One of the fringe benefits of researching Waterford GAA in days of yore has been the comical nature of newspapers. Yes, I do know you use Nugget Shoe Polish, thank you very much. It has been testimony to the correctness of Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews’ assertion that Our Dumb Century is “the true history of the world”.
But such mirth at the loopiness of newspapers back in the day was far from my mind today as I ploughed through National Hurling League results from 1950-2. Looking through the pages of the Irish Independent, the Irish Press and the Munster Express – the Irish Times was a dead loss for the GAA at this stage – not once did I come across anything as useful as a league table so I could tell what other teams we would be playing. This wasn’t a problem during earlier forays into the archives as I was able to piece together the format of the league by cross-referencing with other matches, e.g. if Waterford played Wexford, then I saw that Wexford played Kilkenny, then Waterford must have played Kilkenny at some stage of the campaign, right? Yet there were several instances of this not being the case, at least if looking through every Monday edition of the Indo and the Press and every edition of the Express from October 1950 to April 1952 is anything to go by. It was a galling experience, and things are only likely to get worse the further back you go.
Then just I was packing up my laptop and wondering why I was bothering, the day was salvaged by a book. Yes, all that technology was usurped by one of Gutenberg’s offspring upon which my eyes randomly alighted. The Munster Story, by Jim Cronin, only goes up to 1984 but it had the result of every inter-county match played in Munster up to then. Given how rarely Waterford stepped outside the province in those days it is effectively a definitive record. Expect much more from Minor and Intermediate levels and even football, and slowing down in National League results.