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
Northern Ireland is a constituent unit of the United Kingdom in the north-east of Ireland. It is variously described as a country, province, region, or part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2011, its population was 1,810,863, constituting about 30% of the total population. Northern Ireland was created in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland by an act of the British parliament, Northern Ireland has historically been the most industrialised region of Ireland. After declining as a result of the political and social turmoil of the Troubles, its economy has grown significantly since the late 1990s. Unemployment in Northern Ireland peaked at 17. 2% in 1986, dropping to 6. 1% for June–August 2014,58. 2% of those unemployed had been unemployed for over a year. Prominent artists and sports persons from Northern Ireland include Van Morrison, Rory McIlroy, Joey Dunlop, Wayne McCullough, some people from Northern Ireland prefer to identify as Irish while others prefer to identify as British. Cultural links between Northern Ireland, the rest of Ireland, and the rest of the UK are complex, in many sports, the island of Ireland fields a single team, a notable exception being association football. Northern Ireland competes separately at the Commonwealth Games, and people from Northern Ireland may compete for either Great Britain or Ireland at the Olympic Games. The region that is now Northern Ireland was the bedrock of the Irish war of resistance against English programmes of colonialism in the late 16th century, the English-controlled Kingdom of Ireland had been declared by the English king Henry VIII in 1542, but Irish resistance made English control fragmentary. Victories by English forces in war and further Protestant victories in the Williamite War in Ireland toward the close of the 17th century solidified Anglican rule in Ireland. In Northern Ireland, the victories of the Siege of Derry and their intention was to materially disadvantage the Catholic community and, to a lesser extent, the Presbyterian community. In the context of open institutional discrimination, the 18th century saw secret, militant societies develop in communities in the region and act on sectarian tensions in violent attacks. Following this, in an attempt to quell sectarianism and force the removal of discriminatory laws, the new state, formed in 1801, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, was governed from a single government and parliament based in London. Between 1717 and 1775 some 250,000 people from Ulster emigrated to the British North American colonies and it is estimated that there are more than 27 million Scotch-Irish Americans now living in the US. By the close of the century, autonomy for Ireland within the United Kingdom, in 1912, after decades of obstruction from the House of Lords, Home Rule became a near-certainty. A clash between the House of Commons and House of Lords over a controversial budget produced the Parliament Act 1911, which enabled the veto of the Lords to be overturned. The House of Lords veto had been the unionists main guarantee that Home Rule would not be enacted, in 1914, they smuggled thousands of rifles and rounds of ammunition from Imperial Germany for use by the Ulster Volunteers, a paramilitary organisation opposed to the implementation of Home Rule
Solitude (football ground)
Solitude is a football stadium in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is the oldest football stadium in Ireland, and the ground of Irelands oldest football club. The stadium holds 6,224, but is restricted to 2,530 under safety legislation. The stadium was built in 1890, since 2010 Crumlin Star of the Northern Amateur Football League have also played their home games at the ground. However they moved the Cliff in Larne for the 2013-14 season, the stadium has undergone several renovations. In 2002, a new stand was built at one end of the ground to house visiting supporters, and in 2008, a synthetic 3G pitch was installed to replace the previous grass surface in 2010. Solitude was opened in 1890 after Cliftonville moved across the road from Oldpark Avenue, the ground holds the distinction of having the first ever penalty in International Football taken there. Previously consisting of two pitches, Solitude is the oldest football ground in Ireland, Solitude has hosted a number of cup finals and international games. During the 1890s and early 1900s Solitude was the ground of Ireland. During the 1890s, the ground hosted 11 home internationals, on 3 March 1894, after thirteen attempts Ireland, playing at Solitude, finally avoided defeat to England. Against an England team that included Fred Spiksley and Jack Reynolds, goals from Olphert Stanfield and W. K. Gibson inspired Ireland to come back from 2–0 down to gain a 2–2 draw, the ground continued to host Ireland internationals into the early 1900s, but was gradually replaced as Ireland’s home ground by Windsor Park and Dalymount Park. The main stand at Solitude, situated on the side of the ground. It was constructed during the 1950s, and has two tiers, the lower tier is terracing, and the upper tier has a mixture of seating and benches, and holds over 2,500 people. The original stand was destroyed in January 1949 when a fire broke out after a Linfield v Glentoran Irish Cup tie at the ground, also contained within the main stand at Solitude, is Cliftonville Social Club, Cliftonvilles licensed premises. In 2016 the main stand will be demolished to make way for a new stand which will look similar to the new south stand at Crusaders ground Seaview. This will hold an estimated 1100 supporters along with parking and bring Solitudes seated capacity up to around 3500. In many peoples opinion this most famous part of the old ground, the Cage was demolished and a new stand seating 1600 was opened on 27 October 2008
Coleraine is a large town and civil parish near the mouth of the River Bann in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It is 55 miles northwest of Belfast and 30 miles east of Derry and it is part of Causeway Coast and Glens district. Coleraine had a population of 24,630 people in the 2011 Census, disposable income is well above the Northern Ireland average. The North Coast area has the highest property prices in Northern Ireland, golf courses, countryside and leisure facilities and attractions are to be found. It has a town centre, and a marina. Coleraine during the day is a town, however at night the town is relatively quiet, with much of the nightlife in the area located in the nearby seaside towns of Portrush. Coleraine is also home to the one of the largest Polish communities in Northern Ireland, Coleraine is situated at the lowest bridgeable point of the River Bann, where the river is 90 metres wide. The town square is called The Diamond and is the location of the Town Hall, st. Patricks Church of Ireland is situated nearby. The University of Ulster campus was built in the 1960s and has brought a theatrical space to the town in the form of the Riverside Theatre, Coleraine has been designated as a major growth area in the Northern Ireland Development Strategy. Although the population of the town is only 25,000, the town also has the advantage of being near some of the most extraordinary landscape in the whole of Europe. In 2002, Coleraine won the Best Kept Town and Ulster in Bloom awards, in 2003, it was selected to represent Northern Ireland in the prestigious Britain in Bloom competition. It has its own radio station, Q97. 2FM Coleraine has a long history of settlement. The Mesolithic site at Mount Sandel, which dates from approximately 5935 BC is some of the earliest evidence of settlement in Ireland. The Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick records how the town got its name, when Patrick arrived in the neighbourhood, he was received with great honour and hospitality by the local chieftain, Nadslua, who offered him a piece of ground on which to build a church. The spot was next to the river Bann and was overgrown with ferns and this incident led to the area being called Cúil Raithin, which was later anglicised as Colrain, Colerain and Coleraine. It was translated by Colgan into Latin as Secessus Filicis, the town was one of the two urban communities developed by the London Companies in County Londonderry in the Plantation of Ulster at the start of the 17th century. In 1637 the Surveyor General of Customs issued a report compiled from accounts of customs due from each port, of the Ulster ports on the list, Carrickfergus was first, followed by Bangor, Donaghadee, and Strangford. Carlingford and Coleraine each had £244 customs due and had equal ranking, during the War of the Two Kings Coleraine was a centre of Protestant resistance to the rule of James II
Ballymena /ˌbæliˈmiːnə/ is a large town in County Antrim, and the eighth largest in Northern Ireland. It is part of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and it had a population of 29,467 people in the 2011 Census. The town is built on land given to the Adair family by King Charles I in 1626, as of 2016, the Saturday market still runs. Ballymena is the hometown of notable actor Liam Neeson, who was awarded Freedom of the Borough in 2013, the town used to host Irelands largest one-day agricultural show at the Ballymena Showgrounds. The town centre has many historic buildings, the Town Hall was built in 1924 on the site of the old Market House, and was refurbished in 2007 at a cost of roughly £20 million. The recorded history of the Ballymena area dates to the Early Christian period from the 5th to the 7th centuries, ringforts are found in the townland of Ballykeel and a site known as Camphill Fort in the townland of Ballee may also have been of this type. There are a number of sites within a 1 1⁄4 miles radius of the centre of Ballymena. Two miles north in the townland of Kirkinriola, the ancient parish church and graveyard possess several indicators of Early Christian settlement, also in 1868, a gravedigger found a large stone slab on which was carved a cross with the inscription ord do degen. This refers to Bishop Degen, who lived in Ireland during the 7th century and this stone is now in the porch of St. Patricks Church at the end of Castle Street. At the end of the 5th century, a church was founded in Connor and this was followed by a monastery at Templemoyle, Kells. In 831, however, the Norse invaded the Ballymena area, in the 12th century, the Normans conquered much of County Antrim and County Down after having taken over England the century before. They created the core of the Earldom of Ulster, during this campaign, they built great mounds of earth topped by wooden towers, referred to as mottes, as defensive structures. The Harryville areas motte-and-bailey is one of the best examples of type of fortification in Northern Ireland. In 1315, Edward Bruce invaded Ireland, on 10 September 1315, at the Battle of Tawnybrack, Edward conquered the army of Richard De Burgo, the Norman Earl of Ulster. In 1576, Queen Elizabeth I granted land, including the town of Ballymena, the lands had been forfeited to the crown after Shane ONeills resistance in the 1560s. Smith brought English settlers to the area, among the first pioneers in planting English, by 1581, Smiths settlement failed and the lands reverted to the crown. On 10 May 1607, King James I granted the native Irish chief, the estate passed through several owners, eventually passing into the possession of William Adair, a Scottish laird from Kinhilt in southwestern Scotland. The estate was temporarily renamed Kinhilstown after Adairs lands in Scotland, the original castle of Ballymena was built in the early 17th century, situated to take advantage of an ancient ford at the River Braid
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
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
Donegal Celtic F.C.
Donegal Celtic Football Club is an intermediate football club based in Belfast, Northern Ireland who currently play in the NIFL Premier Intermediate League. The club, founded in 1970, plays its matches at Donegal Celtic Park. Club colours are green and white in Celtic-style hoops, Donegal Celtic was formed in 1970 when a group of young men who had a huge interest in football decided to form a team in the Lenadoon district of west Belfast. With no facilities, kits, pitch or equipment, the first few years were spent playing friendlies and entering local summer competitions, the club has a youth setup, covering boys age groups U10 - U18, and a girl’s set-up at U14. Donegal Celtic Ladies senior side won the Belfast Cup in 2004, the clubs senior men’s team has a chequered and colourful history. After continually applying for Irish League entry they were denied on several occasions and forced to play amateur football, a 1990 cup tie at Linfield involved ground unrest. With accusations of a selection process and with the threat of court action looming. The club managed to finish in 6th place in their first year in the Irish League proper, the clubs second season in Irish League football was marred by poor home form and an inability to cope with the change in standard, finishing in 8th place. The clubs fortunes improved following the establishment of a management structure of Paddy Kelly, Marty McKiernan, the team also managed to capture the Intermediate Cup, defeating Coagh United 2–0 in the final. The next few seasons would see the club going through managerial turmoil, Paddy Kelly resigned as manager before the 2009–10 season started, with former Cliftonville and Coleraine player Pat McAllister replacing him. However, less than a later he shocked the club by resigning, citing personal reasons for his decision. Marty Tabb, a former Cliftonville captain and manager, took over for the start of the 2010–11 season, however, in September 2010, he was sacked after only 74 days in charge. Paddy Kelly then returned to the club for a spell as manager. He resigned for the time in January 2012, along with a number of coaches. Former Carrick Rangers boss Stephen Small was appointed Kellys successor a few days later, however, Smalls tenure would not be a successful one. The club suffered a run of 15 league games without a win and they were also knocked out of the 2012–13 Irish League Cup at home, by IFA Championship 1 outfit Harland & Wolff Welders. Small resigned in September 2012, citing poor results and personal pressures as the reasons for his departure, reserve team manager Declan McGreevy, a former Ards and Ballymena United player, was appointed as the clubs next manager on 11 October 2012. Ten days later however, McGreevy was forced to stand down from the post as he did not possess the required UEFA A licence to manage an IFA Premiership club
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
The Ballymena Showgrounds is a football stadium in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is home to Ballymena United F. C. and Ballymena United Allstars F. C and it is owned by Ballymena Borough Council. In addition to mens soccer a variety of sports and events are held at the stadium and surrounding facilities, including womens association football, field hockey. The stadium was redeveloped in 2001 at a cost of £30B and this reconstruction included the building of a new stand and new dressing room facilities. In 2010 the Warden Street stand was redeveloped to all-seater standard with a new capacity of 2,200 seats, the stadium now holds 4,100 spectators, but is limited to 3,600 due to health and safety. Home to Ballymena United The New Stand replaced the old Clock Stand which ran parallel to the side of the pitch and was knocked down in 2001, the stand incorporates approximately sixteen changing rooms, offices and bars - as well as press and corporate facilities. The first game it was open to the public was an Ulster Cup tie against Carrick Rangers in August 2002, home supporters are situated in this stand, as they use the turnstiles at the social club to enter the ground. It cost £250,000 to construct and was used for the first time in a 2-0 defeat in a Tyler Cup game against Shamrock Rovers in July,1980. The stand, which is now used to hold visiting supporters has a capacity of just over 1,200. The stand was used to house the home supporters until the opening of the new grandstand in 2002, in front of the stand is terracing which can hold around 2,000 standing spectators. The dug-outs also sit in front of this stand and this work has now been completed and the new stand was first used in a 3-1 home victory for Ballymena United F. C over Portadown F. C on 16 October 2010. This further adds to the reputation of the Ballymena Showgrounds as the best facility for football in Ulster, racing at the track was originally promoted by Hot Rod driver Ernie Kilpatrick and Robert Mathers in 1977. At the time it was the track in Northern Ireland. IFCP photos from The Ballymena Showgrounds