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How A Game In Slovakia Revived John Delaney's Popularity Among Irish Away Fans

How A Game In Slovakia Revived John Delaney's Popularity Among Irish Away Fans
By Conor Neville

After his world class management team of Steve Staunton and Bobby Robson (an ailing Bobby was there to provide the world class bit) failed to deliver world class results, John Delaney's stock among Irish football fans, never high to begin with, plummeted even further.

And among the tenacious clique of Ireland fans who were inclined to engage their long memories and were thus unwilling to nail Stan to the cross, JD was the sole target of abuse.

When a formerly beloved and admired figure is stumbling badly under the public glare, the well-renumerated scion of officialdom seated up in the stand becomes especially vulnerable to abuse. He is usually deemed an acceptable target to everybody. Cynics were still inclined to blame all the ills of Irish football on the chief executive's salary. Many, of course, still are.

The rapturously received appointment of Trap brought some respite and the Henry outrage momentarily made everyone forget they disliked Delaney. But the embarrassment over the 33rd team business - even if it was, as Delaney, a peripheral issue in the meeting, it wasn't near peripheral enough - torpedoed much of the internal goodwill.

However, the embarrassment over the 33rd team business - even if it was, as Delaney says, raised as a peripheral issue in the meeting, it wasn't near peripheral enough - torpedoed much of the internal goodwill.

John Delaney hit upon an ingenious PR strategy to revive his popularity - free beer. Truly, Carr Communications could be put out of business if every person in a position of power was to realise the seductive power of free drink. Why spend all this money on PR gurus and spin doctors?

It happened in Slovakia in late 2010.

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A few days after Ireland had been outclassed - if not quite out-spirited - by Russia in Lansdowne Road, they travelled to meet the Slovaks needing to bounce back.

The RTE live-blog of events described the events thus:

John Delaney is now liked by Irish soccer fans. Delaney organised a free train and free cans of beer - which we believe were 'probably' Carlsberg - for all Irish fans travelling to the match in Zilin

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At Euro 2012, he continued this strategy. He never missed a chance to tell the Irish fans that they were the greatest supporters in the world and proceeded to lose his shoes in Sopot.

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He told the Paddy Solemns of the press who wrote disapprovingly of his bearing and behaviour that he 'was entitled to a night out too'. True too.

The Irish supporters in Poland set the seal on his new-found popularity among the away fans. They serenaded him with the lyrically informative ditty. 'Oh John Delaney, he used to be a wanker but he's allright now!'

Read more: The Forgotten Story Of Bobby Robson's Time With Ireland

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