Ards Football Club is a semi-professional, Northern Irish football club playing in NIFL Premiership. The club, founded in 1900, is formerly from Newtownards, but plays its matches at Clandeboye Park in Bangor. Club colours are red and blue, Ards were forced to sell their Castlereagh Park home in 1998 to try to reduce their crippling debts. The stadium remained well tended for another three years while plans for a new ground further down the road were developed. In 2002 Castlereagh Park was demolished, as planned, Ards hoped to play at a new community-owned site, a stones throw from Castlereagh Park that was due to be developed in 2010 by the local council. This plan has since been shelved, and they are still the nomads of Northern Irish football, for the 2012–13 season they played their home games at Clandeboye Park and were promoted to the NIFL Premiership for the 2013–14 season and went straight back down that season. Ards 2014–15 season was a season of change, with players coming and going from the club. The 2015–16 was a one with Ards reaching the league cup final by knocking out premiership sides Ballinamallard United. These included experienced Premiership players such as Ballymena United centre-back Johnny Taylor, other recruitments included defender Stuart McMullan and French striker Guillaume Keke, both signed from Larne. Ards started the season with a creditible 2–2 draw with Cliftonville, plans were under-way to develop Londonderry Park as the new grounds for the team. Planning officials gave Ards Borough Council the go-ahead on the £3.8 million plan in October 2010, in 2009, supporters launched a campaign, Bring Ards FC Home, in which they publicised the need in the media and had discussions with politicians. Back as far as November 2008, the Council had discussed the need for a new Ards stadium, plans included upgrades to the existing grass surfaces and the addition of new synthetic surfaces, and to allow for the possibility of future upgrading to meet regulations should the need arise. The ground would have continued to provide facilities for hockey. However, in August 2012 it was announced that Ards Borough Council would not be proceeding with the new stadium, and the plans were shelved. Andy Bothwell,5 caps, 1925–27 Tommy Forde,4 caps, 1958–60 Billy Humphries,1 cap,1962 Paul Kee,2 caps,1994 Ards FC Website Ards Statistics and Results at the Irish Football Club Project
Glenavon Football Club is a semi-professional, Northern Irish football club playing in the NIFL Premiership. The club, founded in 1889, hails from Lurgan and plays its matches at Mourneview Park. Club colours are blue and white, Gary Hamilton has been player-manager of the Lurgan Blues since December 2011 following the resignation of Marty Quinn. Their matches are known as the Mid-Ulster Derby and Glenavons current player-manager Gary Hamilton played for Portadown before joining the Lurgan Blues, mcBrides reign lasted seven months before he was relieved of his managerial duties with Glenavon at the bottom of the IFA Premiership. The Director of Football, Alan Fraser, was relieved from his duties. The club chairman is Adrian Teer, Glenavon was the first provincial club to win the Irish League title and also the first provincial club to do the league and cup double. The latter triumph made them the first Northern Irish team to enter the European Cup. Glenavon has had a number of talented and famous players, none more so than Wilbur Cush and Jimmy Jones, the club then suffered a relatively poor spell during the early 2000s, which culminated in relegation to the second tier in the 2003–04 Irish League season. This was followed up by a 9th-place finish in the 2012–13 season, following on from this cup triumph was a successful 2014–15 season. Even more success was to follow, as the club claimed a 2nd Irish Cup win in three years, defeating David Healys Linfield 2–0 in the final, Glenavon was the first Northern Irish team to enter the European Cup. In their first tie they drew AGF of Denmark, drawing 0–0 at home, Glenavon achieved some more notable results in Europe in the 1990s. In the 1992–93 season, they drew both legs of their Cup Winners Cup tie with Royal Antwerp and lost on penalties, in 1995–96 they reached the first round proper of the UEFA Cup, and were beaten by Werder Bremen. Mourneview Park is now considered to be one of the best grounds in the Irish League, along the side of the pitch runs the Geddis Stand and on the other side the newly built Glenfield Road Stand. One end of the ground has the Crescent Stand, and at the end the Hospital End remains undeveloped. In addition to Glenavons home matches, the stadium is also a regular host for Northern Ireland under-21 matches, due to ongoing renovation of Windsor Park, Mourneview Park was chosen as the venue for Linfields home ties in the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality, Glenavon FCs Academy consists of teams at Under 7, Under 8, Under 9, Under 10, Under 11, Under 12, Under 13, Under 14, Under 15 and Under 16. There is also an Under 19 team which comes under the auspices of the Senior Club, gordons first task was to bring ex Glenavon legend Stephen McBride back to the club as the Academy head coach. The Glenavon FC Academy is now headed by Ryan Prentice, the Academy currently has three UEFA A Licence and two UEFA B Licence coaches
Larne Football Club is a semi-professional, Northern Irish football club playing in the NIFL Championship. The club, founded in 1889, hails from Larne and plays its matches at Inver Park. Club colours are red and white, the current manager is David McAlinden who was appointed to replace Graham McConnell as first team manager in November 2013. From 1972 until 2008, the club enjoyed senior status, and they also support a ladies team, whose colours are red, white and black. The ladies also have a team for ages 8–14. The ladies team has since pulled away from the side of the club. The club holds the record of appearing in five finals of the Irish Cup. They have been runners-up of the Irish Cup on five occasions and this makes it a combined seven major domestic cup finals without ever winning either competition - a record in Northern Irish football. The clubs greatest rival is Carrick Rangers, their matches are known as The East Antrim Derby, players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality. Larne FC Website Larne Ladies FC Website
Newry City F.C.
Newry City Football Club was a Northern Irish football club founded in 1918 and dissolved in 2012. It was based in Newry, County Down and played its matches at the Showgrounds. Club colours were blue and white, the formation of a new club called Newry City Athletic was finalised in March 2013, with the club starting life in the Mid-Ulster Football League for the 2013–14 season. The club was known as Newry Town - it was renamed in 2004. The club was formed in the autumn of 1918 and played its first season in the Newry and District League, the following season, Newry finished second in the league and joined the more competitive and higher standard Portadown and District League in 1921. In 1923, the applied to join the Irish League and on 20 July 1923 the club was admitted on a unanimous vote. The club played originally at the Marshes until the 1946-47 season, when a factory was built on the site, the club used this money to develop a new ground - the Showgrounds - adjacent to the Marshes, which opened at the start of the 1948-49 season. The Irish League was suspended because of the Second World War in 1940, when the Irish League resumed in 1947, it was with twelve rather than fourteen members, Newry and Larne losing their places. Newry played instead in the Irish Intermediate League until 1954, when the league folded due to the loss of members to the Irish League B Division, Newry, along with Dundela and Carrick Rangers failed to be accepted as B Division members and instead joined the Irish Alliance League. Newry were Alliance champions for the three seasons, before eventually securing admission to the B Division in 1957. In 1957-58, the Intermediate Cup was won for the first time, a feat repeated in 1966-67, in 1963, Pat Jennings was sold to Watford for £5,600. Newry won the Southern section of the B Division in 1974-75, a double was achieved in 1980-81, when Town won the B Division and the Intermediate Cup. On the back of this success, the applied to join the Irish League in 1981. The clubs most successful period was the late 1990s, after winning the First Division in the 1997–98 season, the club managed to finish fourth in the Premier Division, thus qualifying for the Intertoto Cup. In this, their first ever appearance in European competition, Newry Town were drawn against the Croatian side Hrvatski Dragovoljac, a 1–0 defeat in Croatia was followed by an historic 2–0 win at home to send the club into the second round. There they met Bundesliga side MSV Duisburg, again, Newry were drawn away in the first leg, coming away with a respectable 2–0 defeat to the German professionals. A 1–0 win at home was not enough to force extra time, since the 1999–2000 season, the club went into decline, culminating in a last-place finish in the league in 2002–03. However, thanks to the restructuring of the Irish Football League they were given the chance to avoid relegation, a 0–0 away draw and a 2–1 home win kept the club in the top flight
Portadown Football Club is a semi-professional, Northern Irish football club which plays in the NIFL Premiership. The club was founded in 1887 as a team looking to participate in the Mid-Ulster Cup. They eventually joined the Irish League with the help of local clubs in 1924. They are based in Portadown in County Armagh and play their games at Shamrock Park. The clubs colours are red and white, their home kit consists of red shirts, red shorts and red socks with white trim on all, the clubs main rivals are Glenavon with their derby game being known as the Mid Ulster Derby. The league fixtures are compiled each season so that one of their league meetings always takes place on Boxing Day, the club is also bitter rivals with Glentoran. Ronnie McFall served the club for 29 years as manager from 1986 to 2016, in 1887 the Mid Ulster Football Association was established and in Portadown a young group of men set about creating a football club to participate in the Mid-Ulster Cup. Early meetings of the committee were held in a dimly lit room for the Young Mens Institute in Edwards Street in Portadown where club secretary William Mullen would read the minutes by candlelight. Early games were played at Tavanagh and Ripleys Field, Armagh Road and Old Shamrock Park, among the early names to turn out for The Ports were Val Wilson who would later become High Sheriff for County Armagh and Harry Bell, whose father owned brickworks on the Armagh Road. They won the Irish Junior Cup beating Larne at Grosvenor Park on 18 March 1899 and that same season The Ports won their first ever cup double by bringing home the Mid-Ulster Cup for the first time. Portadown retained the trophy the following season and the five seasons before the outbreak of World War 1. The junior game was strong in the town at the time and The Ports had to compete for talent with teams such as Edenderry Arrows, Greenview from Edgarstown, Portadown Celtic. Portadown is the one of those clubs that remains today. In 1916 the new Irish Intermediate League was formed and Portadown were selected as one of the clubs for the new competition. However, they were forced to withdraw due to the number of players who had gone off to fight in the Great War. With the return of the men from the war the clamour for senior football was growing. The many junior clubs in that area put aside their rivalry with The Ports to back the bid to join the Irish League. This was in a time of expansionism in Irish Football with the league keen to take the game beyond the boundary of Belfast, the only team who were in the league at the time were bitter rivals Glenavon
Belfast Celtic F.C.
Belfast Celtic Football Club was a football club in Northern Ireland that was founded in 1891, and was one of the most successful teams in Ireland until it withdrew from the Irish League in 1949. The club, formed in 1891 simply as Celtic, was named after Celtic Football Club of Glasgow, upon incorporation as a limited company in 1901, however, the club adopted the name Belfast Celtic, the title Celtic Football Club Ltd already being registered by the Glasgow club. Their home from the year was Celtic Park on Donegall Road in west Belfast. Celtic won their first league title in 1900 after beating fierce rivals Linfield by a single goal, Celtics support base was strongly Irish nationalist. Despite this, the club went from strength to strength and the years proved to be Celtics strongest. The club also produced some of the greatest players of their generation, charlie Tully of Celtic, learned how to kick a ball with Belfast Celtic. The end came on Boxing Day 1948 at the annual Linfield-Celtic game at Windsor Park, Celtic were winning for most of the match but Linfield equalised in the last minute. Linfield fans invaded the pitch and attacked several Celtic players including centre-forward Jimmy Jones who suffered a broken leg, soon after the club decided to withdraw from the league. After the 1948-49 season Belfast Celtic went on a tour of America from which they returned amidst internal wrangling over flags, at a meeting of the board it was decided that Celtic would temporarily leave the league until such matters had been resolved. They were not resolved and the internal wrangling at boardroom level continued until Celtic Park was sold to developers, a final match was played away to Coleraine on June 24,1960. The ground continued to function as a greyhound stadium until the 1980s when it was bulldozed and replaced by the Park Centre, today, a small plaque reminds shoppers a football team played here. A small museum has since opened in the Park Centre. Belfast Celtic were one of four clubs that made the biggest crowds in the Irish League, the other three being Linfield, Distillery, and Glentoran. C
Cliftonville Football & Athletic Club is a Northern Irish semi-professional association football club playing in the NIFL Premiership. Founded on 20 September 1879 by John McCredy McAlery in the suburb of Cliftonville in north Belfast, it is the oldest football club in Ireland, since 1890, the club has played at Solitude. Cliftonville contests the North Belfast derby with nearest rivals Crusaders, and also has rivalries with Belfasts Big Two clubs, Glentoran. The club has won the Irish League championship four times outright and once shared, the Irish Cup eight times, the newly formed club, however, was beaten 2–1. In its first match against the Scottish club Caledonians, it fared worse, in 1880, it was again John McAlery who was the moving spirit in the formation of the Irish Football Association. He issued an invitation to interested parties in Belfast and district for a meeting to be called, the first meeting took place on 18 November 1880 at Queens Hotel, Belfast, presided over by John Sinclair, from which the Irish Football Association was formed. While Major Chichester was appointed president, McAlery became the secretary of the association. This meeting also paved the way for the Irish Cup, the first Irish Cup final, played at Cliftonville on 9 April 1881, saw a 1–0 defeat against Moyola Park, an opponent that was well known for rough and brutal play. In the following year Cliftonville lost again in the Irish Cup final, in 1883 Cliftonville won the cup for the first time with a 5–0 win over Ulster. During the 1880s Cliftonville also played in the English FA Cup, competing in the competition proper in 1886–87, in 1886–87 they finally lost in the third round 11–0 at home to Partick Thistle after beating Blackburn Park Road 7–2 in an earlier round. In 1887–88 they scratched their match with Church, the match lost to Linfield 7–0 in 1888 is the only FA Cup match to be played on Christmas Day. The inaugural meeting of the Irish Football League was held on 14 March 1890 in the Belfast Estate Office of the Marquess of Dufferin, eight clubs agreed to participate, Cliftonville, Clarence, Milford, Oldpark, Distillery, Glentoran, Ulster and Linfield. In the 1905–06 season Cliftonville won the League for the first time, in 1891 Cliftonville became the first Irish football club to use floodlights at games. Kick-off in each case was at 8 pm with lights suspended across the pitch and these were dismantled later with the announcement that spectators found it difficult to follow the action and that the player seemed to have all the fun in the middle. It had been an experience, but not a highly successful one with the public skeptical. In 1897 Cliftonville won the Irish Cup after a 3–1 win over Sherwood Foresters, a quite unusual protest was launched by Cliftonville after being beaten by Belfast Celtic in the 1900 Irish Cup competition. The Celtic goalposts were eventually measured and it was out that they were much too short. A replay took place, in which Cliftonville reversed the 4–0 defeat in the earlier match, subsequently they won the Cup that year, after beating Bohemians 2–1 in the Final
Lisburn Distillery F.C.
Lisburn Distillery Football Club is a Northern Irish, intermediate football club based in Ballyskeagh, County Down. The club, founded in 1880, originated in west Belfast, after sharing Skegoneill Avenue and Seaview for some years the club moved in 1980 to a permanent new home at New Grosvenor Stadium, Ballyskeagh, County Antrim, on the southern outskirts of Belfast. The club was known as Distillery until 1999, when it changed its name to Lisburn Distillery in an attempt to itself more closely with its adopted borough of Lisburn. The club, a member of the Irish League in 1890, was relegated in May 2013. Note, Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules, players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality. Jimmy McIntosh Maurice Tadman George Eastham, Sr
Glentoran Football Club is a semi-professional football club that plays in the NIFL Premiership. The club was founded in 1882 and plays its games at the Oval in east Belfast. Club colours are red, green and black, Linfield and Glentoran are nicknamed Belfasts Big Two, as they have traditionally dominated local football in Northern Ireland since the demise of Belfast Celtic. The two play a match on Boxing Day each year, which regularly attracts the largest attendance of the Irish League season. George Best watched Glentoran with his grandfather as a youth, but was rejected by the club for being too small, however, Best did make one appearance for Glentoran, in the clubs centenary match against Manchester United. In 1964–65, Glentoran faced Panathinaikos in the European Cup and drew 2–2 at home, in the following seasons Fairs Cup, they faced Antwerp resulting a 1–0 defeat away and 3–3 draw at home. The Cup-Winners Cup in 1966–67 saw Glentoran draw 1–1 with Rangers in front of a packed Oval before losing the away leg 4–0, Glentorans finest hour came in a European Cup encounter with Benfica in 1967. The tie was played two legs, the first being at the Oval. Glentoran scored a penalty early on and held out for nearly sixty minutes until football great Eusébio equalised, the return tie was at Benficas Estádio da Luz. Part-time Glentoran were expected to crumble under the pressure of the occasion, Benfica advanced to the next round on the away goals rule. Glentoran were the first team to lose out to this rule, in 1967, the club ran the Detroit Cougars football franchise in the United Soccer Association. The two leagues would merge and form the North American Soccer League the following year. In 1973–74, Glentoran reached the quarter-finals of the Cup-Winners Cup and they faced Borussia Mönchengladbach in the quarter-finals and were beaten 2–0 and 5–0. Four seasons later they faced Juventus in a European Cup match and lost 1–0 at home, in 1981–82, Glentoran reached the second round of the European Cup and faced eventual semi-finalists CSKA Sofia. After a 2–0 defeat away, Glentoran went 2–0 up in the leg to force the game into extra time. The final result was 2–1, Glentoran going out 3–2 on aggregate, the 1985 Irish Cup final between the big two saw another famous incident. Glentoran supporters brought a cockerel, the emblem, to the match and a pig, painted in royal blue colour. The two animals stayed on the sidelines for the duration of the match and this run of 5 victories over Linfield in post-war finals which started in 1966 continued until Glentorans defeat in the 2006 final
Linfield Football Club is a semi-professional football club based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The club was founded in 1886 as Linfield Athletic Club, and in 1905 moved into the current home of Windsor Park, the club plays in the NIFL Premiership – the highest level of the Northern Ireland Football League. Linfields main rival is Glentoran – the other half of Belfasts Big Two and this rivalry traditionally includes a league derby played on Boxing Day each year, which usually attracts the largest league attendance of the season. The Blues are managed by former Northern Ireland international and record goalscorer David Healy, Feeney resigned in order to become assistant manager of Newport County. Historically, as the most dominant club in Northern Irish football, Linfield holds several domestic records, Linfield won a clean sweep of all the trophies in a single season in the 1921–22 season and again in 2006. They narrowly missed out on claiming 7 trophies in a season in 1961–62 season only failing to win the North South cup. Glenavon won the trophy for the 1961–62 season, similarly due to fixture congestion the final for that season was played at the start of 1963, Glenavon to this day still hold the trophy as it was never competed for again. Linfield won all four domestic trophies to achieve a quadruple. The club has lifted the Irish Cup a record 42 times, the League Cup a record nine times, the club has never won a European trophy, but did reach the quarter-finals of the 1966–67 European Cup. The club was founded in March 1886 in an area of south Belfast known as Sandy Row by workers at the Ulster Spinning Companys Linfield Mill, originally known as Linfield Athletic Club, the team played on ground at the back of the mill known as the Meadow. However, success on the field meant that the club had to accommodate bigger crowds, in 1890, Bob Milne signed for the club from the Gordon Highlanders. The Scot would soon become a key member of the team, the club stayed at Ulsterville for five years before housing development on the ground in 1894 meant that the club had to move on once again. However, this was temporary home. The club stayed here until 1905, when moved into Windsor Park. The clubs first silverware at Windsor arrived in the 1906–07 season and this would be the first of a trio of league titles, with the 1907–08 and 1908–09 league titles to follow. In 1910, team captain Bob Milne left the club with a legacy as one of Linfields best ever players and he had amassed nine Irish Cups, eight league titles, and had earned 27 international caps for Ireland during his time at the club. Another Scot, Marshall McEwan, joined Linfield in 1911 at the age of 26 and he had previously played for Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers and Chelsea. McEwan is perhaps best remembered for his performance in the 1913 Irish Cup final, McEwan retired in 1916, but remained in Belfast and later opened several businesses
At the end of the season, the champion club is presented with the Gibson Cup. The current Premiership format was introduced for the 2008–09 season after the League system for Northern Ireland was re-organised. The top flight was reduced in size from 16 to 12 clubs, included on the not only of their performance in the 2007–08 season. Finance – based on solvency, debt management and cash-flow projection, the Premiership remained under IFA control for five seasons until the creation of the Northern Ireland Football League in 2013, when it became the NIFL Premiership. Each team plays a total of 38 fixtures during the season, each team initially plays every other team three times for a total of 33 fixtures per team. The post-split fixtures are usually arranged in such a way as to result in the teams in each half playing each other twice at home and twice away. After the split, teams in the top six cannot finish lower than 6th place, the League campaign begins in August and continues until late April or early May. Most fixtures are played on Saturday afternoons, with fixtures on Friday evenings. Traditionally, there are Bank Holiday afternoon fixtures on Boxing Day, New Years Day, three points are awarded for a win, and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss, points can be deducted for breaches of rules e. g. fielding an ineligible player. The teams are first and foremost ranked by number of points, the team with the most points at the end of the season wins the championship. A tiebreaker other than goal difference has not been required since the 1961–62 season, the league champions qualify for the following seasons UEFA Champions League, with the league runners-up and Irish Cup winners qualifying for the UEFA Europa League. If, however, the Irish Cup winners have qualified for Europe by finishing as champions or runners-up in the league. In order to compete in any of these European competitions, however, in the event that a team qualifies without such a licence, lower-placed teams may take their place. A new method of Europa League qualification was introduced for the 2015–16 season, the play-offs are seeded, with the two higher-placed qualifiers given home advantage when facing the two lower-placed qualifiers in the semi-finals. The two semi-final winners then meet in the final, if, however, the Irish Cup winners finish lower than seventh in the league, all five teams that finish in third to seventh will qualify for the play-offs. This will require an additional match to be played by the two lowest-placed qualifiers in sixth and seventh, with the winner joining the other three clubs in the semi-finals. Additionally, the two highest-placed teams in the Premiership also qualify automatically for the next seasons all-Ireland Setanta Cup, the third and fourth-placed teams may also qualify if either or both of the winners of the Irish Cup and League Cup have qualified via the League