Thursday, July 24, 2008

Club Focus - Drogheda United

Champions League - You're having a laugh!

The team that will play Dynamo Kyiv in the second qualifying round of the Champions League this season are Ireland's Drogheda United. Qualifying games tend to lack the pomp and glamour of the group stages, but I'v enjoyed previous qualifying games when Neftchi Baku played Shiroki Bereg of Bosnia and Dynamo took on Trabzonspor. This time it's the turn of Trabzonspor's sister club Drogheda.

Drogheda got through a difficult first round qualifying game against Levadia, who at this moment are leading the Estonian League. It is only their second trip to Europe, last year they qualified for the UEFA Cup and beat HJK Helsinki 4-2 on aggregate in the first qualifying round before going out to FC Start of Norway on penalties in the second.

Drogheda United were formed in 1919 and were always a non-league club. In 1962 another club from Drogheda, Drogheda FC were elected to the League of Ireland and in 1975 both clubs were joined together to form the present day Drogheda United. Their first ever trophy of note came in 1983/84 when they won the League Cup, it was also the season of their highest ever finish in the League. They came 2nd albeit 16 points below champions Athlone Town. Their victory was also short lived as the following season a second tier was introduced to the League of Ireland and Drogheda United were relegated.

Since then Drogheda United have always been seen as a bit of a yo-yo club, but in recent years they have achieved a fairly decent level of success in 2005 they won the FAI Cup, which led to their qualification for the UEFA Cup. They then went on to win back to back Setanta Cups in 2006 and 2007 and obviously qualify for the Champions League.

One of the most interesting things about the club is their badge and links with Turkey. The badge comes from when in 1845 the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmeild decided to send 10,000 pounds to help the Irish during the famine. Queen Victoria (boo) told him only to send 1,000, however. He agreed to do this, but also sent 3 ships full of food. The British tried to block these ships, but they got through and the food arrived in Drogheda harbour.

See, you can learn other stuff from football!

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