AS the late Jimmy Greaves and Ian St John used to say on their iconic tv football programme of the 1980s,: ‘Football is a funny old game!’
And so, throughout its illustrious 70-year history, the Cork Business and Shipping League has enjoyed more than its fair share of memorable moments both on and off the field of play.
Right back to the beginning in 1952/53 when Cork Harbour Commissioners won the very first league championship, the harbour team 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 Dave McInerney remembered the period 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 touchline 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."
Prolific CIE Athletic striker John Deasy, who was prominent in all of his team’s successes in the '70s and '80s recalls the lengths Athletic players had to get 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 isle of the bus collecting the fares."
As in the famous Monty Python sketch, The Four Yorkshire Men, puts it, 'Tell the young people that today and they wouldn’t believe you!'
"While playing with Roches Stores against True Temper at Hickey Park in 1981, I was given the unenviable task of marking an unusually dressed substitute early in the second half.
"I recall my team-mate Jimmy Cummins yelling at me to take the ball off him. I was slow to do so as my immediate concern was what would happen if he fell. If there ever was an occasion when allowing the opposition to retain possession was the right course of action, that was it!"
Mr Football, Tony Hennessy, provided many memorable moments in his lengthy career and his trademark willingness to be the centre of attention back-fired on him in the annual end-of-season penalty shoot-out final at the Showgrounds in May 1978.
Hennessy was the penalty taker representing Pfizer United who were locked in a dead heat with rivals Irish Steel. He nonchalantly stroked home 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 nonplussed, 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.
Current president Peter Harrington was first involved with Our Lady’s Hospital United when they made a big impression in the early and mid-'80s. United faced a daunting task against MSL opposition Cobh Ramblers at St Colman’s Park in the first round of the Munster Junior Cup in 1984.
While the players assembled in the dressing-room before kick-off and manager John Leonard and Harrington prepared their team talk, 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 we 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 that stretched back to 1977.
Appointed to take charge of the 50th cup final between Postal Workers and Roches Stores at Turner’s Cross on Sunday, May 1, 2003, the experienced official sent-off five players midways 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 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 1-1.
Gregan was fittingly applauded onto the pitch by both teams in respect for his services to football in a match Roches won 1-0.