Ireland’s domestic league is often overlooked, dismissed by many (even in Ireland) as lacking in quality and presided over by a corrupt and ineffective administration. However, despite these issues, the League of Ireland has always had a dedicated core of support among working class people, which is aided by lively and colourful supporters clubs – attendance at matches is on the up. FLAF caught up with Lar and D from one such club attached to Cork City FC, the First Cork City Brigade (FCCB), whose noisy support and anti-fascist message is going from strength to strength.
How did FCCB come about?
D – FCCB came about when a number of us who were political, union and community activists came together and got chatting. We had used to head to city games in our teens and early-20s but drifted off and eventually out of these chats we decided to set up a supporters club with an anti-fascist message.
Lar – We also wanted to support the club while creating a carnival atmosphere. Amongst sections of working class people here, City is life.
Why anti-fascism? Is that an issue in Cork?
D – There had been a few incidents of racist comments, general “anti-antifa” type shit and on a number of occasions a Confederate flag was produced trying to antagonise others from various teams.
Lar – They especially directed the flag waving at a Nigerian player for Waterford City.
D – We responded when making our appearance at Turner’s Cross that we were anti-racist and anti-fascist. We got a bit of negative feedback from City fans on the club forum; because we had a drum, because we flew a rainbow flag and because of our anti-fascist stance. Some people really didn’t like us but we stood our ground and we aren’t going anywhere. The far-right here is thankfully small, but a number of Cork heads participated in running Pegida dickheads out of Dublin a number of years back. We don’t take kindly to fascists over here.
Why don’t more football fans support the League of Ireland?
Lar – Most working class people would rather support Celtic or Liverpool, I mean there’s nothing wrong with supporting a British team but it’s a shame more don’t support City given the importance of football here. The Football Association of Ireland is run by gombeen men out for themselves and they only care about the national team, the league is a problem child for them. It’s no wonder some people will pick up on that attitude toward it.
D – Look your local team is just that, your LOCAL TEAM! You’ve more in common with the lads than you do some fella earning £150k a week and who couldn’t give a fuck if you show up or not because his money is in Sky revenue. With LOI, the players genuinely appreciate you being there, they know your face and they shake your hand at the end of the game. I have no connection to Manchester or Liverpool, Cork is my town, my home. There is nothing better than meeting your buddies on a Friday night, having pints and cheering on your team. It’s our club, it’s our team. It’s that simple.
What’s next for FCCB?
D – Loads mate. We’re setting up a fanzine next year and also looking at putting on some after match parties with ska, reggae and rebel songs. We’re also setting up an anti-racist football tournament in aid of those being mistreated in direct provision (refugee accommodation). Lastly we’re moving to the Shed End of the ground to accommodate our increasing numbers. A lot of the younger crowd are becoming really interested and we’ve been on some cracking away days with big numbers. We’re absolutely flying.