Sep 1977 – Soccer Reporter Tips Bohs for League
In the 1970s, I used to faithfully buy a monthly magazine called Soccer Reporter, edited by Alan Dalton and published by DG Press. It cost 20p and went on sale on the first Saturday of every month. The September 1977 issue led with a story about Shamrock Rovers recent decision to go full-time. It also previewed the European ties to be faced by Sligo, Dundalk and Bohs, and had lots of information on junior Irish football. But, most importantly, its League of Ireland preview tipped Bohemians to win the championship. The Bass League clubs for the season were Athlone Town, Bohemians, Cork Albert, Cork Celtic, Drogheda United, Dundalk, Finn Harps, Galway Rovers, Home Farm, Limerick, Saint Pats, Shamrock Rovers, Shelbourne, Sligo Rovers, Thurles Town and Waterford. Here’s how Soccer Reporter saw the season unfolding:
Bohemians – As is their custom, Bohemians are well prepared. Always ready to keep pace with modern methods in coaching, manager Billy Young has paid a visit to Manchester United to study their training methods. Fitness has been the hallmark of Bohemians teams. and, on their day, Bohemians can be devastating. Few clubs have matched them for professionalism in the past and the pattern is unlikely to change. They are, undoubtedly, the most organised side in the land. All the old faces are there once again. Mick Smyth is as agile as ever. Turlough O’Connor and brother Padraig will be the backbone of the side. I would name them as the likely new champions next April. I expect them to have that good start and once they get their head in front they will be very hard to overhaul.
Athlone Town – Disaster hit a couple of weeks ago when their new manager, Tony Taylor, resigned. A bad start is likely and they may not recover. They have a number of fine players, including John Minnock and Eugene Davis.
Cork Albert – Last season Albert made a solid rather than spectacular start to senior football. Manager Noel O’Mahony will hope that Gerry Finnegan, who played for Shelbourne last year, will provide the extra midfield craft that was missing.
Cork Celtic – A couple of weeks ago it appeared that we were about to witness another Cork tragedy, but manager Pat O’Mahony and the Celtic board were able to convince the League that they could fulfill their financial obligations.
Drogheda United – Full of promise and manager Jimmy McAlinden is a brilliant tactician at the helm. However, with their team based in three centres it is difficult for them to fall into a rhythm quickly.
Dundalk – The FAI Cup holders had a disappointing league last season mainly due to a very poor start. Manager Jim McLaughlin has been forced to start the season without the talented Synan Braddish.
Finn Harps – All of their players have re-signed, so manager ‘Busty’ Blake has a tried and trusted squad. It is likely that Charlie Ferry will return to the fold after helping Sligo Rovers to the league title.
Galway Rovers – Rovers enter the Bass League fray for the first time, full of hope and ambition. Manager Amby Fogarty has assembled a number of talented players including Frank Devlin from Dundalk.
Home Farm – Have prepared quietly under the guidance of manager Dave Bacuzzi. The most significant new signing is Tony Higgins who returns after stints with Bohemians and Waterford.
Limerick – Having lost manager Frank Johnson, they have turned to former Cork Hibs player John Herrick to lead them. The resulting disheaval also resulted in some boardroom resignations.
Saint Pats – Manager Barry Bridges, working on a tight budget, has had to say goodbye to Scottish striker Neill Martin. But Dermot Keely’s Australian deal fell through and he will again be available.
Shamrock Rovers – The arrival of player-manager John Giles at Milltown has excited interest once again. To date three apprentices have been signed up – Pierce O’Leary, Ray Cooke and Mark Meagan.
Shelbourne – Their proposed link-up with the New York Cosmos has fallen through, but manager Tommy Rowe announced the signing of former Home Farm goalkeeper Jim Grace from Blackpool.
Sligo Rovers – Two of last year’s heroes, Michael Betts and Shane Walker, will not be with the club and in their place manager Billy Sinclair has signed 19-year-old John Gilligan from Swindon Town.
Thurles Town – The newcomers have seasoned campaigner Jimmy McGeough as manager. He has signed Dave Kirby from Limerick and he also has promising local player Tom Semple.
Waterford – Manager John McSeveney has been quietly getting his house in order. The signing of Bobby Tambling from Cork Celtic should augment Johnny Matthews ability on the flanks.