“You may say I’m a dreamer
“But I’m not the only one
“I hope some day you’ll join us
“And the world will live as one.”
- Imagine, John Lennon
Bill Hulsizer doesn’t stutter or bat an eyelid when he says he wants Dundalk FC to win the Champions League.
To most people that may seem a laughable prospect but to the club chairman, it’s part and parcel of dreaming big.
Shoot for the moon and you might not get there but you may reach the stars.
It’s not that long ago that Dundalk’s biggest ambitions were seeing another week, month or season. These days the ambitions are much more lofty and while no one who attends Oriel Park expects to see the modern day European Cup residing on the Carrick Road any time soon, the challenge of trying to do that certainly won’t be dull.
By his own admission, Bill dreams big but he makes no apologies for it.
So much has been made about PEAK6’s apparent focus on European success since they took over the running of the club from Paul Brown and Andy Connolly at the start of 2018 but while the process of qualifying for the group stages in Europe has got more difficult from when Dundalk achieved it four years ago, Bill maintains the belief that the club can get back there in the years to come.
When the fact another round now had to be negotiated compared to the club’s qualifier success of 2016, the club chairman said: “I really don’t care.
“My goal – and it’s what I’ve told the players and coaches – is to win the Champions League.
“Now if they don’t, is everybody going to get fired? Of course not but if you’re going to do something then the first thing you have to do is believe in it.
“Last year we got to the second round of the Champions League and then played Slovan Bratislava, who I thought we outplayed at times but their goalie was incredible. He probably should have been taken by a club in a better league than he’s in right now but that’s not my job but I can tell you that I wouldn’t apologise to anyone for the way my guys played.
“If you run up against a hot goalie, that’s what happens. Luck is a big part of the game. You can hit the inside of the post and the ball can come out or you can hit the inside of the post and it can go in and quite often than can decide your fortunes but what’s wrong with ambition?
“If I said to you what would you have bet that Iceland would make it to the finals of the World Cup? That would probably have been a better bet than Leicester City winning the Premier League, which was 5,000/1.”
While Champions League ambitions are indeed lofty, a more realistic aim is for Dundalk to become the club youngsters support throughout the country – regardless of where they’re located geographically.
“When kids in Galway say who’s the best club in Ireland, I want them to say Dundalk.
“Kids all over America rooted for the Yankees and it didn’t matter if they had a baseball team in their town or not. A lot of towns in Ireland don’t have a team so who do they root for? My goal is to have every 13-year-old tell his parents that he wants to play for Dundalk and Ireland and I hope I can get there. I don’t want to hear them saying they want to play for Manchester City.
“I’d like Dundalk to be the goal for every kid in Ireland and I’d like to be over to support that and for them to know that if you get here you can go anywhere in the world but I’m a bit of a dreamer. They’re free but at the same time if you don’t set your targets high enough then it’s probably not as much fun living.”
It’s hard to imagine the Bill Hulsizer era at Oriel Park being dull, that’s for sure.