After Ireland missed out on qualification for Russia 2018, one huge loss to the tournament will almost certainly be the incredible support from Ireland’s fans. No group of supporters provides the same entertainment while on tour, and here’s why.
Calling Ireland’s support the best in football has become somewhat cliché. It’s mainly down to the sheer number of incidents in which Irish supporters have gone above and beyond the average football fan, whether that be in the level of humour or originality used, or just the simple kindness they often show. A criticism has recently been raised that it is patronising to talk about Irish fans rather than the team itself and, while there’s an element of truth in that, the show from the travelling supporters has been undeniably good.
With Russia hosting the World Cup in 2018 there has been (quite correctly) concerns regarding supporter behaviour at the tournament. The last European Championships, held in France in 2016, was marred by regular incidents involving fans, particularly Russian fans. More concerning was the fact that this was not simply small outbreaks that had spilled over from minor incidents, this was premeditated, rehearsed and organised, with a group of fans charging through the streets of Marseilles and attacking bystanders and opposing fans in the process.
That was the bleak side of supporters at that tournament. It was, thankfully, offset by the vast majority of fans who simply enjoyed the football, the matches and the country in general. Of the supporter groups, however, Ireland really led the way. Their side were knocked out by the host nation in the last 16, but Irish fans enjoyed every moment of their time in France – here’s 11 reasons Euro 2018 would have been better for having them.
Fans too loud? Not when there’s a baby to sing to sleep. On a metro one particular child was on the receiving end of a crowd-sourced lullaby.
They sing the hits
While Russian and English fans were fighting in the streets, Irish and Swedish fans were brought together through everyone’s one true love, ABBA, belting it out in harmony.
Anyone that has been to a football game, fan zone, or any event with a crowd for that matter, will know of the masses of rubbish left after an event. What would really help is if those attending cleaned up after themselves, and Irish fans duly obliged.
Singing your own national anthem is absolutely normal, joining in and singing the opposition’s? Less so. When Ireland played France at Euro 2016 a number of Irish supporters contributed to La Marseillaise.
Even if they do something wrong, they’ll make amends. When they dented a car, the pushed money through the window to pay for the damage.
Most fans cheer key moments – goals, big tackles, great saves. Or, in the case of this local resident, just coming onto his balcony. The best thing around, until he did it again.
It’s not just walking onto a balcony that garners respect. Walking out of a shop does too.
Anyone who gets a flat tyre while driving at Russia 2018 will be fine – as long as they’re near Irish fans.
When Ireland played Sweden in the Euro 2016 group stages, Irish fans broke out to sing Stand up for the Ulsterman to honour Darren Rodgers, a Northern Ireland fan who died after a fall in Nice a few days before the game.
Knowing your audience is key. So, if a nun walks past you on a train make sure you know all the words to the Lord’s Prayer.
And finally, major tournaments require enormous amounts of policing and very rarely do police officers get the praise that they deserve. Unless, of course, they’re standing next to Irish fans.