Blast from the Past: 10,000 fans at the Showgrounds for 1957 Irish Cup Tie

By Jim Campbell

In this article I recall the day almost sixty three years ago, when Newry Town played an Irish Cup second round tie against a powerful Glenavon side at the Showgrounds, in front of a record breaking 10, 000 crowd. The gate receipts of £525 (worth £12075 in today’s money) was also a record.

The date was Saturday, March 2, 1957 and the memories of that historic cup tie became permanently engraved in my schoolboy mind at that time.

Newry had qualified to play in the Irish Cup for the first time since 1940 and the town was buzzing with excitement for weeks ahead of the game.

Could newry shock the football world and beat this fantastic Glenavon team with all its superstars such as Cush, Jones, Elwood, Corr, Campbell and McVeigh?

I vividly remember standing outside Woolworths’ front door in the town centre with a dozen or so other students from Newry Technical School when town star Pat Curtis came along and we were literally over the moon when our hero took the time to stop and talk to us about the game. He told us that the team was confident of success and reminded us that another Alliance League club Dundela had beaten Glenavon in the final of the Irish cup just two years earlier.

The town had a pre match defensive problem with Jimmy McKinven doubtful on the injured list so an urgent transfer of Teddie Harte was arranged with Banbridge Town FC (There was no such thing as transfer windows in those days).

There was a severe shortage of petrol, particularly in the Newry area so dozens of town fans living in the outlying hinterland had to use bicycles to get to the game.

The huge contingent of Glenavon fans travelled to the Showgrounds by bus, car and train.

One of the entrance gates at the Showgrounds collapsed under the pressure from the huge crowd before kick off and I reckon a hundred or so fans got in free of charge before the town management got the situation under control.

The town opened brightly and took the lead in the 15th minute of the game. The home fans erupted when NI Junior International star Pat Curtis collected a brilliant pass from the diminutive Jimmy Gallagher and slammed a magnificent twenty five yarder into the top corner past Roy Rea in the Glenavon goal.

But thereafter this star studded Glenavon side upped their game and ran out 4-1 winners – although this match was much closer than the scoreline would suggest. The battle between the two hard men – Wilbur Cush for Glenavon and Gerry Robinson for Newry in the midfield area was a feature. The two of them kicked lumps out of each other for almost the entire 90 minutes.

Newry Town’s panel for the historic game was: Jim Parkhill, Albert Black, Teddie Harte, Stanley Kidd, Jimmy McKinvin, Jackie Bowers, Gerry Robinson, Jimmy Gallagher, Billy Hewitt, Jimmy Edgar, Pat Curtis, Stevie Mallon, Derek O’Brien, and Eddie McGivern.

Glenavon: Rea, Armstrong, Lyske, Corr, Davis, Cush, Wilson, McVeigh, Jones, Campbell, and Elwood.

Referee: Mr C Flanagan (Sheffield)

Centenary Year Legends Match

We are delighted to announce that as part of our Centenary Year celebrations we will be hosting a
Newry City Legends & Guests vs Evos Legends Match on Saturday 16th November KO 5pm at The Showgrounds. £5 / £3 concession.

Our centenary jersey (as modelled by Mark Hughes) will be available to pre-order from tomorrow night at the club shop v Portadown. Tickets for the Centenary evening in the Canal Court with special guest Stephen Kenny also on sale.

What a fantastic opportunity to see Newry lteam Managed by Robbie Casey and legends such as Ray Byrne & Mickey Keenan back in a Newry jersey once again!! 🔵⚪️

Photograph Courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography

Foley NIFWA Championship Player of the Month

Delighted to share the news that Adam Foley has been rewarded for some scintillating performances with the NI Football Writers Bluefin Sport Championship Player of the Month. Newry Manager Darren Mullen commented “This accolade is just reward for some excellent performances by Adam in October. He’s a player with undoubted ability who just needs to perform consistently and thankfully he has shown that recently. Our style of play suits him and he has been thriving in a new role so hopefully that continues for the remainder of the season. He’s a great lad who has fitted in well at the club and will be the first to acknowledge the work of his teammates in helping him receive this award.”

Centenary Event Update

We are delighted to announce that our guest speaker for our Centenary Night on Saturday November 23 will be…. Stephen Kenny.

The current Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager won four League of Ireland Premier Division titles, two FAI Cups and a League Cup with our good friends at Dundalk and has managed in the Scottish Premier League with Dunfermline.

Stephen was appointed as Republic of Ireland U21 manager just under a year ago and will take over as manager of the Senior team in 2020.

We’re delighted that he will be joining us on the night.

If you are a past player, manager, coach, member of staff or supporter you want to come along to the night, we would love you to get in touch. PM our Facebook page for more details.

For tickets to the centenary night, contact Laura on 07857 077 176 or Gareth on 07759 095 558.

Keep an eye out for more centenary-related content coming soon.

McGovern Goes Pro

Newry City are delighted to announce that they have secured the signature of rising star John McGovern on a professional contract.

Darren Mullen commented “This contract is well deserved for John’s performances this season. Since his first appearance in preseason he has been terrific not only in terms of his ability but also his attitude. It’s hard to believe at times that he has just turned 17 but he has a maturity well beyond his years and most importantly is still willing to learn. He comes from a very good family who keep him well grounded and who know he is being well looked after at the club. He knows he has plenty more to learn but is at a club who is well suited to bringing young lads on and developing that talent. I’m sure the fans will also be delighted as he has become a firm favourite with them and they can see what it means for John to play for his hometown club.”

John McGovern commented “I am delighted to sign my first professional contract with Newry City AFC. It’s been a fantastic few months adjusting to playing in the Irish league championship and thankfully getting a few goals. I would like to thank Darren and the coaching staff for helping me get to this point and to the lads on the team for their on-field encouragement. I just need to keep listening and learning to help our cup run and get back to the premiership.”

Johns parents Dermot & Pauline added, “As parents we are very proud and know that he is in good hands with Newry. It’s a great club and everyone has made him feel very welcome as a young local player who has progressed. He knows he has to keep learning all the time and hopefully he can do well in his first full season.”

Cover photo courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography