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Keeping the Faith - Galway United, Eire

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.

 

Getting Shirty
 
When you take a leisurely stroll down the busy pedestrianised high street of Galway on any given Saturday you can't fail to see the sporting shirts in claret and white. They are everywhere, absolutely everywhere. This is in no way surprising when you consider the popularity of football in this beautiful coastal city in the west of Ireland. However, the claret and white shirts are associated with football of the Gaelic variety, rather than our beloved soccer one.
 
Despite the popularity of Gaelic football, (it is Ireland's number one sport), they still like their football here too. So the sporting feast doesn't wait until the Gaelic football kicks off at 15.30 on a Saturday afternoon. Instead it kicks off almost 20 hours earlier when Galway United FC don their claret and blue shirts and play host to the visiting teams of Ireland's National League Premier Division.
 
No Hoopla
 
Averages of two to three thousand loyal fans make the mile trek down the Dyke Road every other Friday night to Terryland Park. A modest number when compared to the teams playing in other top leagues in Europe, or when considered against the 64,000 that turned out to watch the final of the All Ireland Senior (Gaelic) Football Championship. But what might be lacking in numbers is certainly made up for in atmosphere.
 
Here there is no segregation of opposing teams fans. There are no executive boxes warming the cockles of fat cats. No cappuccinos. No hoopla. What you have here is a very vocal, highly committed and passionate crowd that turns up week in week out. These are not fair-weather fans - Galway Utd haven't won any major honours for some time - and the weather is rarely fair.
 
Crowd Trouble

Galway United were formed back in the mid 1930s and joined the league in 1977. They have enjoyed some success in the league being runners-up in 1986, and they won the Football Association of Ireland Cup back in 1991, as well as winning the League Cup twice.

Attendances have never been high though, and Galway were close to bankruptcy a few years back. Despite this, the team is currently doing well in the league.

 

Galway United are back at the top of their game now and enjoying a good start to the 2000/2001 season, under the expert guidance of manager Don O'Riordan. As they more than meet the challenge of the opposition they now need to face the challenge of modest attendance figures.

 

In the Net
 
Despite Ireland being the worlds leading exporter of computer software products, Galway United do not have an official website.
 
However, this apparent failure by the club to tap the net for promoting their cause is more than compensated for by GUISA.
 
The Galway United Independent Supporters Association (GUISA) was formed in May 1998 by a group of enthusiastic Galway United fans who aspire to an alternative forum to illustrate loyalty to Galway United Football Club.
 
Most members are season ticket holders and go to away games. GUISA is also affiliated to the Italian based web-site "Into The West" which is operated in Italy by Sandro Solinas in conjunction with Julian Canny at Trinity College Dublin. This web site is the largest unofficial site dedicated to a single football club in Ireland. "Into The West" is responsible for an interesting mailing list where almost 200 United fans exchange views, comments and gossip by E-mail every day.
 
Changing Colours
 
With the efforts of GUISA and the other Galway United faithful the colours in Galway City centre may soon change from Claret and White, to the vivid contrast of Claret and Blue.

You can contact them via emal at guisa@eircom.net

 

 May 2001

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