History of Soccer in Newry

reproduced from Newry Town FC diary 1999/2000

History of Soccer in Newry and District

Newry first became soccer minded back in 1880. It was the Army Garrison stationed in the town which introduced the game to the local community.

Newry Wanderers were formed in 1880, but it was not until 1892 that they achieved their first honour - winning the Irish Junior Cup. Two of their best performers were Mick McConville and his dashing brother. Hugh John, who in later years became Chairman of the urban Council.

Other members of that famous cup winning team were McGuigan, Bradley, Magee, Burke, Ferris, Kavanagh, McCoy, Goodfellow and McBain.

Another well-known player in the 1880's was Hugh Montgomery, although he wasn't on the cup winning team.

From the 1880's and 90's we move quickly to the 20th Century where football flourished in Newry, Bessbrook, Warrenpoint and Rostrevor and there was local league in those days. The players made their way to games in Warrenpoint and Rostrevor by horse drawn vehicles, but a number preffered to walk.

In the years preceding the First World War the local leagues continued to run and they were similar to the present Carnbane League, onlt that there were no youth competitions. Football in those days was a man's game, and you had to be tough to take all the knocks and spills. Games were well attended in those days. Teams were formed in different areas in the town, and unlike today players from each particular area played for that team. There was tremendous rivalry, and many a game ended in a punch-up, but everyone thoroughly enjoyed the fare.

The Newry Telegragh Shield which is presently one of the premiership trophies in the Carnbane League was first presented for competition way back in 1919.

Newry Town was one of the teams playing in the local league in the twenties and the club competed in the Telegraph Shield competition.

It was not until August 25th 1923 that a team from Newry entered the Irish senior league.

To complete the arrangements for entry into the league, a meeting was held in the White Cross Hotel in Margaret Street. Today there is no such hotel but the name of it is still there to remind us of it! Have a look the next time you are on the street.

The meeting was presided over by Mr J J Synott.

One of the men responsible for this meeting was the late Mr Charles Smyth, who became Secretary/Manager and the name given to the team was Newry Town F.C.

The names with those connected with the running of the club in those early senior days included - C Smyth, John Murphy, Frank Gallagher, Arthur McGuigan, James Fleming, R J McComb, James McGuigan, M Carmody and Felix Fegan - trainer and adviser who had few equals in sizing up the opposition.

Newry Town's first game in the Irish League was played at the Showgrounds in very bad weather.