Branch History - Chapter 11

Glentoran, Northern Ireland

Dundee United Supporters Association Edinburgh and Lothians’ Branch
Report on trip to Glentoran 13/9/89
Written by Richard Robertson
(Editor’s note: what is really heartening about this report is the efforts put in by the home club to welcome and look after us. This is a repeat of what happened in other trips to Bohemians (Dublin) and Antwerp (Belgium).

Some Early Problems

Due to late confirmations and need to await committee decision to proceed on 4th September the bus booking was not confirmed by letter until 7th September. Willie Mason (bus company) did not receive this until 11th September (although I confirmed booking with his secretary on 8th September). As a result as this was also the Edinburgh holiday weekend period no toilet/video bus was available. The only coach available was from Allans of Gorebridge and was a video coach only. Toilet buses and higher quality coaches will be needed for future trips although no one complained mainly because it was a 51 seater and everyone had plenty of room.

Everyone arrived early on Wednesday morning and despite 2 late call offs M Millett (deposit £10) and K Toshney (deposit £5) we left Lothian Road at 7.10am. A decision will be required on charging for the call offs.

Ireland Here We Come

Our first stop was at Haymarket station for a toilet stop 10 minutes later. The journey was uneventful apart from heavy traffic at East Kilbride and a toilet stop at Maybole. We arrived at Stranraer at 10.30am. The party were given a lecture on standards of behaviour expected and the ferry boarding facilities were completed. Several of our members were confused (now there is a change) about the need to return to the bus to leave the boat...we had to return to the terminal to collect them. Meantime, as previously arranged, our hosts had boarded the bus.

Well Looked After

We travelled to the Westbourne Supporters Club and arrived about 2.30pm. Much time was taken up in photo sessions for local press (cuttings were promised) (editor’s comment Where are they now?) and after the arrival of the Dundee Social club buses, meals were arranged for all travelling. After the food came the speeches and presentations, both myself and a representative from the Social club thanked our hosts for the hospitality provided. With this exceptional effort from our hosts I decided to hand to the club officials over a number of scarves which we had brought over hoping to sell. Most members of our party stayed at the club although a few decided to travel further. Most were offered transport to and from the ground in order to get souvenirs and have a look around the ground. Whilst some of us were there we met the arrival of the players. I was able to show Jim McLean the plaque we received and tell him how well we had been looked after and that we were all behaving ourselves.

And So To The Match

Facilities at the Ballymaccarret socials club at the ground were made available to us and I purchased 20 programmes for “stay at home“ supporters of the club. The match was enjoyable from the footballing point of view but there were a few unsavoury incidents.

Some Problems Off The Pitch

One of our supporters, let’s call him Joe X, was a known BNP member and he had taped a Union Jack in a prominent position at the corner flag. In view of the non sectarian policy of our club I promptly took it down. No sooner than this was resolved two further “supporters” – not in our party – put up another Union Jack in the same position. I along with support from others and a fair amount of verbal abuse took this one down as well. Joe X appeared to know these two but he was persuaded by my argument that to stay away from them or he was walking home. I was most concerned by the infiltration of sectarian/political groups and will be advising the authorities of this incident. The burning of a United scarf on the home terracing looked and stirred up a lot of bad felling.

After The Ball Was Over

As a result when we came out of the segregated area we were met by our hosts who escorted us back down to their club. We were treated to sandwiches/sausage rolls and a free drink and watched the football on TV. By this time the fatigue was setting in and as we said goodbye to our hosts at midnight sleep was beckoning for most. No incidents on way home most were sound asleep either on the bus or boat.

The Sealink Officer at Stranraer said he was delighted with our behaviour and the next conscious moment was the Newbridge roundabout. Lothian Road was reached at 7.30 am and our trip was over..