A new Irish four-part documentary series “Green is the Colour” examines the history of Irish football and the national soccer team.

Over the last 130 years Irish football has transformed, developed, grown and prospered in line with our own national identity, from 19th century garrison game to 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Presented by Darragh Maloney, this four-part documentary features personal accounts of a rich host of footballers, managers, pundits, historians, and journalists.

Who knew that an Irishman invented the penalty kick, or that Ireland were the first foreign team to beat England on their home soil? Who remembers the forgotten fact that a former Irish player managed Barcelona and is credited with saving the club? Few cultural institutions have captured the national imagination quite like the national soccer team. Green Is The Colour is a sporting story, a political history and a social narrative but most importantly, a human story, told by the people who lived it.

The series takes us right back to the invention of the game of Association Football and its arrival in Ireland, competing with various other sports that represented the diverse strands of Irish society. The ideological differences between administrators in the North and South lead to an acrimonious split, after which the newly formed FAI were forced to fight for recognition and the right to play international matches around the globe, offering legitimacy to the state and its people. Despite the gradual modernisation of the country, a golden era in the League of Ireland and the emergence of great players such as Jackie Carey, Con Martin, and John Giles, the following decades were strewn with heartbreak and near-misses as Ireland struggled to cast off its inferiority complex.

All the progress would eventually culminate in the unprecedented success of The Charlton Years as Ireland strode out confidently onto the world stage and never looked back, changing the course of Irish soccer forever. By the time Charlton left, confidence and wealth in the society at large, were matched only by expectancy and controversy on the playing field. Nowhere was this more crystalised than in the Saipan scandal that would divide the nation. Just as our fortunes on the playing field began to fade, so too did the economic miracle which we had all assumed would last forever.

Produced by Treasure Entertainment for RTÉ and the BAI.

The DVD will be available on Amazon from November 9th, 2012.

Here’s a promo for the RTE documentary “Green is the Colour”:

Ray Houghton scores against Italy during the 1994 World CupRTE