One Team. One Deam. Won Friday Night is the latest publication from Brian Kennedy, the multipublished author who’s probably best known among League of Ireland fans for his bestseller Follow The Floodlights.
However, unlike his previous forays into the world of publishing, this is a collection of stories Kennedy has edited to give a voice to an assortment of contributors: a wide range of subjects amongst a wide range of clubs.
There’s passion aplenty throughout the book, especially in the stories from Bohemians, Waterford and Cobh Ramblers, where you almost feel like you’ve missed something not being in the stands alongside the respective authors.
In Waterford, Stuart Adams vividly recalls watching the great Bobby Charlton wind down his career or Cobh’s magical four game encounter in the FA Cup semi-final 1983 is recounted by club historian Michale Geasley. (Incidentally, Monday’s clash with Dundalk in the EA Cup semi finals may evoke memories for certain supporters of the previous clash 35 years earlier, when the Rams came out on top.)
It’s this passion which drives the reader into wanting to be there on the terraces and that's what this book is about, for me, as it encapsulates the emotion of the League of Ireland – the mixing of the mundane and local, the regular crowd goers with the enthusiasm and the excitement of a new adventure.
There are times our local League of Ireland team transcends national rivalry and becomes a national story – for example Dundalk’s recent Europa League campaign or UCD’s voyages through Europe a few seasons back are both recounted in vivid detail.
For any reader struggling to get their colleagues or friends to join the League of Ireland community you could do a lot worse than to get them to read the chapters written by Gary Spain on his life as a Limerick fan or Alan Bird’s Bohemian odyssey.
Both authors discuss how they became hooked from a young age and then spent their entire adult life worshipping at the altar of the League of Ireland.
Similarly engaging was the story of how Bray Wanderers have had an impact on Brian Quigley’s family life and the touching memoir of Kilkenny City by James Crewe.
St Patrick’s Athletic’s Ronan O'Flaherty has chapter concerning the Saints’ title-winning season under Pat Dolan and again it's one of these stories which epitomizes the book – a subjective recall of what the final day meant to the author themselves.
However, not every story is an emotive driven narrative. Adrian Harte’s brief synopsis of the history of Monaghan United using an A to Z format just gives us a taster of the history of the club, as does a piece on Salthill Devon and all the players that they've produced at international level by Pete Kelly – both clubs are, sadly, no longer in existence at senior League of Ireland level.
This book is for people who want to get under the skin and the League of Ireland to find out what drives the passion – why are fans watching League of Ireland on a Friday night when it would be so much easier to watch a game on TV sitting in on a Saturday or Sunday?
What's pushing us out to stand in driving rain? What’s your team? Why do we do it? Why do we feel it is the Greatest League in the World? The 40 stories in this book encapsulate the madness and the surreal nature of this league.
This is a book where the stories, the process of the stories mean more than the end product. Why is it a big deal that Cobh Ramblers lost in the semi-final of an FAI Cup semi final? When you're a junior Munster team and you've got to the semi-finals for the first time in your history.
When you've beaten the league champions in the first round and went to a four-game thriller before finally succumbing to Sligo Rovers in the Showgrounds, the journey matters. This is what drives our league.
Stories like that of the most eligible bachelor in Cobh, stories that have a personality – this is what makes up our league.
We need to have books like this. We don't need flashy autobiographies. We don't need a compendium of statistics about every single club (though they’re really informative and I own a few myself!)
We need stories to inspire a growing fan base. Yes, many of the stories are from the past (even before I was born) but they tell the story – they form part of the fabric of what makes up the club.
Those people in the Jodi, the Shed (Cork City and Dundalk), the Showgrounds, the RSC, Tolka, the Brandywell – every body has a story, every club has a story and these 40 stories encapsulate the spirit of the league.
It's often said that democracy is government of the people, for the people and by the people. This book could be said to be an offering of the League of Ireland, for the League of Ireland and by the people whose very presence makes up the League of Ireland
There are many books available in the League of Ireland which often go in to specific detail on one club or one moment in time.
This collection gives us a flavour of many clubs through the 40 different supporters’ stories from 26 different clubs throughout the league – like a tasting menu of the league.
If you want to introduce someone to the league, this will be an excellent book. For those of us who already in the league, it's lovely to read little snippets of history from any other clubs which are, or have been, in existence in the league.