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24th May 2015

Everton, Newcastle, Man United – How did the JOE team end up following their EPL club?

A complicated love affair


A complicated love affair.

Being a supporter of your football club is a strange thing when you think about it.

Love, devotion and despair are all intricately wrapped around the fortunes of a bunch of athletes that you’ve never met in your life but these people arguably contribute more memories and moments to your life than most.

It’s a funny old game and here’s how every one of the JOE team ended up supporting their clubs.

Paddy McKenna – Everton

A lifetime of false dawns, broken dreams and believing that Juan Roman Riquelme was about to sign on every transfer deadline day for ten years running began like this. There I was, a young and very impressionable whippersnapper in the late 80s watching Match Of The Day highlights with my dad, a United fan.

I hadn’t picked a team to follow but I had an obsession with Coca-Cola and informed my da that I planned to support the team wearing the black shorts and trim (okay, it was navy) and dirty-yellow jerseys. Erm, like Coke y’know. That team was Everton, who were wearing this Coca-Cola inspired jersey….

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The team they were playing that day was Liverpool. If you need a reminder, this is their jersey of the late 80s.

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And this is a can of coke from that era.

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My dad, as a United fan, decided not to point out the obvious flaw in my four-year-old logic and that’s how confused, Irish Everton fans are made.

Cian Murray – Newcastle

So how did I come to support this club from the North East of England?

My story involves Hulk Hogan, my brother Fergal and me being incredibly spiteful.

My first Newcastle jersey.

After Googling the date, I realise my affiliation with Newcastle United began on February 1, 1995. Looking back, this makes perfect sense as I remember playing with my Christmas presents at the time.

Like most seven-year-olds during the mid-nineties, I had a fondness for the World Wrestling Federation. One of the presents I received that year was a WWF wrestling ring with two simple figurines, Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior.

All was going well that faithful evening. I was happy body-slamming and clothes-lining until my heart was content. That was until my brother, Fergal, who is nine years my senior crashed through the door and smashed the wrestling ring into pieces.


It was a complete accident and he was very apologetic. I didn’t care, I wanted to get my own back.

Later that evening Everton were playing Newcastle and the game was televised. My brother watched intensely as his team struggled to contain the exciting Magpies.

Then Newcastle scored through a scrappy Ruel Fox goal with ten minutes to go. He was incredibly annoyed and deflated. Newcastle had got me retribution and I had found my team.

I’ve supported the Toon ever since… a part of me has always wondered why he couldn’t have broke my wrestling ring a few weeks later, when Everton lost to Manchester United.

Eric Lalor – Manchester United

Before anyone starts thinking I’m yet another bandwagon supporter, I beg to differ. I am very old. So old that I can remember clearly when United were unsuccessful and it was Liverpool who were the dominant club.

So why did I start supporting them? Like most impressionable kids, I chose a team that seemed to be good, successful, regularly winning matches.

But wait, you said United were not successful! Correct, but as I mentioned earlier, I am old. In 1975, Manchester United were playing in the second tier of English football having been relegated the year before.

Undated:  Portrait of Wolverhampton Wanderers Manager Tommy Docherty.  Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport

They romped to the title under the guidance of Tommy Docherty (pic above) and were promoted straight away. I was the very young naive kid who saw their results every week and they were winning so naturally, I took a shine to them.

We reached three FA Cup finals in the late 70s. In 1976 we lost to Southampton, I cried. In 1977, we beat Liverpool, denying them the treble, I was over the moon.

May 1979:  Steve Coppell (left) of Manchester United evades Sammy Nelson of Arsenal during the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium in London. Arsenal won the match 3-2.  Mandatory Credit: Tony  Duffy/Allsport

In 1979, they lost to a last minute Arsenal goal in an epic cup final having come from two goals down. I bawled my eyes out after that one.

I never thought I’d see the day when they finally won the league title in the 1992/93 season, the first of my lifetime and their first in 26 years.

So if there are any Liverpool fans reading this, it’s only 25 years since you last won the title. Keep the faith.

Eoghan Doherty – Liverpool

My entire family supports Manchester United. My Dad, my brothers, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins and even my Granny who couldn’t give two farts about football.

Me? I support Liverpool.

Actually, I tell a wee lie. My Mammy supports Liverpool too, but only because she feels sorry for widdle owld me, forlornly waving a Doherty Liverbird flag on my own.

Parental pity isn’t pretty, but I’ll take it.

You can call me what you will for choosing to support a team in 1990 who, although unbeknownst to us all at the time, had their best league years behind them.

This was at a time when friends and loved ones all around me followed the team who were about to embark on one of the greatest trophy runs ever seen in world football, all under the watchful gaze of a red-faced, magical time-keeping, hair-drying Scotsman.

That’s right, call me what you will; a rebel, an idiot, a footballing fool.

I don’t care, I’m a Red.

Liverpool 1990

The reason? David Rodgers.

I couldn’t tell you where he is now, what he works at, or even what he looks like, but that doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that this local Derry lad, who was the cool, older brother of my best friend at the time, Daniel, owned a blood red, eye-Candy, Liverpool home kit like the one above, and I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen.

Apart from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, obviously.

But The Little Mermaid isn’t a football team, so I support Liverpool.

The Little Mermaid

Paul Moore – Manchester United

Looking back on it now, it’s alarming how much sway my father had over me when it came to choosing my football club.

While a large part of my heart will always reside in Dalymount Park – a Derek Swan inspired Bohemians beat Shelbourne in the first live match that I ever saw in the flesh – the fact that my dad encouraged my football obsession by illegally getting Sky into the house via one of those dodgy decoder cards was like giving a drink to Fr Jack.

I was raised in a football (not soccer) crazy house and my love affair has only grown more passionate.

Bohemians 1/12/1996 Derek Swan Bohemians © INPHO / Matt Browne

My auld lad was always a Man Utd fan because like most young men growing up in Ireland during the ‘6os, he absolutely idolised George ‘The Fifth Beatle’ Best.

He probably also copied Best’s style at the time by rocking some really dodgy flares and a woeful barnet just like Belfast’s most famous son. That’s enough of the Moore family trauma for now.

Northern Irish footballer George Best (1946 - 2005) holds up his 1968 Footballer Of The Year award as Bobby Charlton (second from left), Denis Law (right) and manager Matt Busby (1909 - 1994, second from right) look on, 19th April 1969. Charlton and Law won the award in 1966 and 1964, respectively. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

My dad was never an absolute ‘die-hard’ football fan though like I would turn out to be – five kids,  a lack of widespread football coverage and a demanding job meant that any spare time for him to obsess about football was kept to a minimum – but he must have been delighted to welcome three boys into his family and rekindle his love affair with the beautiful game.

This being said, my two sisters definitely know more about football than most people that I’ve met, a fact that both of their respective husbands raised during their wedding speeches.

During the formative football years of my life, my dad had a strong affinity for Aston Villa because he always wanted to see the Irish lads do well at their clubs, especially Paul McGrath. Our family always had so much love for Paul McGrath.

Ooh ahh

There was a period when my Da was attracted to the burgeoning brand of ‘sexy football’ at Chelsea but my heart was always at Old Trafford.

As a player, I played most of my junior football matches as a right-back for my local club St Kevin’s Boys and I looked up to the most prominent and understated  full-back in English football at the time, Denis Irwin.


Like most kids I always played football with my brothers in the back garden. One day my mam overheard me commentating to myself – probably recreating one of Irwin’s trademark free-kicks- and she decided to buy me this jersey.

The rest is history.

Man Utd Jersey

Tony Cuddihy – Liverpool

It was always going to be Liverpool, and I was straight in. It helped that they had the four Irish lads in the team at the time – Houghton, Staunton, Whelan, Aldridge – and the lads supported them too.

I was the child whose entire week’s focal point was the match on a Saturday on RTE, or on UTV on a Sunday. The green armchair in my granny’s sitting room is the only place I remember watching football, and she’d keep an ear out for the scores if the game wasn’t televised. She was good like that, knew they were my version of her Kerry, McMahon and Barnes and Beardsley in lieu of O’Shea, Liston, Spillane.

10 May 1989 F.A. Cup Final - Liverpool v Everton, John Aldridge and Steve Staunton combine to tackle Kevin Sheedy with studs showing. (Photo by Mark Leech/Getty Images)

Finghín, my grandfather, had no real interest. He’d read the paper from the front.

On it went. They lost the league to Arsenal that year and I was broken. They won it the following year and I was… I don’t remember how I was. Cocky, probably, and pleased. Cocky, though, because they were Liverpool and they were the best and they’d win it forever and ever and ever…

Sport, Football, Barclays League Division One, Anfield, England, 1st May 1990, Liverpool 1 v Derby County 0, The Liverpool team celebrate with the trophies after winning the League Championship for the season 1989-90, Back Row L-R: Ronnie Moran, Roy Evans, Peter Beardsley, Ronny Rosenthal, Gary Gillespie, Jan Molby, Ronnie Whelan, Ian Rush, Gary Ablett, John Barnes, and Bruce Grobbelaar, Front Row L-R: Steve McMahon, David Burrows, Barry Venison, Glenn Hysen, Alan Hansen, Steve Nicol, Ray Houghton, and Steve Staunton  (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

And that was 1990. And that was the last time.

It’s the hope that kills you, but it was the hope that kept me going until other things took over and football became something to drink to, to talk about in the pub, a little more abstract and a little bit less of the everything.

Conor Heneghan – Manchester United

I wish I had a great story about supporting my team like all of my colleagues above.

I wish I could say that Denis Irwin and the ghost of the late Billy Whelan visited my five-year old self in a dream and told me it was my destiny to follow the fortunes of the Red Devils, but it was far more mundane than that.

Quite simply, I support Manchester United because my Dad and my Uncle did and the latter was particularly keen to pass on that influence to an impressionable, sports-mad lad like myself.

In the early 1990s, most of the west of Ireland had just discovered the joys of the four channels beyond RTE 1 and Network 2, but my uncle was ahead of the curve and had got himself a Sky Sports subscription just as the Premier League came into being.

My bedroom, meanwhile, was covered in glorious posters like this…


While it must’ve been nice for him to have the company watching United at the beginning, before long I’m sure it became a nuisance as I started presenting myself at his house for League Cup matches and the odd time the youth team would play in front of the Sky cameras.

Crucially, before the glory-hunting accusations start, my earliest memories of United are the great Lee Martin’s goal in the 1990 FA Cup Final and Mark Hughes’ winning effort from a ridiculous angle in the 1991 Cup Winners’ Cup victory over Barcelona a year later.

I cried when Liverpool beat us 2-0 at Anfield to hand Leeds the title in 1992 and made enemies of David Batty and Lee Chapman.

It’s been pretty good since, mind.