Sunday, 5 May 2019


While the FAI deal with a massive physical metamorphosis, with new bodies and attitudes replacing old, their equivalent across the Irish Sea is undergoing a struggle of an existential nature.

Only the English FA is called simply the FA. Other countries who don’t claim to have invented football have to declare their national identity in their association’s name.

Soon after taking his post in 2015, FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn talked of his desire to rebrand the FA as the EFA:

“We go to international conventions and say, 'Hi, I’m Martin Glenn and I am from the FA. Which one? Obviously the English, because we invented it.' Changing the name would possibly be a solution … I think we are perceived as arrogant…”

Good spot, sir. While progressive thinking is always welcome, it’s a bit of a shame that particular ship sailed centuries ago.

Back in October 1863, every English football club and school had their own rules. Some allowed players to carry the ball, others permitted kicking seven shades of shite out of their opponents.

Matches were impossible to organise, because the rules were not matched.

On the 26th of that month a group of Victorian gentlemen created the Football Association, with universal rules for all English teams, but does that make England the home of football?

They shook hands, passed the port, and 156 years later complaints were made after the World Cup semifinal, where England fans sang 'It’s coming home.'

Have to say, as far as offensive football chants go, ‘Coming Home’ doesn’t make the premier league. Driven by neither racism, vitriol nor misogyny, it’s a pop song, not a document of historical importance.

The news that the FA face becoming the EFA might not sound like that much of a problem, but as an Englishman I know a highly precious few out there are feeling humiliated.

To a certain strain of jingoistic English blood, this loss of being special, this drift from supremacy towards what they perceive as degrading homogeny: this is anathema.

This tiny minority control much of England’s money and power, living their lives lost in a paradoxical existence, wherein they prize and strive to protect an English identity they claim is strong, while constantly obsessing about its imminent destruction.

If the FA mirrors the English establishment and its national culture, the leadership of the FAI represent everything that stinks about Ireland.

I choose to live here and love the West like a cat loves tuna, but over decades I’ve grown to understand and loathe the way power and money are brokered in this country.

In no small way, the current FAI scandal feels to me like a microcosm of every aspect of this nation’s established modus operandi.

There exists in the FAI and Ireland a massive sense of unaccountable entitlement, impossible these days even in England, where the notion was honed.

Here people in positions of power, from minor to major, act with impunity, attract money corruptly and spend it at best dubiously.

Committees, Tribunals and Enquiries accept wallpaper amnesia, and to us proles it feels beyond frustrating that these self-serving walls cannot be breached.

The fact that they often act within the law is the fault of legislation, not these chancers’ moral compasses, as they have none.

Pretending to care they pump the parish, getting shiny city shoes dirty on the playing fields, pressing the flesh in the pubs, while feeling nothing but scorn for the small players, be they constituents or football fans.

It’d be crass and unprofessional of me to complain how for years I’d felt like having a shower each time I watched Delaney being interviewed on TV. The man always looked pure slimy, but that’s personal, unnecessary and hey, I don’t care.

What I’d really like to know is whether anyone has investigated Delaney’s personal finances? 

I wonder if there was any reason why it might have benefited Delaney to be €100,000 poorer for the time period of that loan?

Claiming that an institution with a turnover of €50 million could not phone their bank about an overdraft limit is beyond ridiculous; another example of scornful behaviour.

They treat us with contempt because they tend to get away with it.

As it happens I may have come up with a way of rebirthing the FAI, while getting one over your auld enemy on the way.

Still luxuriating in my pool of unprofessional behaviour, I cite as my source the Ladybird book: ’The Story of Football.’

If like myself your first contact with history came in the form of Ladybird books, you’ll recall that they were completely partisan.

The one about Alfred the Great said he was brilliant, defeating the terrible savage Vikings. 

Then the one about the Vikings said they were brilliant and not savages at all.

Given that level of reliability and accuracy, I cite the paragraph on page 14, where it says that around Tudor times:

“The matches held on holidays grew bigger and bigger. The game was sometimes called hurling.”

Well now, was it indeed? 

How eminently plausible it is that a crew of passing Paddies, possibly digging local holes, might have kicked the ball and showed the English how to play.

Destroy the FAI and all that’s in it.

Rename it the FA.

Start again.

If football’s coming home anywhere, it’s coming back to Ireland!

©Charlie Adley

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