For those of us for whom Friday nights were irrevocably changed when top flight football left Terryland, there will always be a memory of the cups of Bovril and the smell of wintergreenand the smack of leather on a hardened hip in the days before the Dyke Road venue became one of the best football stadiums in the country. Back then with the pitch facing a different alignment, the cold breeze coming in off the Corrib on those winter’s days hardened many a memory in the minds of football fans across not just the city and county, but beyond. Back then when the man after whom the ground is now named marshalled the centre of the pitch, when the Bovril in your cup rippled with every thundering tackle from Miko Nolan, when Kevin Cassidy ran Mario Kempes-style through the hearts of many a defence, when Philip Fay and Carl Humphries threaded the ball down the sidelines like needles in the hands of a seasoned seamstress, they created a sort of magic for every youngster in the ground. And later when Ricky and Jumbo and Donie et al carried that magic to Glenina and back, there was a feeling that no matter the result, you never went home feeling cheated from a day out at Terryland.
The old ground has not had many decent days since it was renamed. The ongoing dispute about the one city, one team, proposal will be carried on next Monday when the matter will be debated at an open meeting for members and supporters of GUST at the Galway Rovers clubhouse, Claddagh at 8pm. GUST is urging all members and supporters to attend as the management committee seek to brief them on the current situation.
But before that there is hope. Next Sunday, there will be new life in the old ground. A whole new team, a whole new club, playing in Galway colours will take the pitch at Deacy Park. Galway is fortunate to have some of the finest women footballers in the country, with several plying their trade across the water and in the capital. And so it made perfect sense that the city would have a team in the new Bus Eireann Women's National League. And so for the first time, Deacy Park will host senior women’s football, played at the highest standard in the country.
And partly because of the sadness that came after the city lost its Premier Division team, there is a great welcome for this new club, Club chairman Stephen Moran describes the response from the public in Galway as "overwhelming" since it was announced that Galway WFC would take part in the national league. Season tickets are available in Jaycee and O’Brien’s newsagents. All accompanied children will be admitted free to all home matches. Gates will open at 1pm and a full pre-match entertainment programme is planned before kick off against Wexford Youths at 2pm.
Under manager Nigel Keady, Galway will face an experienced outfit in their opening fixture. However hopes are high Galway will make a positive start, while also attracting a growing support at Deacy Park. It is a daunting start for the new club so they need all the support they can get.
Get along to Terryland and prove that there is a real grá for soccer in Galway. Make heroes out of these footballers who will represent Galway WFC next Sunday and beyond. Have your sons and daughters quoting their names. Let your children use them as role models for fitter active lives. Let your children also know that gender is no longer an obstacle to playing sport at a high level in front of your own community. Take pride in the achievement. Create the atmosphere that will allow this team and club to flourish. Best of luck, Galway WFC.