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
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies making it the worlds most popular sport, the game is played on a rectangular field with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by getting the ball into the opposing goal, players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms while it is in play, unless they are goalkeepers. Other players mainly use their feet to strike or pass the ball, the team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is level at the end of the game, the Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association in 1863. Association football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football, the first written reference to the inflated ball used in the game was in the mid-14th century, Þe heued fro þe body went, Als it were a foteballe. The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the word soccer was split off in 1863, according to Partha Mazumdar, the term soccer originated in England, first appearing in the 1880s as an Oxford -er abbreviation of the word association. Within the English-speaking world, association football is now usually called football in the United Kingdom and mainly soccer in Canada and the United States. People in Australia, Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand use either or both terms, although national associations in Australia and New Zealand now primarily use football for the formal name. According to FIFA, the Chinese competitive game cuju is the earliest form of football for which there is scientific evidence, cuju players could use any part of the body apart from hands and the intent was kicking a ball through an opening into a net. It was remarkably similar to football, though similarities to rugby occurred. During the Han Dynasty, cuju games were standardised and rules were established, phaininda and episkyros were Greek ball games. An image of an episkyros player depicted in low relief on a vase at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens appears on the UEFA European Championship Cup, athenaeus, writing in 228 AD, referenced the Roman ball game harpastum. Phaininda, episkyros and harpastum were played involving hands and violence and they all appear to have resembled rugby football, wrestling and volleyball more than what is recognizable as modern football. As with pre-codified mob football, the antecedent of all football codes. Non-competitive games included kemari in Japan, chuk-guk in Korea and woggabaliri in Australia, Association football in itself does not have a classical history. Notwithstanding any similarities to other games played around the world FIFA have recognised that no historical connection exists with any game played in antiquity outside Europe. The modern rules of football are based on the mid-19th century efforts to standardise the widely varying forms of football played in the public schools of England
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
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
Northern Ireland Football League Cup
It is the third-highest rated competition in domestic Northern Irish football after the NIFL Premiership and Irish Cup. It should not be confused with the Irish League Floodlit Cup which ran from 1987–88 to 1997–98 initially under the sponsorship of Budweiser and latterly Coca-Cola. Unlike the Irish Cup, the competition does not have a berth for UEFA Europa League qualification, ballymena United are the current holders, after they defeated Carrick Rangers 2–0 in the 2017 final to win the competition for the first time. Unlike the Irish Cup, the League Cup is restricted to the 40 Northern Ireland Football League clubs and it is contested by the 12 NIFL Premiership clubs, and the 28 clubs in NIFL Championship 1 and NIFL Championship 2. The competition uses a knock-out system, each round consists of a single match. In the event that the scores are level, extra time is played, the top 16 ranked clubs from the previous season receive byes into the second round, which includes the 12 Premiership clubs, and the top four ranked clubs from Championship 1. Of the remaining 24 Championship clubs,16 enter in the first round, the second round draw is seeded so that the top 16 clubs from the previous season avoid each other. The second round is the round of the competition in which seeding is used. From there on, the competition has a round, quarter-finals, semi-finals. The competition began with 32 clubs in a straight knock-out format in February 1987, the League Cup would have been considered less prestigious than the long-standing Gold Cup and Ulster Cup. The actual trophy presented to the winners is the old City Cup, the first final took place on 9 May 1987 at Glentorans ground, the Oval, and was contested by Linfield and Crusaders. Linfield became the winners of the cup, defeating Crusaders 2–1. Linfield have gone on to win the competition nine times overall – more than any other club and they have appeared in twelve different finals, which is a record they share with rivals Glentoran. Linfield and Cliftonville have both won the competition in three seasons, which is the record for the most consecutive wins. The most common final has been the Big Two Derby which has occurred seven times, Linfield have won on four occasions and Glentoran on three. The 1988–89 final, played between the two sides at the Oval on 11 November 1988 was won courtesy of a goal by Glentoran goalkeeper Alan Patterson and this was the first time that a goalkeeper had ever scored in a British football final. Thirteen different clubs have reached the final, but only ten clubs have won the cup, ballymena United, Larne and Newry City are the three clubs to have played in the final but never won. In 2011, Lisburn Distillery became the different club to win the cup, in what was their first
Dollingstown Football Club is an intermediate-level football club, from Dollingstown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and competing in the Intermediate A Division of the Mid-Ulster Football League. In the 2010–11 season the club was denied promotion to IFA Championship 2 for fielding a player in eight league matches. As a result, they were deducted all the points gained in the matches the player took part in. The club appealed the decision, and took their case all the way to the High Court, had they won their case they would have been promoted, with Chimney Corner being relegated. Tandragee Rovers were crowned champions of the division instead, but did not apply for entry to the Championship, in the 2012–13 season, they narrowly missed out on a place in Championship 2 again. A 3–2 home win followed by a 2–1 away defeat was not enough, in the 2013–14 season, the club finally secured promotion to the NIFL Championship after winning a play-off against Brantwood. After losing the first leg 2–1 at Skegoneill Avenue, Dollingstown won the second leg 5–2 at Planters Park to ensure a 6–4 victory on aggregate, as a result, they were promoted to NIFL Championship 2 in place of Killymoon Rangers, who had finished bottom of Championship 2. They became the first club relegated from Championship 2 since its inauguration in 2009, in 2016 the club was relegated from the Northern Ireland Football League. Bob Radcliffe Cup,1 2016-17 Mid-Ulster Football League,3 2008–09, 2012–13, 2013–14 NI Football League Official website nifootball. co. uk -
Harland & Wolff Welders F.C.
Harland & Wolff Welders Football Club is a semi-professional, Northern Irish football club playing in the NIFL Championship. The club, founded in 1965, hails from Belfast and plays its matches at Tillysburn Park in the East of the city. The club was formed by the welders of the nearby Harland & Wolff shipyard, the current manager is former Glentoran FC player Gary Smyth. The clubs colours are yellow and black to display the link with Harland & Wolff shipyard, Harland & Wolff Welders share a long running rivalry with fellow East Belfast Championship 1 side Dundela. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality
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