THE FIVE LAMPS, a famous landmark in the North Inner City, geographically it stands at the junction of five roads – Amiens Street, Seville Place, North Strand Road, Killarney Street and Portland Row. Back in the seventies, it was as synonymous to Dubliners as the three brass balls hanging outside a pawnbrokers shop. History shows it was built in 1880 to commemorate five major battles fought in India during the days of the British Empire. For Belvedere FC, it holds different historical and geographical values. Back then it was the main meeting place for Belvedere YC, as we were known then when traveling to away matches.
Together with a coaching qualification and a First Aid certificate, a bus timetable or good knowledge of the CIE bus network was essential to manage a team. The bus journey usually took more time than the actual match and, for some of our players, it was arguably just as enjoyable. The important thing was that you went upstairs because that was where the craic was. The bus conductor would cringe at the sight of 16 hyper kids charging up the stairs to get a seat at the front of the bus, followed by two equally hyper managers. One bus conductor I remember had cause to feel annoyed with one of our teams on the 7A. When he got off the bus in Blackrock to use the toilet of a pub, one of the smarter lads rang
the bell and the bus took off, leaving the conductor behind. The story must have done the rounds of the bus garage as our next team to travel that route was allowed to board the bus only on condition that we behaved … which, of course, we did. Conductors are gone and travelling to away games has been replaced by the DART, the Luas and cars but a lot of people still remember the important bus routes. Playing Rangers in Bushy Park – take the 54A. St John Bosco in Benmadigan Road … hop on the 23. St Josephs in Sallynoggin …flag down the 7A.
Can you imagine today’s players doing that? Ah, yes, the Five Lamps. Well, they’re still there and, for us, they commemorate more than some battles in India. I’m sure it’s recorded in historical journals who won the battles in India but do we really care? On many occasions we returned there victorious from our own battles in Finglas, Crumlin or Ballyfermot, so the Five Lamps will continue to be part of the history of Belvedere FC as long as they remain there.
Quick, here’s the bus.