Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, the nation woke up to the news that our national treasure Jack Charlton had died.
For anyone who didn’t live through the euphoria of Euro 88 and Italia 90, it is impossible to understand the pure joy, ecstasy and unbridled pride that the Irish football team, under the management of Big Jack brought to our country.
At that time Ireland was just coming out of a recession (what’s new). We were (and still are) a little island out on the periphery of Europe and we lacked the confidence to believe that we could compete, let alone win against the Big Boys. They showed us that David can indeed beat Goliath. And if we could do it in football, we could do it in anything.
I have been looking at TV footage of those times and it’s hard to believe the scenes of packed pubs, crowds thronging the streets and people hugging each other!!! Hard to believe there was a time when we could do that, or a time when we had a reason to do so!
My favourite Jack Charlton story is the one of his friendship with Sr Pius. Many years ago when I was in boarding school, Sr Pius was one of the nuns in charge of us. She had won a signed football and Jack had to drop it into the convent as he was passing through Rochfortbridge on his way to a fishing spot in the West. It must have been some conversation because they became firm friends. She went to every match and function afterwards.
When Sr Pius died a few years ago, Jack’s wife sent flowers. I’d say Jack and Sr Pius are in that great dug-out in the sky, having a great catch up at the moment.....and lamenting the current state of Irish football!