Corkman Mick McCarthy was the topic of conversation amongst Hoops’ fans throughout the 1930’s. Apart from being an excellent custodian, his trademark feature was the cap that he always wore. Rarely, on or off the pitch, was Mick ever seen without his cap. It was said that he wore the cap to hide the bald patch that he felt embarrassed about. A different version of the tale was that it was a superstition on his part, that he felt it was unlucky for him appear in a game without the cap. Some fans even joked that when diving to make a save Mick would always grab the cap to stop it falling off his head before going for the ball - that’s undoubtedly a bit far fetched.
Larry Palmer took over from Mick during the 1940’s and was in goal for the FAI Cup final in both 1944 and 1945 when the Hoops beat Shelbourne and Bohemians respectively to win the trophy. Larry’s reactions were rather swift when put under pressure, he will be remembered for his ability to leap into the air with speed to catch the ball and deny an opponent a chance. For this, he was known in the dressing room as the ‘Cat’. That’s a true tail, sorry tale.
Then in the fifties came Eamonn ‘Sheila’ Darcy. What a silly nickname for a man you may say but everyone had a nickname back then and Drums fans couldn’t slag off D’arcy when they had Benny ‘Rosie’ Henderson in their side. There was nothing girly about these guys though. Such nicknames are still in vogue today, sure haven’t we got Brenda Stevens currently in the first team squad (bet he’s sorry he ever told us that!).
Getting back to goalkeepers though, while not known for any particular speciality or oddity, Alan O’Neill has gone down in the folklore of Shamrock Rovers. ‘Big Al’ was a crowd favourite but he wasn’t fancied by Jim McLaughlin when the Derryman took charge of team affairs in 1983. So Alan headed off to UCD and, as fate would decree, was instrumental in denying McLaughlin and the Hoops the double in 1983/84 as the Students pulled off a shock victory against Rovers in the Cup final replay. Jody Byrne, O’Neill’s replacement at Milltown, although holding down the number one spot throughout the Four in a Row era, was constantly on the receiving end of resentment on the part of some fans who never got over the loss of their favourite. O’Neill came back to the club though in 1993/94 and got his league winners medal so this was a tale that did have a happy ending, at least in that regard.
So what then has brought on all this talk of goalkeepers? Well, it’s actually on account of the arrival of Godzilla at Tallaght this year. That’s a roundabout way of explaining that Ryan Thompson, our new goalkeeper who came to Ireland from the States last Autumn has the nickname of ‘Godzilla‘. Thompson was born in Jamaica and reared in the capital city, Kingston. He tells us that he became popularly known amongst his friends as ‘Godzilla’ on account of him having no fear when he’s in between the posts. Then followed a nickname for the nickname and Ryan is now simply known as ‘Godda’.
He’s one hell of a popular guy back home and in the States at Tampa University where he served for four consecutive years .Throughout that time Ryan or ‘Godda’ captained the University team, earning himself the prestigious All American Player of the Year twice and the Defensive Player of the Year on two occasions also. In addition, he has represented Jamaica thirty times at Under 20, Under 23 and senior international level and hopes to continue to do so. Fingers crossed that soon Shamrock Rovers will be able to add a Jamaican international to the long list of players capped while at our club.
When he came to Ireland twenty-six year old Ryan left behind an apparently big fan base in the States. Some of his followers linked into a chat forum on a website named http://www.thereggaeboyz.com to track his whereabouts and appeared to be quite pleased to learn that he was about to be offered a contract at Shamrock Rovers in Ireland. One poster mentioned Ryan Guy, the ex-St. Pat’s player and thought that as Guy was a success in Ireland the move for our Ryan was sure to be a good one too. Another posted: “Shamrock Rovers have long been the Republic’s most successful club…” Sure we wouldn’t disagree with that, we like the idea of airbrushing out the last twenty odd years! “He gotta (sic) work hard and give himself a chance.” posted another fan. He also ‘gotta’ compete with Alan Mannus!
Let’s tell you that ‘Godda’ is a very friendly type of guy and with so many games in so many competitions this season we are sure to see this fearless Spartan in action in a competitive game at some stage.
…and now for something completely different
Just like our Jamaican star, some of our other new signings this season have come to us from far away places. There’s Conor McCormack from Dundalk. Yes, we know Dundalk is just an hour up the M50 but young Conor comes to Rovers on the back of a two and a half year stint in Italy with Serie B side Triestina Calcio. Stephen O’Donnell is from Galway and Karl Sheppard comes all the way from the warmer climes of sunny Portmarnock! Of course, we also have two Scots, two guys from the North, plus Dan Murray from Cork and Billy D from Tralee. Taking all this into account, it’s clear that the Dublin accent in the Hoops’ dressing room is under threat. Ciarán Kilduff is from outside the capital also and Ronan Finn is an ex-College boy so he speaks posh, as does Pat Sullivan. Thank God though for Paddy Kavanagh, Pat Flynn and Stephen Rice!
With all the changes in the squad this year the players might very well have to be addressed by their nicknames. Just as well Twiggy is more often called that rather than by his Christian name as confusion currently reigns with the arrival of Gary McCabe and Gary O‘Neill. Pat Flynn will have to stick to ‘Pajo’ as ‘Flynner’ can be mistaken for ‘Finner’. Paddy Sullivan is already popularly known as ‘Sullo’, which is just as well, otherwise he might be mistaken for Paddy Kavanagh!
Teamtalk is a regular feature written by Robert Goggins