Imagine being two-nil down with ten men. In the country’s biggest derby in front of 80,000. With a further 20 million watching on TV. And then scoring a very late hat-trick to win the game. That is exactly how Dublin-born Eamon Zayed introduced himself to fans of his new club Perepolis in the Sorkhabi derby against Esteghal – only the second time he turned out for the Tehran club.
The goals were decent too (especially the first one) – check out the video below. “It was Roy of the Rovers stuff,” Zayed said after the game, “fairytale stuff really and everything since has been mad, surreal but great at the same time”.
I’ve always been a fan of Irish-based players plying their trade in more exotic lands (as previously blogged), but given exactly how passionate Iranians are for the beautiful game, you can rest assured Eamon Zayed is a household name this weekend. Not bad for the former Bray, Drogheda and Derry City striker. Good on him, I say!
I’ll admit it – it’s been years since I’ve gone to a League of Ireland game. A variety of reasons (including if I’m honest – laziness) have prevented me in the past from going – despite, on more than one occasion, being offered free tickets last season. But not this year. No sir, I aim to go to as many games as possible. If I can get to at least a dozen games, I’ll be happy. It’s a great league and it needs the support.
Previously, I might have argued that I’d always keep an eye out for the results on a Friday night, but that’s hardly supporting Irish football. I mean, I’ve been to the Camp Nou at least several more times than I’ve ever been to say, the Carlisle Grounds or Tallaght Stadium – and as much as I love me some Barça, it’s not like they need my business.
Gary Twigg was the top goalscorer last season
Now there is a lot of passionate support in the league. Just ask any Bohs or Rovers fan when they face each other. But it is however lacking the support in numbers. If it had more numbers, clubs like Sporting Fingal (who impressively finished 4th last season) wouldn’t have folded so easily. Take comedian Eric Lalor for example, he’s been a Bohemians fan for all his life, regularly goes to games and takes his kids with him. If more people were like Eric, Irish football would be in a better place, if even slightly.
There’s only two games gone so far this season – it’s early days. If you like football, get behind the league and join me in going to a couple of games this season. Trust me, for the atmosphere and experience alone it’s worth heading out for.