Squeezing through the stiles at Flower Lodge in pairs to watch match

Readers tell JO KERRIGAN about their fond memories of motorcycle racing, avoiding entry fees at sports games, and picking up ‘lost’ coal on bad road bends
Squeezing through the stiles at Flower Lodge in pairs to watch match

A match between Cork Hibs selected and Swansea Town at Flower Lodge in 1959.

LOTS of happy recollections this week, ranging from motorbike racing on the Straight Road to getting in free at football games – and still those horse trough memories keep coming!

Mike English wrote about our Throwback Thursday page of May 12.

Motorcycle Cork races on the Centre Park Rd., Cork in 1940.
Motorcycle Cork races on the Centre Park Rd., Cork in 1940.

“I’m not old enough to remember the car racing, but I do remember the motor cycle races on the Straight Road/Model Farm Road circuit. We would cycle from Bishopstown down Cait Shea’s Lane (now Rossa Ave/Melbourne Rd) and view the racing from the heights of a quarry which was located in the region of the now Motor Tax Office.

“The motor cycles headed west to the hairpin bend at the Poulavone roundabout which brought them onto the Straight Road/Carrigrohane Rd. once again.”

With regard to avoiding entry fees at matches, Mike recalls that he was often taken into games and sports meetings, especially at UCC grounds on the Mardyke, by obliging gentlemen.

“Both would have to squeeze in together in the rather narrow stiles. If the man was any way rotund, the freeloader would have to jump over the stile! Some stile operators could refuse to oblige however, so the only option there was to try another entrance and a more kindly operator.”

Cork Hibernians v. Waterford at Flower Lodge, Cork back in the 70s.
Cork Hibernians v. Waterford at Flower Lodge, Cork back in the 70s.

We enquired if it was the case that this “getting in free with a man” was then dependent on getting through the turnstile together, ie that the turnstile must click only once? Yes, confirms Mike, that was the way it was achieved.

“More often than not,” he further recalls, “we were supplied with the entrance fee by our parents, but that was then used to buy an ice cream or fruit sundae at O’Brien’s on Mac Curtain Street or Washington Street, and we would then take our chances at the stiles.”

He says that he has often repaid those good deeds by friendly matchgoers by himself helping children over the stiles in later years. Good on you, Mike! Always give back when you can.

“There was a mention of a soccer Pitch on Hang Dog Road too. I think your correspondent meant Hang Dog Road, now Tramore Road. It could have got that name as it’s reported that a dog compound was located there way back. I could be wrong, but I think St. Finbarr’s GAA had pitches around that area before they moved to Neenan Park.

“And as regards the ongoing topic of horse troughs, if memory serves me correctly, I’m sure there was a trough on Lancaster Quay, and also one at the western end of Washington Street and the start of Western Road. Must check to see if it’s still there!”

Frank Desmond continues the topic of troughs for thirsty horses.

“As usual, today I bought the Echo in town and in this case I started reading it on the bus at, fortunately for me, your Throwback Thursday page. I was particularly interested the picture of buses near Langford Row. As your reader says that was at ‘the end of Douglas Street, where double decker buses heading to Ballyphehane had to make incredibly tight turns to stay on route.’

“I sometimes remember that ‘S-bend’ especially when I am travelling through that now crossroads. Given the volume of traffic that can be there nowadays, I shudder to think how long it would have taken that traffic to make those turns. The building with the (presumably) Player’s Navy Cut ad has now been demolished of course. I seem to remember it was a gym, although I never visited it.”

Frank continues that he happened to be on the 203 bus heading towards Ballyphehane when he was reading that particular Throwback Thursday page.

“I made a point of looking for the trough shown in your picture but it seems to have been removed (presumably when they demolished that building.) When my bus was actually driving along Langford Row, there was another 203 travelling in the opposite direction to ‘Fearann Ri’, exactly as the number 3 bus in your picture. They changed the number slightly, but it is essentially the same route. Something, at least, that hasn’t changed much!”

The official opening of Flower Lodge stadium by Sean Casey TD.
The official opening of Flower Lodge stadium by Sean Casey TD.

Tony Finn contributes further to the “getting in for free” discussion.

“Tom Jones explained how he got in to Turners Cross and Flower Lodge: he would wait at the turnstiles and then ask to get in with a man. Tom is absolutely right and unaccompanied children always used the procedure Tom described, not only to get into soccer matches but to Gaelic games too; even to the Cork Summer Show in the showgrounds. You didn’t need to know the man, all you had to do was ask it it was OK to go in with him, walk in front of him and that was it; job done. 

Soccer George Best leads out Cork Celtic against Drogheda at Flower Lodge Cork in 1975.
Soccer George Best leads out Cork Celtic against Drogheda at Flower Lodge Cork in 1975.

Once inside you joined up with De Lads and found somewhere to watch the game from. There were no stewards so once you were past the turnstiles you could relax. We had the adults so well trained that sometimes they would see us waiting around outside near the turnstiles and say ‘are you coming in?’ and step back to let you get in front of them!

“I lived a short distance from Flower Lodge in Glencoo Lawn off of the Boreenmanna Road, and myself and a few of De Lads were regulars at Flower Lodge, money no object (literally)!”

Tony remembers seeing not just Cork Hibs and Cork Celtic, but also the pre-season warm-up games between English and Scottish League sides against each other or against a Cork team.

“I saw Johnny Giles at the Lodge in his Man United days, and I’m pretty sure that a young George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law also played there in warm up games. Glasgow Celtic were another team that turned up for pre-season on a fairly regular basis.

“Millie, of “My Boy Lollipop” fame once kicked off one of those warm up games, and the players had to give her time to get off the pitch before they got stuck into the game.”

In case some readers can’t remember the lively lilting song , My Boy Lollipop, Tony helpfully adds that it was No 2 in the UK charts in 1964.

“I do a “Pure 60s” show on my local Community Radio Station, West Kent Radio every Saturday, Jo, so I have to know these things!”

And grateful we are that you do, Tony! Send us more of your memories.

Patrick O’Donovan also noted the reference to Hound Dog Road in Togher and confirms his own memory as knowing it as the Hang Dog Road.

“Don’t ask me was a dog ever hung there, but I remember picking blackberries on walks with my parents in the 50’s. I remember that sharp double corner at Langford Row/Summerhill South too, having traversed it many times on my bike, cycling from Scoil Criost Ri to Jewtown, very fast going home but, because of the incline, much slower going to school. And of course we went home at lunchtime - sorry, dinnertime- then. Everybody did.

“I also remember the horse trough at the end of Douglas Street, and the stables in Rutland Street, seeing the carts being harnessed on the way to school, the sparks flying off their hooves on the cobbles.

“When they were taking the loose coal from the ships to the depots they had to go around the roundabout at the junction of Albert Road and Victoria Road, and they were loaded so much that lumps of coal would sometimes fall off which we quickly collected in our ‘box-cars’. (Sometimes we gave them a little help with a brush or a long stick...”

Now those are very nice recollections, Patrick. Who knew back then that the hardworking draught horses taking coal from the quays to the depots, and indeed the huge Thompson’s Clydesdales being trotted out to the Lee Fields on summer evenings, would soon be a thing of the past? We didn’t know we were watching history go by, did we?

Tom Jones enthuses over the old photos presented in Throwback Thursday. For that, this writer cannot take credit – they are entirely due to the hard work put in by an editor with a keen interest in the vintage images. But they are hugely appreciated by all readers. For Tom, they recreate a tapestry woven in times of his own Cork childhood.

“I instantly recognized the photo of the end junction of Douglas St with buses negotiating tight turns, and the horse trough as confirmation of exactly how I once knew it. That one picture spoke a thousand words to me, for it encapsulated everything I attempted to express, it was in fact, the mirror image of my recall.

“The other picture, the one of a horse drinking from a trough, I have tried, but I cannot place its location as I turn the pages in the recess of my memory, but such is why I love this page. Obviously, I would be interested to know where that location was.”

Editor, can you oblige here?

“Thank you for your own input,” says Tom. “Hopefully others will engage, as I know there are others yet to be mentioned. Oddly enough, looking at the photos, it appears that the horse troughs were all of a uniform design, and conform with the scenario embedded in my imagery.”

It’s a design Tom was very familiar with, “for the one near the North Gate Bridge resonates with me forever, as it was my pirate ship on which I sailed the seven seas.”

Mr Jones reminds us that such seemingly incidental or trivial knowledge of Cork was not without its importance, once upon a time, when he made regular returns to his native city, and had to prove his credentials before being accepted back.

“Hey, fair play like, he knows Cork a’right like,” or “C’mere, I tell ya like, he’s on the ball there like.”

“I can hear those jocose phrases in my mind’s eye, often heard in conversations in many of the local taverns of Cork.”

Of course, all sports, he points out, not just athletic endeavours but rings, darts, and all the other amusements of pre-technological days, produced their own pub champions, and would be given their fair dues.

“But alas, that was back in an era when conviviality, conversation, and companionship were pertinent to a pub experience.”

And that is certainly true. A cheerful and noisy grouping of friends in the local hostelry back then would have stared askance at today’s rows of silent people, young and old, not communicating with each other, exchanging news or witticisms - just simply staring at a little oblong device in their hands, jabbing at it occasionally, or swiping their finger over it ceaselessly. How could a pub crowd change so much in one or two generations?

We always want to hear your own memories of growing up, of working, playing, making friends in Cork. Email jokerrigan1@gmail.com or leave a comment on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/echolivecork

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