Thursday, July 12, 2007
Lansdowne Road Demolition - A Romantic Fools Account
Disgrace was only 10 years old when he first set foot there. In a decade dominated by the Eurovision and cheap Dunnes jumpers, it was a mega structure from another planet. As Papa Disgrace lifted me over the stiles and offered a wink and a pound note to the attendant, I was bug eyed with excitement. Whilst grown men were crawling the streets outside looking for a few hours work, I sat in the luxury of the West Stand, with a very uneconomic hotdog in my hands, simply marvelling at the super arena that contained me. We cheered and laughed (especially when Neville Southall snapped his leg in half in the 12th minute), as Ireland took on the might of Wales in what was then a keenly anticipated 'friendly'. The stadium then was only half full, partially due to most of the men in this country being in America or down at the dole office, so the screams of Mr Southall were beautifully audible. The game ended, and I was treated to all manner of delicacies on the way home. Whilst whole families rummaged through skips and chased stray dogs, I was gorging myself on chips and chocolate. This was my first trip to the grand old dame of Ballsbridge (no, not the 86 year old prostitutes from the Dart station), Lansdowne road.
Over the many years that followed I returned constantly. I witnessed many more leg breaks, but none as exciting as Neville's. I witnessed U2 in Popmart there. The final rugby match. Other stuff too. Always rounded off with chips and chocolate, and as time passed, Caspian food. I never tired of it's beauty. Sure, as I matured, it did too. It began to creak, and certainly got a bit rough around the edges but I still got a thrill from entering through the one of the narrow entrances. But enough about the prostitute.
So, here we are. Modern Ireland. The below pictures show the demise of this great place. Even close scrutiny of the photos will reveal no barber cutted corner boys in guineys suit trousers. No men waiting at the bus-stop with a single suitcase and a one way ticket. No hungry children roaming the streets with nets to catch dogs in. When Jack Charlton emerged from under the west stand that day, he brought with him a new sense of hope. And the country changed forever
For me though, every time I hear someone snap a pencil, I think of it. When I hear some pervert creep up behind me and crack a twig as I wash naked in the forest, I stop and remember.
Neville Southall. Father of the Celtic Tiger