Taking the hump GAA-style
14:30, 13 Dec 2012
John Kelly and Shane Stapleton
The launch of a new book on Irish college competitions made us rifle through the eircom Championship Timeline to find some amazing examples of GAA folk losing the plot and taking the hump
On Wednesday evening, a new booked called The Cups That Cheered – A History of the Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Gaelic Games was launched by author Dónal McAnallen.
It does exactly what it says in the tin and includes a number of very amusing stories from the college competitions. We’ll get to those in just a moment but what these yarns did was remind us of how het-up and amusing GAA folk have gotten in the past 125-odd years.
Just to set the scene for what we found in our research for the eircom Championship Timeline
, here are a couple of stories McAnallen detailed in The Cups That Cheered
Frank Sheehy got the crucial score at the end of a Sigerson Cup match in 1929, in horrendous weather conditions, while wearing wellies and carrying an umbrella.
UCC hurlers pioneered the wearing of helmets in the sport in Fitzgibbon Cup matches in the late 1960s. Before they adopted the ice-hockey model helmets that became standard for years to come, Micheál Óg Murphy came on as a substitute wearing a motorcycle helmet in the 1968 final, and scored a goal!
The referee of the 1971 Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final played twenty minutes more extra time than he was supposed to and only stopped play when the Angelus bell sounded nearby.
1939 Ulster final Cavan v Armagh
We might think we have it bad now with pitch encroachment and inter-county managers involved in dust-ups when they go down home, but that’s nothing compared to what happened during the 1939 Ulster final. Things were a bit tense all over Europe at the time but, World War Two or no World War Two, Cavan and Armagh had a small matter to settle for themselves.
As did their supporters. They really were tough men back then and suckers for punishment. Time management might be a contentious issue these days but, back in ’39, there were so many crowd invasions that the match was still going 150 minutes after the ball was thrown in.
Not even when a spectator attacked Armagh captain Jim McCollough did the referee stop the game. Eventually — maybe there was an independent observer or something, but we sincerely doubt it — someone ended the madness and Cavan went on to win the ‘replay’.
We wish we had a video link here — we like to imagine some officials, and maybe the local priest, repeatedly ushering the offenders off shouting, “Ah lads, ye can’t be at that, ye have our hearts broken” — or some old photos. We’ll just have to picture Louth-Meath 2010 in black and white instead. (John Kelly)
1890 Munster final Laune Rangers v Midleton
There are no records of anyone taking the hump at the 1890 Munster final but we’d struggle to believe there wasn’t a line of tweed-capped folk emitting steam out their ears. Why? Because they didn’t make balls like they used to.
Laune Rangers (representing Kerry) and Midleton (flying the flag for Cork) were 57 minutes through a stonewall snorefest — neither team had managed a single score between them — when the ball burst. Oh what a to-do!
The Irishmen and women, in, well, everyone there no doubt wouldn’t be happy to call it a day at that — or so we imagine, based on any GAA folk we’ve ever met.
So while the game was eventually abandoned, we can picture any number of folk trying to fashion a replacement football out of anything from a rolled up bunch of hobnail boots to a fistful of women’s pinafores. But instead of a single score coming from a boot hitting a cluster of waders or those poor wives’ garments, they all marched on home in frustration.
For the record, the Cork side won the replay in a thriller: 1-4 to 0-1 in Banteer. No balls were hurting in the making of the replayed Munster final. (Shane Stapleton)
1910 All-Ireland final Kerry v Louth
You’re not Irish if you don’t have a story to tell about some Irish Rail shenanigans or another. This writer was once on a train that scorched straight through Monasterevin only for the ticket collector to casually glance out the window and say, “We were supposed to stop there.” Anyway, the train reversed to the station, no one disembarked or boarded, and off we went again. And, sure, there was no harm done.
If the trains in this country aren’t charging a fiver for a miserable ham sandwich, they’ve run out of them. Or they’re offering a soggy egg sandwich as an alternative. People give out about inefficiency in the public sector but, judging by the thickness of the sandwich, Iarnród Éireann make an egg go a long way.
But that’s only piffle compared the kerfuffle that erupted in 1910. Kerry got the hump big time over a dispute with Great Southern and Western Railway. The company refused to lower fares; they refused to reserve a carriage for the players; and they refused to put them on an earlier, less crowded service. As a result, Kerry refused to travel to the final thus denying Louth the chance to gain revenge for ’09.
Jaysus, people were never but they were getting the hump and refusing stuff back then. (JK)
1924 All-Ireland final Kerry v Dublin
Kerry hadn’t refused to do anything in a while but that was about to change in 1924. As far as we can make out, the previous year’s All-Ireland final was played the following year for seven successive years.
There also seemed to be three or four Ulster finals played in 1923. Not replays. Three or four separate Ulster finals from different years. Not only that, there was an occasion when an All-Ireland carried over from the previous year was played two months AFTER that year’s final.
In 1925, Ireland was just coming out of a civil war with a massive budget deficit. Most Waterford players were in jail and GAA grounds in Cork were wrecked in protest at the incarcerations. Kerry then decided they wouldn’t travel to the final before changing their minds. Lucky for them they did; they went on to defeat Dublin by two points at Croke Park. (JK)
1937 Connacht semi-final Galway v Sligo
One of the more amusing aspects to these fraught incidents from old-school inter-county county days is how prevalent they still are at different club grades.
Not one reader, who regularly attends games, has not been to a game at which a referee has not failed to turn up. He might have been hungover and took the hump at that, got a flat tyre, took a wrong turn, or showed up at a different match. Whatever it was for, the home team usually nominate an unwilling local to officiate, and throw a mouldy old whistle at him. The umpires and linesmen would and will always be a mixture of both teams’ entourage.
We’d imagine it was much like this back in 1937 when Galway and Sligo were left with no man in the middle. Roscommon’s Jim Farrell — a neutral, quite a rare thing in GAA — was kind enough to oversee the game. An hour and some after blowing the first whistle, he blew it for a final time to see Galway through to the Connacht final. Meanwhile, poor old Farrell was chased out of the ground by a number of angry spectators. (SS)
1927 Connacht Championship Mayo v Sligo
We’d love to see Liam O’Neill sift through this mess if it happened now. We’d love to see the reaction of Brolly, Spillane and O’Rourke at the goings-on out west in 1927. We’d love to see what the Football Review Committee would make of the whole thing.
When Mayo met Sligo in ’27, there were people taking humps all over the place. There was a controversial goal, a refereeing mistake, the reversal of a decision, a protest, a walk-off, a refusal, a pitch invasion and an abandonment — all inside the first three minutes of this first round clash.
In the end, Sligo were banned for a year after, ahem, disagreeing with the referee’s decision to change his mind after initially awarding them a goal. The association’s secretary must’ve been the busiest man in Ireland at that stage. A GAA Bob Cratchit. (JK)
1891 All-Ireland championship
Hump-taking had reached one of its many zeniths by the year 18 and 91 when the GAA decided some rule changes had to come into play. While a sensible rule such as the yellow card which forces a substitution struggles to get the backing it deserves these days, there were a couple of real no-brainers coming to law way back when. When? 18 and 91, is when.
The first rule to come through did for football what some right-thinking group of builders did for houses and formica counters, it brought in standardisation. This related to the size of footballs — voting down that rule change would be asking to saying no to getting rid of fisted points if that motion ever went to congress. Like come on, what footballing skill does it actually add to the sport?
Anyway, back 1 and 21 years ago, new rules meant that linesmen were also given flags, which we assume helped out the referee a great deal. Unless, of course, supporters were crowding the sidelines — which no doubt they were — and commandeering the signal-making device to suit their own designs.
Finally, and most forward-thinking of all, was the new rule which gave the referee the power to allow a score if a supporter had prevented it from crossing the line. Yes it sounds ludicrous and, yes, we believe it still happens in local games now. Still, no harm to have it in the rulebook.
Just to back up our theory that anything can and will happen in GAA: one of the writers here was involved in a game this year in which the linesman was craning his neck out onto the pitch to see if a ball was going over the bar — it subsequently struck the high posts, came down, and bonked him on the noggin. The umpire understandably took the hump and left with his flag. (SS)
2010 Leinster final Meath v Louth
There are times when you know a person is entitled blow a fuse, fly off the handle and generally behave in an ignorant, small-minded fashion. Well you know you’ve past the threshold when a court judge lowers the gavel on you.
In the world of GAA, ignorant behaviour is par for the course but a small number of Louth fans went above and beyond that after Joe Sheridan’s last-gasp, illegitimate goal was allowed to pilfer a provincial title for Meath.
Referee Martin Sludden had hardly been the picture of reason as he swatted away the protestations of Louth players one and all. What he was faced with after the final whistle was a modern taking of hump to match anything we’ve found in the past. A minority of Louth fans chased, jockeyed and pushed the Tyrone official around Croke Park, forcing the police into protective action.
Sludden initially made a complaint to gardaí before withdrawing it, and the prosecution relied on video evidence for their case. The two men charged, a 24-year-old plumber and a 50-year-old dock worker, were both convicted and fined 1000 squids. Judge Reilly also bound the pair to peace for one year or, in layman’s terms, told them no hump-taking in that time. (SS)
1895 All-Ireland final Dublin v Cork
Was the word ‘encroach’ invented to describe what GAA fans did in the nascent years of the association’s competitions? If it wasn’t, then sports writers at the time were glad to have it to hand.
It’s also a nice euphemism, a forerunner to Michael O’Hehir’s ‘shemozzle’. What ‘encroach’ really meant was that a group of supporters would run onto the field, possibly armed with an assortment of weapons, and attempt to beat the living daylights out of the opposition.
Back then, pitches were liberally marked out. In other words, the cows were driven towards the ditches and the carnage could begin somewhere around the middle of the field.
In those days, all you had to do was refuse to do something, storm off the pitch, take the hump or sulk and you usually got your way. In the first final, Cork refused to play extra-time and so there was a replay.
In the second game, Cork supporters roared onto the pitch, probably with flasks of hot tea with which to scald the Dubs. The capital side, not to be outdone, then did a bit of refusing themselves and were awarded the title when everyone realised that this kind of carry-on was ridiculous.
You’d imagine lessons would’ve been learned after that. Oh no. If anything, taking the hump became more fashionable until hump-taking was officially outlawed in the 50s. (JK)
1885 Callan v Kilkenny
It feels at times as if rules and their application are put in place just to stir the pot. You know, see how much dander can be risen for our amusement. Such as when games go to extra time, it’s seen as a new game and all misdemeanours are forgotten; back to 15-a-side and there’ll be no back-chat about it. Who thought of that one?
Better still was the vigilante approach of Loughrea’s Johnny Maher in the Galway county final of 2012 that brought to mind the Michael Douglas film Falling Down. You can imagine the full-forward telling referee Eoin Shaughnessy how it is, as Douglas’ character Bill Foster had done in the 1993 movie: “I am not a vigilante. I am just trying to get home to my little girl's birthday party and if everyone will just stay out of my way, nobody will get hurt.” Well everyone did get hurt but at least his actions weren’t rewarded with victory as St Thomas won the Galway title.
All Maher received by way of punishment for nailing several players — including one in the mummy-daddy button — was an eight-week ban, to be served during this down period. It beggars belief and, in true GAA fashion, it feels as if it’s the blind leading the blind at times.
So you can imagine the carnage when Maurice Davin sent out Callan and Kilkenny to play the first football game under his rules in 1885. Among the rules were that playing numbers should be no more than 21 a side, games were to be decided by goals alone, wrestling was allowed and both teams would stand in two ranks opposite each other for the throw in whilst holding hands.
Holding hands and wrestling, we suspect Maher would have been a champion. (SS)
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