Only a Game - A sort of ode to the Brandywell

�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-11th February 2012 'Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.com'Setanta Sports Cup Round 1 : Lisburn Distillery vs Derry City at Ballyskeagh, Lisburn'Derrys Manager Declan Devine at Saturdays Setanta Cup game at Ballyskeagh'�Russell Pritchard / Presseye
�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland-11th February 2012 'Credit - Picture by Russell Pritchard/Presseye.com'Setanta Sports Cup Round 1 : Lisburn Distillery vs Derry City at Ballyskeagh, Lisburn'Derrys Manager Declan Devine at Saturdays Setanta Cup game at Ballyskeagh'�Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Friday nights at the Brandywell returned once more this weekend when Derry City opened their 2012 League of Ireland campaign with a win over Dublin team Bohemians. And boy how we’ve missed them...

Battered sausage suppers, the ubiquitous minute’s silence before kick-off (now a minute’s applause) and attempting to estimate the attendance are but a few of the small things we crave in the cold, dark months of winter. But they’re back and back they are until October.

I’ve been to countless Republic of Ireland matches but there’s nothing quite like standing in the terraces at the Brandywell with friends drinking a bottle of lukewarm Coke and bag of chips - if there is then I’m willing to listen.

The less than adequate PA system, the dodgy choice of half-time music and Liam Coyle in the crowd.

If you’re a regular reader of this column then you’ll know that I am much more enthusiastic about football teams that I have more in common with hence the Republic of Ireland and Derry City.

A tea filled white polystyrene cup, children watching from the City Cemetery and the half-time draw.

Over 3000 others shared in the experience at the Brandywell on Friday. The result was a good one but the performance was ok.

Season ticket holders, the folks in the Glentoran Stand and ‘could the owner of car registration ENZ 7040 please move it as it’s blocking an emergency exit’.

Results are what matter in the short term but for most of us going to the Brandywell is a way of life that we will love and cherish until we are old and grey.

The match day programme, disagreeing with the referee and yer man that bangs the drum.

Friday evening was no different and Declan Devine’s first League of Ireland match in charge was a success. It was great to see someone with as much tangible passion and dedication as Devine get his reward.

The replica jersey, the directors in their suits and the stewards in the fluorescent jackets.

When Devine was revealed as the man who would succeed Stephen Kenny he spoke from the heart. He said that managing Derry City was the greatest honour that anyone could bestow upon him in his professional career.

The bumpy Brandywell pitch, the greyhound track and a football disappearing into houses nearby.

Devine’s reaction at the end of Friday’s game was one of elation, joy and relief. He punched the air and hugged assistant manager Paul Hegarty; it was clear to see that the Creggan man was delighted with the win.

Players from yesteryear, former managers and whispers that there’s a scout at the in the crowd.

Devine has bags full of passion for Derry. He patrolled the technical area like a sergeant major and shouted orders when he saw fit.

The traffic after the game, a barely touched bag of chips and discarded raffle tickets.

Derry’s next home match is against Linfield in a few week’s time but one thing’s for sure everyone will be ready to experience all of the things we love about the Brandywell all over again.

If you’d like to let us know what you love about the Brandywell email andrew.quinn@derryjournal.com or follow Andrew on Twitter: @AndrewEQuinn