The history of Foras: Dedicated couple travelled round the world for Cork City

In a new series, Denis Hurley looks at the fan-group that saved Cork City
The history of Foras: Dedicated couple travelled round the world for Cork City

Cork City fans Gavin Golden and Trina Boyle after making the trip from Bangkok to support Cork City, with the First Division trophy after the win over Shels. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

WHEN Trina Boyle finally accepted an invite from her boyfriend Gavin Golden to attend a Cork City game, little did she realise what lay ahead.

Back in 2004, the Rebel Army were about to embark on what would prove to be a memorable Intertoto Cup campaign and Trina picked the right time to see what the fuss was about.

“We were together and Gavin would have been going from a very young age and he eventually convinced me to turn up,” she says.

“The first game was Malmo, so I was done for then!”

Sixteen years on, Gavin and Trina (now Golden) are married and their dedication to City remains just as strong. 

Evidence, if it were at all needed, came for the 2011 first-division title-decider against Shelbourne, when Graham Cummins scored the injury-time winner to give the club its first major success under the ownership of Foras, in which the pair were heavily involved.

By the time of that game at the end of October, they had been living in Bangkok for more than a year but it was too important an occasion to miss.

They had to fly from Bangkok to Dubai to London to Cork, arriving the Wednesday before the game, which was played on the October bank holiday Saturday night. 

The itinerary demanded a Sunday-morning ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, a train to Heathrow Airport and then back to Bangkok via Dubai, but thankfully it proved to be worth it.

Cork City fans Trina Boyle and her fiance Gavin Golden at Cork Airport. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork City fans Trina Boyle and her fiance Gavin Golden at Cork Airport. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“The was mine,” Trina admits, “I’d be more the impulsive, spend-too-much money, last-minute person!

“It kind of all fell together, nearly meant to be. I’m a teacher but there was really significant flooding in Bangkok, so all of the schools were closed – I wouldn’t have got the time off otherwise.

“I said, ‘Let’s just do it,’ and it was a ridiculous amount of money and there was about 70 hours of travelling but then you’re standing in the stand in Tolka and the goal goes and it feels worth it!

“For me, I stood there and I was looking around and there was John O’Sullivan and Sonya and so on and everyone was celebrating and it felt like closure on that chapter. Even though I hadn’t been personally involved for the previous 12 months or so, there was a huge sense of achievement.”

She had certainly put in the hard yards in the years before that as Foras grew from a small idea into an entity able to run City when a first-division licence was awarded in 2010.

Graham Cummins battles Waterford's Kevin Murray in 2010.  Picture: Neil Danton.
Graham Cummins battles Waterford's Kevin Murray in 2010.  Picture: Neil Danton.

“When it was originally set up, it was John and Sonya and Pat Shine and Seán Ó Conaill who would have come up with the idea and worked through the practicalities,” she says.

“Once the first board was formed, I was co-opted on to that. It was the first active board as such, but not right at the formation.”

Fittingly, given the role Noelle Feeney played at City over the years, Trina wasn’t alone in providing a female presence on the Foras board. Sonya O’Neill, Laura Barry, Niamh O’Mahony and Erika Ní Thuama all served though at present the board is entirely male.

“There was a good female representation, but the interesting thing looking back is that it has dropped off so significantly,” she says.

“Obviously, at the time there was the choice of all City fans, but as time went on, the numbers were reduced as those who had done their couple of years on the board weren’t available.

“Something I’ve discussed previously with Niamh is potential barriers and she’d be very interested in that side of things from her work with Supporters Direct.”

Having been so involved in helping Foras to get off the ground, the time was right in 2010 for Trina and Gavin to take time out. Two years in Bangkok were followed by four in Kuala Lumpur but the club was never far from their hearts.

“We had had a very difficult and tumultuous and stressful year and a half leading up to the eventual takeover,” she says.

“There was a huge amount of time and energy that had gone into the club at that point, especially in the six months leading up to the first game up in Derry. The club was taking up more time than your job was.

“When we had made the decision to move abroad, in some ways it was a bit of breathing-space from the madness. 

"We’ve in the July, about halfway through that first season, but it also felt very positive in that we had got the club to a point where it was in the right hands going forward.

“If I had been trying to move abroad the previous year, with everything so uncertain and with a lot more challenges, I’d have found that a lot more difficult.”

Being there for that special night in 2011 remains the most treasured memory.

“It definitely does, because of the amount of personal investment at the time,” she says.

“The double was incredible, the whole season it felt like you were on a bit of a high but the work was being put in by other people – which, obviously, was hugely appreciated.

“It doesn’t have the same buzz as seeing the work you’ve put in come to fruition.”

Though Foras are likely to remain in charge for 2021, a potential sale to Grovemoor Ltd could still happen next year, Trina is at least thankful that the future of the club looks secure.

“It’s one I’m still finding difficult to process, to be honest,” she says, “and even get my head clear on where I fall on it.

“We are where we are – how we got here and what led to it is a little bit meaningless at this point. 

"The main thing is that the club survived and that’s all that ever mattered.

“One of my stand-out memories from the last time is being on a bus on the way back from Derry in 2008 and the call came through that we were being wound up. 

"It ended up being delayed and so on, but I remember an eight-year-old boy on the bus with tears streaming down his face.

“Once that doesn’t happen again – it’s not what I was hoping for and it’s not how I would have been passionate about it turning out – once there’s a club there next season, the rest we can work through.”

To that end, she is keen that Foras will live on, though she appreciates the need for a review of how things went the way they did over the past few seasons.

“There has to be a sitting-down and an accounting for – what do people want moving forward?” she says.

“It’s very fresh for a lot of people and it might hard to have that conversation right now but there will be a need to ask what we’re looking to achieve from Foras as it stands. 

"Are we looking at a slightly different model, are we looking different goals, is it going to be a safety-net?

“There’s a lot there to be looked at as a trust. I think in some ways it could reinvigorate the trust – it’s been ten years and some parts of it were amazing but other parts were really hard.

“People are a bit worn out from it as you’re pulling from the same small group of people the whole time.

“I think there were signs that there was a bit of tiredness creeping in and maybe this step back will help people have a look again.

“The original purpose wasn’t to take over the club – obviously, that became very necessary. 

"We need to see where we go from here and reflect on what went wrong.

“If we do end up in a situation in the future where we do need to step up again, it’s very important that we learn from the mistakes and then just re-focus and see what’s in the best interests of the club going forward.”

CORK CITY MANAGERS UNDER FORAS

February 2010-August 2013: Tommy Dunne

August-November 2013: Stuart Ashton (interim)

December 2013-May 2019: John Caulfield

May-August 2019: John Cotter (interim)

August 2019-October 2020: Neale Fenn

October-November 2020: Colin Healy (interim)

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