Sun Oct 2, 1977 – Bohs 4 Home Farm 0
Thirty years ago today, Bohs were 100% certain to end our four-match goal drought by beating Home Farm at Dalymount. This was not because of the quality of either team, but because Leeds had beaten Chelsea the day before, and Bohs had the same result as Leeds for the past five weekends in a row. As usual for the routine games, there was a very small crowd in Dalymount. That could have been because of a major publicity coup by Saint Pats: they were playing Shamrock Rovers that afternoon, and former England World Cup hero Gordon Banks was playing in goal for them. Or it could have been because Bohs crowds were crap for most minor games, which was not something I chose to dwell on.
Naturally, all of the talk on the terraces was of Fran O’Brien’s transfer to Newcastle falling through. Then someone spotted Gerry Ryan in the stand. He had come over to watch the game after turning out for Derby on the Saturday. Was Fran O’Brien with him? Nobody could tell. But we knew who was taking their places on the team: Austin Brady replaced Fran O’Brien at left-back, and Tony Dixon replaced Gerry Ryan on the left wing. Apart from that, the team was at full strength: Mick Smyth in goal; Eamon Gregg, Padraig O’Connor, Joe Burke and Austin Brady in defence; Pat Byrne, Tommy Kelly, John McCormack and Tony Dixon in midfield; Turly O’Connor and Eddie Byrne up front.
Almost from the kick off, Home Farm keeper Sean Algar parried a Pat Byrne shot only as far as John McCormack, who chipped the ball across the face of the goal for Turly O’Connor to head home. A little later Turly executed a classy one-two with Eddie Byrne before slotting home a trademark second. And before half-time Pat Byrne celebrated scoring a glancing header from a Turly free-kick, though it looked as if the ball might have come off the head of Home Farm defender Brian Synnott. With the game all but over as a contest, the only remaining question was whether Turly would complete his hat-trick. And he did, when McCormack put Pat Byrne through against the Home Farm keeper, and Byrne passed across to Turly to tap it into an empty net.
As we checked the other results, I almost had an orgasm. This was one of those days when everything that could go right did. I had woken up that morning with four teams ahead of Bohs in the league: Sligo Rovers, who lost to Dundalk; Finn Harps, who lost to Drogheda; Cork Albert, who drew with Cork Celtic; and Shamrock Rovers, who lost to Saint Pats. It was now just a few short hours later, and Bohs had leap-frogged all four teams to go top of the league. That’s probably worth repeating, in italics, with an exclamation mark, and on a line of its own:
Bohs were top of the league!
We were level with Drogheda and Cork Albert on nine points each, but with a far better goal difference, and a point ahead of Sligo, Shamrock Rovers and Finn Harps. Turly’s hat-trick had propelled him into second place in the top scorers chart with five goals, two behind Cathal Muckian of Drogheda and level with Shamrock Rovers’ Ray Treacy and Waterford’s Vinnie Wallace. Over at Inchicore, the one-eyed Gordon Banks had made a spectacular save from a volley by Eamon Dunphy, helping Saint Pats to end Shamrock Rovers unbeaten record, and leaving Bohs the only unbeaten side in the league. And yesterday inside my telly, Leeds had beaten Chelsea with goals by Peter Lorimer and Ray Hankin, and had moved up to sixth place in the First Division, just three points behind leaders Manchester City.
Perfect Weekends didn’t get much more perfect than this!
Unless, of course, you were Fran O’Brien.