Tribal Loyalty


The Basque woman five seats down from me was in awe. The stadium was packed. Over 50,000 souls had taken over the place and turned it red. It was only a ‘friendly’, but the supporters of the ‘home’ team cheered every pass and move with a gusto which was totally out of kilter with the importance of the occasion.

“Why does everyone in Ireland support Liverpool?” she asked me at half-time. “Do you not support your own teams?”

In the city of Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, and St Patrick’s Athletic, she was shocked to see so many Dubliners come out to support a team from the old colonial power.


READ ON: Our Divided Tribal Loyalties (Ciaran Tierney Blogspot)

84 thoughts on “Tribal Loyalty

  1. I love everyone


    I mean this is seriously excruciating bottom of the barrel stuff for a site latterly known for cutting edge stuff

    1. Sham Bob

      I know they don’t claim to post every 15 minutes any more but the posts are still very frequent, and yet you want non-stop cutting-edge content, during a time of year known as ‘the silly season’ by the traditional news media due to lack of serious news?

        1. Tony

          Yeah don’t bother.

          It was stressful to watch the needless struggle in the early days of BS. Chill out – ou’re not the radio. Nobody looks at this site constantly waiting for updates ffs

  2. Kolmo

    I do appreciate a good game – but I never understood the religious devotion to teams in England when there are local teams (granted, not as glamorous or celebrity driven), in nearly every large town, never understood it, but each to their own.

      1. :-Joe

        If they were to get some proper sustained investment maybe you would feel less ashamed.


        1. Plumbob

          If the FAI was ran properly it would naturally get that investment for the LOI. For example at the sold out Man Utd match in the Aviva last week the FAI actually forgot to sell a lot of blocks in the east stand!! Then you have what happened at Athlone and what’s currently happening in Bray. I used to go to LOI football but gave up.

        2. scottser

          “I am delighted to announce that we will be increasing the prize fund for the SSE Airtricity League Premier and First Divisions by 50 per cent this season,” Gavin said. “The prize money will rise from €315,500 to €475,500 for the League. In addition we have the prize fund for the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup, the EA SPORTS Cup and UEFA Fair Play which means our clubs will be competing for a total prize fund of €596,500.”

          600k pot to be distributed in all fai competitions. john delaney was reported as receiving 350k per year salary.
          go figure.

  3. Pee Pee

    Football is entertainment. I love football. I wouldn’t buy any of Ronan Keatings albums because he is Irish.

  4. mildred st. meadowlark

    And now with a comment from our resident Liverpool fanatic. Over to you Bertie.

  5. DD

    “…she was shocked to see so many Dubliners come out to support a team from the old colonial power.”” The whole crowd was from Dublin, was it?

  6. Increasing Displacement

    Same dopes I know who support English teams are the first to give out about the English and their ways. Soccer…the sport of idiots

    1. Pee Pee

      I’m gonna make a presumption that your a rugby fan. Jonathan Sexton is constantly injured. Why? Because he’s always targeted and attacked by the opposing team. When your most creative player, and rugby isn’t a creative game, is one of the opposing teams main objectives to injure and maim, this is not a sport. It’s a blood sport.

      1. Increasing Displacement

        Because one must be a fan of some top level popular sport eh?
        So you can keep your rugby rantings and assumptions where they belong.
        Up your…HEY HEY

        1. I love everyone

          Seriously though that LJG guy did you see yesterday he had a new twist – something other than alcohol

          1. mildred st. meadowlark

            Are you LJG? You can just come out and say it if you are.

            We won’t lynch you. Honest.

      2. Rugbyfan

        its a collision sport that results in a drop of claret every now and then, Concussion is a real problem and has to addressed. The GAA need to acknowledge it exits in their games too.
        By the way it’s you’re. I am going to make the assumption you don’t read much

    2. David

      Sir, your own idiocy shines through this comment. Irish people supporting Liverpool, Leeds or whoever has got nothing to do with England or the English. If you were into football (it’s not called soccer BTW) you would understand that, but you’re not so you don’t. Why even comment?

  7. :-J

    Yes indeeed.

    If we’re ever actually going to win the world cup(before I’m dead) and produce the likes of our very own Keane-inho 3.0 style maestro to lead us to that wishful promised land then we’ll have to start somewhere.

    So for a start, how about spending half your yearly budget typically reserved for mostly overpriced british clubs with travel, tickets, jerseys and other footy related fappiness on your local Irish football clubs instead…

    …& next year when you become a real club football fan you can keep the other half too and spend on something else entirely more worthwhile and more rewarding. Anything you like yourself, of course… I don’t want to seem too pushy.

    The british leagues and specifically the EPL does not need any more money to be spent on 100m pound donkeys that are not much better than their fellow league one nationals who are suffering from the lack of fair trade opportunities in their own homeland.

    Another handy tip that will improve your health and well-being, why not cancel your subscription to Rupert Murdoch’s dream of a brainwashed society and go see a live game every once in a while..

    Unless you find it’s generally too cold outside or you’re immobile in some way and you’d prefer t stay inside and are illegally streaming it.

    Assuming you even care about this sort of thing etc. etc.


        1. :-Joe

          What’s LJG again, my brain is already full up with acronyms….

          Lesbian Jujitsu Gender.?. No, that can’t be right….


  8. Alastair

    “In the city of Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, and St Patrick’s Athletic, she was shocked to see so many Dubliners come out to support a team from the old colonial power.”

    LFC are an American owned club managed by a German, and comprising a majority of non-UK players. It’s a trans-national entertainment corporation. So, there’s that.

  9. Listrade

    I don’t know. It could be a slavish bending the knee to the old enemy and the Queen or it could be more simple like: many people have relatives and close family who live in cities like Liverpool, Manchester, London and that influenced them or some were actually born in those cities when their parents were working there. Could even be that during the 60s, 70s and 80s,(even the 90s) the best Irish players went over to England and were playing for these teams and were very successful. The best players in the England, in some cases Europe and in some cases the World were irish. You couldn’t see them in Ireland, you had to go to Manchester, Liverpool or London to see them.

    That an Irish (albeit Northern) lad kinda set the ball rolling on not only being the best in the world, but also the glamour of a footballer while playing for an English team. And then the team support stuck within a family…as it does.

    There’s a million and one reasons, not always about commercialisation. Some people started following United after the Munich disaster. It didn’t start with the Premier League (as sky would like us to think) it has deeper and more personal roots for many. Even if you’re allergic to Eamon Dunphy, take a peak at his autobiography on the early days of being a soccer fan/player in Dublin in his youth. He slightly overplays it, but getting to see or even play soccer back then was tough you should only be playing GAA. Johnny Giles is the best player in the best team in England at the time and you couldn’t see him anywhere in Ireland.

    It’s nice to only remember a time when it was the Premier League, it’s fun to pretend United fans are just glory hunters. It’s just fun to mock United in general. But the connection to English teams goes back much further and for a variety of different reasons.

    It’s bloody expensive to go over and see a Premier League game now. These friendlies are the only chance many get to see a team they’ve followed and do it like the old days where you go with your dad and take your son (sorry for the sexism) with you. No pies worth eating mind, gourmet food has no place in a football stadium.

    1. Nigel

      Excellent comment. More interesting than I expected a comment in a thread about soccer to be. I was just going to say maybe Irish people liked liver.

      1. I love everyone


        I think Listrade makes several good points

        I’d add that historically UK and Ireland were pretty much fully assimilated at the time the old Division One came into being and these clubs were formed. My own take on it is that the BBC covered these teams really well and brought their exploits to life with brilliant radio coverage through the years. Later Shoot magazine emerged to create the type of modern day fandom that music fans for example would have learned from
        NME or Melody Maker. Life was bleak and grim in these islands for many right up through the 70s as Morrissey’s autobiography so vividly describes. As Listrade notes football and especially as played by George Best held out the dream of a different kind of life to aspire to for many. Today’s kids however follow global superstars of football at Barcelona and Real Madrid as much as they follow the UK based teams. I guess some sagacious commenter here will note that this must be due to our history of Galway being half colonised by the remaining Spanish Armada.

        1. Listrade

          Agreed, it was all we had. Like when Gazetta Football started and we could suddenly see the world’s best players at the time each week. Before that we only saw them in major tournaments. All of a sudden we had an interest in Italian football in Ireland and UK.

          Whatever your sport, it tends to just happen and is rarely a conscious decision. A comfort blanket that is just as sentimental and owes more to family or peer conditioning than logic and reason.

          To paraphrase Michael Parkinson in his Second Captain’s interview, sport isn’t life and death, it’s the complete opposite and that’s what makes it so important. Your team is your team just because. It could be a bond with your mum or dad, or your friends when you were little. It isn’t a competition, those who support Shamrock Rovers do so for the same reasons their neighbour supports Liverpool. One club being closer, doesn’t make you superior. It’s just what nurture landed you with.

        2. Nigel

          Yeah, well said. I wasn’t into sport as a kid but I devoured UK sports comics indiscriminately. Seems weird that I read so.many cricket stories without ever understanding any of the rules.

  10. Milo

    It really is the silly season when BS fans are talking about League of Ireland. It’s like listening to a liveline debate on Basque separatism.

    1. :-Joe

      I sure you’re joking with a pun on tribalism but it sounds so funny… I have to ask, have you got a link to that…?

      Just in case it’s real.


      1. I love everyone

        At my local rural pub over 15 years ago several elderly welly wearing farmers were heard to debate who the highest earning supermodel in the world is.

        1. :-Joe

          So what was the conclusion and who were the competition or runners up?….

          I once witnessed three addicts screaming at the top of their voices from other sides of a busy city centre street junction on a hot midday repeatedly asking each other, who has “the jocks” this time?….

          It lasted about an hour, right outside my window and it’s not something I’ll be able to forget easily.


  11. Rainy Day

    If you like soccer / football (Association football – that’s where the soccer comes from – socc)…then go and watch a match. Cancel the Sky subscription and go and see your local LOI club on a Friday night, you’ll save a lot of money, get more fresh air and interact with people. Football or any other sport is far more enjoyable live (at the game), I’ve never understood why some people can sit and watch a match on TV when there is decent game on a few miles away – but hey that’s just me.
    As for Irish people supporting English clubs, well I did it when at school, but I soon grew out of it when I realised I had absolutely no connection with that city in England and only supported them because my friends did when I was 6 or 7… some people grow out of it, a lot don’t.

    1. Jones

      “Football or any other sport is far more enjoyable live”

      I would actually disagree. As someone who frequents the odd rugby match and international football match I’m always disappointed when I leave as I feel I’ve missed out the action. They don’t show replays for football matches so you rarely see key moments and when you can’t hear the ref in a rugby match it’s near impossible to understand what’s going on a lot of the time.

      To experience some great atmosphere and enjoy a day out, live sport it perfect. But to actually enjoy the skill and technicality of what’s going on, you can’t trump watching it in full, mind blowing HD with replays and over the top analysis at half time.

      1. Rainy Day

        If you need someone to explain your own sport to you well I can’t really help you there….

    1. Rainy Day

      Well then why not watch Spanish football, or the Bundesliga? …Premier League have been way off the pace in Champions League for last few years, so the good quality football argument doesn’t hold water,

  12. Gearóid

    “Why does everyone in Ireland support Liverpool?” she asked me at half-time. “Do you not support your own teams?”

    Same reason “everyone in Ireland” supports Celtic. I thought most Irish people were aware of the proportion of the population of Liverpool (and Glasgow) that claims Irish heritage.

    1. Rob_G

      Strange then that there are so many Liverpool supporters than Glasgow Rangers supporters, as both are from the Loyalist tradition, historically.

      I think the real reason that so many Irish people support Liverpool is that they were successful in the 80s when many of their fans came of age, same reason there are so many Man Utd fans these days, and probably Chelsea and Man City fans in the years to come.

      1. Listrade

        Nope. Neither Liverpool or Everton were ever sectarian. There used to be a pattern of catholics supporting Everton and Protestants supporting Liverpool. It was certainly never “loyalists”. But the religion trend could be as much to do with family loyalties over any religion. Neither club had any sectarian policies like Celtic or Rangers on recruitment, players, etc.

        United have always had a big following, even before the 90s. Probably as much to do with earlier successes, but they still had huge support in the fallow years, same as Liverpool enjoy now.

  13. Diddy

    I don’t understand it either. After the manu game last week 3 soggy middle aged men returned to the local wearing the latest manu jersey complete with corporate sponsor. Maybe they feel like they belong to something?

  14. Frilly Keane

    t’would never happen in the GAA famil
    Club First
    and always

    transfers are rare enough
    usually work related
    or to give a weaker county a dig out

        1. Frilly Keane

          Ah here if yer doing a list
          At least include Karl O’Dwyer

          And the Tipp lads in Dublin Hurling setup

  15. paddy

    I moved to Sweden a few years back and started going to my local club’s matches. The standard is not that much better than LOI to be honest. The difference in my view is that you get a great atmosphere. You get attendances ranging from 4,000 – 20,000 depending on the club, and away fans travel in big numbers. Even if the players aren’t great, the crowd makes it.

    The other thing is the stadiums. Many of them are paid for by the local councils. They’re usually a good size, but not too big so that they look empty on match day. Good catering in many of them as well. A lot of them are artificial pitches, so local youth teams can use them when there’s not a game on.

    The one downside is that there is a bit of a hooligan problem. Haven’t seen anything myself as I follow a pretty small club, but I wouldn’t fancy taking the kids to a big “high risk” game like IFK vs Malmo or something.

    It’s a pipe-dream, but I think if the stadiums were better in Ireland, more people might go to games. Then you could get an atmosphere going, which would attract even more.

    1. scottser

      their high tax economy means their standard of hooliganism is so much higher. and of course, there are courses and everything for the kids to be involved in from an early age – i believe they’re all given inflatable bananas and racist chants to learn while still in primary school. things are just so much better thought out in sweden..

  16. Mike Baldwin

    The comments on Broadsheet are predictably incendiary. There are some lads on the verge of retaking the GPO in the name of Irish diaspora and/or the billionaire Kroenke family…the young Spanish lad signed to IMG Inc. who lives at the Intercontenental for the first 8 months then in the mock Tudor mansion near Birkenhead doesn’t have a clue why yer all dribbling down yer goatees every Saturday…don’t worry though, some priest will turn up at a club sponsored Memorial for ‘Long’ Billy Stephens and the Spanish kid will finally feel the passion and ‘get it’. Then sign for Grampus 8 to escape it….

  17. Mike Baldwin

    Oi! Pancho! Know what a Catholic is? Never mind son, keep smiling, we’ll keep pretending it’s about football. Now show us some tekkers lad…if yer lucky you’ll get a testimonial at Celtic, but only if we like you. Buenos Noche chief….agus Misé lé meas a Chara

Comments are closed.