Eoghan O'Malley has been watching UCD for many years, he explains why.
I began supporting UCD around the age of 15 in the mid 1990’s over in Belfield Park. It was purely by chance. A friend of mine mentioned there was a game going on across the road (we lived in Booterstown) and would I like to go along - it was shamrock rovers against our lot – the likes of Clive Delaney, Ciaran Kavanagh and even Derek Swan were in the team. I went more for the chat with my pal than anything else. I never even knew there was a top level club on my doorstep!
I don’t remember the score that day but since then I’ve become an avid supporter of the club.Football fans are strange beings. Once we have our club that’s it for life. It’s been said you’re more likely to change your wife than your football team and it’s true! I can never imagine not supporting UCD. The more I’ve supported the team the more I’ve got to know the ins and outs of how the club operates and the amazing work on the few who keep the show on the road. The ability of the coaching staff to deal with the constant turnover of players each year and yet still put out a team that can compete, and more than that, compete by playing an attractive brand of passing football is extraordinary.
I have over the years dragged some of my friends down to watch a game and they are always genuinely impressed with the quality of the UCD players and the style of play. As a UCD fan my expectations for the club on the pitch are tempered by knowledge that just being in the division each year is an achievement in itself. Given the lack of resources in comparison to other clubs it defies logic that we manage to compete year on year and yet we do. It seems to me the clubs philosophy of investing time and effort in the development of the technical and tactical awareness of young players is unmatched by any club in the league. The fact that so many of our players end up being corner stones of other clubs after their time at UCD is testament to this.
My fondest memory of supporting UCD AFC came at Belfield Park on Saturday May 19th 2001 in a relegation playoff match with Athlone Town. The game finished 2-1 to UCD on the night and 3-3 on aggregate – it meant a penalty shootout would decide whether or not we would remain in the division. The atmosphere at the game was electric, the tension was incredible as the shootout took place. I was standing behind the goal the penalties were being taken and I remember vividly the look of sheer determination in the eyes of Barry Ryan (our goalkeeper at the time) as he walked to take his place between the sticks. I just knew he was not going to be beaten. Sure enough he ended up saving two penalties and sparked the only pitch invasion I can ever remember as a fan of UCD. It was fantastic.
Ryan was lifted onto the shoulders of the supporters as he was carried hero-like around the pitch to chants of ‘Bazza’ ‘Bazza’. What a night!
Ok, it might not be a league winning moment or a cup success but these moments will live long into my memory and are what encapsulates being a football fan.
So why do I support UCD AFC? I suppose it’s a combination of things really - the quality and style of the football, the continued achievement of remaining competitive in an extraordinarily difficult league, the pride in the clubs ability to develop such talented young players – but more than any of this, it’s the emotions it stirs in you being a fan. It’s for the nights like Saturday May 19th 2001 that we as football fans live for. There’s not much else that can touch these feelings. So if it’s your first time down at the UCD Bowl for god’s sake don’t let it be your last. I assure you, you wont regret it!