Galway play off preview and articles

Bray Wanderers meet Galway United at the Carlisle Grounds on Saturday, 31 October in the promotion playoff. Due to Covid restrictions the match will be played with no spectators allowed into the ground on the day. 

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)

Bray Wanderers and Galway United meet for the second successive Saturday following Galway’s 1-0 win at the Carlisle Grounds last week. The earlier league meeting this season was a scoreless draw at Eamon Deacy park in August. The sides met in a relegation play off in November 2010 in which Galway United defeated Bray 1-0 at Eamon Deacy Park

Bray Wanderers have won one, drawn four and lost five league play off games from ten played to date. The only win was a 3-2 away win over Longford Town in 2013 which gave Wanderers a 5-4 aggregate win to retain their premier division status that season. Wanderers defeated Monaghan United on penalties in 2010 after both games ended in 0-0 draws to retain their premier division status. Wanderers have lost play off games to Drogheda United, Finn Harps, Galway United and Sporting Fingal.


‘America’s FA Cup’ Brian Quigley

 Ever wondered if they have an FA Cup in US soccer? They do, but I have to admit it’s not a competition I’d ever heard of until I went looking. The history of it is worth learning about, because it is the oldest-surviving competition in US soccer.

When it was first won in 1914 by the now-defunct Brooklyn Field Club, it was named the National Challenge Cup. That moniker eventually gave way to the US Open Cup and today the competition’s full title is the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, Hunt being a former patron of the MLS (Major League Soccer).

The trophy that is played for today is different to the one that Brooklyn Field Club lifted in 1914. That trophy was the Dewar Cup, donated by whiskey tycoon Sir Thomas Dewar, and it was retired in 1979 due to its deteriorating condition.

In recent years – specifically since the inception of the MLS in 1996 – the competition has been dominated by the MLS teams. Only once since then has a non-MLS team won the competition – that was Rochester Rhinos in 1999 (they defeated four MLS teams along the way). Charlestown Battery in 2008 were the last non-MLS side to reach the Final. Winning the Cup brings with it, as well as the prestige and the prize money, a place in the group stages of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Lower-division professional clubs owned by higher-division professional clubs are no longer eligible to participate in the US Open Cup. The process of bidding for home ties has also been discontinued in recent years!

The competition has been won the most jointly by Bethlehem Steel and Maccabee Los Angeles, with five wins. Both these sides are now defunct, and it is only a matter of time before a MLS side eclipses their haul.

Looking at the list of previous winners, you can tell how much immigrants have contributed to keeping soccer alive in the US and in developing it. The roll of honour for the US Open Cup includes clubs such as Philadelphia Ukrainians, Greek America, San Francisco Italia, New York Hungarians, New York Ukrainians, Brooklyn Hispano, Brooklyn Italians and Eintracht, a club founded by German immigrants.

Clubs outside the US can enter the US Open Cup – teams from Canada and Puerto Rico regularly do – but if they lift the trophy they can’t represent the US in the CONCACAF Champions League.


Time to Tidy up the Rules

Mícheál Ó hUanacháin argues that gaps in the rulebook need to be filled

The makeshift 2020 season, jury-rigged in hope of making it to journey’s end, is unlikely to make a good headline pattern for anyone hoping to design a new league, a better one.  It does, however, mark a good opportunity for those involved with the game to sit back and take a good hard look at the structures and regulations that are in place at present.

Take, for example, Bray’s arrival in Athlone on Tuesday.  Not much the team or the management could do about delays caused by checkpoints on the route – but technically, as I understand, it left the visitors in breach of the rules, having arrived late ahead of the match.

‘They’re awful late’

There may have been good reasons for that rule when it was first introduced, when a significant delay might have meant that the travelling team wasn’t going to arrive at all: communication by telephone was rare and the faster alternative was a telegram, but you couldn’t do that from a charabanc while travelling, and the hosts would remain in doubt until the bitter end.

In February 1924, the “Evening Mail” works team was due in Bray to play the Wanderers in the third round of the Leinster Junior Shield, but, the Wicklow News-Letter reported, “the match started late owing to the breakdown of the motor which was conveying the town team, who had to continue their journey by rail.”

And it wasn’t just in Junior ranks: a League of Ireland Shield match in the Carlisle Grounds in March 1925 started half an hour late (Bray Unknowns beat Pioneers 5-1), and in the Leinster Senior League Bray were due in Sligo on 16 October 1932  for a match that Rovers would end up winning 5-0.  But Unknowns arrived so late that only 30 minutes each way was played, and as the Herald remarked, “They must have considered that it was quite enough …”

But I digress.  The rule stating that the away team must be present at least a certain length of time before the scheduled kick-off may have originated in such circumstances, but it may equally have no great relevance today.  If a manager wants to warm his players up at home, travel fully kitted and walk straight onto the pitch to play, what reason could there be to prevent that?

The rules, as I understand it, in this and in many other cases, are silent as to any penalty for teams in breach.  There are longstanding precedents for fines to be levied against clubs, some of which have been incorporated in the League Participation Agreement.  But that covers only the League of Ireland, leaving other competitions potentially exposed to challenge.

That in turn raises questions about the appropriateness of the sanctions in use – fines, forfeit of matches or replays ordered, for example – in different cases.

Leipzig fans misbehaving, 1990

In the case of matches stopped by the referee due to misbehaviour by a team, teams or the crowd, the normal procedure for decades was that the game would be replayed.  This was often also the outcome when a team succeeded in a protest against its opponents.  One instance (a very long time ago, admittedly) involved a County Dublin League – also known as the ‘Evening Mail’ Cup – match in the Phoenix Park in which Bray Unknowns achieved a draw against the Royal Army Medical Corps, in October 1910.

Bray protested that the ground wasn’t marked, as was required under rule, and won their protest.  As the Dublin Daily Examiner noted later, they “got the privilege of playing the match again.  This means that they lose the point gained, but may get two in the replay, and so may the offending side. The question naturally arises, is it worth while for Bray Unknowns to make the further outlay and replay the match.”

The writer continued:

The decision … was based on precedent as replays had been ordered in similar cases during the previous season. Most people will say the precedent was bad, but the repetition is worse.  The League rule is plain on the point, but no penalty is mentioned,  and for this reason last year’s Leinster Junior Committee declared there must be replays.  The same thing occurs  with regard to clubs wearing  colours.  According to the Rules these must be worn, but no penalty is specified for the violation of the Rule.  So precedent again decides it must be a replay.  It is easy to believe that when the occasion arises  the inventive mind of the present footballer will not be long in finding a means to take advantage of these judgments.

8 Reds for Brazilian fight, 2020

His conclusion was that “the punishment inflicted for the violation of a rule often gives an advantage to the offender”, surely an unintended and unwelcome consequence, but also a result of relying on precedent rather than an unambiguous rule with clear sanctions attached.

It is not good enough that the FAI Rules (Part D, Rule 1, section 4, to be precise) says “If there are any omissions in these rules, the disciplinary bodies shall decide in accordance with the FAI’s custom or, in the absence of custom, in accordance with the rules as a whole.”  That is a formula ripe with possibilities for the legal eagles in the Four Courts.

Some of the examples above are now covered in the general rules of the Association, at Part D, Rule 13, section 2: “If a Match Official has to abandon a match due to the conduct of members of a team, including their Officials, the offending team may forfeit the match and the team and/or Officials may be sanctioned.”  Why, however, there has to be so much wriggle room in the little word “may” is still a question.

What is needed is a working group, on which clubs would be represented, to comb through the Rules in relation to football (we’re not concerned now with governance or representation), find the gaps, the omissions and the contradictions about which clubs have been moaning for yonks, and fix them.