Euro 2012 – Irish Fans Sing The Fields of Athenry
Ireland played Spain in their second group C match at the Euro 2012 finals in Gdansk in Poland on Thursday 14th June. The Irish were played off the park and did well to keep the final score down to 4-0. Two goals from Fernando Torres and one each from David Silva and Cesc Fabregas were enough to ensure that Ireland would not progress to the knockout stages of the competition. Added to a 3-1 loss in the opening match against Croatia, this meant that even a win against Italy in the third match would not be enough to prolong the Irish experience at Euro 2012
The Irish fans in the PGE Arena fully realised that their Euro 2012 dreams had been dashed by the superb Spanish performance but nevertheless they remained loyal to their team. With just a few minutes left in the match and with a heavy defeat an inevitability, the thousands of Irish supporters around the ground began to sing the Irish folk ballad The Fields of Athenry.
It was a poignant, prolonged, and spine-tingling tribute from the fantastic Irish supporters to their fallen heroes on the pitch. The fans continued with their resounding rendition of the classic Irish sporting anthem even after the final whistle. Irish fans from every part of the stadium joined in the lusty singing. The singing began in the 86th minute and it took less than two minutes for the momentum to reach a level that subdued all other noise in the stadium. When the TV commentators in the stadium realised what was happening many of them stopped their regular commentary to allow the viewers to take in what was happening.
The YouTube video below captures part of the rendition by the Irish fans.
Video of Irish Fans Singing the Fields of Athenry at Euro 2012
Roy Keane Hit’s a Discordant Note
Speaking on ITV on the night of the match, football pundit Roy Keane lashed out at the Irish team and the fans following their 4-0 thrashing by Spain. Keane was reacting to a post match interview with Irish midfielder Keith Andrews who said: “You can hear the fans, they’re an absolute credit to their country and the team and unfortunately we haven’t been able to give them what they deserve.”
Keane retorted: “We’re a small country, we’re up against it, but let’s not just go along for the sing-song every now and again.”
“I think the players and even the supporters, they all have to change their mentality, it’s just nonsense from players speaking after the games about how great the supporters are.”
“To praise the supporters for the sake of it… Let’s change that attitude towards Irish supporters.”
Sporting Anthem The Fields of Athenry
The Fields of Athenry is an Irish folk ballad that was written by Pete St John. Contrary to popular belief the ballad is relatively modern having been written in the 1970’s. It is set during the Great Irish Famine in the mid-1800’s about a man who was transported to Botany Bay in Australia for stealing food for his starving family. The lyrics of the song say that the man, named Michael, “stole Trevelyan’s corn”. This refers to British civil servant, Charles Edward Trevelyan, who was part of the administration of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Trevelyan believed that the starving Irish peasantry could exist on maize, a grain that they had no knowledge of or experience in preparing.
The song is routinely sung at many Irish sporting occasions having been adopted by Republic of Ireland supporters during the 1990 World Cup. The Fields of Athenry is also associated with the Munster, Connacht, and the Ireland rugby union teams. An adapted version, The Fields of Anfield Road, is sung by Liverpool FC supporters and supporters of Celtic in Scotland also sing the original version.
Click on these links to find the lyrics to The Fields of Athenry and biographical information about Pete St John.
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