Adventures in Football #77: Dalymount Park (Bohemian FC)
May 26, 2023
BOHEMIAN FC vs. SHELBOURNE (League of Ireland)
Dalymount Park, formerly known as Pisser Dignam’s Field, has been home to the North Dublin side Bohemian, or more commonly “Bohs” since 1901. It’s a ground that used to hold 40,000, although the safety of that many fans is debatable. After a safety review in the mid 80s capacity was slashed to 22,000. This was a ground that used to host the Irish national team.
In the late 90s the ground began a process of redevelopment, with the main stand being replaced by a new structure dubbed the “Jodi”. The ground redevelopment only included about half of the stadium, leaving the “Tramway” end in ruin. The land has been sold and that leaves the capacity at 4,227. A harsh drop-off on the ground’s enormous numbers of yesteryear. Current continuing development plans have been scaled back, leaving a partway demolished Connaught Street Stand. The stadium is due to be fully-ish operational again in 2026.
Game day! We flew over to Ireland a few days beforehand and had been enjoying the rich Irish landscapes a little too much. I was horribly sunburned after strolling around the Cliffs of Moher and then we went walking in the Wicklow Mountains on the day time. It’s beautiful countryside.
Unfortunately due to our rambling we were pretty late back into Dublin on the Friday and got stuck in traffic. Then we got stuck in football traffic. Trying to get into the recommended football parking proved to be a nightmare. We ended up driving well past the ground and parking down a side street. Towerview Cottages, if anyone wanted to look it up. Ideally, it’s too far from the ground but the traffic was so bad we kinda got corralled into there. It did not help that there were a bunch of Shelbourne yobs occupying the street on their way to the ground.
On arriving at the proximity of the ground, I checked in on Futbology and got this badge, my first ever ‘derby’ game. Would it live up to my lofty expectations? Would there be flares? On arriving at the ground we got patted down, so flares unlikely. On entering our section, the Des Kelly stand, it was heaving. I know we were late but there was hardly any space at all. After being told we couldn’t stand at the one end because it was a fire risk, we walked along and happened to find two seats, one behind the other. “It’s broken” said the fella in the front row that I sat next to. I’ll cope mate.
It’s a bizarre ground. Clearly in transition from one thing to another. It’s weird seeing it in mid-change. The Des Kelly Stand is sunk below pitch level, which has resulted in advertising hoardings being nailed in and they’ve stuck seats all over the terrace. Which means sitting front row leaves about 4 steps on the terrace in front of you, and you can barely see the pitch!
Over there is the Shelbourne collective. This is right before they set a couple of flares off. How did you get those in past the pat down? Actually, no, I don’t want to know. The Shelbourne fans were loud throughout and both sets of supporters gave it the welly.
This would have been my view, if I was really short. This is the shot from my lap, basically. Not only do I have the advertising to contend with but also this ballboy, who looked like Spud from Trainspotting. 14 going on 31. The two fellas next to me had a running conversation throughout the whole game, it was interesting to eavesdrop on it. Loads of opinions about the club, the players, stuff in the news. Just a proper belter of a game-long conversation. We also had a few wags around us, not WAGs, but people inclined to mock the opposition players. Especially the time wasting goalkeeper who was dubbed “inbred”.
Here he is, just after an exhausting spell of time wasting. While I remember it, Bohs have some cracking merch. They have an anniversary Bob Marley shirt, which is awesome and their normal kit has heavy AC Milan vibes. Only I’d argue it’s a better kit than Milan’s from this season.
I don’t normally like being behind the goal but it made a pleasing change of pace. Here’s the Bohs lining up a free kick. One of many chances that went begging for Bohemian. We get to half-time at 0-0, which is fair. Both teams have squandered chances. This allows me some time to properly take in the ground.
There’s a whopping great big church in the one corner. That’s St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. It’s behind a row of housing but it looks a lot closer than that. It’s a cool addition to a cool ground. We also have the merch over in that corner. That’s Bob Marley’s mug on the wall. Down that far end is a great big yellow metal fence that divides the ground. You’re not even allowed near it. I know because I went to see if I could see Bohs Johnny down there and was told to stand back.
Johnny was over in this stand, which is the Jodi. It’s a whopper, taking up the whole one side of the ground. Despite being built 25 years ago, it already looked a little outdated with those pillars in there. The hardcore Bohs fans were down on the right side of this stand, or the West end of it, if you’d prefer. Set up to verbally battle the Shelbourne mob opposite from them.
Then there’s the far end. That’s…not in great shape. It’s overgrown and unused. The positioning of a few flags aside, it’s been given back to mother nature. I quite like it but there’s no way it’s a safe standing area. I imagine it was rocking back in the day. I’ll have to look up some Irish games at Dalymount to see what the crowds were like.
Then there’s this section of the ground, which has been partially demolished. The big pile of sand obscuring the old BOHS sign is a bit sad. Again, this looks like it was a proper banging old terrace back in the day. It’s sad to see it fall into disrepair and be taken down. Hopefully Bohs can maintain that feel when they build down there in the future.
Finally, a bit of a floodlight porn. Look at these beasts! Absolutely corking. They’re over the top of the Des Kelly and it’s completely open. I’m glad the weather is nice. If it rains up this end, there’s no cover at all. Another quirk is the pitch. It’s not flat. There’s undulating bits here and there, especially at the front of the penalty area nearest the Des. The bobbles over it have probably given many a goalie kittens over the years.
The fans are frequently more interesting than the game, bantering back and forth. One of my neighbours refers to the Shels fans as “a bunch of bleedin’ cunts”. No love lost there. I was told to keep an eye out for trouble and there were substantial garda presence at the game. No issues though. Just verbals.
The referee receives ire from either side. Especially deserved when he fails to give a free kick for a high foot when a Bohs player is kicked in the head. Bohs #2 goes off with a massive abrasion on his arse cheek. No idea how that happened. There is the occasional scuffle, but the 4381 fans go home with a 0-0 draw in the record books. It was scrappy but not lacking in penalty box action and there really should have been a few goals.
Just to prove there’s no roof on the Des Kelly, here’s a selfie. Please ignore my neck fat. The game finished we go and find Johnny outside and have a quick chat with him. Lovely to see him, it’s been too long. With the Northside Derby in the books, let’s throw some scores at the Dalyer.
Really good. Both sets of fans threw themselves into it. I’ve seen some incredible sets of fans recently though, and while the performance was good by both sets it wasn’t on a par with some of the nuttier fanbases. Great passion though. ****
At 19 Euros, this felt like an ok kinda price point. I’m not convinced the football was at that level but these scrappy derby games are tough to get a read on. It’s a cup game. In pounds, this works out to £16.50, which isn’t bad for a game of this magnitude. ***½
It wasn’t great, and there were no goals. It was definitely worse than the MLS game I went to for match quality, so that means it’s a ** rating.
EASE OF ACCESS:
Public transport in Dublin is ok, if you want to go around the middle of it. The public transport solution from central Dublin to Dalymount Park is walking. It’s 2.2km. Parking around there is dogshit too. *
There’s a lot to love about Dalymount Park. It’s a historical wonder with great supporters. The quirky bits and pieces were intensified by me going during the redevelopment of the stadium. It’s at a stage where it’ll probably not look like this ever again. ****
This seems a little harsh on a ground I really enjoyed but there are some pretty major issues. The standard wasn’t what I was hoping for, the view is ‘interesting’ and it’s a bugger to get to. That does get offset by the historical importance of the ground and I’m really glad I went there.