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Blast from the Past: Ollie Ralph hits brace in Ulster Cup win

Newry’s all-time top goalscorer Ollie Ralph. Photo courtesy of The Belfast Telegraph.

Ollie Ralph scored some amazing goals for Newry Town and few were better than the two he registered in this TNT Gold Cup Tie against visiting side Ards at The Showgrounds on Saturday 31st August 1985.

Match report culled from The Ireland’s Saturday Night

Newry showing five changes from the side dismissed from the Ulster Cup by B League Dundela heartened their fans by winning this Gold Cup opener in comfortable fashion.

The Town’s first score came from a corner forced by Joey Cunningham. Jervis McCaul crossed and Ollie Ralph smashed a terrific strike past a helpless Trevor McDowell in 18 minutes.

John Whitten returning after injury hit Newry’s second in the 32nd minute, following a series of passes between Anthony Marron, Ollie Ralph and Joey Cunningham.

This was followed six minutes later by an absolute rocket from Anthony Marron. Keeper McDowell fisted out a corner kick from Jervis McCaul and Marron blasted the ball home from 25 yards range.

Then Ralph showing a brilliant turn of foot ran on to McCaul’s precision pass, beat central defender Ronnie Mudd, side stepped Keeper McDowell and superbly tucked the ball into the corner of the net in the 41st minute.

Ards broke away on the right flank and Alan Doran’s good cross was neatly side footed in by Raymond Hill on the 42nd minute mark.

Ards pressed strongly after the restart and when Stephen Baxter was fouled in the box by Tom Hughes, the same player converted the resultant penalty after 49 minutes.

Disaster hit Ards after 56 minutes when John Hewitt was booked by referee Norman Loughlins for upending Anthony Marron and was sent off for dissent. Four minutes later another Ards player Ian Brown found himself in the referees notebook for taking down Joey Cunningham.

Towards the close Ralph outpaced the Ards rearguard but his rising drive crashed against the crossbar rebounding into safety.

Ards came back strongly in the closing minutes but Town defenders Terry Buchanan and John Cinnamond were solid and kept them at bay.

Result: Newry Town 4 (Ralph 2, Whitten and Marron) – Ards 2 ( Hill and Baxter)

Man of The Match: Ollie Ralph

Newry Town: Harding, Morrow, Cinnamond, Buchanan, Hughes, Ralph, Cunningham, MarronWhitten, McCaul and Fay.
Sub: Fearon.

Referee: Norman Loughlins

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Blast from the Past: Town impress in Irish Cup

By Jim Campbell

The 1956/57 season was an exciting period for The Town when the club qualified to participate in The Irish Cup for the first time since 1939/40 by reaching the semi final stage of The Irish Intermediate Cup.

Newry had beaten Banbridge Town, Glentoran 2nds, and Dunmurry Rec on their way to meeting Linfield Swifts in the semi final. But undoubtedly Newry’s best display of the season came in the 3rd Rd of the competition against a much fancied Glentoran 2nds at Windsor Park.

Glentoran 2nds 0 – 3 Newry Town  

Glentoran forced the pace at the start and The Town’s defence was kept busy, however Newry gradually settled down and Glens keeper Boat got down to deflect a strong drive from from Pat Curtis. At the other end Pa Mooney held a real thunderbolt from the lurking Trevor Thompson.

Newry continued to attack, with Stevie Mallon and Pat Curtis combining brilliantly but Boat advanced quickly to save from the latter. Then Truesdale, The Glens centre, half robbed Jimmy Edgar as he was about to shoot.

The Glens broke away as Leeman created an opening for Fraser to Blast into the net, but fortunately for The Town the score was ruled out for offside.

Half Time: Scoreless

Newry went all out for a goal at the beginning of the second half and the pace was very fast. There was little between the teams but The Town seemed more dangerous in attack and this was proved after 15 minutes of the half when Edgar bulldozed his way through and Curtis netted brilliantly from an acute angle – much to the delight of the big Town support.

Newry piled on the pressure and Billy Hewitt beat three defenders in an amazing dribble but Gerry Robinson shot wide from close range. In a retaliatory Glentoran raid, Stanley Kidd saved the situation with a terrific block but was injured in the process and had to go off for several minutes to receive treatment.

The excitement was mounting as both sides attacked in turn but Newry, after 30 minutes of the half, got a crucial second goal when the hard working Stevie Mallon put Pat Curtis through to score.

The Town were now on top and Billy Hewitt rammed in a third goal to complete a great performance.

Newry Town: Pa Mooney, Stanley Kidd, Davy Jamison, Billy Flanagan, Jackie Bowers, Alec Reid, Pat Curtis, Stevie Mallon, Jimmy Edgar, Gerry Robinson, and Billy Hewitt.

Verdict

This was a magnificent performance from The Town. Of the players in Saturday’s game, all gave their best. Pa Mooney was very safe in goal. Stanley Kidd, after a rest, returned to his best form. Davy Jamison was sound at left back. Billy Flanagan was a constructive half back and he received great support from Alec Reid who was making a welcome reappearance after injury. Jackie Bowers, the Newry Captain played the game of his life at centre half blotting out the ever dangerous Trevor Thompson who had been scoring goals by hat-tricks every Saturday. Pat Curtis at outside right was very fast and direct. His two goals were brilliant efforts. Stevie Mallon put in a lot of work both in defence and attack as did Gerry Robinson. Jimmy Edgar was well held at centre forward but his constant roaming did a lot to unsettle the Glens defence and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. Billy Hewitt played his best ever game for Newry and his dribbling skills were superb.
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Blast from the Past: Joey Cunningham nets hat-trick on Newry debut

Joey Cunningham (centre), pictured with Ollie Ralph and Marty Magee at a club reunion night in 2013. Photo courtesy of Tony Bagnall.

By Jim Campbell

Down through the last century of years there have been many brilliant footballers who donned the blue and white vertical stripes of Newry Town/City/ City AFC .

One of the most talented and skilful however, must have been Joey Cunningham from Forkhill in South Armagh.  Joey was also a brilliant GAA performer with his native County Armagh.

Joey’s soccer career began with the Dundalk youth academy, and following a recommendation from Newry’s legendary Ollie Ralph, he signed for The Town at the beginning of the 1985-86 season for the first of his two spells with our club.

Joey made his debut against Ballymena United in a Ulster Cup match on Saturday 17th August 1985 – and this match report taken from The Ireland Saturday Night tells us that “Joey Blasts Off With A Cracker”.

Depleted Newry Town, missing six first team regulars, rocked Ballymena United by snatching a shock 14th lead in their Lombard Ulster Cup match at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
And it was Joey Cunningham, the Armagh County GAA star and one of the Border club’s debutants who grabbed the glory early.
The winger latched on to a pass from Ollie Ralph, brushed of a feeble challenge from left back Michael Smyth and slotted the ball past the advancing and previously unoccupied Ricky Adair into the corner of the net.
Newry’s new look team made a lively beginning and they should have extended their lead two minutes after Cunningham’s opener.
Eugene McInerney picked up the ball inside the penalty area, but with the goal at his mercy, he drove a left foot shot against the far post. The ball rolled along the goal line and was knocked to safety by Stevie Conville.
Ballymena, with suspended midfield star Colin O’Neill watching from the Grandstand struggled to put their game together but newcomer Davy McAlinden produced an out of the blue equaliser in the 21st minute.
The former Cliftonville striker accepted a short pass from Jonathan Speak and beat keeper Kieran Harding with a shot from 25 Yards that squeezed inside the right hand post.
Harding was caught well off his line and was not blameless for the goal, but the keeper made amends in the 29th minute when he finger tipped away a fierce shot from Ronnie Burns.

Half Time: Ballymena 1 – 1 Newry Town

It took Newry just seven minutes to regain the lead – and again it was Cunningham who delivered the goods.
The United defence failed to clear a cross from the left. McInerney found himself unmarked inside the box and when Adair parried his drive, Cunningham was on the spot to tap home.
The home side did have an equalising chance midway through the half but McAlinden’s header from Speak’s cross flashed past a post.
Newry introduced another newcomer Stephen Gracey who went close to wrapping up the points with ten minutes left.
However, with four minutes to go Joey Cunningham put the seal on a brilliant and memorable personal performance by completing his hat-trick. He was left with the simple task of knocking the ball into the net after the tricky McInerney had burst through and sent a shot crashing against the crossbar.

Full time: Ballymena United 1 – 3 Newry Town

Man Of The Match: Joey Cunningham

Newry Town: Harding, Saulters, Mallon, Wilson, Cinnamond, Ralph, Cunningham, Moran, McInerney, Fearon, Farson.
Sub: Gracey

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Blast from the Past: 1972 AGM Report

AGM Report Culled From Newry Reporter dated 4th May,1972
Town’s 1972 AGM was “Bright, Breezy, And Constructive” 
“Considering the serious civic disorders in our midst throughout the season and our own poor results on the field of play, it was in my opinion a tremendous feat to incur such a small loss of  £7.27 during the past season”, stated Jim Campbell, Newry Town’s Hon Treasurer at the club’s annual meeting which was held on Monday night.
There was quite a good attendance of members despite the fact that there were many other sporting attractions held throughout the district that night and the meeting itself was informative and constructive.
 
Michael McKevitt

Look Forward Now With Confidence – Chairman 

Mr Michael McKevitt, Chairman who presided, welcomed the attendance and said that getting over a very difficult period in the Club’s history they could now look with great confidence to the future as there was a great abundance of talent in the locality. He thanked his energetic Committee for giving him their magnificent support during the time he was in the Chair.
Luck Deserted The Team On Many Occasions 
Mr William McVicker, the Hon Secretary in his report dwelt mainly on the playing performances of the team during the season. He said that on many occasions luck had completely deserted the side and in many games they had just failed by the odd goal.
Their poor performances however in the cup competitions was a bad blow to the club. He thanked the players for their great loyalty during the season in which upwards of 40 games had been played.
Treasurer’s Report 
“It took £1,272.87 to run the club during the season”, stated Jim Campbell in his Treasurers Report. “We had a net working loss over the period of £7.27. Deficiency of Capital with the Bank on the 22nd March of this year was £199.40. The Management Committee had succeeded in slashing expenses in many ways during the season but perhaps there could be further economies in such items as laundry and fuel/ light.”
He drew the members attention to the fact that approximately 25% of the total expenditure on the balance sheet presented belonged to debts accrued from previous seasons which included the upkeep of Ground, players outfit, printing and fuel/light.
The cost of operating the 2nd Eleven in The Mid Ulster League was also included in the expenditure sheet . The improved financial state of the club was made possible thanks to another generous and substantial contribution from The Newry Town FC Supporters Club which coming as it did after the 31 st March was too late to be included in the current balance sheet. The most notable achievement on the income side of the Balance Sheet came from the Supporters Club and The Treasurer thanked John Grant and Jim Weir most sincerely for their magnificent work and leadership in the fundraising efforts of the Supporters Club.
He also thought it right and proper to record that the great majority of the Club Management Committee had stood solidly behind Newry Town FC throughout the season and also had played a big part in the fundraising efforts of the Supporters Club.
It is now apparent that the finances of Newry Town FC are in much better shape than they were a year ago but it will take a lot more hard work and sheer dedication to put the club back where it belongs in the top flight. The Treasurer added this was not however an impossible task and in his opinion their Salvation in the future regarding a safe guaranteed financial income depends entirely on the success or failure of The Social Cub Project at The Showgrounds. This project has an estimated cost of £ 8,000 and if it succeeds then Newry Town FC can march forward with a new confidence which could be rewarded with Irish Senior League and European Football. If it fails, he said, they must be realistic and conclude that Newry Town FC was doomed, certainly as far as big time football was concerned. Therefore it was imperative that more and more football minded people in Newry should come forward to help The Social Club Project.
Newry Town FC as a football club belongs to all the local people – It is their club, they should not be content to stay out and criticise but they should be prepared to come in and help to shape it’s future, a future that could reap the rich rewards mentioned and fully utilise the wonderful facilities existing at The Showgrounds.
Election of Officers and Committee
The Election of Officers and Committee resulted as under:
President – Mr F Whitcroft
Chairman – Mr M McKevitt
Vice Chairman – Mr J Weir
Secretary – Mr Wm McVicker
Treasurer – Mr J Campbell
Committee – Messrs R Holmes, S Campbell, H Poyntz, W Murphy, N McCullough, F Harrison, H McAlpine, R Johnston and M Turley
TRIBUTE 
Before the meeting got underway, the Secretary referred to the passing of Mr Billy Heather who had been a great friend of local football down through the years and most particularly of Newry Town FC.
A short silence was observed in memory of the late Mr Heather.
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Blast from the Past: Remembering Robert ‘Bud’ Hamilton

By Jim Campbell

Robert Hamilton was a local lad who was rated by many neutral observers to be the best full-back in Ireland when playing for Newry Town FC.

Robert or ‘Bud’ as he was affectionally known by many of his friends, first came into prominence when playing for Damolly Rovers during the 1924-25 season.

The Town’s local scout quickly recognised the young defender’s ability and persuaded him to sign up for The Marshes club towards the end of that season.

Newry’s management decided that it would help Robert’s development if he was loaned out to Portadown Reserves, whilst still remaining a signed senior league player with the Frontiermen.

Robert Hamilton

After six months or so ‘Bud’ was back in harness with The Town and at the beginning of the 1926-27 season he signed professional forms becoming an automatic choice at left full-back in the senior side.

His form in the early part of that season was absolutely magnificent and helped to catapult The Town into a top six Irish Senior League spot.

Interesting to note that Robert’s younger brother David, was also, by this time, an automatic choice at centre half in Newry’s very solid rearguard.

After a run of outstanding games in the senior league, 20 year old Robert was selected to play for The Irish League Representative Team against The Free State League at Windsor Park on Saturday 5th March 1927.

The game attracted a massive crowd in excess of 15,000 plus a host of cross channel scouts. Hamilton had a fine game, attracting the attention of Liverpool, Hearts and Glasgow Rangers. Rangers won the race for his signature but they had to increase their original offer to keep him away from Hearts or Liverpool.

The Town completed his transfer to Rangers on Thursday 10th March 1927 for an undisclosed fee and ‘Bud’ made his debut for the Glasgow club on Wednesday 16th March 1927 against Greenock Morton.

The Ireland’s Saturday Night newspaper commenting on Hamilton’s transfer to Glasgow Rangers said “Hamilton’s future is now in his own hands. He has the ball at his feet as it were and with him alone depends how high up the ladder of football fame he will climb. He has gone over to one of the best managed clubs in the land, a club that is known to give youngsters every opportunity to make good. He has everything on his side to make good. Youth, Height and Weight are assets which combined with ability should make any player feel comfortable in the best company.”

Very quickly Robert settled in at Ibrox Park and just as he was at Newry he became an automatic choice at left back in a great Rangers team that was sweeping all before it in Scotland.

In 1928 he was a member of the first Rangers team to tour America and also was a member of their 1929-30 clean sweep team winning the League Championship, Scottish Cup, Glasgow Cup and Glasgow Charity Cup. ‘Bud’ played in a further three Scottish Cup Finals ( Winning Two) and claimed three more Championship and Charity Cup Winners Medals.

Whilst at Rangers he added five full Irish International caps to the Inter League honour he had won at Newry.

Hamilton left Rangers in 1933 to sign for English Div 2 Club, Bradford City FC where he spent two seasons. He then moved North of The Border again to join Third Lanark and later went to Morton as his trophy-laden career came to a close.

After Robert signed for the Ibrox club in 1927 his younger Brother David continued to play for The Town in the Irish League but David’s career in football was halted when he emigrated to Canada.

Another of Robert’s brothers, Sammy ran two successful businesses on the Belfast Road in Newry for a number of years, namely Rockfoot Service Station and Rockfoot Carpets.

Married to a Welsh Lady, ‘Bud’ passed away in Cardiff on the 7th Feb 1964.

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