When we come together as Mayo supporters, we do so from many different places. Here’s first time guest contributor Trevor Naughton with his story on being an avid follower of the county team.
The GAA is founded on supporting the team where you are born. I am an oddity. My name is Trevor Naughton. I am born and bred Kildare but I am a Mayo supporter through and through.
What’s this all about you may ask?
My father Michael Naughton is a Mayo football fanatic from Lahardane and down to him I am exactly the same. He looks like that politician Dick Spring and as I’m the young lad I’m the Junior Minister. By right I should be supporting Kildare but my Dad’s love of Mayo has been passed on to me!
Photo: Trevor Naughton, featuring Trevor, his father Michael and Billy Joe Padden
Basically he met my mother and settled in Maynooth, Co. Kildare in 1979. For me my football team was always, as that lovely new song goes, “Only Mayo”.
As a child Dad brought me to Mayo matches up and down the country. Always making the long trek for league matches that meant little or nothing to anyone else but meant the world to me.
This was where I fell in love with the Green and Red. Those days, Mayo would often be beaten and I would return home to my friends who would slag off Mayo, but it was water off a duck’s back. This was my Dad’s team and my team. I always fought our corner. Even more so in school against Meath and Kildare lads!
The highlight of my own playing career came very early in Croke Park at U14 for Maynooth Post Primary School in 1995. We played the “full pitch” and won by 4-3 to 2-7 against the fabled O’Connell’s School from Jones Road. I kicked one point from play into Hill 16 and felt like a hero that day. My best memory was not playing in Croker at all. When I got home Dad said “Congrats Willie Joe”. I felt like a king that day.
Most of Dad’s friends are all from various parts of Mayo – Murrays from Achill, Pigeons from Swinford and Kilkenny from Aghamore to name a few. Mighty men one and all.
When Mayo lost it was us against the world surrounded by Kildare folk. When Mayo won, you’d hear “It’s only Connacht” but it didn’t bother me.
Around ’96/7 I’d started to work in a local shop and I’d wear my jersey to work as often as possible. Jimmy Nallen worked in Maynooth College at the time and he was a customer and he was always generous enough to stop and chat. I think he thought I was a bandwagon jumper but seeing me wear the Mayo jersey all through Kildare’s run in ’98 (especially after 1996/7) must have convinced him otherwise!
I was asked a hundred times those days “If Mayo played Kildare in an All-Ireland who would you support?” The answer was always Mayo.
The group of us going to matches may have dwindled over the years due to the passing of good men like Eamonn Gallagher from Achill or Danny Fitz (from Cavan, but a convert to going to games). But the craic is still ninety going to Mayo matches.
The advent of Twitter has allowed me get in touch with other Mayo GAA folk and meeting at games is always great craic. You would not meet better than Nigel Quinn, Emma McDonagh, Anne-Marie Flynn and John Courell (@maigheoforsam, @emmamc7, @amflynn and @jcourell respectively) to name a few! I’ve even converted the Oul’ Lad to Twitter.
Over the last few years, the season ticket has rewarded the loyal supporter and given I have no club in Mayo I’m glad of it, especially come final time. I hope everyone who deserves a ticket gets one and I’d like to wish every Mayo supporter a joyous build-up to the final and an even better after party.
Losing all those finals has not made me waiver, only hungrier and I won’t go hungry much longer. This team is simply the best ever assembled.
So Mayo people, never forget how lucky you are to be from a county that has been so consistent at producing top quality footballers and people. Never get down on your county. I’m from Kildare supporting Mayo and even the Kildare folk have given up questioning it. Its a feckin’ mighty place you are from.
Mayo for Sam.
Trevor Naughton is on Twitter @trevornaughton.