For many of us, Terryland Park was the nearest we got to the San Siro back in the 1970s and 1980s. It was the most senior level of soccer we could get to see without getting on a plane to do so, and that was unheard of in those days.
It was my brother who took me along from Mayo to see Galway Rovers in that famous game against Harps. With the pitch aligned differently and the cold chill coming in off the Corrib, the unsheltered ground was a killer on a chilly day in the time before summer soccer. I remember being amazed by the quality and lushness of the pitch. I remember Johnny Herrick scoring a screamer from out near the wing, Philip Fay terrorising fullbacks, Miko Nolan terrorising everyone, Kevin Cassidy looking more like Mario Kempes than Mario Kempes did, Carl Humphries scoring a top corner penalty against Thurles Town in a league cup semi...Chick, Ricky, Jumbo, Donie, Jimmy Nolan, Gerry Mullin who was in college with me at the time, Johnny Mannion, Noel Mernagh, Buck..the list goes on. So much history, so much to be proud of, so many thrills to experience.
And they have stayed with me to this day. I wrote here a few years ago that there was a certain sort of Galwayness apparent in Terryland on a Friday night. Terryland was a place where you would meet the relics of auld decency in Galway...the odd councillor...the odd model...the odd future president. Movers, shakers, chancers and more. And with the Tiger era came a stadium to be proud of. When it was lit up on a Friday night, it looked mighty fine. Oh Terryland and all those games..All those Bovrils..
I remember it as if it was yesterday, but alas it was not yesterday. Yesterday, the club’s supporters were absorbing the realisation that they would not be following their team in Terryland Park this coming season. GUST had performed valiantly to keep the dream of getting a licence alive, but for a variety of reasons which are probably too lengthy, contentious and possibly libellous to be aired on this page, it has not happened. GUST are to stick to their guns and try to develop an application for next year 2013.
However, the upshot of the weeks of turmoil is that Salthill Devon’s League of Ireland team will be rebranded as SD Galway FC (Ouch I can imagine the STD jokes already ) and play its League of Ireland fixtures at Terryland Park for the upcoming season. This will be confirmed this morning by FAI President John Delaney. The matter of jersey colour, branding, etc will become apparent in the coming weeks. On our sports pages, Delaney tells Cian O’Connell that GUST still has a role to play in the saga.
For GUST fans, there is disappointment and frustration at what has happened, for the FAI, there is something approaching a situation where the city and county has one decent team rather than three that will not be challenging for promotion back to the Premier Division. For SD, there is the chance to get a fanbase. If Mervue got aboard would the team be S&M Galway? They’d get great crowds in Race Week.
To outsiders, Galway looks like a city that has two well organised community clubs which have done everything the right way and then there is the club with the history which has had a chequered administrative history, but which has something approaching a fan base. How the three will marry is anyone’s guess? It promises to be an interesting season ahead.