Northern Ireland

Alton United: North Belfast based club that won FAI Cup 100 years ago to be remembered

Frank Dempsey, left, and Dr Sean Brennan whose grandfather played for Alton United look at a picture of the historic club. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Frank Dempsey, left, and Dr Sean Brennan whose grandfather played for Alton United look at a picture of the historic club. Picture by Hugh Russell. Frank Dempsey, left, and Dr Sean Brennan whose grandfather played for Alton United look at a picture of the historic club. Picture by Hugh Russell.

A HISTORY making soccer club from north Belfast that claimed the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) Cup 100 years ago will be remembered at a special event this weekend.

Carrick Hill based Alton United defied the odds when it lifted the prestigious cup on St Patrick's Day 1923.

The remarkable story of the club is closely linked to the Belfast pogroms in the years around partition.

The formation of separate leagues north and south following partition along with the withdrawal of Belfast Celtic from competitions coincided with the establishment of The Falls League, which involved clubs from across Belfast and further afield.

Alton United won the FAI cup in1923. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Alton United won the FAI cup in1923. Picture by Hugh Russell. Alton United won the FAI cup in1923. Picture by Hugh Russell.

Among the competitions contested was The Expelled Workers’ Cup, which raised cash from gate fees for the families of people intimidated from the shipyards around that time.

Alton United was active in Belfast at the time.

Amid the turmoil of the time the club rose to claim its place in the history books after beating Shelbourne FC at Dalymount Park in Dublin to claim the FAI title.

The famous win is set to be remembered during a special event this weekend.

Irish News columnist Chris Donnelly will introduce experts on the period including Dr James Curry, Dublin City Council Historian in Residence.

He will discuss the 1923 FAI Cup showdown and explain how Alton United and Shelbourne FC made it to the final that year.

Gerard Farrell will focus on the backdrop of the political unrest in Belfast at the time along with the split between the Irish Football Association and FAI.

It is expected he will also explore how prior to the start of the League of Ireland two matches were played in Dublin and Belfast between Bohemian FC and a Falls League select.

“These games can be seen as representative of the complex set of sporting identities and allegiances emerging at the time of the football split and the lacuna between the War of Independence and the Civil War as well as the power of sport as a force for good and for building friendships,” he said.

'The Story of Alton United, The 1923 FAI Cup Final' will take place at Carrick Hill Community Centre on Saturday, March 25, at 2.15pm.