Monday, 26 November 2007

Healy still a wanted man in Prague?

A rather pertinent point has been raised by David Healy himself, who has reminded the IFA that his return to the Czech Republic may allow a rather sticky legal situation to re-emerge arising from Northern Ireland’s previous visit in 2001.

Back then the GAWA had travelled in substantial numbers to Prague and on the day of the match were transported to Teplice, several hours away and close to the German border, in an endless convoy of coaches. A small square close to the stadium was colonised and several hours of beer and song were shared with Czech supporters. An emergent striker called Milan Baros played a role in the Czech’s 3-1 win, coming off the bench to score a goal in stoppage time, after Kuka’s 88th minute strike had finally edged his side in front. I had missed Phil Mulryne’s equaliser, having already made a move to the refreshments queue just prior to half-time.

Having returned to Prague that evening and spent several hours in the legendary Thirsty Dog pub, a Ballymena / Coleraine detachment of GAWA foot soldiers were winding their way up Prague’s medieval Karlova when a rumour emerged that several of the players were in an adjacent bar. Sure enough a crepuscular basement venue was playing host to the goalscorer Mulryne, Peter Kennedy, Glenn Ferguson, Michael Hughes and the beknighted one himself – Sir David Healy of Killyleagh.

This venue was not to witness the bouncer attacking incident which was to earn this quintet, with Mulryne substituted for goalkeeping coach Tommy Wright, the title of “Prague 5”. That doubtful honour was reserved for the Atlas Cabaret club near Wenceslas Square. Our personal brush with greatness ended having secured photographs and insulted Glenn Ferguson by asking him to take one of us “with the players”. We moved on to another venue. Rumours emerged the next day that 5 players had been arrested. This proved to be the case. It was alleged that they had attacked a bouncer with a vase after he had demanded some outrageous sum to permit them to leave the nightclub. With typical competence the IFA left the next day after the players had been released and didn’t wait to see what the outworking of the incident would be.

Now of course, Healy is worried that returning to Prague, he’ll be met by the Czech police and arrested for a supposed attack on one of the extortionist thugs who man the door of Czech nightclubs.

Update: Jim Boyce says Healy will be grand. He doesn't actually quote any sources for his opinion or indeed provide any evidence to back it up. Nor does he say that he's actually checked with the Czech authorities.

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