Great Fans – Wenger Stops TV Commentators so French Can hear Irish Sing

4-0 down and with a few minutes left , the stadium in Gdansk is filled with the sound of 25,000 Irish fans singing ‘The Fields of Athenry’ with the Spanish fans clapping in rhythm. The World Champions  coach, Vincente del Bosque, said afterwards: “I thought (with) that the Irish fans and players showed us what the game is really about.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger, working as a French TV pundit, Arsene Wenger  asked  the commentators to stop talking so that viewers could hear the Irish singing.  You can listen and watch and listen to the fans and see why it was such a special moment.


Despite losing 4-0, Irish fans sing their hearts out

Irish manager, Trapattoni, applauded  the world champion’s silky football skills by saying they played “like an orchestra” . He went on to say that “They (the fans) cheered us through the most difficult part of the game and I am really thankful for that.”  Irish players talked about their disappointment of losing heavily but also their amazement and appreciation of the fans who supported them to the bitter end.

Irish fans have ‘previous form’ whether singing, baying as sheep or showing silent respect  as recorded brilliantly by Kiwi writer, Martin Moodie, Munster Fans Collagewho in 2008 was taken aback by the respectful silence which Munster rugby fans gave to the All Blacks goal kicker – ‘you could hear a dog bark in a distant street’ he said.

Or in Milan, during World Cup 1990, when  thousands of Irish football fans, waiting in the mid-morning heat hoping to buy unexpected quarter final tickets (against Italy) – were penned inside large steel fencing and surrounded by police with dogs, batons, guns and tear gas. One fan made a sheep noise. “Baaaghhh”. A police dog reacted and barked viciously. Another fan went  “baaaghhh”, followed by a few dozen more, then a hundred . The dogs went crazy. Police nervously tried to control the dogs. Several thousand penned fans were “baaaghhing” and the dogs were going ballistic. Finally the police captain saw the funny side and ordered his men to take the dogs away, realising the harmless good humour of thousands of Irish fans pretending to be sheep penned in.

Or Irish fans dancing with a French band, or even trying their best to sing the French national anthem with the French (without knowing all the words).  Angela Merkel thinks we're at workAnd back to the class of 2012 football fans.

The ‘Angela Merkel Thinks We’re Working’ flag says it all. Despite very tough economic times, austerity measures, the brotherhood of football knows no bounds nor does its humour!

Brazilian fans like to dance as do African fans, not to mention West Indian fans who create a cricket carnival atmosphere, and Dubai’s Al Nasr fans, as I discovered, like to sing (one song went on for 18 minutes!), While Scottish fans (notably ‘Ally’s Army”) were welcomed everywhere -  in fact some went to Argentina in 1978 and never came back , the locals loved them so much – several Scottish fans stayed, settled down and never looked back!
Montage 3 with UAE fans
It seems all of these fans have fun, celebrate sport and perpetuate the brotherhood of sport. Long may it continue.  We salute great sportsmanship from great fans.

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14 Responses to Great Fans – Wenger Stops TV Commentators so French Can hear Irish Sing

  1. eric whittington June 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    That great philosopher of football Dr Wenger appreciates the finer things of life,such as loyal committed football fans and there is no doubt in his mind that those fans supporting the boys in green fall very solidly into that category.This kind of information is vital if sport is to regain its integrity.

    • Paul Smith July 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

      Thanks Eric. It gets better…………

      The Irish flag (with Angela Merkel message) has taken on a life of it’s own. It was at the German Embassy this week – where the German Ambassador accepted a t- shirt saying ‘Angela Merkel thinks I’m at work’. The flag itself has been auctioned for 15,000 euros to be donated to a 3 year old cancer victim in Belfast. The group are students from Limerick University. The German magazine Bild featured it on it’s cover. The Germans certainly appreciated the humour.

      And then, the Irish Fans are awarded EUFA Sportsmanship Award

  2. Jermaine July 9, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I remember thinking to myself what a great moment in football it was to see the Irish fans mixing with the Spanish and having a great time singing etc it sets a great example to the football nation in how fans should truly behave when it comes to sport.

  3. John McGrann October 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    Bobby Newman just emailed this question: “I know Fields of Athenry has been associated with some Irish football clubs, including the stirring singing at the Eurocup in the game against Spain. I’ve always loved the song, going back to my beginnings of work in both the North and the Republic in the mid 1990’s. I’m a bit confused, however, as it seems a bit of a mournful song to sing in support of the effort. How did this come to be associated with support of Irish sport?”

    • prsmith October 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm #
  4. prsmith October 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    I guess it’s a tragic song that unites us in strength against the common enemy. Recreating the siege mentality perhaps. It certainly breathes sadness yet lifts the spirit when you sing it at full tilt – it is a very powerful feeling. I’m sure it gets through to the players as the chorus is uplifting – reminding us that we all have ‘dreams (and songs to sing)’ despite the dire circumstances. It is also a song about loyalty and unbridled love. ~ Paul

  5. John McGrann October 1, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Guys, the song adopted and adapted by Liverpool FC fans
    Fields of Anfield Road – In Memory of the 96
    Sung by ex players of Liverpool FC
    In Memory of 96 Liverpool fans who went to a football game and never came home.
    Including Jon Paul Gilhooley aged 10 – cousin of current legend and captain Steven Gerrard.
    ~ John

  6. Great Sportsmanship (@GtSportsmanship) October 2, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Great video John – looks like some Argentinian’s support the ‘Justice for the 96’ cause too. The original song, The Fields Of Athenry, I think, once flummoxed the Irish team the first time it was sung (against Holland I think 20 years or so ago, in a world cup qualification play-off???) – as I felt our own players, when they heard it, not recognising it must have thought ‘blimey, there’s a lot of Dutch here tonight – and we lost! ~ Paul

  7. Bobby October 2, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    That makes a great deal of sense (that the song also breaths spirit & strength). I have felt that while singing the song with mothers and fathers of children with autism as they fought against what seemed like insurmountable odds to get proper services for their children, and to do what they needed to do at home as well. ~ Bobby

  8. Paul July 23, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    See ‘Football Sing Their Song’ – great crowd in Dubai – sang the whole way through the game

  9. pfoley September 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    Travelling Irish Football fans have always endeared themselves with the host nations and the fans have a great record of mingling with their counterparts before, during and after games.
    Why can’t brainless football hooligans join boxing clubs or better still, take up cage fighting instead of bringing shame to the Beautiful Game ? It’s the football players who are there to battle…not the fans.

    • Paul Smith September 24, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

      Very well said. And you get so much more out of the trip by having the craic (Irish for fun) with opposition fans.

  10. Paul Smith March 16, 2015 at 8:54 am #

    Have a look at the Irish fans mingling with the Welsh fans in Cardiff last Saturday. You’d never guess who won or who lost. The game’s important but win or lose, Irish fans always have some fun. Life’s too short no to.


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