After football arrived in Ireland in the late 1870s, existing tensions between the Protestant and Catholic communities found an outlet in football grounds in Belfast and beyond.
In 1886 Linfield Football Club was formed by workers at the Linfield Spinning Mill and became the favourite club of Protestants from the Shankill Road area of the city. Then, five years later another team was born, Belfast Celtic, who fulfilled the same purpose for the people of the Catholic Falls Road district.
By the early twentieth century their rivalry was firmly established and in 1912 they would square off at Belfast Celtic’s ‘Paradise’ ground, fistfights between fans broke out in the stands. Then, incredibly, a gunshot rang out, and then another. Ten thousand Belfast Celtic fans – some waving Sinn Fein flags – and eight thousand Linfield fans were locked in pitched tribal panic. The match was abandoned.
This is the story of how Belfast Celtic, formed in 1891, and in the midst of the sectarian issues in Northern Ireland at the time, found themselves dissolved by 1949.
Belfast Celtic, the team that died.
Belfast Celtic were formed in 1891. They were dissolved in 1949. We look at the history behind the club.2
Derry City began life in the Irish league, but now find themselves in the League of Ireland.3
Cliftonville is Ireland's oldest club, after a troubled history, they decided to stay in the Irish league.4
Linfield FC are the most successful club in Irish league history, but they are not without enemies.5
Author of Gunshots & Goalposts Ben Roberts joins Joe to discuss the impact of the troubles on football.