Bray Wanderers have become public enemy number one within the League of Ireland community over the past several days.
This stems from disgusting scenes at the Wicklow sides most recent trip to Longford Town.
The Seagulls left Bishopsgate with a point, following a 1-1 draw against their Midlands counterparts, who are both vying for a lucrative play-off position come the end of this SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign.
Sadly, the standard of footballing ability wasn’t anywhere to be found when discussing the aftermath of this game.
Swiftly after the final whistle, videos emerged of cowards within the away section physically attacking, and verbally abusing Longford Town stewards, who kindly dedicate their free time to their local club.
This was followed up by eye-witness accounts from people in the ground on Friday night stating, the same group of thugs began throwing missiles at home fans, with some heading towards areas that were seating young families.
Of course, this appalling behaviour was picked up by mainstream media outlets. Those who thrive off the negativity of our domestic leagues.
Sadly, this season in particular, stories of hooligan behaviour up and down the country have been prevalent throughout.
The appetite for League of Ireland football is at an all-time high coming off the back of the pandemic. This is evident by the consistent high attendance figures throughout both the Premier, and First divisions.
Unfortunately, this can bring the cretins that frequent our league at their leisure out of the woodwork.
It seems unfair to the true Bray Wanderers faithful to associate these idiots with their club. Due to their lack of history as a trouble making fanbase. However, most clubs within our league have a small minority that insist on marring that outfits reputation with their behaviour on matchdays.
What’s Going On At Bray?
The Bray Wanderers and Cabinteely merger throughout the off-season has been tossed around by some as a viable explanation.
While that was always going to cause teething problems. Which we’re witnessing as a dense Bray squad sit in seventh position. With only one win in their previous 12 outings. That excuse is just an easy deflection of blame for a more overarching issue.
We seen a snippet of anti-social behaviour from the Bray section at their key play-off tie against UCD at Dalymount Park, back in November, 2021.
But it has been amplified with this recent display at Longford. Along with the crazy incident between Wanderers “fans”, and bona fide club legend, Pat Devlin following a disappointing draw away to Wexford.
This was the first major incident surrounding Bray this season. With the blatant disrespect against Devlin, who has been intrinsically linked with the club as a successful player, and manager throughout the decades.
Really, this is when the behaviour should’ve been nipped in the bud. The on-field performances haven’t been up to standard at the Carlisle Ground. Yet again, it doesn’t justify the confrontation towards Pat Devlin at Ferrycarrig Park.
Many are still shocked Devlin has remained in the Bray hotseat following the encounter.
Harming The League of Ireland
The aim isn’t to jump on the Bray bashing bandwagon.
This isn’t an issue limited to one region of the country. Since the return of spectators, we’ve seen thuggery behaviour become standard across the water in England. And sadly, taken root here on our very own doorstep.
While there has always been an element of this darker side to our league, it has grown at a rapid rate since 2020.
Which is a crying shame for the development of the league itself.
Everyone that genuinely cares for Irish domestic football, will do everything within their power to champion the local game on the Island of Ireland. These idiots living out their Danny Dyer B Movie hooligan fantasies will be a detriment to the ultimate growth, and aim to professionalize the League of Ireland across the board.
However, we’re also fighting against a society issue away from the younger generation of football fans travelling on away trips, filled with macho bravado.
The Big Kick Off’s head honcho, Roy Shanahan penned an excellent article over on our website that I would implore you to check out, that really delves into that side of the issue.
Ultimately, the Bray Wanderers, and Longford Town fiasco is now in the hands of the authorities. With the high prices of adding extra security on matchdays, is it time for our loyal and passionate supporters to self-police themselves, and push out the vermin from our clubs?
Clubs must also work together in terms of pooling information to really enforce lengthy bans. For both home and away matches.
From the outside looking in, despite the positives of improved crowd attendance, and growing League of Ireland representation throughout an international level, certain aspects of the Irish game make a visit to a local game on a Friday night less attractive.
Those range from the horrendous facilities and state of grounds themselves. But, the issue of safety, particularly fOR those with young kids will arguably hamper the progression of our league the most going forward.
Again, this isn’t just a Bray Wanderers issue. We’ve all been let down by certain sections of our own fans in the past.
It would break the hearts of every League of Ireland fanatic to see these thugs destroy the reputation of Irish football. Along with stopping potential followers passing through the turnstiles at their local club.
While Bray Wanderers are in the spotlight now, every club, along with the FAI have to act promptly to cut this cancer out of our game.
Being vocal, loud and passionate about your team in any reasonable form isn’t a crime. Nor, should it be villainized. But we can’t see our league take a backwards step. And lose the goodwill gained since the return of fans post-pandemic.
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