Were you a face in crowd with the travelling green army?

NewsBy Eugene Masterson
Were you a face in crowd with the travelling green army?
In the Phoenix Park in 1994
In the Phoenix Park in 1994
Before the big game against England in 1988
Before the big game against England in 1988

It all started with the Euros.

Twenty-eight years ago Ray Houghton put the ball in the English net and kick-started a magical journey for the nation.

And these are some of the army of fans that have made so many special memories on the road with the Boys in Green since.

As 100,000 supporters prepare to invade France over the next few weeks, we’ve put together an album of Ireland’s football family on its travels, from Germany in ‘88, to Poland in 2012.

And if you were there, take a closer look – because if you are one of our five faces in the crowd (see images above) you could win a cash prize to help you celebrate the Euros next week.

UPDATE: 17.27: Just two of the circled fans have yet to get in touch with us and we'd love to give away this money so if you are the young boy at Euro 88 or the woman in the Phoenix Park in 1994, please contact [email protected]

Ireland’s soccer warriors have been cheered on their travels by hundreds of thousands of fans at the five tournaments we’ve so far taken part in.

Joxer may have gone to Stuttgart, but he was joined by a green-clad army in our first major football competition on foreign soil when we took part in Germany ’88.

And Ray returned home a hero, singing: ‘Who put the ball in the English net, I did, I did!’

Italia ’90 was our first World Cup and that magnificent June saw us again put one over on the old enemy England, by holding them to a draw in Cagliari.

A dour draw against Egypt is best forgotten, but Niall Quinn enamoured himself to the nation with a late equaliser against the Netherlands.

Who could forget the nail-biting penalty shoot-out against Romania in Genoa, when Packie Bonner saved Daniel Timofte’s strike to leave David O’Leary with the odious task of taking our fifth peno.

“A nation holds it breath,” exclaimed commentator George Hamilton, before O’Leary rammed it to the back of the net to be enveloped by a delirious team, sending the country at home into raptures.

We may have been knocked out in the quarter-final against Italy, but Jack Charlton and his men returned to scenes never before witnessed here, as half a million people lined the streets of Dublin to welcome the team home.

USA ’94 saw Irish fans travelling over joined by a huge diaspora based stateside, with Giants Stadium in New Jersey and the Citrus Bowl in Orlando bedecked by a sea of green white and orange. Again, we made it to the second phase, only to be knocked out by Holland.

In 2002 we headed for the Far East and the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Our fans took delight in savouring a dramatic new culture before being knocked out by Spain in a second round penalty shoot-out.

Then there was Poland in 2012, when many a credit union was bled dry and a fresh generation of fans joined seasoned troops in rooting for our lads in Poznan and Gdansk.

We may have lost all three games, but the craic was mighty and lifelong friends were made.

Next up we take part in Euro 2016, with games against Sweden, Belgium and Italy, as a brand new odyssey is set to begin.

If you’re one of the fans circled in orange in the special commemorative gallery published in the newspaper today then email [email protected] with proof of your identity and we’ll get your €100 prize to you (Sunday World terms and conditions apply).