Euro Moments: John Delaney rallies troops with Sopot speech
The FAI Chief Executive took to the streets to thank the fans with some rousing words
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney. Photo: Inpho
If Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign was disappointing on the pitch it was at least entertaining off it.
The warm Polish summer and cheap Polish lager had fans in high spirits as they mingled with players and officials in the seaside resort of Sopot.
Such a party atmosphere is hardly an ideal way for a team to prepare for a major tournament and the blunder of accommodating some players girlfriends and wives above a strip club did nothing to help the focus of the respective squad members as they tried to make alternative arrangements.
A decade on from the farcical preparations of Saipan things didn’t look to have improved too much.
However, at least the fans were enjoying themselves. As was a certain Mr Delaney.
The FAI Chief Executive, who claims to have spent over €30,000 of his own money on fans during his reign, was regularly seen mingling with supporters and enjoying a drink.
Indeed one evening he was carried back to his hotel on the shoulders of hundreds of fans who then removed his shoes and socks.
A party atmosphere indeed.
The day after the opening game loss to Croatia it was time to thank the thousands of Irish(who would later in the tournament be named The Best Fans in the World. If Carlsberg did fans etc...) for their efforts.
It was late at night on a Sopot street. Quite a quantity of alcohol had been consumed. And, thanks to the wonders of social media, the world could see what unfolded next.
As the video begins we see Delaney in the middle of a small crowd of fans. There is much “sshh”-ing going on and cries of “speech” can be heard.
After 30 seconds a flip-flop is being waved around in the air to the tune of “Stand up for the boys in green/sit down for the boys in green”.
Then, things almost turn sour. A rogue dissenter has made his way into the middle of the adoring masses. He decides to give the FAI Chief Executive a piece of his mind. This may have had something to do with the fact that, back in Ireland, Monaghan United had withdrawn from the Airtricity League due to financial issues.
But The Best Fans in the World wanted their speech. The finger-pointer was quickly shushed and disposed off with a hail of boos and abuse in his wake.
The stage is clear.
“Thanks for the Euros, thank you very much,” Delaney begins.
(The flip-flop is now being held just above his left ear).
“All I want to say is thank you. Thank you for your support for our country, our country, our team. You’re absolutely fucking brilliant...”
‘COME ON JOHN DELANEY!’
The fans present can’t control themselves, it’s all just too much. A war-like roar goes up as the head of the FAI is cheered from all sides. There is a lot of hair-tousling.
But the fans want more! And more they shall have.
Yet more “sshh”-ing and cries of “speech” ring out in the Sopot air.
The rallying cry is not over just yet.
“Get behind the team on Thursday night. Ye were fucking magnificent last night. I’m sorry the team couldn’t do what you wanted them to do but get behind them on Thursday night!”
The rest is drowned out by more euphoric roars and hair-tousling.
The masses have been roused.