Sat Oct 1, 1977 – O’Brien Transfer Collapses
Thirty years ago today, the fortunes of the two newly-transferred Bohemians could not have been more different. Gerry Ryan played for Derby against Middlesboro, and helped to make a goal in Derby’s first win of the season. But Fran O’Brien, originally pencilled in for Derby’s reserve team today, was instead told that his transfer had fallen through because he had failed a medical examination.
O’Brien had been a full-time professional footballer for less than 48 hours. The specialist who examined him was unhappy with an old injury, a fractured ankle, that O’Brien had suffered from six years previously, when he was just sixteen. Bohs manager Billy Young was convinced that the specialist was wrong, and that O’Brien’s injury would not prevent him from playing professional football in England at some time in the future.
As a fan, this posed an ethical dilemma. It would be great to see O’Brien in action for Bohs again every week. But would I prefer that at the cost of a young Dublin plasterer missing out on his lifetime dream? I solved this conundrum by assuming that O’Brien would eventually sign for another English club and, in the meantime, I could enjoy watching him perform for Bohs without any guilt.