While we were visiting Northern Ireland and the most interesting grounds in and around Belfast, we also took the liberty to cruise around in Dublin, Ireland. The absolute priority on our list was Dalymount Park, the home of Irish football and home ground of Bohemian FC.
The oldest team in the League of Ireland and of the current Ireland was founded in 1890. Between 1902 and 1920 they were a member of Irish Football League (when Northern Ireland and Ireland still had one football competition and in 1921 they were one of the founding fathers of the League of Ireland. Moreover, it's the only one of two clubs to have been members of this league since the beginning and the only team to have always played in the top division. Something to be very proud of.
After having won the cup in 1908 the titles started coming in as of 1924 when they won their first championship. In 1928 the first double was achieved and afterwards another three championships and one cup were won. But then the first struggles started. Since the Bohs sticked to a strict amateur status they went on for over 30 years without winning anything. In 1969 finally the decision was made to start working with professional players. And with success.
During the 70s two championships, two Irish cups and two league cups were won which made them the most successful Irish team in that decade. It also gave them the first European games. The 80s however were exactly the opposite and again Bohemian FC didn't win anything. The next trophy was only won in 1992 with a fifth Irish cup. In the new millennium more championships and cups were added to the glorious list. Since 2009 though it has become quiet again. Ten years later we hope the Bohs will win more trophies. A team with such a history and such a wonderful stadium deserves more.
Which brings us to the wonderful Dalymount Park. For the first eleven years Bohemian FC wandered around with spells in Phoenix Park, Jones Road (now known as Croke Park) and Whitehall Farm. In 1901 finally Dalymount Park was opened. A wonderful football history started and the stadium has seen almost everything. Over 100 years later (in 2006) the Bohs were forced to sell the stadium though to a developer. Ever since it has been a big question mark to what exactly is going to happen to the stadium. In 2015 it was decided the Dublin City Council would buy the ground and the R word started to pop up. Now a plan has been made and it seems 2019 will be the last year the Bohs will play at Dalymount Park in its current state.
In the beginning Dalymount Park was just a pitch with ropes around it. Very quickly two wooden stands were built and ever since it was growing into the home of Irish football. More and more cup finals and Irish national games were played there in the next couple of decades. Especially as of the 20s (up until the 40s) the stadium expanded to a ground where up to 40,000 people could see a wonderful game. The last great update during the absolute peak days were the floodlights that were bought from Arsenal FC in 1962.
Since the 80s the stadium became a stadium in decay. and after a game against Italy in 1985 it became clear the capacity was no longer safe for 40,000 visitors. Safety reasons made the capacity to 22,000 maximum. The next couple of years the ground became more and more in decay (and at the same time more and more interesting for groundhoppers), although Bohemian FC tried to modernise the stadium. In 1999 a new stand was erected, but that wasn't enough. In 2011 one stand (which was already knocked down half) was completely closed for matches. After the current 2019 season, this stadium will be no longer and will be completely redeveloped. Ready to be shared between Bohemian FC and Shelbourne FC. We secretly hope we can still witness a game there before it gets knocked down.
The biggest rivalries are with Shamrock Rovers and Shelbourne FC, which is a nice little detail as it's very likely the Bohs will need to start ground sharing their "new" stadium with Shelbourne FC and they had to share it before with Dublin City FC, Sporting Fingal and Shamrock Rovers. Interestingly enough the team can count on the support of famous people like Johnny Logan and Samuel L Jackson.