From Ringsend to Tallaght: The Shamrock Rovers players' stories

Wed, Oct 27 2021
From Ringsend to Tallaght

From Ringsend to Tallaght Credit: Macdara Ferris (ETPhotos)

Published this week is a new book – ‘From Ringsend To Tallaght: The Shamrock Rovers players’ stories’ – that tells the tale of the most successful club in the 100-year history of the League of Ireland.

Written by Hoops fans Macdara Ferris and Eoghan Rice, the book (available to purchase here) is based on interviews with 50 Rovers players from the 1930s right up to the current Hoops squad. Each chapter sees a player tell their story – the big games, the key characters, the memorable days that defined both their careers and the history of Shamrock Rovers.

The book’s co-author and extratime.com reporter Macdara Ferris outlines below details about the book and what was for him a labour of love lockdown project.

I know what you did last lockdown

As the pandemic restrictions came and went on a bit of a repeat over the last 18 months, old routines were discontinued (like attending live football matches) and new ones developed. 

The new lockdown routines for some included sourdough making, sea swimming and for some even a spot of knitting. I did none of these. I went another way and wrote a book.

In the first lockdown when we were confined to a 2km radius, it gave me an opportunity to sort out my out of control match programme collection. With programmes dating back to the 1990s, it was time to get them in order. I then moved onto chronicling my collection of Shamrock Rovers shirts.

When football did return after a five month break as a reporter with extratime.com I was lucky to be able to attend matches. It provided a welcome break getting out to see and report on live football – and see the Hoops win the title without losing a match.

When lockdown three arrived early this year, there was no football, the days were dark and the COVID-19 daily numbers too high. It was going to be a long wait for the new football season to return but thankfully fellow Rovers supporter Eoghan Rice had a great idea.

‘Is there anything to be said for another Rovers book?’

That was the subject line from Eoghan’s email in January this year from which the end product is a new book published this week.

In 2005, Eoghan wrote ‘We are Rovers: An Oral History of Shamrock Rovers’. In developing that book he had carried out 20 or so interviews with Rovers players across various eras including with men who are now sadly no longer with us.

Since 2010, I’ve been carrying out the main player interview for Hoops Scene, the Shamrock Rovers match programme, and interviewed a number of players for my book ‘Tallaght Time: Shamrock Rovers 2009 to 2012’ (written with Karl Reilly). I’d also carried out a number of extended interviews with players from the successful Rovers teams of the 1960s and 1980s for the programme, Póg mo Goal magazine and extratime.com.

Interviewing a player typically involves sitting with them sometimes for up to an hour but then using only a limited number of quotes in the publication. Much of the conversation goes unpublished.

So Eoghan had the idea of using the wealth of lengthy interviews we had, combined with a series of new interviews, to tell the story of Rovers down the years - told through the words of the players themselves.

Reviewing those interview transcripts, myself and Eoghan had around 30 player interviews that we felt could tell some elements of the history of Rovers.

As Ireland entered into its third Covid-19 lockdown in early 2021 – the 100-year anniversary of the League of Ireland - we got to work on compiling those interviews and supplementing them with new ones to tell the full history of the club. 

Just under 20 interviews were conducted this year specifically for this publication. It was great fun to get time to speak with players such as Derek Treacy, Terry Palmer, Jason Colwell, Andy Myler, Aaron McEneff and Jack Byrne amongst others, getting them to reflect on their valuable contributions to the club. 

Players and Managers

The new interviews also included five with players who lined out for the Hoops and later managed the club: Frank O’Neill, Damien Richardson, John Giles, Pat Scully and Stephen Bradley and these interviews were probably the most insightful.

O’Neill spoke about the famous European battles against the likes of Bayern Munich, Richardson recalled his role in helping the Hoops win six FAI Cups in a row in the 1960s and Giles gave us his account of trying to rebuild Rovers in the 1970s and why his experiment ultimately failed to deliver.

Pat Scully took over Rovers during some of the club’s darkest days following relegation and spoke about the demands of getting the Hoops back into the Premier Division at the first attempt. 

The book concludes with a lengthy interview with current Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley.

“Our job and obligation is to make sure that when we hand this club back to the members we have left it in a better place than when we got it,” said Bradley. “I think that is really important - that this is something bigger than you as an individual. This is a special club that means so much to so many people.”

Myself and Eoghan believe that not only will the book be great read for any Shamrock Rovers fan but any supporter of the League of Ireland who wants to read about the highs and indeed the lows of a club that is never far away from the headlines.

‘From Ringsend to Tallaght: The Shamrock Rovers’ Players Stories’ written by Macdara Ferris and Eoghan Rice includes interviews with Rovers players from the 1930s through to the present day. Spread across 200 pages, it includes pen pics for each of the 50 players included in the book. From this coming Friday it is available to purchase in the Shamrock Rovers shop in Tallaght Stadium and on Rovers’ online shop here.

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