In his weekly Limerick Leader column, the Secret Junior Footballer looks at how gossip and rumours make their way around the local soccer scene.
What a weekend of sport that was.
Some superb goals in the English Premier Division, St Patrick’s making the county final for the first time in almost half a century, Conor McGregor continued his march to world domination in a sport nobody really understands, FIFA 15 was released and WAGs everywhere collectively rolled their eyes.
As well as all that, a group of multi-millionaires from Europe beat a group of multi-millionaires from the USA on the golf course. What stuck out in my mind most of all was the appearance of Alex Ferguson on Sky Sports News to tell us all about the motivational talk he gave to the European team before the tournament. Or rather he didn’t tell us and, strangely for an egomaniacal control freak like the red-nosed Scot (God I hate him), dodged questions and heaped praise on the players themselves.
It reminded all of us of the golden rule of team sport - what happens in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room.
After half a lifetime in junior soccer in Limerick, you realise that very few things last forever. The purity of the game for example, that went out the window the first time money changed hands to get a player to sign a form.
Fairview Rangers’ all conquering sides slowly grew older and retired, long serving managers moved on and clubs got bigger and smaller, went out of football and rose again. What has lasted forever though, is the hype and gossipers, or HAGs, that surround the game.
Whether you stood in The Imperial and listened to The Doc holding court over 30 years ago, or you find yourself in the Boro club for a pint before dinner on a Sunday afternoon, chances are you’ll have overheard or taken part in conversations about injuries, suspensions, transfers in, transfers out, a few quid and a big bet, rows and apologies.
The interesting thing about Limerick junior football however, is the way these stories mushroom and become so much more spectacular and larger than life within a few hours. By the time you’re on the shorts in The Still House that night, the €20 treble you heard about earlier has exploded into an €1800 winner and raised a few question marks about the fourth goal the keeper conceded.
The halftime discussion about who was meant to be picking up who on the first corner in Glenbrook that morning turns into the two fellas having to be pulled apart and as the fixture list for the following week is released, the HAGs get to work.
They’ve heard that Clarke is on holidays and the club are flying him back. They were told that Tierney’s injured and Barry Heffernan’s going to have him four times during the week to get him fit.
They know for a fact that Carew will have nobody next week because they can’t get anyone to transfer in before the window closed and somebody was telling them that the yellow card that Dodo got this morning is his fifth of the season but Balla are appealing it because Frank O’Neill booked the wrong Dodo.
So be on the lookout for HAGs, they’re everywhere and if you find yourself in a group of players and you can’t figure out which one is the HAG, it’s probably you.