This was originally written in 2011.

Michael Haining

Last week my cousin Michael Haining (or Hainey as he is called by many) was in town for a few days.

It was the first time for 37 years. He was brought up in the house in Bath Terrace between McGroarty’s B&B and Sean McLaughlin’s at the top of the main square.

Michael retired 4 years ago as a drama teacher at a school in Yorkshire.

Although he didn’t have time to touch base while he was here I have received a letter and an email since.

Great Moville Celtic Game

I remembered a great game from Moville Celtic’s past that I had seen when I was on holiday as a youngster. Both Michael and my cousin Billy Tierney from Rochdale were playing.

I knew that there had been a lot of ‘zing’ in the air before the game as it was a cup tie and this was the 4th match as the previous three had been drawn.

It would have been in the sixties.

Anyway let Michael tell the tale of the dramatic match.

Long Tower Boys Club

“I certainly recall the game you mentioned.”We were playing a Derry team, Long Tower Boys Club, I think.”It was the semi-final.

“1st game, we led 1-0 at half time, they equalised in the second half.

“2nd game, in Moville, we led 2-0 at h.t., they scored twice, 2-2.

“3rd game, played in a howling gale blowing straight down the pitch.

“We had the wind in the 1st half, led 3-0, they scored 3 in the second.

Final Moville Celtic Cup Game

“Final game, we led 1-0 at h.t., they equalised, we went into extra time and we agreed to count corners.

“They got the only corner.

“At times like these, Moville relied on their Captain Fantastic, Billy Doherty. How many times previously Billy, like a Stephen Gerard, or Roy Keane, would take the game by the scruff of the neck and marshal his team to victory. Now, they were looking to their captain in the dying moments as they faced defeat and being knocked out.

“Up stepped Billy.

“The last kick of the game came from Billy Doherty, hitting a marvellous shot from the edge of the box that flew into the net.

“2-1 to us!


“The ref blew as the ball was in the air…

“I don’t think I have ever been so disappointed after a game of football since.

“I have never played in a final!”

Moville Celtic Game Aftermath

I remember the aftermath.

People were furious.

They had all been celebrating thinking that they had won at last and were into the final.

Then they saw that there was something wrong.

The Moville players were arguing furiously with the ref.

Movilel Celtic Fans

Then the fans joined in.

There was a lot of shouting,

Indeed there was a whole crowd around the referee and some people had to be held back.


As referees usually waited till a final attack was over in matches, people thought that this was the rule.

Technically the referee was right but he didn’t follow the normal convention.

They usually put the whistle to their mouths but don’t blow till the shot is taken.

Not this day though.

World Cup

The same thing happened many years later at the World Cup when a Brazil goal, which would have won the match, was ruled off as the English referee blew as the ball sailed through the air towards the net.

It caused a furore throughout the sporting world.

However, we in Moville had seen it all before.

Referee Jostled

It took the referee ages to get back to the clubhouse as he was jostled and pushed all the way from the Bay Field to the clubhouse on Main Street.

Perhaps it was Moville Celtic’s most disappointing but dramatic day.

They were robbed!


It certainly was Michael Haining’s most disappointing day as far as his football career was concerned.

But to leave and not come back for 37 years…..

Maybe this was a cathartic visit.

Perhaps he feels, at last, that he can speak about it.

Michael Haining’s Haiku

He is into haiku in a big way now and left some inscriptions in various places in the area while he was here.

Perhaps he should come back again and get himself down to the Bay Field, to the faraway goal and write an inscription on the bar just over where Billy Doherty’s ‘goal’ went in.

He could pull out his pen and inscribe on the woodwork “Nearly…..”

Teach Drama

Michael went on teach Drama in England but he never experienced drama like he experienced it on that day in Moville in the Bay Field of Dashed Dreams.

This drama wasn’t in a book or on a stage.

This was real life drama, and it was exciting, raw, pulsating and ultimately heartbreaking for Michael and the rest of the team.

That day is still very bright in his memory – and the pain still hurts more than 40 years on.

“I have never played in a final!” he said.

Last Word

Last word to Michael in true haiku style:-

“The passage of time

Has not deadened the sharp pain
Of the ref’s whistle…”