As I sat and watched The Crown on Netflix the other night, it struck me that there were some similarities between The Royal Family and the Dublin football team under Jim Gavin.
The Crown, in its second series, dramatises the life of Queen Elizabeth II, from her coronation and is currently set in the 1960s. The episode was about the relevance of the Royal Family in the United Kingdom in the 60s and was it really worth it for the British taxpayer to be funding the lives of the Windsor family when life was tough enough as it was for the average family. In a bid to show the population that they were as normal as they were, Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, drafted in the BBC and gave them full access to Buckingham Palace and the lives of himself, Elizabeth and co.
You may be wondering where the similarities lie between all conquering Dubliners with Jim Gavin at the helm and the Windsors of Buckingham Palace, led by Elizabeth II. The first one is to do with Jim and Elizabeth.
The number of stories you heard about the Dublin footballers during Gavin’s tenure. That they didn’t work, anyone who did had food delivered to them at work. That one footballer was doing this, and another one that. More or less, everything was being handed to them on a silver platter. The Royal Family endured the same and still do. Stories about the wives of Princes, the exploits of Princesses and most recently the company and activities of a certain Prince.
We shall not delve deeper into any of these stories but what I am pointing out that while these stories were and still do emerge at the head of each was a Commander-in-Chief who continued to steer the course and would not let anything distract from their role – to lead their family/team. For Elizabeth it was in a bid to keep the British public onside.
To be hidden in plain sight was a phrase used in the show by the Queen, played by Olivia Colman. Anything that brought too much attention was not needed and out an unwanted spotlight on the Family. And if there were tough decisions to make, Elizabeth would make them, risking personal relationships for the good of the Crown.
In Dublin, Jim Gavin had his eyes set firmly on the prize of winning All-Irelands. It was all that mattered to him and the Dublin squad. He led like Elizabeth, everything was for the good of Dublin football. The hard decisions which were made, players being dropped or not selected were all done with Dublin GAA in mind.
The next similarity I picked up was the air of mystery around both “dynasties”. Like I said earlier, the Queen preferred if her family were hidden in plain sight.
That although everybody knew they were there, nobody really knew anything about them. That the Crown was on this lofty pedestal that common folk could only look at from afar and wonder what it was all about.
I feel the same about Dublin. Jim Gavin never gave anything away. His interviews and the interviews of his players were bland, rehearsed spiels which rarely, if ever gave you a real insight into the Dublin setup.
Everybody who follows the GAA know who Dublin are, they are front and centre of almost everything, but does anybody apart from those within the inner sanctum really know what they are about? The Dublin squad under Gavin was airtight. Little got out for the common folk to grasp on to, only what Dublin wanted to get out.
The final similarity between the Royal Family and the Dublin football team is funding. In the episode I referred to earlier, there is consternation about the amount of money the Royals receive from the taxpayer and if it should be increased. Anti-monarchist elements of the governing Labour party voice their outrage at the amount of money given to the family. Hence Philip’s documentary to justify the relevance and importance of the Royals.
In Ireland there is something similar with Dublin. Their success has been blighted with calls of financial doping. That the money they receive gives them an unfair advantage over other counties and has led to the unprecedented success of the senior side. True, it is not taxpayers’ money, but it is funding none the less. And with this funding it creates a distance between other counties and Dublin, just like it creates a distance between the Royal Family and the general population.
And there you have it.
Dublin under Jim Gavin = The Royal Family under Elizabeth II.
And it could have been even more alike if in the weeks following Gavin’s resignation there were rumours of Queen Liz’s death. For the Dublin senior footballers, who ever take over at the helm, it will be interesting to see if the continue in the same vein as Jim Gavin or will they strike a new course, that will see that air of mystery be removed and we get to see the real Dublin. Prince Philip’s documentary was seen to have taken away that sense of majesty and mystery around the Royal Family but they are still here today.
So maybe it would not hurt to see a bit more of the Dublin side.
Possibly a documentary following a sixth All-Ireland in a row? Who knows?