– With thanks to (the now famous) Fredorrarci from Sport Is A TV Show for his input into every Footie&Music&theRepofIreland. Today’s excellent selection is taken from suggestions by him, which involves a bit of storytelling…

In 1988 the Republic of Ireland qualified for the European Championship finals, which were being held in West Germany that year. This was the first international tournament that they had qualified for and this was the first time most Irish footie fans had stepped on foreign soil to support their team.

The well know Irish folk singer Christy Moore sings/tells us of a story about “Joxer”, who goes over there and… well as the clock is ticking I’m going to c&p from Wikipedia here:

Joxer Goes To Stuttgart is a song by Irish folk singer Christy Moore. It is about a fan, named Joxer, who travels to the Irish football team’s first major international tournament, Euro 1988, in West Germany. It is sung to the tune of the Match of the Day theme music…

The song is as much a comical social commentary on Ireland in the late 1980s as it is a celebration of the Irish team beating England at a major footballing tournament. The main focus of the song is the game that took place in Stuttgart’s Neckarstadion against England on 12 June – a game which Ireland won by a 1-0 score-line, thanks to a sixth-minute goal from Ray Houghton. However, the song also documents the lives of those following the team and the impact of the tournament, and especially the England match, on Irish society during the period prior to the economic boom of the 1990s and development of the Celtic Tiger – a time when the country was largely unprosperous, religiously devout and somewhat insular in out-look. For large numbers of the followers, many of whom would have been what was perceived as working class, the adventure was a totally new experience and their first time abroad. Virtually all would have been illiterate in the languages of continental Europe.

» Christy Moore – Joxer Goes To Stuttgart (Live at The Point, Dublin)

It was in the year of ’88 in the lovely month of June
When the gadflies were swarming and dogs howling at the moon
With rosary beads and sandwiches for Stuttgart we began
Joxer packed his German phrasebook and jumpleads for the van.

Some of the lads had never been away from home before
‘Twas the first time Whacker put his foot outside of Inchicore
Before we left for Europe we knew we’d need a plan
So we all agreed that Joxer was the man to drive the van.

In Germany the autobahn, ’twas like the Long Mile Road
There was every make of car and van all carrying the full load
Ford Transits and Hiaces and an old Bedford from Tralee
With the engine overheating from longhauling duty free.

There was fans from Ballygermot, Ballybough and Ballymun
On the journey of a lifetime, and the crack was ninety-one
Joxer met a German’s daughter on the banks of the river Rhine
And he told her she’d be welcome in Ballyfermot any time.

As soon as we found Stuttgart we got the wagons in a ring
Sean Og got out the banjo and Peter played the mandolin
There was fans there from everywhere attracted by the sound
At the first Fleadh Ceoil in Europe, and Joxer passed the flagon round.

But the session it ended when we’d finished all the stout
The air mattresses inflated and the sleeping bags rolled out
As one by one we fell asleep Joxer had a dream
He dreamt himself and Jack Charlton sat down to pick the team.

Joxer dreamt they both agreed on Packie Bonner straightaway
And that Moran, Whelan and McGrath were certainly to play
But tempers they began to rise and patience wearing thin
Jack wanted Cascarino but Joxer wanted Quinn.

The dream turned into a nightmare, Joxer stuck the head on Jack
Who wanted to bring Johnny Giles and Eamon Dunphy back
The cock crew in the morning, it crew both loud and shrill
Joxer woke up in his sleeping bag many miles from Arbour Hill.

The next morning none of the experts gave us the slightest chance
They said the English team would lead us on a merry dance
With their Union Jacks all them English fans for victory they were set
Until Ray Houghton got the ball and he stuck it in the net.

What happened next is history, brought tears to many eyes
That day will be the highlight of many people’s lives
Joxer climbed right over the top and the last time he was seen
Was arm in arm with Jack Charlton singing, Revenge for Skibereen.

Now Whacker’s back in Inchicore, he’s living with his mam
And Jack Charlton has been proclaimed an honorary Irishman
Do you remember that German’s daughter on the banks of the river Rhine
Well, didn’t she show up in Ballyfermot last week and…

In the tournament they P3 W1 D1 L1 and finished 5th in the group stages, but still it was a memorable one for being the first and for the above mentioned Houghton goal.
» Match report here. Sadly there is no video to be found.

…But I did find the black & white photo (as seen below) of the goal here.

Ray Houghton scoring against England in 1988

Fredorrarci suggested another excellent song, covered by Christy Moore which I wish I knew of it earlier. But now it is discovered it will be added with the other one as the annual Crimbo posting.

It is from an appearance on the Late Late Show and Christy performs a version of Fairytale Of New York.

Video here:

Audio rip from the above:

» Christy Moore – Fairytale of New York (Live on The Late Late Show)

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