home game played in the Carlisle Grounds. The sides drew 1-1 at the Carlisle grounds in the league last season with Jake Ellis scoring for Wanderers. Cabinteely have won the last two league games between the sides in Stradbrook. Wanderers were defeated 2-1 in July 2019 and 4-2 on the opening night of this season.
Cabinteely are managed by former Bray Wanderers player and manager Pat Devlin. Pat led Bray Wanderers to two FAI cup wins, three First division championships and the Shield title during his successful spells as manager at the Carlisle Grounds.
‘Cruising At Altitude’ Brian Quigley
Mike Atkinson may not be a name the average football supporter is familiar with, but if you’re a fan of North Leigh FC (in England’s eighth-tier Southern League Division One Central) and/or the Belize national team, then you will know of the versatile York-born defender/midfielder. Coming from York and playing his club soccer with the Millers, Mike is a lot closer to Belsize in London than he is to Belize in Central America, yet he plays international football for the Jaguars, whom he qualifies for through his mother.
Belize was historically British Honduras, and has been fully independent since 1981 (it remains a member of the Commonwealth). It is a small country, with the lowest population and population density in Central America. It has borders with Guatemala and Mexico and looks onto the Caribbean Sea. Although English and Spanish are widely spoken, Belizean Creole is the most popular language amongst the 400,000 population – sounds exotic!
Soccer is the most popular sport in Belize, ahead of volleyball, basketball and cycling. The small population means only a seven team Belize Premier Football League is possible at the top of the pyramid there. At present the teams competing in the BPFL are Altitude, Belize Defence Force, Belmopan Bandits, Placencia Assassins, San Pedro Pirates, Verdes and Wagiya.
Altitude is a class name for a football club. Can you imagine the radio commentary – “and it’s another goal for Verdes, they are really cruising now at Altitude.”
Belize’s national side are a relatively new team, given their recent independence. They have never qualified for a FIFA tournament, and only made the CONCACAF Gold Cup once, in 2013. Their main focus is the Copa Centroamericana (a feeder tournament for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, played between the seven member nations of UNCAF, which is a sub-federation of CONCACAF for the Central American countries Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) which they made the semi-finals of at the 2013 tournament.
Belize’s record win to date was a 7-1 win over Nicaragua in 2002, but they have had 7-0 losses to both Mexico (in 2008) and Costa Rica (in 1999). Elroy Smith, a defender who currently plays for Verdes, is the country’s most-capped player, with 57 caps. Deon McCaulay, who plays with Georgia Revolution in the US, is Belize’s top goalscorer with 26.
Back in London, Belsize is a ward in the Borough of Camden. The name makes me think of the 1968 musical short film ‘Les Bicyclettes De Belsize’ starring Judy Huxtable, Anthony May and a Raleigh RSW16 bicycle!
I hope you get to view a stream of the game on Friday. Let’s hope we can win this season’s second “El DARTico” and maintain our promotion push.
Mícheál Ó hUanacháin looks at how some of Bray’s great players were enticed away by dreams of greatness
During the lockdown, Bray Wanderers lost two promising youngsters to Brighton and Hove Albion, Leigh Kavanagh and Andrew Moran. It was a great opportunity for the two, and yet despite the short-term benefit to the club, it was a setback for Gary Cronin’s team-building efforts.
Their departure was yet another example of the difficulties for a small club in a small League in thrall to larger clubs locally and a much larger league on its doorstep. Bray clubs, at all levels, have a strong tradition in the encouragement and development of young talent, and over the years all the leading clubs have lost players to senior teams elsewhere in Ireland and – predominantly – to clubs in the English League.
A Bray Wanderers stalwart for some years previously, George Hannon, left the club in March 1927 to join Preston – although he returned quite quickly: this was a period when young players were often signed for a month’s trial, after which they were let go unless they had proved outstanding.
But players didn’t just go to England; and it wasn’t just juniors who were snapped up.
Just prior to their entry to the League of Ireland, Bray Unknowns lost one of their stars, William ‘Juicy’ Farrell, who signed for Shamrock Rovers in October 1923, and in the League in November 1924 scored four times against his old club. He was seriously injured in a motor-cycle accident in June 1926, and it was widely expected he would never resume his career, but he returned to Rovers with limited success some two years later, and eventually turned out again for Unknowns.
And whatever people may claim about player loyalty back in the good old days, player movements were no less frequent than they are today: Jack Sloan followed Farrell from Unknowns to Shamrock Rovers in 1928; Owen McNally, a former Belfast Celtic player, left for Cardiff in 1930; J Leckie, a brilliant goalie, went to Port Vale in 1932 after less than a full season with Bray; Jimmy Buchanan, a fine goalgetter, went to Rovers at the end of that season, and Alf Rigby, another marksman, had to force the club to release him to move to St James’s Gate in 1933. And that’s just a few of the higher profile ones.
It wasn’t just one-way traffic, of course, and League teams could be merciless in their pursuit of young talent. The Sunday Alliance Division II title for 1931/2 was left undecided until a decision was made two years later to run off the test matches between Alton, Shamrock Old Boys and Westbrook which were needed to bring it to a conclusion. Those clubs were then entitled to field the players they had on their strength at the end of the season in question – and Shamrock found no fewer than five of their ‘old boys’ in the ranks of Bray Unknowns!
Many years later, a young Scot, Billy Mackay, whose family had moved to Wicklow when he was very small, was an established goalscorer with Arklow United when he was scouted by Bray Wanderers and joined the squad in March 1958, just in time to score the opening goal in their recovery from 2-0 down to beat Chapelizod in the Intermediate Cup Final. The following season, Mackay was Bray, and the Leinster Senior League’s, top scorer by a distance, with 53 goals to his credit. Bray also filled the second spot (John Mooney, 29) and three more of the top ten places.
In January 1959, Cork Hibernians had tried to sign Mackay, but he wouldn’t leave Bray without seeing out the season. Their interest was probably aroused by his performance in the Intermediate Cup in Turners Cross when he scored all five of Bray’s goals against AOH.
Imagine their chagrin when two months later he single-handedly demolished Dundalk in a League match, scoring all seven of Wanderers’ goals.
Mackay, the goal-machine, did leave the Seagulls after that season, when he followed Dermot Cross and Alan Kelly (who had left in autumn 1956) to the mighty Drumcondra, then at the height of their success. And he repeated the seven-goal trick for them in the League the following season.
Of course, when Wanderers suddenly and surprisingly withdrew from the Leinster Senior League just before the 1960/61 season to join the AUL, which was regarded as a less prestigious league, they lost sterling players: Brian Hall and Larry Doran signed for their great rivals in the LSL, Longford Town, and John Bennett went to Sligo Rovers.
No doubt other League clubs could tell similar stories, and lament equally the loss of key players and promising youngsters.
Some left for better terms, some to join a more prestigious club, some because they felt they were undervalued, some even for such relatively trivial reasons as convenience of travel for training and home matches. Others, the lucky ones, were offered terms across the channel. Of those, some were never heard of again: they found themselves lost and uncared for in a foreign land, the contract turned out to have many drawbacks, they never made the starting XI, and they gave up the game in disgust.
The international bodies, FIFA and UEFA, in establishing norms of contract for under-age players, have made a great deal of difference to that sort of thing, as has a better understanding of the demands of enlightened self-interest in the bigger English clubs. Those now offer a rounded education, not just football, to kids who join them at an early age, and their ‘academies’ are worthy of the title.
But the young players are still, usually, lost to the clubs that spotted their potential, gave them a start, and nurtured their skills and talent. And the compensation payments now mandatory for clubs that develop those youngsters, while welcome, often do not match the loss the clubs suffer when the youngsters leave.
Fans have often only just begun to get to know the young players who leave, even if they have already appeared for the senior team, and there isn’t quite the same sense of a death in the family when youngsters get the call from Leeds or Liverpool as there is when a well-established player leaves.
It is unnecessary to remind Bray fans of the shock of losing goalscorers of the quality of Jason Byrne or Eamon Zayed (and so many before them) – and somehow it always seemed afterwards that they had the golden touch especially when they visited the Carlisle Grounds in their new colours.
All of which is by way of marking the pleasant windfall Bohemians are to get from the move of their former player Matt Doherty to the ranks of the English Premier League. Actually, ‘former player’ is something of an exaggeration, as the eighteen year old Swords lad had yet to make a first team appearance for the Gypsies when he was signed for Wolves, ten years ago now.
The Dalymount bean-counters had surely forgotten all about the sell-on clause in that contract by last week! One has to wonder if Swords Celtic, Home Farm or Belvedere will get a few pence from Phibsborough when the cheque arrives.
And a wry smile for Shamrock Rovers, the beneficiaries of so many ex-Bray players over the years. The dream fixture landed in their laps, a home game against AC Milan – but to be played without fans, and with the TV deals sewn up before the draw was made.
Have the Italian media dug out the memories of Milan’s last competitive fixture in Ireland, and the pictures of the players up to the laces of their fashionable footwear in the mud of St Mel’s Park?