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HEADLINES

History

Historical Summary

ONE hundred and twenty five years ago, Rev. Turner, Mr WN Brown and L. Jackson Holmes watched a game of Association Football between Distillery, and the Black Watch Regiment of the army. Inspired by what they had seen, they organised a public meeting which took place on 14 October 1889. Twenty six people attended the meeting, a committee was formed and Larne Football Club was born.

 

In the early days, the fledging club played against clubs against Ballyclare and the Fisherwick club from Doagh with home matches played at Sandy Bay. However, the club moved to Laharna Park when they couldn’t afford to build a perimeter wall at Sandy Bay required for the lease.

 

Interest in football in the town soared, and a second club, Larne Olympic was formed and new East Antrim Junior League was established. Larne’s first major trophy success came when they won the IFA Junior Cup in 1901. Before the First World War, they added a Steel & Sons Cup and an Intemediate Cup to the roll of honour.

 

The Great War caused a football hiatus, with the club ceasing activities until the war was over. The end of the war brought about a new start and a new home ground. They moved to public park grounds which had been owned by the British Legion and had passed to Larne Urban Council. These grounds were colloquially known as ‘The Legion’ but now goes by the name Inver Park.

 

Larne entered Senior football for the first time in 1923, during this period they lost two Irish Cup Finals, in 1928 and 1935. The Second World War resulted in Larne being left out of Senior League made up of Belfast clubs. Larne Olympic dropped the name Olympic and then became the town’s foremost club and won two Steel & Sons Cups in the 40s.

 

Larne entered the new Intermediate League, which sparked two decades of success for the club. The club won their first ever Senior trophy by winning the Ulster Cup in 1950. They were B Division Champions twice, and won two Steel & Sons Cups and an Intermediate Cup in the 50s.

 

The Inver Reds dominated Intermediate football in the sixties, winning the B Division eight times in nine years between 1963 and 1972, and bringing the Steel and Sons Cup home five times in the same period. The Intermediate Cup completed the set in 1970.

 

As a result of Derry City’s exit from Irish League football, Larne were admitted to Senior football once again in 1972. Larne made a number of Irish Cup Semi Final appearances without ever reaching a final.

 

It wasn’t until Paul Malone was appointed player/manager in 1984 that the Inver Reds began to make an impression, finishing as high as fourth in the league. It was in the cup competitions where Larne made progress, reaching a host of finals and semi finals including losing Irish Cup Finals in 87 and 89. The crowning glory of this period came in 1987, when captain Paul Carland lifted Larne’s second Ulster Cup following a 2-1 win over Coleraine.

 

Malone left the club in 1991 and Larne gradually slipped into decline, culminating in relegation to the new First Division in 1995. The club struggled to be competitive and to make ends meet in the late 90s until Tommy Kincaid took the reigns in 2001.

 

Kincaid’s team won promotion in 2003 and reached a League Cup Final later that year, losing to Cliftonville on penalties. An Irish Cup Final appearance followed in 2005 during Jimmy McGeough’s reign, resulting in another defeat. However, Larne continued to go through a succession of managers and narrowly avoiding relegation in this period until a restructuring of the league eventually relegated Larne back down to Intermediate football, where they remain today.

 

Under Paul Millar, Larne narrowed missed adding to their haul of Steel and Sons Cup triumphs when they lost the Christmas showpiece against Bangor in 2011 in front of a capacity crowd at Seaview.

 

Current manager, David McAlinden took charge of the club in November 2013 and is the latest man entrusted with the task of taking Larne back to the top of Irish League football.