Ballymena United F.C.
Ballymena United Football Club is a semi-professional football club from Northern Ireland. Based in Ballymena, County Antrim, the team competes in the NIFL Premiership, Ballymena United was formed in 1934 as a replacement for the earlier Ballymena that had folded following a dispute regarding the illegal payment of amateur players. The club has never won the title in its history. The club has won the County Antrim Shield on five occasions. The main club rivals of Ballymena United would be local club Coleraine, the traditional Boxing Day fixture between the two teams attracts large crowds and is one of the most high-profile fixtures in the Northern Irish football calendar. Ballymena Football Club was formed on 7 April 1928, when four local businessmen, four men – Albert McClelland, DB Elliott, John Gordon and James McIlhagga – tapped into the popular mood of the period that the time had arrived for Ballymena to be represented in senior circles. The newly formed club took the place of Barn United in the Irish League for the 1928–29 season, however, five days later Ballymena gained their first point in a 2–2 away to Larne and created another landmark when Jimmy McCambridge scored the clubs first ever goal. Ballymena defeated Glentoran, Broadway United and Coleraine en route to a showdown with League Champions Belfast Celtic at Solitude. A remarkable 2–1 victory over Celtic followed with goals from Jamie Shiels, a replica of the trophy was produced and awarded to the club for winning the Irish Cup in their first season. Ballymena were unlucky at Solitude as they lost 4–3 to the Windsor Park Blues, with goals from Davy Reid, however, this was arguably the most forgettable of the three cup finals as a poor effort saw Ballymena lose to Linfield again by three goals without reply. The following season brought wholesale changes at the Showgrounds, despite a poor start to the 1931–32 season the team began to gel in September, now renowned as cup specialists the Light Blues reached the final of the Gold Cup, eventually losing 3–0 to nearby rivals, Coleraine. Despite an early exit from the Irish Cup for the first time, Ballymena continued to threaten a very competitive league, despite a bright start the 1932–33 campaign proved to be the leanest so far during the clubs very short history. Early exits in all the cup competitions and failure to challenge in the Irish League summarised a disappointing season for Ballymena, little did anyone realise in August 1933 what the importance of the following nine months in the history of Ballymena FC. This was to be the last season in which the club took part in senior football, in 1934, club chairman Albert McClelland was overheard making a remark that something had to be done to curb the payments to amateurs. When word of his comments reached the Irish League they immediately suspended the club, Ballymenas directors refused claiming that they were being made scapegoats for a practice which was widespread among the other clubs in the Irish League. Failure to meet the deadline for the presentation of accounts stipulated by the League resulted in Ballymenas dismissal from senior football. Immediately attempts were made to reinstate the club but when these were rejected it was suggested that the club be renamed Ballymena United and merge with a junior club, Ballymena Crusaders. Happily this was acceptable to the League authorities although in reality it was virtually the same club as before with the ground, same players
Coleraine Football Club is a Northern Irish semi-professional football club, playing in the NIFL Premiership. The club, founded in 1927, hails from Coleraine, County Londonderry, Club colours are blue and white. The current manager is Oran Kearney of Linfield. The Bannsiders won the Irish League title once, the club was formed out of a merger between two local sides, Coleraine Olympic and Coleraine Alexandra. The original club colours were all white, hence the original nickname – the Lilywhites. The new club secured its first trophy in the 1931–32 season, in 1948, Coleraine reached its first Irish Cup final, going down 3–0 to Linfield. 1953 brought another appearance in the final and another defeat, again to Linfield, the 1950s saw the City Cup won for the first time and a second triumph in the Gold Cup. In 1961, chairman Jack Doherty persuaded Bertie Peacock to sign for Coleraine after he left Celtic and it would prove to be one of the most important transfers in the clubs history. In 1965, Coleraine won the Irish Cup for the first time, defeating Glenavon 2–1 at Windsor Park, with goals from Shaun Dunlop, Coleraine thus gained its first experience of European football, against Soviet outfit Dynamo Kiev. Coleraine also won the first two Blaxnit all-Ireland cups in 1969 and 1970, Coleraine faced Kilmarnock in the 1970 Fairs Cup, and after a 1–1 draw in the first leg, the Bannsiders pulled off an historic 3–2 victory thanks to a Des Dickson hat-trick. In 1972, the Irish Cup was won again, this time by beating Portadown 2–1, with goals from Des Dickson, the Holy Grail of the Gibson Cup was finally captured in 1974. Under the management of Bertie Peacock, the squad consisting of the likes of Des Dickson, Johnny McCurdy, Ivan Murray, Michael Guy, Bertie Peacock resigned in 1974 and Ivan Murray and Johnny McCurdy took over the reins. Murray continued as manager until 1978 and during his spell in charge the Irish Cup was won twice more – both times against Linfield, in 1975, it took three games before a goal from Jim Chang Smith in the second replay proved decisive. The 1977 victory was more emphatic with Liam Beckett, Des Dickson, Frankie Moffatt and it was to be the clubs last major trophy for 26 years. In the 1980s there were two cup finals, in 1982 and 1986, ending in defeats to Linfield and Glentoran respectively. For three seasons in a row in the mid-1980s the club finished second in the league behind Linfield, in 1995 they dropped into the First Division. The next 2 seasons saw Coleraine finish fourth both times – potential title challenges being ruined by inconsistency, in 2002–03, Coleraine ended the season in third place and reached their first Irish Cup Final since 1986. In the final, they faced Glentoran as massive underdogs as the east Belfast side were looking to complete a sweep of trophies. After an early strike from Gareth McAuley was harshly ruled out, Coleraine kept going, despite increasing Glentoran pressure, Coleraine held on and the trophy famine was over
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
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
Omagh Town F.C.
Omagh Town Football and Athletic Club was a Northern Irish association football club that was based in Omagh, County Tyrone. Founded in 1962, the played in the Irish Football League from 1990 until its closure in 2005. They won the North West Senior Cup on six occasions and competed in the UEFA Intertoto Cup twice, Omagh Town was dissolved on 7 June 2005, owing to financial problems. Omagh Town Football and Athletic Club was formed in August 1962 by Aines McGeehan, the team was called Omagh Celtic Football Club and started off with maroon shirts with blue shorts. The team played at Quarry Field Mullaghmena in Omagh, in 1969, the club changed its name to Omagh Town Football and Athletic Club and also changed their accommodation to the Military Holm for three years, moving to The Showgrounds afterwards. Following 1974 the kit changed again, this time to white shirts. This combination would change several more time before the club settled on a combination of red, black. In 1990, Omagh Town moved to St Julians Road, a site that was previously a council dump, Omagh leased the land and developed a football stadium. The stadium had a grass pitch, with a capacity of 5000 with 30 VIP places,250 covered seats,3220 covered standing places and 1500 uncovered standing places. Supporters of Omagh Town called the club The Town, the club also supported darts, womens football and poolmembers. In total the club had about 470 members, of which 180 were youth members, support for the club derived mainly from the towns of Omagh, Castlederg, Dromore and Ballygawley. Omagh Towns main rivalry was with north-west derby rivals Coleraine as well as with Glentoran, the club were elected to senior football for the first time in the 1990–91 season, and would remain in the top flight for the next five years. In 1994–95, a change in makeup of the league, dropping the number of teams in the top flight to 8, the results and points accumulated over two seasons were taken into account. Roy McCreadies departure had caused problems, Paul Kee was left in charge, McCreadie returned and Town were promoted again, coming in as runners-up to Ballymena in the first division. After losing in the 1997–98 Irish cup semi-final with one of the best squads assembled, indeed, the addition of a couple of key players could have seen Omagh challenge for the following seasons premiership. Instead, a weakened squad struggled and were relegated at the end of the 1998–99 season, however, a tremendous 1999–2000 campaign in the first division saw Omagh under Roy McCreadie promoted as champions, Eamon Kavanagh collecting the cup at St Julians Road despite a loss to Limavady. Omagh would remain in the Premier Division for the two years finishing 9th and 10th, respectively. Roy McCreadies departure left a void Town could not fill, frankie Wilson and Eamon Kavanagh were caretaker managers for a time but rather than give them the job, Former Derry City star Johnny Speak took over
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
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
Crusaders Football Club is a Northern Irish semi-professional football club, playing in the NIFL Premiership. The club, founded in 1898, hails from Belfast and plays its matches at Seaview. Club colours are red and black, the current manager is former player Stephen Baxter, who is the clubs longest serving manager, having been appointed in 2005. Crusaders played intermediate football until 1949, and during time they were one of the top non-league teams in the country. The withdrawal of Belfast Celtic from the ranks in 1949 resulted in Crusaders being elected in their place in time for the start of the 1949–50 season. The clubs fierce rivals are Cliftonville, matches between the two clubs are known as the North Belfast derby. Rivalries also exist with other Belfast sides such as Linfield and Glentoran, Crusaders Football Club was formed in the year 1898, with the exact date unknown. Many names were suggested for the club, including Rowan Star, Cultra United, Mervue Wanderers, Moyola, and others such as Queens Rovers, thomas Palmer felt that a name of more international significance should be adopted and he suggested Crusaders, after the medieval Christian knights. Initially the club was able to undertake friendly fixtures until it was admitted to one of the local junior leagues. Players were compelled to pay a fee of two pence before they could take the field. It was strictly no pay-no play, the very first competitive game of which there is any existing record was on 10 December 1898. It came in the North Belfast Alliance against opponents named Bedford at Alexandra Park and reports state that, in addition, the side were very successful in the top junior cup competition, the Steel & Sons Cup, winning the competition on seven occasions as a junior side. The side also reached the Irish Cup semi finals three times in the 1920s, the first came in the 1923–24 season, where they were defeated by that seasons Irish League champions Queens Island in a replay at Pirrie Park. In the 1924–25 season the Crues knocked out senior sides Larne and they reached the semi-finals once again in 1927, losing 2–4 at home to derby rivals Cliftonville. The Crues also reached the final of the Belfast Charities Cup in 1923, also an achievement as the competition was open to all senior clubs in Belfast. Despite these feats, all applications for entry to the senior Irish League were turned down, the frustration was such that consideration was given to making application either to the Scottish Football League or to the League of Ireland. The Second World War meant that there was no football played by the Crues between April 1941 and September 1945, Crusaders began competing once more in the Intermediate League after the war, beginning with the 1945–46 season. Morrison would also go on to be the top scorer of their first senior season with 11 goals in all competitions
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