Turn On The Football!

Here’s the first guest post that has been offered. Is it about Mexico? Argentina? Perhaps even the US, just to keep it on the right continent? Nope! Ireland. But it gets the ball rolling, and seeing as it’s a good story, then why not! I guess this means that World Cup memories of by gone tournaments are also now valid if anyone has something to share!

I have tried to think of a way to link this story to Latin America. The best I can do is point out that in the World Cup itself, had Ireland beaten Germany and topped the group, they would have gone on to play Paraguay in the next round. Anyone got a better link than that? Anyway, I found the video of the goal on YouTube. Enjoy. And thanks to the author, Paddy Gonzalez.

Edit: Here’s a link, albeit somewhat tenuous, from the comedian Tommy Tiernan: “We’re all delighted to be Irish as if we f**kin chose to be Irish! As if we were given a menu of nationalities up in space and we all wanted something that was the least amount of effort and the most amount of craic…and we didn’t want anywhere too hot-otherwise we’d be Mexican!”

Nelly Furtado was singing her heart out but we didn’t care.

Ireland were playing Holland in the deciding World Cup qualifier for Korea 2002. The batle for the last World Cup spot was between Roy Keane’s very average journeymen who’d competed like guerillas for every single last point, and the artists of Holland, who’d made their usual elegant but half-hearted effort to qualify,
as if such matters were beneath them –  this was the Holland of Van Nistelrooy, Overmars and Kluivert.

We were the underdogs. We had no business even taking the field with Holland. But we knew with the angry, snarling, bullying Roy Keane as captain that anything was possible.

Problem was, U2 were playing their homecoming gig in Slane Castle on the same day. The choice was between going to the pub or the Castle.
We went for the Castle – surely they’d put it on the big screens?

So there we were at Slane, in front of the screens at 3pm. But no match – they hadn’t put it on! All we could see was Nelly Furtado’s spangly pants, all 100ft high of them.

Texts started to come through at 3.02pm – Roy Keane was already at war for us – he’d poleaxed Marc Overmars in the first 30 seconds, and we were missing it.

We started getting restless and had a go at poor Nelly –
“Come on Nelly – f*** off and put the football on!”

She looked confused but kept singing:
“It’s not that I wanna say goodbye”.

“Don’t let us stop you!”

She soldiered on:

“I’m like a bird, I’ll only fly away”

“Now you’re getting the idea!”

She looked even more baffled as the shouts got higher and higher:
“Put the football on! Ireland! Ireland! Ireland!” and the deep rumble of “Kean-o! Kean-o!”

And then in a lull, when all seemed lost, some bright spark shouted out, and the tens of thousands of Ireland supporters filled the historic rolling grounds of Slane Castle with that unforgettable chant:

“Nelly Nelly! Turn on the telly! Nelly Nelly! Turn on the telly!”

And the rest is history. They put the second half on, Jason McAteer scored, we beat them 1-0 to qualify and Slane went wild.

Bono called the game the best warm-up act of his life.


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