Hi everyone, and welcome to my new Blog.
As some of you will know, and some of you won’t, I have been writing a Blog on Myspace for the past 5 years. This Blog was mainly about counting pubs and related stuff and appeared at varying intervals.
While this subject will continue to play a big part in the stories on this Blog, I will expand my subjects and also talk to you about sports, music, current events, travel, food and general stuff happening in Dublin, or wherever I happen to be at the time of writing. I will shortly post a list of all the pubs I wrote about on my old Blog and will continue to count them in the future. But my old Blog will soon be history.
So, feel free to post your feedback, e-mail me on talesfromthewoolshed(a)gmail.com or just drop me a line with your thoughts. I can’t guarantee I will react to everything because besides writing this Blog, I also have a job, friends that I want to hang out with, places to travel and, well, pubs to visit.
I will also comment on things that I find inspiring, entertaining or annoying. I will post top5 lists on topics that I find interesting, like the greatest sporting moments in history, the best songs, albums or pizzas and other things I deem worthy of talking about.
The name of this Blog was inspired by my favorite pub. I estimate that I must have visited around 2.500 pubs, bars and other hostelries in my life. And The Woolshed is among my favorite ones and my current hang out. On top of that, this name sounds great and is easy to remember. When I hit the 500 mark of pubs counted since I started to keep a list, I will publish a top5 of the greatest bars .
To prevent any misunderstandings in relation to the name of this Blog: I am not employed by or in any other way professionally connected to The Woolshed Bar&Grill in Dublin. I have absolutely no say in what happens there, what is decided, what music is played or who is allowed in or what goes on the menu. I just spend a lot of time there and I love being there. The opinions on this Blog are mine and mine alone and in no way represent the opinion of the owners, management or staff of this place. If you are in any way annoyed or offended by what I write, talk to me and not them because it is me who writes this. On the other hand, if you enjoy this Blog, and want to praise it, also talk to me and let me know what you think.
Having gone past the opening remarks, I would now like to kick off with 2 stories that appeared in the papers today regarding Irish football.
First up, my congratulations go out to my favorite local football team, Shamrock Rovers. Last night, they went through to the next round of the UEFA Cup after beating Bnei Yehuda from Israel by 0-1. Beating an Israeli team in a European tournament is quite an achievement in itself, because israel is not in Europe. Things like this leave you wondering when we will see Arsenal take on Bloemfontein Celtic in the Champions League, Bayern Munich play Melbourne Victory, or Real Madrid beat Gamba Osaka. Either way, Shamrock Rovers will now play Juventus in the next round of the tournament, which means a massive exposure for the team and a great way to cash in on tv rights, merchandising and ticket sales. The reason I bring this up is this; directly after the win last night, journalists and stadium directors across the country were falling over each other in suggesting that the Rovers home game should be moved to a bigger ground. The Rovers home ground, in the southern Dublin suburb of Tallaght, holds only 6.000 people, and that is after erecting temporary stands to the side of the pitch where a new stand is planned. The general idea was to move the game to either the RDS, which will hold about 20.000 fans, or the newly rebuilt Lansdowne Road stadium, that will hold 50.000. To my delight, Rovers refused. ‘We are from Tallaght, and we play in Tallaght, and we want to keep one of the biggest games in the club’s history close to the people that have always supported us.’ I love this. Rather than taking the money, the club stood firm and insists they play the game at home.
Apart from that, playing the game in one of the suggested alternative venues would not really work. The RDS is basically a nice venue, but it was built to accomodate horse showjumping events. Even if they do manage to get the pitch back in shape after yet another horse show, the stands are not good for watching ball games. The Leinster rugby team play most of their home games in the Magner’s League there and the stands have strange viewing lines and there are massive poles holding up the roof which block your view.
The new Lansdowne Road (yes, I do refuse to call it the Aviva Stadium because that is not a name for a stadium) would suit better, because there are no horses ruining the pitch and no roof poles obstructing your view, but Lansdowne Road has other problems. First of all, it’s a brand new stadium and, as everybody knows, it takes time to create atmosphere in a new stadium. When Arsenal moved from the excellent, but admittedly somewhat claustrophobic, Highbury to the brand new Emirates Stadium (no points for guessing who was the Big Provider in that development) it took the fans a year and a half to find their place, get the atmosphere going and make it their home. Similar things have happened in the Schalke Arena in Germany and, longer ago, the Amsterdam Arena.
Apart from that, the Rovers-Juventus game will be played next week, while the stadium’s official opening game is not until the week after that, on the 4th of August. Which brings me to the second piece of sports news that I wanted to talk about; the offical opening game of the rebuilt Lansdowne Road stadium is being widely advertised as Ireland – Manchester United. While this looks like an excellent bill, there is a catch to it. Manchester United is obviously a big name in world football and a great team to have at a stadium opening (or any event for that matter), especially since they are, after Celtic, the most popular team in Ireland. On top of that, Alex Ferguson has announced today that it is likely that the big names will make their first appearance after the World Cup in this game. Rooney, Vidic and all the others should be sufficiently rested by now to take on Ireland. The ‘Ireland’ team that they are playing, however, is not what it seems. It is not the Irish national team, as coached by Giovanni Trappatoni. It is an ‘All Star’ selection of players from the Irish Premier League. So rather than having a chance to see superstars like Tottenham striker Robbie Keane, Fulham’s Damien Duff and Celtic’s Aiden McGeady, you will be watching players who ply their trade at Dundalk FC, Drogheda United or, believe it or not, Sporting Fingal. And with ticket prices starting from EUR 45,- for a seat behind one of the goals or up in the rafters, and rising to EUR 60,- for a spot nearer to the pitch, I think you could find better ways to spend your money.
One of the ways I always favor to spend my money is by going to the pub. I will continue to explore the pubs of Dublin and the world and I will tell you about where I have been and where I plan to go. My next trips include going to Galway tomorrow, a weekend in Holland at the end of August, for the wedding of one of my best friends and then, in September, it is the Big One for this year, and I will be heading off to Australia. But more on that later. For now, I hope you enjoyed reading this and I hope to see you back here soon.
I am going to grab another beer.