This is a tale of two scarves. Both have been in demand during the cold snap. They are football scarves but with a difference as neither has a club’s name in large letters across its length. By coincidence each was used on an occasion linked to my activities with the William Carleton Society, of which I am Chair.
- AFC Wimbledon scarf
The first is an AFC Wimbledon scarf, described by the online shop
as “a new era grey knit scarf with yellow and blue to ends with embroidered crest”. I purchased it last season and wore it on two recent trips to Europe and another to London. I was in Berlin at the opening of an art exhibition at the Irish embassy by an artist friend Patricia Lambert when I had this scarf with me. Thankfully the temperature in the German capital remained just above freezing during the weekend I was there in November. A few weeks later I was in Vienna and again the scarf kept me warm as I visited the Christmas markets in the Austrian capital. Most importantly, the scarf is comfortable to wear and does its job properly. As my season ticket seat at Kingsmeadow
is in the front row of the stand I will be glad to wear it at any games I attend in the winter months. I brought it with me when I attended the league 2 game between AFC Wimbledon and Accrington Stanley, which we lost 2-0. The next day I went into the centre of London to meet someone I had never met before, so I wore my AFC Wimbledon wooly hat as well as the scarf.
- Paul Brush met Michael Fisher at a Whitehall pub
As it turned out, Paul Brush who was in England from Australia along with his wife and two daughters turned out to be a Crawley FC supporter. He had attended their match the previous day when they beat Burton Albion 3-0 in front of a crowd of 3001. Paul pointed out he was the “1” on the end of that figure! The reason we arranged to meet was because he is a distant relative of the 19thC Irish author William Carleton from Co.Tyrone. I am Chair of the newly-formed William Carleton Society, which runs an annual summer school at the beginning of August every year. Paul provided me with some useful information and promised to remain in contact as he attempts to explore his family tree.
Now for the second scarf. It’s green and white. Some thought it was a Celtic one. Others might regard it as an Ireland one suitable for soccer or rugby. But it’s none of those. It was purchased at Tallaght stadium when I organised my tickets for the three home games that Shamrock Rovers FC played in the Europa League. I wanted to show my loyalties especially when it came to the last match against Spurs. It proved to be the final game for the Hoops’ manager Michael O’Neill after three years in charge. Rovers went down 0-4 to the English Premiership side but O’Neill got a rousing farewell along with Enda Stevens, who joins Aston Villa next month.
- Shamrock Rovers 0 Spurs 4
The scarf was needed when I went on the annual mulled wine walk at Knockmany Hill near Clogher in County Tyrone. It is run by a number of ramblers groups from both sides of the border and also cross-community. I joined in the carol service after enjoying some warm gluehwein and mince pies. Then I proceeded to relate to the assembled crowd a story by William Carleton called A Legend of Knockmany. I did not have time to read it all but I summarised part of the tale about the giants Fin McCool and his great rival Cuchulain. When I returned home I posted a picture on facebookshowing me wearing the green and white scarf and remarked that this did not mean that William Carleton was a Shamrock Rovers fan! I then reflected on the matter and discovered that after all, there was a connection (albeit very tenuous) between Shamrock Rovers founded in 1901 and Carleton, who died over thirty years earlier in January 1869.
- Addressing ramblers at Knockmany wearing Shamrock Rovers scarf
So here goes…….William Carleton in the days before his death was visited by Rev William Pakenham Walsh, rector of Sandford Parish Church, Ranelagh in Dublin, who also conducted his funeral. The chuch is beside an avenue that leads up to Gonzaga College SJ. The school colours are also green and white, by the way. When I went there in 1967 the back rugby pitches near Milltown Park were bounded on one side by a wall which also bordered Glenmalure Park, once home of Shamrock Rovers FC which had the best playing surface in Ireland. The Jesuits leased the land to the football club and there is a letter in the club shop at the new ground at Tallaght from the then SJ Provincial at the time the Hoops moved. So maybe the Shamrock Rovers scarf was appropriate in memory of the Sandford connection with William Carleton. In the case of Paul Brush, he would no doubt have preferred if I had worn a Crawley FC scarf to identify myself: no chance of that!