Dear Most Holy Chairman of the County Board,
I know you are probably inundated with letters from so-called fans now that we have reached the All-Ireland final. Obviously, you don’t know me unless you remember that time I roared “you useless bollix” at you after our ignominious departure from the provincial championship last year. Or unless you’ve traced my IP address in order to discover who’s been posting that stuff about you on message boards. But, look, that’s all in the past now. I need to be in Croke Park and I deserve to be too. Why? Well, let me count the ways.
I deserve a ticket because I was the only fella in the pub in February talking up our chances of going to the final. It was shortly after I mocked two die-hards who were heading up the country to some god awful place for some match at a pitch opening. I remember distinctly that just after making fun of their interest at seeing how the new young fellas might fare in their first outing at senior level, I turned around and said: “Those boys are only wasting their time, you lads are only wasting your time and that team is wasting its time.” But that was only having the crack.
I deserve a ticket because I told everybody before the first round we’d see the sky over Croke Park come September. Now, there are some close to me who might tell you I said, “We’ll be watching Sky Sports instead of games in Croke Park this September.” Those fellas are liars. I like a bit of Sky as much as the next man and, made no mistake about it, I will be stopping off in the pub on the way to Croker to watch the United game on the big screen. But to suggest I sneered that we’d be watching the garrison game instead of the county team is just plain wrong.
I deserve a ticket because I’ve been going to the matches for years. Well, I’ve been going at least since the corporate market opened up and I started getting the freebies off my buddy who’s high up in Guinness. And then that guy who worked in the dodgy bank that dare not speak its name got that corporate box in Croker. I never tasted canapes like that before or since. That’s got to be ten years or more I’m going to these matches. And I haven’t missed one apart from the days when it was raining, when the pundits reckoned we didn’t have a chance or when the fixtures clashed with the Irish Open golf.
I deserve a ticket because I’ve always supported the games in the county. My track record at club level speaks for itself. I bought a raffle ticket that time the club were running the draw for the Mitsubishi Pajero. I went to several end of year dances back when I was going out with your wan whose father was on the committee. I bought an ad in the programme for the pitch opening and that was at a time when the club needed the money. That was 2002 or 2003 and fifty quid wasn’t easy to come by then I can tell you. And did I ask for anything in return? No, I did not. Until now.
I deserve a ticket because I went to school with several lads who played for the county. Sure I used to take the mickey out of them all when they were heading out training after school in the driving rain and the biting wind. I used to knock great fun out of their inability to come out on the lash with the rest of us because they were always either training or preparing for some game or other. That was character-building stuff. Do you think they’d have made it where they are today without the likes of me helping them find inner reserves of strength? I don’t think so.
I deserve a ticket because I go to all the big events. I never miss a rugby match as long as the media convince me it’s an important one or if it’s on somewhere good like Paris or the south of France. I used to go to all the soccer internationals back when that was the done thing. Oh yeah, I was part of Jackie’s Army and all that. There are some around here who’d tell you that it’s not a sporting bandwagon unless I’m on it so the county board would want to think of that when they consider my application. It’s not a serious to-do unless I’m there tweeting pictures of myself.
I deserve a ticket because I’ve invested at least 150 euros in replica shirts over the past two decades. I’ve bought at least one every time we’ve reached an All-Ireland final. If nobody believes me they can come around to the house and look at the back of the wardrobe where all of them have remained in a heap gathering dust since I returned in a drunken state those Sunday nights. Not to mention I’ll buy another one this year if I get a ticket because, well, the years haven’t been kind, and the old shirts will never stretch down over the swelling belly at this point.
I deserve a ticket because I know a lot about the game. I know that “an effing Brolly” is not a golf umbrella you left behind in a pub but a reference to some fella from up north who is sort of the Gaelic football version of George Hook and Alan Hansen. I know that the Clare roar is not the delighted sound every tourist makes when leaving that godforsaken county, it’s a shriek their fans emit when they make their twice in a lifetime trip to Croker.
I know you’ll be hearing from a lot of bluffers and spoofers in the coming weeks and I don’t envy you trying to sort out the worthy causes from the chancers but two upper Hogan will do the job.
Yours in Sport,
The county’s biggest fan.