• No European Dance This Summer

    When it came, it came quickly.

    In the space of a couple of years, Irish club sides went from being perennial whipping boys in European competition to competing – and beating – the best that Sweden had to offer.

    I’ve been based in Stockholm for over twelve years now, moving from a dark, damp Dalymount to the terraces of Stockholm’s Olympic Stadium and Råsunda in 1999. In the beginning the Swedes were miles ahead. The year I moved here AIK faced Arsenal, Barcelona and Fiorentina in the Champions League group stage. Our nearest effort was a brave Shels side that made money, friends and no little progress, but ultimately came up short.

    Shamrock Rovers came to Stockholm in 2002 to play Djurgårdens IF and were given a sound beating, but then it all changed. Cork City beat the same team over two legs, much to the surprise of the Swedish media. In their wake, Derry and Pats all came over and dispensed with Swedish opposition that would previously have walked all over them.

    But those days are now gone.

    Though still very much the poor relation in Scandinavia, Swedish football boasts financial resources that Irish clubs could only dream of at the moment. With our economy tanked and our players once again amateurs or badly-paid professionals, the quality is no longer there.

    For all the progress made, our all-too-brief professional era was tainted by all that was worst in the game

    Rovers’ being drawn against FC Copenhagen more or less represents the end of the line if they manage to beat Flora Tallinn. The Danish champions, founded in 1991, are without a doubt the richest and best team Scandinavia has to offer,paying massive wages to players who could easily make it in the Bundesliga or the Premier league. They drew 1-1 with Barcelona and gave them a hell of a scare, and had it not been for a sluggish start after the winter break they would surely have rattled Chelsea a little more in the knockout stages.

    In contrast, Rovers travel to Tallinn with a single goal advantage, whilst Pats cling on to a precious away goal against opposition from Kazahkstan. The bad old days have returned.

    Though no fan of Rovers or Cork, I loved it when they were putting the Swedes to the sword. There was a tremendous arrogance about the Swedes facing into those ties as they looked to see who was up next when – not if – they beat the Irish sides.

    It was great whilst it lasted, but it might be a while before we see such days again. For all the progress made, our all-too-brief professional era was tainted by all that was worst in the game – overpaid players signed to overstretched clubs whose planning for the future didn’t go beyond the next fortnight.

    But having seen Pats and Rovers and Cork do it, we now know that we can at least put up a fight.

    The question is if we will ever again be in a position to pay our players to play full time – as the Swedes themselves have found out after the successes of Malmö and IFK Gothenburg, the days of the postmen and factory workers beating the big European sides is long gone.

    Taken from We Play On Fridays- the only online LOI fanzine
    Write for WPOF
    This article was originally published in blog: No European Dance This Summer started by thischarmingman
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. born2bwild's Avatar
      born2bwild -
      Jaysus that's depressing.

      In future, follow the maxim, 'Never let the truth get in the way of an optimistic article'.

    1. bennocelt's Avatar
      bennocelt -
      wow - good timing
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