Apparently today has been dubbed “Richard Dunne Day” by Irish soccer fans to honour the display by the national team’s star centre-half against the Russians that will long be remembered, not only for his heroics on the pitch, but for the hand-drawn number 5 that appeared on his replacement jersey for the final portion of the match.
Given the match in question was a Euro qualifier, and given how the boys in green played in the finals (Given included), I’m not so sure it’s a day I’ll be looking to honour in years to come…
Still, it puts me in mind of a brief story of my own from when I was working in Boston in 1994, and although it is also soccer-related, most Irish people would appreciate it.
I was in the US at the time simply because the soccer World Cup was. In fact, I had been there for a year before that, spending time on the west coast first.
For funds I was working in a sports store right downtown on Summer St a stone’s throw from Boston Common. One of the managers in the store was an Irish American called Pat Meehan. OK, maybe that wasn’t his name, but trust me, it was as Irish as that, and it was also one of those surnames whose pronunciation has been butchered by generations of existing in America – in this case, MEE-HAN instead of “Meen”.
Anyway…the Americans may have a better appreciation of soccer now, but they certainly didn’t then. In general they seemed to be a bit bemused by the whole World Cup thing, seeing it as a kind of freaky sideshow to their own national sports.
But because Pat had a great great grandfather from Listowel or something, he felt he needed to have some sort of kinship with me. Which was nice. Not. Ah, no, he was a nice enough guy, but as fond as I am of my adopted native land, I was getting away from it for a while and didn’t feel the need to talk about it every five minutes.
One Monday morning Pat came in to work and couldn’t wait to tell me about his weekend.
“Hey, you know how you keep telling us we should be selling the World Cup soccer jerseys?” he asked.
“Well maybe you’re right because I bought one from a guy going around this Irish bar I was drinking in on Saturday night.”
“Yeah! And I got a real deal on it, too. Only thirty bucks! Thing would cost at least fifty in a store like this one!”
“Wow, that’s a really good deal. Hope I meet this guy. You’re sure it’s the official jersey, yeah?
“Absolutely positive. He told me the way you can tell is right there on the label, where it said : Made by St. Bernard.”
What made it even funnier was the way he pronounced it, putting the emphasis on the “-nard”!
My first reaction was to “not have the heart to tell him”, but then I imagined someone else pointing it out to him as he was actually wearing it, so I found the heart. He wasn’t impressed.
So that’s my Richard Dunne Day story. Needed it to blow the cobwebs off this personal blog…makes a change from all the rugby I’ve been doing lately!