History of the St. Anne's club is an entertaining read
Every cloud has a silver lining so they say, and mine was delivered to me during the vile weather late last week in the form of a local G.A.A. history book that ought to be cherished.
We tend to concentrate on the list of best sellers for the most part in this column, but every now and then it does no harm to delve deeper and see what's on offer in our own area.
'October 2000', the history of St. Anne's (Rathangan) G.A.A. club, was launched on Saturday week in their crowded clubhouse, and I was delighted to be there.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't have found the time so quickly to read its 516 pages cover to cover, but Emma and the Beast that followed in her wake made that task a lot easier from last Thursday to Saturday.
That book was my constant companion in the comfort of my sitting room as the storm raged outside, and it was a most informative, educational, entertaining and nostalgic read.
Jim Berry has done a marvellous job in chronicling the history of his parish club that means to much to him, and in truth he was the perfect man for the arduous task.
After all, he played with St. Anne's for the best part of 30 years from the mid-1950s onwards, and he has been a mentor and official at all levels as well as attaining high office himself as a former Chairman of Wexford County Board and the Leinster Council.
As Jim rightly notes in his conclusion, an accumulation of statistics can often be boring, so he felt it was important to intersperse the factual accounts with some amusing tales.
A couple involving Davy Rowe, one of the top football defenders in Wexford in the late sixties and early seventies, were my favourites.
During a big game in 1966, Davy was soloing down the sideline close to selector Stephen Roche, and with every step he took, the roars for him to 'kick the ball in' were growing ever louder.
Eventually Davy slowed to walking pace, gestured as if he was going to give a pass to the mentor, and said: 'here Stephen, kick the f****** ball yourself'!
Four years later, during a typically rough and tumble game against Castletown, their inter-county forward, Joe O'Shaughnessy, was being sent-off along with Rich O'Connor of St. Anne's, the father of long-time Wexford hurler, David.
Rich felt he was mistakenly identified, with his gestures suggesting that the real culprit may, in fact, have been the bould Davy who was marking Joe at the time.
'Go ahead Rich, you are bringing a good player with you,' was Davy's witty summation of the incident as he escaped censure.
That's just a brief flavour of what to expect in a very detailed book. I was interested in the section on the Senior hurling-winning St. Anne's team of 1924, as they weren't actually parish-based.
While three from Rathangan did play, they trained in Mayglass and were in effect a combined south Wexford outfit with players from the current Kilmore and St. Fintan's catchment areas as well.
On a personal note, Jim's detailed recall of the various pitches used by the club down through the years brought out a wry smile.
In the early eighties all St. Anne's home games in Bord na nOg were played on a pitch covered in sheep droppings. I maintain it was worth at least five points to them against us townies as we hated it!
This book should be treasured, not just by the people in Rathangan parish but by anyone who ever played against this formidable club. I'd happily write another thousand words on it if I had the space, but suffice to say it comes highly recommended.