Football was played in Northern Ireland yesterday. Yes, on a SUNDAY!
And upon leaving the Oval after Glentoran’s 1-0 win over Bangor, a quick glance to the sky revealed that we weren’t about to be struck down by a plague of locusts, frogs or any other biblical phenomena. Indeed, the whole day — apart from the match itself which was a bit of a stinker — was a resounding success, showing that our local game is, amazingly, ready to go all modern on us and embrace Sunday football.
There were a handful of protesters from the Free Presbyterian Church, outside the east Belfast venue — playing football on the Sabbath is seemingly frowned upon, yet taking the time away from keeping it holy, to protest, is fair game — but that was merely a footnote on a day when history was made.
For too long we have sat in the doldrums, giving Sunday football a wide berth for fear of offending the church-going minority while up and down the country, cricket, hockey and most other sports carry on regardless and without anyone batting an eyelid.
Both clubs should be commended for taking this massive step forward, the quick thinking to reschedule the postponed match from Saturday shows that some of the men in charge of football here do have the guts to make decisions that they feel will shake up our domestic game.
However, I wouldn’t get too excited at the thought of this becoming a regular occurrence, in fact, it would be crazy to do it too often. The reasonably good crowd — higher than your average gate at the Oval against a team of Bangor’s stature — was helped by the fact that TV’s only offering yesterday was Police Academy II.
The fact that this was an international weekend and no other football was being played ‘across the water’ meant that from a sporting point of view, the Glens had a captive audience.
Try to do this on any other Sunday and watch how many people decide that putting their feet up in front of the telly to watch the English Premier League — even if the game happens to be Wigan Athletic against Stoke City — is a much more attractive proposition than a freezing cold terrace at Solitude or Stangmore Park.
Unfortunately the world we live in dictates that Irish League football lags quite a way behind the glitzy English brand of the game, however, given a bit of foresight, there is no reason why we can’t have a Super Sunday here and there of our own.