In the summer of my junior year in college, I worked at a marine biology lab in Ireland, doing shoreline transects and updating a census of nesting northern fulmars.
But, really, it was a soccer summer: that was the year, 1988, that the Irish team qualified for the European cup soccer championships and the whole country was crazy for soccer. I still find myself from time to time — like, this morning, for some reason — singing the chorus to the song that marked the occasion:
Show them what we’ve got;
We can beat that lot;
We can celebrate;
In Euro Eighty-Eight.
Mediocre, yes, but catchy. It served as the the national fight song and got constant rotation on the radio shows we used to listen to in the common room at the marine station. Ireland was eliminated, eventually, but not before defeating England 1-0, to the universal delirium of the Irish. Winning the whole tournament would have been great; beating England was better.
Christy Moore has a typically wonderful song, Joxer Goes to Stuttgart, about that epic day, 12 June 1988:
Next morning not one of the papers gave us the slightest chanceThey said the English team would lead us on a merry danceWith their Union Jacks them English fans for victory were set
Until Ray Houghton got the ball and he stuck it in the net.What happened next is history, brought tears to many eyesThat day will be the highlight of many people’s livesWhy Joxer climbed right over the top and the last time he was seenWas arm in arm with Jack Charlton singing “Revenge for Skibbereen”.