‘No-One is Going to Put Me Off My Pitch’

UCD staged a showcase game last night between a Dublin GAA selection and the UCD Senior Team.  It was in honour of a man whose wit and wisdom was a major part of both organsiations over many years.  Dave Billings was a GAA man through and through.  No matter what club you were part of it always felt that he was a member of yours too.

Last night was to celebrate his memory in the renaming of UCD’s main GAA pitch as Billings Park.  It was under this name that it staged matches in the Womens Rugby World Cup earlier this year and Dave would have been thrilled to have seen that international level of top class sport, regardless of the shape of the ball on ‘his pitch.’

That phrase shone through in a superb programme produced by the UCD Sports Team last night.  With their permission we share this excerpt taken from the memories of Tim Healy, a friend and fellow mentor on UCD teams down the years.

“It was a Freshers League game played under lights on a cold winters eveningat Belfield.  DCU were the opposition and two good teams traded scores in a tight opening.  Some of the refereeing decisions were questionable but which manager hasn’t thought that?”

“Dave had arrived at my elbow a short while into the game.  Soon those decisions began to eat him up and he wasn’t slow to let the ref know precisely what he thought of him.”

“Tony Lamb, for it was he, made a couple of requests for quiet from our sideline.  This just made matters worse and after a particularly bad decisionagainst our lads, Dave threatened Tony that he would take the team off the pitch.  Being merely the manager I was of course not consulted on this course of action.”

“Tony Lamb’s decision was to stop the game, march in our direction, and commit the biggest error of his refereeing life.  He asked Dave Billings to leave the pitch as he was completely out of order and the game would not be resumed until Dave left.”

“Dave produced a pocket device with which the floodlights could be controlled and said “noone is going to put me off my pitch, I’m turning off the lights!”

“At this point my stated view that we should try to get the game moving again while allowing Dave to remain was making little headway, mainly with Dave as Tony seemed prepared to back down.”

“Until Colm O’Rourke, who was supporting his son’s DCU team, intervened and calmed Dave, the lights were going out ‘on my pitch.’ It was the first time I heard him use the phrase.  Now it truly is his pitch.”

“I wouldn’t care how many times he ignored my advice or turned out the damne floodlights, I just wish he were still around to fight with Tony Lamb and everyone else that he’d make up with the next day.”

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Image Credit: Sportsfile

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