Headless Horseman

Miss Ethel remembered The Rocks of High Street where many generations spent idyllic days of youth.  Even in your editor’s time, when inter-estate soccer leagues were first established, we played many of our games there.  I’ll never forget our first ever game up High Street way.

Meadow Rangers were 2-0 up against our bitter High Street rivals and confident we could hold them to a draw in their home leg.  They for their part were suspiciously ebullient as though they had a trick up their sleeve.  As already indicated, due to the efforts of our parents the Resi was transformed into a rush-less, fairly even surfaced playing field.  By way of contrast, The Rocks were no less than their name implied, an undulating stony surface interspersed with strategically-placed sharp-edged rocky outcrops.  I had failed to impress the selectors in the season to date and I was relegated from my position of left-half to goals [next step, behind the goal!].  By common consent, the goals could be stopped by any gauche individual capable of getting in the way.  (Pat Jennings was the only but very obvious exception).  That was my speciality.

There was a high rocky outcrop to my left but counted as part of the playing surface.  Within five minutes there was a great cheer and roar of approval from the fans on the sideline, dominated of course by the home side’s support.  I turned to them for explanation but they just rolled with laughter and pointed to the ball in the back of my net.  Before I received an explanation the kick-off had been taken and the process had been repeated.  Rockview Rangers strategy was to play down their right wing to the right full forward.  Well used to the topology, he floated an easy ball over the outcrop.  The keeper only spied it as it filled his net.  We went down 5-0 and I swear I never saw one coming.  High Street fans were ecstatic.

‘There was a legend,’ Miss Ethel continued, ‘about a headless horseman, seen at midnight, the ghost of a rider from Ballyholland who plunged his horse down the well and was drowned.  I used to lie awake at night in absolute terror, waiting for the sound of galloping hooves. 

Recalling how Bishop Mulhern who lived then in Ardmaine (the nursing home of today on the Fullerton Road) would occasionally stroll down High Street towards the Cathedral, complete with top hat and pectoral cross, she said,

‘The word would go out and everyone would be awaiting his return.  We would go down on one knee, kiss his ring and say, ‘Good morning, your Lordship’.  If you were lucky he would put his hand on your head.

More later!

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