i like to know more about irish football
September 18, 2006 4:19am CST
28 Sep 06
MAKE no mistake about it, the Irish Football Association is one of the true giants of world football. A lofty claim perhaps but despite a population well below two million, despite only having just over 1,500 registered clubs and despite being able to draw from a pool of approximately 25,000 players spread over less than 5,500 square miles the influence the association had - and still does - on the game across the globe is immeasurable. Founded in the Queens Hotel, Belfast back on 18th November 1880 the Irish Football Association is the fourth oldest governing body in the world behind the other three home associations. This inaugural meeting was at the behest of the Cliftonville club - the oldest in Ireland - who gathered clubs from Belfast and the outlying districts together with a view to creating a unifying constitution and set of rules along the lines of those adopted by their Scottish counterparts some seven years earlier. The aims of this fledgling, but ambitious, body were to promote, foster and develop the game throughout the island. Clubs represented at this historic gathering, alongside Cliftonville, were Avoneil, Distillery, Knock, Oldpark, Moyola Park and the Limavady-based Alexander. Football itself first came to Ireland a couple of years earlier when Scottish clubs Queens Park and The Caledonians staged an exhibition at the Ulster Cricket Ground, Ballynafeigh after John M. McAlery, the first secretary of the new association, had discovered the game whilst on honeymoon in Edinburgh. Major Spencer Chichester was appointed President and plans were formulated to stage a Challenge Cup competition, eventually won by Moyola Park in a 1-0 defeat of Cliftonville on 9th April 1881.