Football is a funny game. To anyone off the street it is the simple notion of kicking a ball into the back of a net and your supporters go wild. Once it’s broke down; that’s it really. 90 minutes on a field, you wear your scarf they where they jersey and you al sing and shout and go home afterwards. Nothing more to it really.
On the afternoon of the 6th of November 2016 my words and look changed towards the beautiful game. To anyone who does not know; I am a Cork City FC supporter. Born and raised minutes from the spiritual home of Cork soccer in Turners Cross, nurtured in the Shed End and christened to the verses and songs of our false Gods. It was always something to do. Friday nights was always Cork City night. You finish school, you get dressed, have your dinner with your grandparents and then watch the game, Go home afterwards either contempt with the win or moan to your grandparents over tea about the referee.
It was a simple picture of a game so complicated.
That Sunday in November; Sean Maguire shot passed Gary Rodgers to bring the FAI Cup back to Turners Cross for the first time since 2007. In a moment of sheer raw emotion; tears where running down my cheeks, my throat was torn, my grandfather had his arms around me and in a minute I was catapulted into euphoria.
Any given Sunday I would have been at work. Then; in thirty seconds everything washed all over me. Every disappointment, every regret, every failure. I stepped up and became someone more, part of something bigger. The club I has sweat and bled over, travelled the country with and shone off to ever friend and ex was now at the national stage.
At home my Grandmother; with a bad back and walking stick, ran across my front room and into my mother’s arms. According to family she was weeping. It was a unified moment of happiness and solidarity across 200Km.
Cork City FC: FAI Cup Champions.
Two weeks later was a different story. Rushed out of bed at five in the morning, I was awoken to find my Grandmother was in hospital. While, stories of our health were always commas on my childhood and our ever evolving friendship, this felt bad. Something felt final. Awake and in a haze of frustration I watched Sean Maguire’s goal back.
After twenty minutes I was called to the hospital. After forty minutes I was next to her bed. I wore my City jersey jumper for luck. The same tops I wore in Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, St, Pats and the Final. It had been lucky then and maybe lucky now.
I do not want to divulge into things. But after a polite word; of thank you, and a simple word of goodbye my Grandmother passed away. My oldest friend. The Cork City FC fan from the shadows; who watched and felt every game; was gone.
I never understood what a football club was until that moment. What such a symbol meant. In all our club is three colours; green white and red. The colours many; including myself, have travelled the country with.
At our lowest moments it was a moment of hope. It gave something to keep going; to keep fighting on with. The symbol of luck and defiance which saw City win the cup was there that morning in the hospital. The memory of that ball crossing the line the pillow as I drifted into a haze driving along the terraces of Turners Cross to the wake.
Weeks later I held the cup. Exactly a month later I got my hands on the much coveted FAI Cup and felt the weight of the past few weeks and the hop going forward. For every fan lost; there was this goal. This one piece of silverware.
In every life we all have our symbols and passions. Things which get us through the darkest and worst moments. At the end of every working week many of us; tired and stricken of life’s worries and woes; turn to the turnstiles of Turners Cross.
There we are not cashiers and painters and plasters; but a face in the crowd al united and joint in a single cause. A city united in 90 minutes. With the good comes the good. With the bad comes the bad. What remains is the memories. It is does that we truly take on board, tuck away as a snack for when we truly miss them.
While I miss my Nan, the memories remain. The club down the road will remain. Our support remains; defiant.