Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Magic of Archibald Albion

YOU may or may not have heard of Archibald Albion.
If you are a soccer fan and you haven’t heard of the legendary Albion, I am surprised.
Indeed, even if you know nothing of soccer and you haven’t heard of the Albion, I am surprised.
You have heard of George Best?
You have heard of Pele?
You have heard of Jose Mourinho?
Well, you should have heard of the Albion. They’re right up there. History makers, double winners.

Let me tell this story as modestly as possible.
I don’t know an awful lot about soccer. Rugby is my game. Rugby has always been my game.
But many years ago, a colleague, Senan Molony, founded a soccer team. He called the team after Steve Archibald who, I am told, was once a famous soccer player.
Archibald Albion was not a very good team.
Indeed, so bad were they, that I began recount their exploits in my twice-weekly column in the Star.
For example, they arranged a friendly game in Cardiff. But they couldn’t find Cardiff.
The first time I went to see them play, they lost 4-2, I think it was.
What I am certain of, is that they gave away three own goals.
I also learned very quickly, that when their goalkeeper confidently shouted ‘KEEPER!’ to indicate that he was in total control of the situation and was about to catch the ball, a kick-off almost inevitably followed.
And so Senan asked me to become the team’s manager.
I could go on and on telling you stories about how other teams laughed when they saw my lads arrive in mucky tracksuits, smoking and coughing before games. And then I could describe their horror when we beat them.
I could regale you with tales of the average centre half I transformed into a world-class (oh, all right. AUL -division-three-Saturday-class) striker and how I made him play on after having one testicle terminally crushed.
I could provide you with a barrel of laughs telling you stories about our new ‘keeper who was as mad as, well, a ‘keeper.
I could describe the kiss one of my players planted on a tramp in Kilkenny.
I could tell you about the Albion being the first club in Ireland to sign a Bosnian Muslim who, unfortunately, turned up drunk for his first, and last game with us.
I could tell you about Senan being the only striker in the world who loved heading the ball.
With his glasses on.
I could tell you about the referee who, one day, asked me to take one of my players off. “He’s concussed,” the ref said.
I called the player off and asked him if he was concussed.
“No,” he said. “I’m pissed.”
But no.
Instead I am going to tell you about how, with a little bit of help from a chap called John Curran who, despite being a printer is an ok guy, we not only won the league, but the double.
Archibald Albion. From Laughing Stock to Double Winners.
That was going to be the title of my autobiography.
But I suppose, I got bored and moved on.
And so did John.
And so did Senan.
And one day, without anyone noticing. Archibald Albion died.
But I can look back with pride on what we achieved.
And at the end of it all, I have only one question.
Do you think John Delaney would give me €300,000 a year to manage Ireland.


darren_hughes said...

I want my ball back. Great piece Paddy. Unfortunately it's all true.

One F said...

And a team that produced their own programme for each game. Tell 'em Paddy.