Get thee behind me (Irish) Santa…

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Hot on the heels of my specially labelled bottle of Writers’ Tears that celebrated the Irish rugby team’s first victory over the All Blacks in 111 years, the Walsh Whiskey Company has just sent me my follow-up Christmas present.

It’s a bottle of The Irishman, not this time with a scorecard reminder of the events of that terrible day on a far-off Soldier Field but of rather happier times for us Kiwis on Landsdowne Road. All, I can now say, is forgiven. Almost…

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I notice by the way on the label of the original bottle (see below) that it’s a ‘small batch’. Personally I think that’s a mistake – they should have made a really, really big one considering it will be another 111 years before the Irish win again.

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However, rather than boot this Irish Father Christmas back up the chimney in the manner of a Jonathan Sexton dropkick, I shall graciously accept my original gift in the spirit (Irish whiskey of course) that it was intended. So on Christmas day, I shall breathe life into the old adage of drinking to forget, pour myself a large glass of Writers’ Tears and cry ‘Get thee behind me Santa… I mean Satan.” (Am I really the first person to note this most curious of anagrams?)

Footnote: As another memento of that (in)famous day, I and Conor Dempsey of the Walsh Whiskey Company’s communications agency Dempsey Corporate have collaborated in a Kiwi-Irish composition to the tune of Raglan Road (with heartfelt apologies to poet Patrick Kavanagh and the late, great Luke Kelly who sang it better than any man has a right to). It’s a sad song with a happy ending. It’s called Soldier Field.

Soldier Field

On Soldier Field on an Autumn Day,
I saw them first and knew
That their green gear would weave a snare
That we might this day rue.

I saw the danger, as they talked
Their nerve it did not fray
All those defeats? Just a falling leaf
This time they’d come to play….

On Soldier Field in November,
They tripped lightly along the ledge
Of a black ravine engulfed by green
Their Irish passions pledged.

Steve* the King was still faking
but Joe** was making hay,
Well we loved so much; each touch, those rucks!
The All Blacks in disarray

He gave us gifts of the All Black mind.
He gave us their secret sign
And that’s why Joe shall always be
Ireland’s God for now and all Time.

But the All Black hue it did renew
They took green dreams away
Oh their dark stare this time brought fear
On the Landsdowne field of play.

On Soldier Field where old ghosts keeled,
We saw them run away from us,
Without fuss. But in Dublin class did allow,
For while they ran, as All Blacks can
Irish feet they turned to clay.
Then Kiwi Schmidt** in the wrong team’s kit
Black, all black at the ending of the day.

*Steve Hansen, All Blacks coach

** Joe Schmidt, (Kiwi-born) Irish coach

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