If one was to write a book drawing together all the stories of bungling FAI mismanagement in the 1960s and 70s, then one would have to make it their life's work. They would have to quit their job and devote themselves to the task full-time if they hoped to finish it before they die of old age.
Terry Conroy added another chapter to that hefty canon in an interview with Paul Rowan of the Sunday Times today. His had an interesting debut. He had to suffer for the privilege. Ireland were slap bang in the middle of a five year streak in which they didn't win a single match and Terry was called up for a friendly in Czechoslovakia.
Complications arose when Stoke had to play West Ham on the Tuesday and so Terry had to fly out late. The FAI's organisational genius meant he enjoyed a night (the night before his Ireland debut) in a nearby hotel with an Aer Lingus pilot.
The FAI hadn’t organised an entry visa and I had to wait around the airport in Prague for hours. The rules were very severe for Iron Curtain countries. I ended up sharing a hotel room that night with the Aer Lingus pilot who had flown me over.
Conroy's story reminded us of another from Eoin Hand almost fifteen years later. Ireland were drawn in the same group as the mighty Soviets in the qualification stage for Mexico 86.
We know that the FAI didn't believe in pampering players at that point - and for a long time after that point. For instance, when Ireland played the USSR in Moscow in 1984, they were admirably relaxed about the threat of 'Moscow Tummy', the strange affliction that dogged visiting teams who made the mistake of eating the food prepared by the native chefs. The effects of 'Moscow Tummy' incidentally, were roughly analogous to diarrhea.
Eoin Hand was less blase about the prospect of diarrhea running roughshod through his playing staff than were his superiors and was forced to personally recruit a chef to cook for the players before the USSR game. The chef turned out to be his wife.
Read the article here.