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Irish Times' Letter Writers Had Some Strange Concerns On September 12, 2001

Irish Times' Letter Writers Had Some Strange Concerns On September 12, 2001
By Conor Neville Updated

On 12 September 2001, the news agenda was fairly set.

However, two letters published in the Irish Times that day showed scant interest in the events of New York. They had more important things to get off their chest.

David Fagan of Talbot Street wrote angrily,

Now that Bertie sees fit to give us his expert view on English soccer, perhaps we can have his view on why local professional soccer has been in decline for 40 years... Could it be the fact that opinion formers (like himself) accord the National League no value, thus giving it an 'uncool' status while vocally supporting English clubs? Can he confirm he is more expert in the field of Irish English politics... I don't want Ireland to be invading the Malvinas because Bertie gets confused.

John Clarke of Tullamore wrote that Bertie was clearly afflicted with 'Grovelling Paddy syndrome' which was expressed in 'his ridiculous and pathetic attachment to the fortunes of a British soccer club - Manchester United'.

The letters were presumably written before the 12th but it looks odd seeing them published on that date when so much else was going on.


Bertie had appeared alongside Eamon Dunphy (then presenting) and John Giles on the Premiership on Saturday 8 September 2001. It was Bertie's answer to Eamon De Valera's 'happy maidens at the crossroads' speech.

In the course of his analysis he expressed his admiration for Mikael Silvestre ('a great player' he argued), called Michael Owen 'Michael Owens' and referred to a mysterious Manchester United midfielder called 'Luke Chapman'.

He lamented Chelsea's inconsistency and didn't appear displeased by Liverpool's poor start to the season. He also insisted that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank deserved to be sent off for letting back the elbow into Martin Keown's face.


Bertie's alleged indifference to the local scene has riled people before. An ardent fan of the Drums back in the 60s, it appears his interest in domestic football died with them. Shortly before becoming Fianna Fail leader in 1994, he penned an article for the St. Patrick's Athletic programme where he chose to talk, not about the League of Ireland, but the reasons behind his Manchester United fandom.

Now his support for United seems genuine enough but you'd imagine he could have mentioned Pats once...




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