It has to be said that over the past two or three years the increase in colour and flags at Mayo GAA games is very evident. Standing on the Nally terrace last year watching the pre-match parade wind its way towards the Cusack Stand was something I will never forget. The sea of green and red flags that covered the famous stand was truly a sight to marvel at. It was almost like a throwback to the 1990s when bringing a flag to the game was the norm.
Huge credit must go to organisations like Club ’51 who encourage supporters to bring colour and noise to Mayo games. Without their enthusiasm and drive, matches would without doubt be less colourful.
After last year’s All-Ireland final loss a few supporters gathered in this famed county and came together to form ideas as to what could be done to bring colour at Mayo games to the next level. It was evident during both All-Ireland finals last year that there were considerably fewer flags on the terrace than what were in the stands.
This was due to the fact that the Croke Park stewards were taking the sticks off people’s flags as they were entering the terrace. I am not going to go into the politics of this and discuss the health and safety logic behind it, however it must be said that the display of flags on the terrace would be better if the sticks had been allowed in.
After a period of banging heads together and having discussions with several supporters both within and outside the county, we decided to come up with an idea that would create a focal point for supporters on the terraces. We decided to form the Mayo Independent Supporters Club. This is a non-profit, unofficial supporters club whose main aim is to better even further the displays of colour at Mayo games, both home and away.
The club aims to do this by bringing giant flags to Mayo games and passing them over people’s heads before the game starts. There were several calls on this website last year for a giant flag to be brought to games. However, this never materialised. The bringing of a giant flag may not be to everyone’s liking, however it cannot be underestimated what a visual display of colour can do to lift a team on the pitch. At this stage we would try anything to get our lads over the line!
At present the club has four large ‘surfer’ flags, 60ft x 30ft, 54ft x 15ft, 30ft x 18ft and 20ft x 10ft. These have been donated to the club and are there for the use of every Mayo supporter. In addition to this, we have in excess of 100 green and red flags as well as banners that could be given out to supporters on match days. Depending on the health and safety regulations within the ground, this may be a non-runner but we will cross that bridge when it comes into view.
As already mentioned, we are a non-profit group. We will never ask fellow supporters to put their hands in their pockets and donate towards the flags and banners. Going to a game is expensive enough without asking you to do that. All we ask of the Mayo supporters is to get involved and help us out to create the displays. Our largest flag weighs over 50 kgs so you can appreciate that it takes a little bit of effort to get it in and out of a stadium.
It is hoped that the organisation of the club will work as follows. A week or so before a Mayo game we will post our plans on Twitter and on our website. These plans will include picking a spot in the stadium to set up the display as well as times etc. If you are interested in getting involved or would simply like to help out with unfurling the flag then you can send on your interest via Twitter, email or the website before the game.
Here’s to even more noise and colour as another championship campaign following the Green and Red prepares to get going.