Friday, 2nd November, marked exactly 100 years to the very day since Newry Town FC played their first ever competitive fixture. To mark this hugely significant landmark day in the club’s history, club historian and long-serving supporter Jim Campbell will delve into the archives and also recall some of the stand-out moments – ranging from the joy of success to the depths of despair, on this incredible one hundred year journey from Newry Town to City to City AFC.
In our second edition of the series we look back at the club’s AGM for the 1935/36 season.
From both from a financial and competitive point of view, the 1935/36 season was Newry Town’s most successful pre-World War two season. It was reviewed at the AGM held in the minor Town Hall on Thursday evening, 21st May, 1936 and published in comprehensive detail by the Newry Reporter dated Saturday, 23rd May, 1936.
“Personally, I think it was an excellent season in many ways—firstly, financially we felt very secure, secondly in the play although we did not attain quite what we hoped for in bringing trophies to Newry, yet, we did ascend very considerably in all the competitions, our players acquitting themselves creditably, thirdly from the spectators point of view, I think they had good value. In the replayed cup matches alone they had as much excitement as was good for them and I think that at times the football fever was as high as it was wise to have it, seeing some people had neither time or inclination for food on Saturdays.
“Play on several occasions reached a high standard and I think it was well known in football circles that the Newry Town frontline required ‘some holding’ The preliminary references to our games each Saturday usually read ‘ If the opposition can hold the Newry front line they stand a chance’.
“I am also glad to say that local talent came very much into the limelight and I hope as time goes on that there will be many more Newry boys anxious to put their best foot forward to gain a place on the team.”
GROWING POPULARITY OF GAME IN NEWRY
The Chairman continued, “Proof of the growing popularity of the game in Newry will be given when The Treasurer reads his report and the great increase in season ticket holders is noted. Also, in spite of the fact that the stand was doubled in size, there were times when the fever was highest and the weather at its lowest, that the accommodation was still inadequate.
“The committee, to whom we are under a deep debt of gratitude, were all so excellent that it would be impossible to pick on a defaulter, and I can assure you, I wouldn’t care to have to watch a turnstile—— or have any job — during a game. I will, however mention the Hon. Secretary and the Hon. Treasurer. Mr Weir as Hon. Secretary has stood the brunt of the battle and really to him I consider the club owes its thanks for its position to-day and I don’t really believe any of us realise the work he does in the interest of Newry Town FC.
“The treasurer Mr. Halliday produces his” budget” always in apple pie order—- There is no leakage.(Laughter). A treasurer has not an enviable job, so to whom, also our great thanks is due.
“The Players all during the season again seemed like a happy family, and although at times they were rather roughly dealt with on the field I am glad to say they did what I hope will be a tradition with Newry Town FC — to keep their tempers well under control. I hope that in the coming season when they start off with nearly the same team as last season they will make quite certain of bringing home one or two cups.
“To the Trainer, the highest praise is due. He was always to the fore and if rubbing could bring an injured player back on the field he never remained very long on the touch-line.
“Now the last person I will mention is the Groundsman but by last I do not mean least. I think our ground is the nicest in the league. I was told by a famous referee who officiated in the English Cup Final that Newry Town’s ground was the best ground in the whole of Ireland that he had officiated on. We must realise however, that to have it in that condition needs a great deal of hard work and Jimmy Connor has put that into the place and never shirked no matter what the weather might be.
“I will end up now by saying that I hope the good support we had from the members of the club during the past season will be maintained, and that we all can look forward to next season with confidence and pleasure.” (Applause)
The annual report which was presented by Mr William Weir (Hon Secretary/Manager) was in the following terms:
“In presenting the annual report for season 1935-36 it is gratifying to state that the financial position of the club is on a very sound basis. Notwithstanding the numerous improvements which have been carried out at our ground, all of which appear in our expenditure account for the year, our credit balance has very considerably increased.
“These improvements consisted amongst other things, of a very comprehensive scheme of drainage to the playing pitch. This, we are glad to report has proved a complete success, as at no period during the severe winter did surface water even threaten to interfere with our fixtures. A scheme of banking round the enclosure was put in hand and this has proved a great asset to our supporters. We also considered it advisable to enlarge our stand accommodation in the month of November on the reserved side and doubled the accommodation.
“Other work, included repairs to the paling, which had been damaged in a storm, and the passage way from pavilion to playing pitch etc.
“In connection with these ground improvements and repairs it is estimated that the outlay has been about £300.00 which as already stated is included in this year’s expenses. This to a very great extent was for materials and we feel proud that we had such a willing and enthusiastic band of voluntary helpers to carry through the work.”
SUCCESS OF THE TEAM
Mr Weir continued, “Whilst we regret that we were not able to bring any trophies to the Frontier Town, still it is with great pleasure we have to record the success the team has achieved, and it is generally acknowledged that the standard of football has been excellent. We would refer briefly to our prowess in the different competitions during the season. In the League we won 14 games and drew 5, finishing 4th on the table with 33 points. In this competition the team scored 80 goals, the highest number of any of the clubs.
“In the City Cup competition we just fell short of honours, finishing third just three points, behind the winners. We attribute the slight falling off for a period in this competition as being due to the rush of replayed cup games.
“In the Gold Cup we were knocked out in the first round by Derry City.
“Our Irish Cup games are still fresh in all your memories. In the first round we defeated Bangor. The second round games with Belfast Celtic are memorable. Our team put up a great fight and it was only at the end of the fourth game we had to admit defeat.
“We would take this opportunity of stating publicly the splendid spirit and comradeship of our players throughout the season. We had a team of men second to none —- men who showed splendid loyalty, co-operation and all the essentials that make for success.
“Two of our players who received recognition by the Association were JA Cassidy, honoured by the Irish League v England and T Wilkins who was awarded an Amateur International Cap against England.
“In the month of October we transferred JA Cassidy to Manchester City. This player was a great servant who was in his third season with the club. We all unite in wishing him success in a higher sphere of the game. The following players have already been signed for next season: JW Syddall, WJ Redfern, JF Twomey, R Johnston, D McCart, AG Peters, WH Roberts, N McIvor, P Duffy, G Black, T Cromie, and F McGreevy.
“A deep debt of gratitude is due to our Chairman DR NE Williams for his splendid service in acting as Hon Medical Officer for another year.
“At our last annual meeting we made a special appeal for greater support by the purchase of Members Season Tickets. This we are delighted to report showed splendid results, as you will see by the following comparison —– 1934-35 the number of tickets sold was 250, in season 1935-36 the number was 440, a magnificent increase of 190.
“This was very gratifying and we feel sure that our members will rally round the club in even greater numbers for the coming season.
“To the Police for their continued co-operation and to the Press our thanks are also due.
“In conclusion we feel Newry Town FC can look forward with hope and confidence to season 1936-37.”
Mr W Halliday, Hon. Treasurer, reported that that the receipts amounted to £4,231 plus 1 shilling and 6d and outlay was £ 3621 plus 8 shillings and 7d. Leaving a credit balance of £609 plus the balance from last year – £315 plus 17 shillings.
Gate receipts had increased from £ 1428 plus 6 shillings to £ 2379 plus 19 shillings while visiting clubs had benefited to the extent of £620 compared to £418 plus 19 shillings and 10d the previous season.
Both reports were unanimously adopted on the motion of Mr MJ Kelly seconded by Mr P McCann.
At this stage Dr NE Williams vacated the chair to enable the election of the new office-bearers to proceed.
On the motion of Mr B Larkin seconded by Mr B Fitzpatrick, Mr JV KELLY was moved to the chair to conduct the election.
The first office was that of Hon Secretary. Mr WEIR’S name was proposed by
Mr B Fitzpatrick seconded by Mr P McCann. As there was no other nomination Mr Weir was unanimously elected.
Mr F Gallagher moving the re-election of the outgoing committee en bloc with powers to add to their number, said ”they had shouldered their responsibilities with great success in the past season. The Newry team was one to be reckoned with and the supporters were neither afraid nor ashamed to travel in numbers with them. They did not always win but most of the defeats had only been by narrow margins.”
The members of the outgoing committee were Dr NE Williams, Messrs WEIR, HALLIDAY, B FITZPATRICK, P CURRAN, D McAllister, J O’HAGAN, and WJ STERRITT.
Dr Williams at this stage resumed the chair and invited suggestions for any other business.
MR J V Kelly joined in the congratulatory remarks extended to the officials and other members of the Committee. They had certainly brought football to a high pitch in Newry. The financial statement was a splendid one and there was a substantial credit balance in the bank. It was regrettable that other country clubs were not in the same position and he was of the opinion that the Irish League should make some effort to accord financial assistance to those country clubs.
MR F Gallagher raised the question of something in the nature of covered accommodation on the unreserved side, advocating at the same time an extension of the stand and some form of protection at the present structure in adverse weather.
MR J V Kelly asked if nothing could be done to improve the laneway leading to the ground. On very wet days the approach to the ground was abominable. They must cater for spectators, he added, suggesting that a few men with brushes could be employed to brush the laneway on very wet Saturdays.
MR Weir pointed out that the old committee had these various suggestions under consideration. A number of improvements had already been carried out at the ground and he gave the assurance that the new committee would bear these various points in mind. They were anxious first and foremost to provide additional covered accommodation for their friends on the unreserved side, who were exceptionally well entitled to consideration. A scheme was in course of preparation to erect some form of covered accommodation, extending about 100 yards on the unreserved side.
They were also considering the erection of a cantilever, 80 feet long x 12 feet wide projecting from the present grand stand. This would afford protection to occupants in the front seats in the case of adverse weather and would also provide additional covered accommodation for about 400 supporters.
Mr Curran raised the question of cars going right down to the ground and causing inconvenience to spectators using the roadway.
MR Weir said it would be difficult to exclude cars. In that way they were securing a substantial measure of support. Cars conveying many professional men — doctors and clergy – who might be suddenly called away from any of the matches.
MR J Wilson asked if it would not be possible to have the second railway crossing opened on match days. Mr Weir replied that he had been in communication with the railway company on this matter but so far had been unable to obtain permission for these gates to be opened. The gates were constructed in such a way that when they were opened to other traffic the rail track was closed. He appreciated that if the desired permission was granted the pressure on the reserved would be considerably relieved.
Mr GALLAGHER asked if a charge of one shilling could not be made for cars parked in the enclosure.
DR NE WILLIAMS replying said they had absolutely no desire to fleece anybody and they did wish to deter anyone from coming to the matches.
He went on to say the numbers present at the meeting was a good omen for the future and he assured them that they would do their best to keep football in Newry at a high standard. DR Williams concluding appealed to those present to endeavour to sell as many Members Season Tickets as possible.