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On This Day In 1990, Over 20,000 People Attended This LOI Match

On This Day In 1990, Over 20,000 People Attended This LOI Match
By Paul O'Hara

On September 30, 1990, Shamrock Rovers hosted St Patrick's Athletic in their inaugural game at the RDS, three years after the controversial sale of their spiritual home at Glenmalure Park. Reports vary, but it is accepted that between 22,000 and 25,000 fans were present on the day. The match is also notable for being the first soccer event held at the Ballsbridge showgrounds best known for hosting the Dublin Horse Show every August.

At the time, Rovers fans hoped that the game would be part of a rebirth of the club after the Milltown venue was sold by the Kilcoyne family. In 1988, the Kilcoynes were bought out by a consortium of fans led by John McNamara after a crippling fan boycott of the subsequent ground-share of Tolka Park.

McNamara managed to secure the use of the RDS in what what a considerable coup at the time. The explosion in the popularity of football in the immediate aftermath of Italia '90 would have boosted the attendance to a number not seen at a regular League of Ireland match since its heyday in the 1950s and '60s.

By all accounts, the game itself was an awful 0-0 draw and did nothing to encourage the casual observers to continue attending League of Ireland games. It's also worth noting for younger fans that the ground itself was not the shiny sea of blue bucket seats that it is for Leinster games today. In its unaltered configuration, the RDS is dominated by low terracing and the creaking Anglesea Stand, with is restricted views and quaint, trimmed hedges.

Neil Poutch of Rovers being pursued by current Hoops boss Pat Fenlon (picture via Shamrock Rovers)

Despite the dramatic fall-off in attendances after the initial optimism of that day, Rovers remained at the RDS until April 1996. They would win only one trophy in their time there - a league title in 1994. It remained their only honour until 2010, a year after eventually making the move to Tallaght.

Pictures via Sportsfile.

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