by Gerry Kennedy
Россия [Russia] 2018 is well upon us; Now that we are at the ‘end game’ stages as it were, one tends to reflect on World Cups past.
In Ireland, the tournament we always look to is Italia ’90 – our very first World Cup finals.
The nation literally came to a standstill and those who couldn’t make it to Genoa, Cagliari or Rome were in the alehouses of every city, town and village at home singing Ole Ole Ole.
We were led by ‘wor Jack’, the 1966 England World Cup winner – now, of course, an honorary Irishman.
So who better to manage the 1990 Irish Advertising team in their game against the rest of the Rest of the World side at the Sharks Festival in Kinsale.
On the morning of the game Jack was flown in by helicopter and had a Garda escort to the Spinnaker pub where he held a pre-match press conference. [By now Mister Charlton had reached ‘Bono’ like status in Ireland, so rumours spread that he walked across the sea on the final part of the journey to the pub.]
Jack was fantastic fun, and it has to said, he took the job seriously. When Ireland captain Peter Brady announced that he wanted to exit the International scene during the game by being substituted in the 11th minute – just like namesake Liam did when he retired before the World Cup the previous May. Well, Jack gave Peter the once over and asked “Do you think you will last 11 minutes, Son?”
The game took place on pitch at the Elanco Plant just outside the town of Kinsale. Like the national team the advertising side employed the grandparent rule, which allowed the diaspora to wear the green shirt – so Mark Hanrahan, complete with a London accent lined out for the side. And while Jack and the boys put the rest of the world ‘under pressure’ – they were beaten 3-2 on that September afternoon.
When the ref blew the final whistle, the new Irish Advertising team manager was only too willing to stay and chat, sign autographs and pose for snaps with all and sundry. He could talk football all day – and he sure did that day.
Edited highlights of the game were shown at the awards ceremony later that night – and if there was a category for ‘football matches played earlier in the day’, it would have won 2 Sharks; Gold for best use of Big Jack, and Gold for best use of Creative Editing! (the edit included the omission of one of the ROTW goals and, along with the duplication of one of Ireland's goals the final result was altered to show Ireland as the winning team - Ireland 3 ROTW 2)
Indeed, so impressive was the Irish performance in that edit, there was serious talk that the Advertising team was going to be asked to represent the country at the 1994 World Cup in the USA!