World Cup - Portlaoise puncture inspired historic chapter in Irish soccer folklore

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

Ireland won't be at the World Cup in Russia but 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the country's historic victory over England in the 1988 European Championships in Germany.

Apart from Ray Houghton putting the ball in the England net in Stuttgart a song by the great Christy Moore about Ireland's adventure that year remains one of the most famous and popular Irish sporting songs ever recorded.

Joxer Goes to Stuttgart was penned about Joxer from Inchichore in Dublin and his adventure following the Irish team in Germany.

Recalling how he came to write the song to the Irish Times, Christy Moore said there was a Portlaoise connection.

"We got a puncture outside Portlaoise coming from a gig in Kerry. As luck would have it the spare was also punctured. I spent hours in the van while Sid went off to get the spare fixed at 3am. By the time he returned I had the basics of a song in place.

"Without that nail in Portlaoise, Joxer would never have made it to Stuggart," he told the paper.

The song wasn't written until 1989.

LYRICS Joxer Goes to Stuttgart
It was in the year of eighty-eight, in the lovely month of June,
When the gadflies were swarming and dogs howling at the moon,
Ah with rosary beads and sandwiches for Stuttgart we began,
Joxer packed his German phrase-book, and jump-leads for the van.

Ah well some of the lads had never been away from home before.
It was the first time Whacker put his foot outside of Inchicore.
And before we left for Europe, we knew we’d need a plan,
So we all agreed that Joxer was the man to drive the van.

In Germany the Autobahn was like the Long Mile Road
There was every make of car and van, all carrying the full load
Ford Transits and Hiaces, and an old Bedford from Tralee,
With the engine overheating from long-hauling duty free.

There were fans from Ballyfermot, Ballybough and Ballymun
On the journey of a lifetime and the craic was ninety one
Joxer met a German’s daughter on the banks of the River Rhine
and he told her she’d be welcome in Ballyfermot anytime

And as soon as we found Stuttgart, we got the wagons in a ring
Sean óg got out the banjo and Peter played the mandolin.
Oh there were fans there from everywhere, attracted by the sound
At the first Fleadh Ceol in Europe and Joxer passed the flagon round

But the session it ended when we’d finished all the stout
The air mattresses inflated and the sleeping bags rolled out
As one by one we fell asleep, Joxer had a dream
He dreamt himself and Jack Charlton sat down to pick the team

Joxer dreamt they both agreed on Packie Bonner straight away
And that Moran, Whelan and McGrath were certainly to play
Ah but tempers they began to rise, patience wearing thin
Jack wanted Cascarino, but Joxer wanted Quinn

And the dream turned into a nightmare, Joxer stuck the head on Jack
Who wanted to bring Johnny Giles and Eamonn Dunphy back
Ah well the cock crew in the morning, it crew both loud and shrill
And Joxer woke up in his sleeping bag many miles from Arbour Hill

Ah next morning none of the experts gave us the slightest chance
They said that the English team would lead us on a merry dance
Ah with their union jacks all them English fans for victory they were set
Until Ray Houghton got the ball and he stuck it in the net

What happened next is history, brought tears to many eyes
Oh that day will be the highlight of many people’s lives
Well Joxer climbed right over the top and the last time he was seen
Was arm-in-arm with Jack Charlton, singing ‘Revenge for Skibbereen’.

Ah now Whacker’s back in Inchicore, he’s living with his Mam
And Jack Charlton has been proclaimed an honorary Irishman
Listen do you remember that German’s daughter on the banks of the River Rhine
Ah jeez, well didn’t she show up in Ballyfermot last week