23 September 2008

Interview with Stevie G for ExtraTime.ie

Here's an interview where Stevie G chatted about Cork City for ExtraTime.ie

Original article here

Extratime with ... DJ Stevie G

By Joseph Sexton

Red FM presenter and club DJ Stevie G is a well-known figure on Leeside. Known as the Godfather of the Cork hip-hop scene after his long residency in Sir Henry’s, Stevie has been very active in recent years, organising musical workshops for youngsters and supporting the music community. Although famous for his support of Manchester United, Stevie is a fixture in the stands at Turner’s Cross for Cork City’s home games. ExtraTime.ie caught up with him last week to talk about City’s past and present, as well as its future prospects.

Q: How long have you been going to see Cork City?

Well, I’m old enough to remember the first couple of games. I would have been 8 or 9 back then. Now at that time there hadn’t been any team in Cork for a while. We’d all heard about the heyday at Flower Lodge back in the 70’s, but already by that stage I was already a big [Manchester] United fan. I always loved my soccer, and I went down to the games a lot during the 80’s. Of course it’s a big thing these days, it’s almost as if it has to be one thing or the other when it comes to following the national League or English football, but we never saw it like that. If anything, the two were complementary. I’d follow the Cork hurling and football teams, as well as the national team, and I went to a lot of games in 80’s. Like a lot of people, I found my interest waned during the Bishopstown era, but I still went to games regularly enough. Work commitments have got in the way at times, but for the last few years now I’ve been able to get down to see every home game. I’ll never claim to be a die-hard City fan, of course, but I’ve always followed the club’s progress throughout the years.

Q: Can you remember the first game you went to?

I can’t remember because I was so young at the time. I can remember there being a great buzz around the Lodge back around 1983, when Cobh had a good cup run. But my first City memory would be a cup game against Derry. The exact year escapes me, but I can remember it being a huge thing at the time. They brought a massive crowd down with them, as they always do. The game looked to be petering out towards the end, and then City nicked a goal in the last few minutes. I’ll never forget it. It could be nostalgia, but I remember it being absolutely packed down there that day- maybe more than 10,000. It was madness; people were already leaving, and they had to rush back in. That would be my first real memory anyway.

Q: Who would be your favourite City player over the years?

I’ve always liked strikers, so I’d have to mention Pat Morley. Everyone remembers Dave Barry of course; he was a great player over the years, pulling the strings from midfield. I’d have a lot of time for John Caulfield too, another good, honest forward. Of course, there have been some great defenders down through the years, but I’d always be inclined to go for the front men, or those in the middle.

Q: And what about the current City team? Who would be your favourite?

These days it’s hard because you get attached to players, and then they’re gone. I thought Mooney was unbelievable in the short time he was at the club, but for me it’s got to be Joe Gamble. He’s got great energy levels. It’s great to see Colin Healy playing here too, but for me Joe Gamble epitomises the last few years. I know he was close to leaving recently, but he’s been here now for a while and I hope he stays put as the team rebuild.

Q. What would be the highlight for you in the history of Cork City FC to date?

Obviously, there’s the Bayern Munich home game [UEFA Cup in 1991], and the away game too. Galatasaray also [1993]; being a United fan as well, United ended up losing to them just weeks later. City ran them close, and could have gone through, and that was great. You only have to look at what those Galatasaray players went on to do in later years. Then we had those great Euro runs in recent years, but for me it’s got to be winning the league in 1993 and 2005. I know they’ve won a couple of cups, but I just don’t find it to be the same thing. Winning leagues is the ultimate test for any side, so I’d have to go with those.

Q. What are your thoughts on the present uncertainty surrounding the club?

It’s unfortunate, but there’s so much good feeling towards the club. Of course, there is a fantastic hardcore support, but we do need bring in the wider public in Cork. I know there’s a huge ‘barstool’ thing; people go on about the bandwagon, and I know some people don’t want them. I can understand that. If you look at Munster, they were getting really low crowds even just a couple of year’s back, despite reaching European finals. We’ve seen situations with very low numbers heading up to follow the football side in All Ireland semi-finals, and then everyone’s looking for a ticket when they make the final. Even hurling, the real top dog for support, isn’t immune to this. City will have to look to draw in part of this element to grow. It’s important to keep the community thing going, and the hardcore is already there. Even through the last few months, the attendance has remained solidly above 3,000 a game.

I think the raw materials are there. With a bit more acumen, with a bit more support from the business community and some stability, the club can come through and improve in the future. The supporters trust is a massive thing; it’s great to see the fans pulling together. Maybe the club will end up following the Barcelona model, maybe not; but I don’t see the club going to the wall. Rumour has it that there are one or two people with muscle and ability looking to step in too, and I’d welcome that. These people apparently welcome the idea of getting [supporters trust] FORAS on board, which would be great. I’m sure it will all work out one way or another. Let’s not forget the mess Ramblers are in though- I think the FAI and the league have got to look after things a bit better but it can be done.

Q. Finally Stevie, what does Cork City mean to you?

It’s our local team. It’s the community. As I’ve said, the way it happened for me by the time Cork City came along, I’d already been crying when [Manchester] United lost. There was no City, there was hurling and football, and the stories of the great days of Cork soccer in the 1970s, Miah Dennehy and the like. So while I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t already formed the allegiance to United in my formative years, I’ve never had time for the whole barstooling thing. I can’t watch games in pubs myself, it does my head in. But what City means to me is the local banter. I’ve travelled to Old Trafford for years, but when it’s in your own town it’s just that extra bit special. You can’t beat that. We’re a sporting town, and it’s soccer right in the middle of town. Turner’s Cross is the place to be, I don’t think it was ever going to work in Bishopstown. It’s about local soccer, and the players we’ve seen especially in the last couple of years, but even going right back.

There are ignorant people out there who’ll say, ‘oh, I went there and the quality was crap’, but it’s not a bit like that. There’s better quality than a lot of top level soccer, all these hyped-up games on Sky and internationals; games with teams dogging it out for 120 minutes to get to penalties. Most teams in the league play good football now. Sure, there were times back in the day where there was a bit of hoofing, but sometimes you’ve got to hoof it too! But there’s quality football down there and a good vibe and I would encourage anyone to try it out. It’s fantastic. The Friday night thing is great also. For me it means that even with work I can make it down. It’s the perfect way to kick off the weekend. But most of all it’s about going down and getting behind your local team.

Stevie's Blog can be found here.

Cork City v Dungannon Swifts Match Report (22/09/2008)

Here's my match report for ExtraTime.ie

Original article here

There were no surprises at Turner’s Cross as Cork City emerged with a fairly comfortable 4-1 victory over Dungannon Swifts in tonight’s Setanta Sports Cup encounter. City led by two at the break, with goals from Darren Murphy and Liam Kearney doing little justice to a game which resembled a training match for the hosts throughout most of the half. It was a much improved performance from the visitors after halt-time, however; indeed, they had the Leesiders on the ropes for a short spell early in the second period. But on balance, Cork will believe, with some justification that they ought to have won by a greater margin. But the result, combined with Drogheda’s 2-0 victory over Cliftonville means that Alan Matthews’ side will have to be content with an away tie in the next round.

The hosts started brightly, with Lawrie Dudfield volleying narrowly wide from an acute angle in the third minute. Just two minutes later Darren Peden made a last minute lunge to hook the ball clear from the goal line. The clearance only went as far as Joe Gamble who teed the ball up for Denis Behan, but the big striker’s effort crashed back off the bar.

In the 8th minute, Behan produced a cool finish from a Lawrie Dudfield cut-back, but the assistant referee signaled for offside. It was a marginal call, and a couple of minutes later City were unlucky again. This time, a miscued cross from Alan O’Connor had Swifts’ keeper Nelson in all sorts of trouble. As the ball came back off the angle of the goal frame, Dudfield pushed it the wrong side of the post.

Behan came close with a beautifully struck volley following a Kearney corner, but it took until the 24th minute before the hosts finally translated their overwhelming superiority into a goal. Danny Murphy curled a glorious free kick in from the right and Darren Murphy stepped across the line unmarked to glance his header home past the stranded Nelson.

On 39 minutes, Cork caught the dozing Dungannon defence with a training ground corner routine on the right. Kearney played the ball short to Sullivan, and as the Swifts defence stepped forward, he played it back on to the sprightly winger. Kearney carried the ball into the area, beating Nelson at his far post with a placed finish.

Behan and Darren Murphy both came close for City following a brace of early second half corners, but the visitors switch to 4-4-2 was giving them an extra dimension in attack. With 52 minutes on the clock, Michael Hegarty’s chipped free-kick found Aaron Baker in acres of space. The hosts were still contesting the decision when Baker lifted the ball over the onrushing McNulty with ball dropping inches wide of the goal.

If there was a lesson to be learned about the pace of the Swifts front men the home defence seemed to be especially slow of learning. Baker was again on hand, skinning Corks defenders following a lightning break by McGerrigan. Once again, the striker’s effort dropped agonisingly wide.

Within seconds, it proved third time lucky for the visiting side. McGerrigan burst clear of the defence and with McNulty failing miserably to smother the ball on the edge of the area was left with a tap in. Suddenly it appeared a very different game. Cork were now looking shambolic in the face of Dungannon’s increased intensity.

With Sean Kelly injured, Alan Matthews brought on Darragh Ryan and moved Danny Murphy across to centre-back. With Dungannon playing it on the ground, the upshot was that Murphy's pace helped negate Dungannon’s attempts to break through the middle.

63 minutes in, City were awarded a penalty after McMinn wrestled Dudfield to the ground. Behan stepped up to the spot and made no mistake, dispatching the ball home with ease.

A few minutes later, Nelson caught his studs in the turf clearing the ball and looked to be in serious trouble. He tried his best to play on but it was clear that he was in no position to continue. On 69 minutes he rushed out, blocking a shot from Liam Kearney with his hands. Inexplicably, match referee Alan Kelly waved play on; Nelson had been a good 7 yards outside of his own area. By now, the keeper was visibly struggling; and as Gamble broke into the area on the right, he was left rooted to the spot as the ball reached the far post. Substitute Ryan was left was the simplest of tap-ins. Nelson was immediately re-placed by Brandon Regan.

That took the wind of the Swifts’ sails, and City now pushed on hoping to complete the rout. Kearney was give licence to roam and was causing consternation in the visitors’ ranks.

In the 78th minute, he played a wonderfully measured pass to Dudfield in the area. With the former Notts County man ready to pull the trigger he had the ball lifted off his toe by a visiting defender. Two minutes later, the winger was at it again. Collecting a throw in from the left, he burst into the area and cut the ball back for Ryan. This time, the full-back couldn’t keep his shot down.

With 7 minutes remaining, Kearney played another great ball from the left, this time picking out Alan O’Connor. The ball fell to O’Connor’s weaker foot though, his leaden touch sending the ball straight back out to the wing.

Further chances were to follow, with City’s Behan again hitting the bar and Dungannon having an effort cleared off the line, but neither side were able to add to their tally and the game finished 4-1.

Cork City (4-4-2) Mark McNulty; Pat Sullivan, Dan Murray, Sean Kelly, Danny Murphy; Liam Kearney, Joe Gamble, Darren Murphy, Alan O’Connor; Lawrie Dudfield, Denis Behan.

Subs: Darragh Ryan for Sean Kelly (61 mins); Gareth Cambridge for Joe Gamble (84 mins); Timmy Kiely for Lawrie Dudfield (88 mins).
Not used: Michael Devine, Neal Horgan. Billy Woods, Cillian Lordan.
Booked: Murray (76 mins).
Goals: Darren Murphy (23 mins); Kearney (39 mins); Behan (63 mins); Ryan (70 mins).

Dungannon Swifts (4-5-1) Dwayne Nelson; Ryan Mullan, Adam McMinn, Darragh Peden, Joe McKee; Jamie Tomelty, Michael Hegarty, Fergal McAliskey, Darren Murphy, Shea McGerrigan; Aaron Baker.

Subs: Aaron McIlwee for Darren Murphy (61 mins); Brandon Regan for Dwayne Nelson (64 mins); Timmy Adamson for Michael Hegarty (86 mins).
Not used: Rodney McAree.
Booked: McMinn (63 mins).
Goals: McGerrigan (54 mins).

Referee: Alan Kelly.

Man of the match: Liam Kearney.

Photo nicked from CorkCityFC.ie