Throwback Thursday: Funs times in the Cork Business League

Finbarr Buckley takes a humorous look at the 70-year history of the old Shipping League
Throwback Thursday: Funs times in the Cork Business League

CIE Athletic 1988-'89: Back: Gene Murphy, John Deasy. Mick Cotter, John O'Regan, Peter Gregson, Kieran Lyons. Front: Mark Doyle, Dermot O'Leary, John Lynch, Peter Connolly (c), Brian McSweeney. Picture: Finbarr Buckley.

THROUGHOUT its illustrious almost 70-year tenure in football, the Cork Business and Shipping League, just like counterparts, the Cork AUL and Munster Senior League, has enjoyed more than its fair share of humorous moments both on and off the field of play.

As far back as 1952/53 when Cork Harbour Commissioners won the very first league, the champions unwittingly enlisted the support of a group of locals in a top of the table clash with Clayton Love at Rangers Park in early April. 

Former general manager and now a popular CUH FM radio presenter Dave McInerney remembers the occasion well. 

"When we went to matches we’d always cheer on the lads with, ‘Come on the Commissioners!’ 

"To our surprise, a group of young fellows converged on the sideline and joined in with our chorus. 

"A cry of ‘Come on the African Missioners’ was plainly heard for all to hear as they clearly misunderstood what we were saying. 

"The lads got a great kick out of it and needless to say, maybe their intervention instilled a token of divine inspiration as we went on to secure a narrow two-one victory at the finish."

Cork Harbour Commissioners, the first Cork Business League winners in 1952-'53. Back: P Murphy, J Egan, M Flanagan, T Power, D Lyons, J O'Driscoll, D O'Sullivan, J Hourihan, M O'Leary, W Ryan. Front: M Fitzgerald, D Murray, T Murphy, J Hurley, E Gayer (president), JJ McCullagh (c), Michael Warner, G Slocum, JB Donoghue. Picture: Finbarr Buckley
Cork Harbour Commissioners, the first Cork Business League winners in 1952-'53. Back: P Murphy, J Egan, M Flanagan, T Power, D Lyons, J O'Driscoll, D O'Sullivan, J Hourihan, M O'Leary, W Ryan. Front: M Fitzgerald, D Murray, T Murphy, J Hurley, E Gayer (president), JJ McCullagh (c), Michael Warner, G Slocum, JB Donoghue. Picture: Finbarr Buckley

CIE Athletic striker John Deacy recalls the lengths Athletic players had to go to make matches, especially the Sunday morning kick-offs. 

"I was a conductor at the time and had to switch my shift, like a couple more of us to the afternoon in order to be available in the morning. 

"When the match was over it was a quick dash home to get changed with little or no time for a shower. 

Many a time the mud would be rolling down the inside of my trousers as I made my way along the centre aisle of the bus collecting the fares." 

As the famous Monty Python sketch The Four Yorkshire Men put it, ‘tell the young people that today and they wouldn’t believe you!’

Mr Football, Tony Hennessy, provided many memorable moments in his lengthy career and his trademark willingness to be the centre of attention backfired on him in the annual end-of-season penalty shoot-out at the Showgrounds in May 1978. Hennessy was the penalty taker representing Pfizer United and was locked in a dead heat with rivals Irish Steel. 

He nonchalantly stroked his first four with ease and was so confident of making it five out of five that he pointed to the side he was going to put the ball. The grateful Steel keeper saved leaving Hennessy, hands on hips, to walk to the touchline and await his opponent’s final kick. 

Steel duly availed of the opportunity to convert and win the competition for the first time under the watchful eye of a smiling Hennessy.

Former secretary Peter Harrington’s Our Lady’s Hospital United faced a daunting task when they were drawn against MSL opposition Cobh Ramblers at St Colman’s Park in the first round of the Munster Junior Cup on Saturday, November 3, 1984. 

While manager John Leonard delivered his team-talk beforehand, a roar from the opposition’s dressing-room was quickly picked up by the alert Harrington. 

"Have a listen lads, that’s your team talk!" 

To which they heard: ‘If ye can’t beat a Shipping League team, ye might as well pack up!' 

And so it transpired that in the course of the match Ramblers did everything but score as Our Lady’s held on for a famous 1-0 win.

Crosshaven-based referee Robbie Gregan will never forget what was meant to be his last match of a glittering career which stretched back to 1977. 

Appointed to take charge of the 50th Irish Life and Permanent TSB Cup Final between eight-time winners, Postal Workers and Roches Stores at Turner’s Cross on Sunday, May 1, 2003, the experienced official sent off five players midway through the second half of a competitive encounter. 

All hell broke loose in the 65th minute right in front of the Donie Forde Stand when, following a foul on Postal’s James McSweeney, a fight broke out with three from Postal and two from Roches seeing red. 

Roches had another player dismissed in extra-time leaving the teams to meet a fortnight later at Bishopstown after the teams finished level at a goal apiece. 

Gregan was fittingly applauded onto the pitch by both teams in respect for his services to football in a match Roches won 1-0 at the finish.

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