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FLOWER LODGE NOSTALGIA

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Flower Lodge! Central Component of Cork Soccer

It was Cork's answer to Anfield, Old Trafford and even Wembley Stadium. The surface was inch perfect and good players excelled, not to mention the electronic atmosphere when Cork Hibernians were at their zenith. For Cork's population of soccer players, running down the slope and on to the green carpet, was equal to playing in Semple Stadium or any other major Irish stadium.

It didn't have floodlights, it didn't even have a decent stand and 'Standing' was the operative word. Before the GAA Ban on its players was lifted, the era when looking over a wall at a soccer match by a hurler or gaelic footballer, could result in suspension, Flower Lodge was the No.1 home of Cork soccer. Unfortunately it wasn't owned by a Cork League of Ireland club. A.O.H. were the landlords..that is the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

The landlords had no compunction about door to door money collections to fundraise for the purchase of Flower Lodge and that issue was mentioned many times when the 'For Sale' sign emerged. The memories of a glorious times past soccer era always come rushing back when the two words 'Flower Lodge' are spoken. Our headline picture depicts a large crowd crashing through the gate sometime after the interval and fans seeking a glimpse, had already been down the road at the old Cork Athletic Grounds, also a fine stadium in its own timeframe.

Cork historian, Plunket Carter, composed a brilliant historic review of the former Flower Lodge stadium and all the countless gigantic matches witnessed by thousands of Cork soccer fans. That will come later. Many of Europe's greatest players made their way down the famus slope and heaped great praise on the impeccable surface. We seldom hear about the pioneering men who created such a magnificent stadium and maybe they should have tendered for the current Páirc Uí Chaoimh surface contract a few years ago.

The purchase of Flower Lodge by Cork GAA was not openly welcomed by thousands of sports fans, as it was the homeplace of Cork soccer. And now in 21st century Cork City, no Cork League of Ireland club possesses the asset of owning their own stadium. Cork soccer cried bitter tears when the famed venue went into GAA ownership and in October 2020, the faith of Cork soccer at League of Ireland status, is again hanging by a loose thread.

A gallery of Cork junior and senior soccer clubs own their own grounds but the elite grade of Cork League of Ireland clubs, with the exception of Fordsons Ballinlough ground in the early 1900's, never signed a property deal acquiring their own facility. Curraheen Road did materialise in the early 1990's when Cork City played out of the west side grounds, but alas the fuse burnt out. 

At Blackrock Online in our Soccer SportsLife category, fans wishing to explore valid statements on the continuing ill health of Cork soccer at premier level, are welcome to submit their submissions for publication.

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More in this category: « Cork AUL Times Past

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