Teenage full-back who was brought in by Roy Walker in October 2008 from his native Derry City, but only managed a brief stay at Warden Street.
Born in the Creggan area of the Maiden City, Burke began his career at the nearby Brandywell and was part of the Under-21 squad having signed an apprenticeship with the Candystripes as a youth team player and had previously been part of the County Londonderry Milk Cup squad. He was released at the end of the 2008 season by manager Stephen Kenny, having not managed to make a senior appearance for the first team who claimed the League of Ireland Cup that year.
The 18-year-old free agent moved to the Irish League with Ballymena United and was drafted straight into Walker's first team as United struggled in the newly re-branded IFA Premiership, languishing at the bottom of the table. Burke replaced his fellow Derry native Thomas Wray at full-back for the visit of Glentoran in October and held his place in the team for a couple of weeks.
Despite a reasonable introduction to top-flight football, he made the final of three appearances in the live Sky Sports TV defeat to Newry City in November 2008 (United's first live televised fixture). From there, he was frozen out of first-team activity for the remainder of the 2008/2009 campaign and was subsequently released without much fanfare in May 2009.
This ended Burke's very brief spell in the top flight of local football, he went onto play with Derry side Trojans, winning the NI intermediate League under Kevin Deery in 2014/2015 whilst coaching at underage level at the club.
Burke sadly passed away suddenly on 23 April 2020 aged just 31.
Last updated: 25 April 2020
Last updated: 27 April 2020
Popular Scottish midfielder who was a mainstay of the United engine room during the early 1990's.
Burn sadly passed away peacefully in his sleep in March 2012 at his home in Edinburgh.
Last updated: 25 March 2019
Last updated: 3 December 2019
Junior International capped forward who played in the club's first ever game in 1928 but failed to hold down a regular place in the Irish Cup winning side.
Belfast born Webster's footballing career began as a teenager in the mid 1920's, having initially started out with the Queen's Island second string during the 1924/1925 season and then a move to Dunmurry of the Intermediate League the following (1925/1926) campaign.
It was at Dunmurry, Webster enjoyed his breakthrough season, impressing many onlookers as an inside forward who was comfortable on the flanks. This prompted senior Irish League club Larne to take a chance on the 19-year-old in March 1927. Having originally been signed to play for the club's Olympic (Reserve) team, he was swiftly elevated to the first team ' making a senior debut against Queen's Island in the City Cup. The final two months of the season seen Syd's stock rise as an up and coming player in the league.
Webster suffered a major blow in September 1927, as a bout of pneumonia proved almost life threatening and kept him out of action until the New Year. Syd was transferred to Dundela in a bid to bid to return to full fitness. His spell with the East Belfast club included a call up to the Irish Junior International team for the 2-1 defeat to Scotland at Solitude in March 1928.
The forward returned to senior football in the summer of 1928, throwing his lot in with the newly formed Ballymena team in June, becoming one of the first signings made by the Braid club's selectors. Syd lined up on the wing for the club's first ever game against Belfast Celtic in front of a packed Showgrounds. Webster featured in each of the club's first five competitive games, but lost his place to Richard Shaw in September and never found a way back into the team, as the Braidmen went onto historically win the Irish Cup in their first season.
Having sat out the entirety of the 1929/1930 season, Syd returned to competitive action for his former club Dundela in 1930 and played for two seasons until he relocated to England for business reasons, where he remained, having married in Kent in 1937. Sydney Webster passed away in Redbridge (Essex) in August 1986, aged 79 years.
Queen's Island; Dunmurry; (Mar 1927) Larne; (Jan 1928) Dundela; (Jun 1928) Ballymena; (1930) Dundela
Ireland Junior (1 cap ' 1928)
Last updated: 6 December 2020
Last updated: 6 December 2020
Veteran winger who used the experience from his role in Linfield's famous 1922 Seven Trophy team to help guide his hometown team in their first season in senior football before retirement.
The Broughshane native began his football career close to home in 1912, joining the newly formed Raceview United team as a teenager. The village team was formed midway through the 1911/1912 season and did not compete in the local league, but did find their way to the end of the season Ballymena Charity Cup final; losing 2-0 to Summerfield in May 1912.
Cunning and Raceview hit the ground running in their first full season, with the winger making a big impact in the Ballymena Junior League First Division during 1912/1913. David would play in a forward line that also included his older brother Samuel, however the team failed to maintain their early season promise to eventually finish the season in eighth place (from twelve teams). David's individual efforts were rewarded with selection for the Ballymena Junior League's representative team in a match against a County Antrim FA Select in April 1913, but eventually ended up on the losing side by three goals without reply.
David started the 1913/1914 season in the colours of reigning Ballymena Junior League champions Summerfield Strollers and scored on his debut in a 1-1 friendly draw with Southend Rangers in September 1913. Bizarrely the Strollers, four time consecutive league champions leading into the season, decided against competing in any league ' saving only for friendlies and the prestigious Irish Junior Cup. By January 1914, Cunning (alongside other Strollers compatriots) had stepped up to Intermediate football with Southend Rangers in the Irish Alliance League, helping the team to a mid-table finish. Cunning picked up his first winners' medal and the opening goal in the Leaken Cup Final, the final trophy on offer in May 1914, defeating Summerfield 3-1 in the final action of the season.
The winger remained with Rangers for the 1914/1915 campaign, but whilst the team finished mid-table in the Intermediate Alliance League, the season was disrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. Southend Rangers lost one of their most prominent players Leslie Houston early in the conflict, having been killed in action. The cloud of war continued to hang over football into the following (1915/1916 season) as with no less than six members of their team being 'with the colours', Southend Rangers withdrew from football activity ahead of the season.
Galgorm took the opportunity to move into the vacated position in the league and signed up David Cunning and several his Southend team-mates, as they eventually finished in a respectable mid-table position come the end of the campaign. Cunning's performances were noted by the Alliance League as he was drafted into the league select team for a game against Bradford District Junior League in February 1916.
A return to the reactivated Southend Rangers club ahead of the 1916/1917 campaign in the Alliance League followed before a move across to league rivals Summerfield the following season (September 1917). An impressive start to life at Summerfield alerted senior clubs to his talents and subsequently a move to Distillery (as a professional) materialised in November 1917, with the Whites currently playing in the war-time Belfast & District League due to the suspension of the Irish League.
Cunning's time at Distillery was limited to a handful of games at the Grosvenor Park club, yet despite concerns of the eligibility of his registration for the club, he scored his first senior goal against Champions elect Linfield in a 2-2 draw in December 1917. Distillery would eventually finish the shortened league campaign in third place from six teams, but it proved that the player and club were not a good fit and it would soon see a parting of ways. Davy's former club Summerfield had requested the release of his registration to allow him a return to Ballymena, which was rejected by Distillery in the summer of 1918.
His next move was the opportunity to join Linfield Swifts after being lured to the Belfast club's second string by secretary Mr. D. Hunter in December 1918; but Davy failed to make a substantial impact during the second half of the 1918/1919 season. There was press speculation he would be considered for senior selection for the 1919/1920 season, but instead it was a move back home to Ballymena after two years away, to return to the Summerfield club once again.
(Mar 1912) Raceview United; (Aug 1913) Summerfield Strollers; (Jan 1914) Southend Rangers; (Sep 1915) Galgorm; (Sep 1916) Southend Rangers; (Sep 1917) Summerfield; (Nov 1917) Distillery; (Dec 1918) Linfield; (Oct 1919) Summerfield; (Aug 1920) Linfield
Last updated: 6 June 2020
Last updated: 22 November 2020
The first Englishman to play for Ballymena, veteran forward Reg Bentley was unfortunate with injuries during his only season at the Showgrounds.
Born in Prestwich, just outside Greater Manchester, Reggie was the youngest of four children whose father was a factory manager who moved the family to Belfast early in the 20th century in pre-partitioned Ireland.
Bentley's career on the football field began in earnest after the First World War, with the 21-year-old joining local side Coleraine Olympic for the 1919/2020 season ' it would be the start of a successful eight year association with between the player and the Junior club.
The first success came during the 1921/1922 season as Olympic were the winners of the McFarland Cup. In the same season the forward would get the opportunity to try his luck in senior football for the first time, as he was invited to contest a trial match with Cliftonville in the City Cup match against Linfield in February 1922, but an inauspicious outing at centre forward was lambasted by the local press that put paid to a senior breakthrough in his only appearance for the Solitude side.
Undeterred, Bentley was an integral part of the Coleraine Olympic side that won back-to-back North West Junior Cups in 1923 and 1924. The team progressed into the North West Junior League in 1924 and was appointed as vice-captain of the club by this stage. Early in the 1924/1925 he was selected in a team of North West players to face the South African international side currently on tour of the United Kingdom, the visitors enjoyed a one-sided 9-1 victory against Reg and his team-mates.
Coleraine Olympic triumphed in the 1924/1925 North West Junior League.
With the Irish League expanding into the provincial towns of the new Northern Ireland, it was decided in June 1927 that great junior rivals Coleraine Olympic and Coleraine Alexandra would amalgamate to form Coleraine FC to take their place in the expanded 1927/1928 Irish League season, alongside Bangor. Bentley was part of Coleraine's first ever line-up in senior football and even scored in their 4-1 debut win over Cliftonville in August 1927.
The Bannsiders would enjoy a relatively successful first season in the Irish League finishing sixth (from 14 teams) in the standings and earning plaudits.
In August 1928, he left football in Coleraine for a new challenge with another club making their first steps into the Irish League with the new Ballymena, who had replaced Barn United for the 1928/1929 season. Now almost 30-year-old, Reggie ironically made his bow for the Braidmen against his old club, Coleraine, at the Showgrounds in September 1928 in a 3-3 draw.
The Sky Blues' early season nerves quickly disappeared as they picked up their first win the following week against Ards with Reggie at inside-forward, but in only his fifth game a few weeks later against Glentoran at The Oval ' he picked up an injury that kept him out of the team until January with firstly veteran Davy Cunning and then Walter Clarke occupying his starting slot.
A spate of injuries allowed Bentley to return to the team in January 1929 but the disappointing results against Glenavon (draw) and Newry Town (loss) were not the latter would be his unceremonious final appearance for the club, as a serious long term injury cost the forward the opportunity to contest a place in team for the historic 1929 Irish Cup Final victory against Belfast Celtic. He made just seven appearances for Ballymena, without scoring.
Injury would keep Bentley out of football for almost 18 months, missing the entire 1929/1930 season whilst still having his registration retained by Ballymena. Now 32, he re-appeared with a short comeback bid at his old club Coleraine in October 1930.
Reggie passed away in February 1971 in his adopted hometown of Coleraine, aged 73.
(1919) Coleraine Olympic; (Feb 1922) Cliftonville - Trial; (Jul 1927) Coleraine; (Aug 1928) Ballymena; (Oct 1930) Coleraine
(with Coleraine Olympic)
North West Junior Cup: (winner) 1922/1923, 1923/1924
Last updated: 18 May 2020
Last updated: 18 May 2020
The captain of Ballymena’s historic 1929 Irish Cup winning side.
Born in Riccarton, outside Kilmarnock, to a family of impressive football stock he moved to Belfast 1900 where Reid and his siblings would
David, the fourth of ten children, was the first in the succession of Reids to debut for Distillery in the 1910’s. making his Irish League bow in October 1913, scoring the winner in a 3-2 victory over Cliftonville at the age of just 17. Initially he began his career as an attacking player, playing all across the forward line of the Whites as they won the Gold Cup in his first season (1913/1914) and followed it up with the County Antrim Shield in the next (1914/1915).
With the outbreak of the First World War, the Irish League was suspended and the Belfast & District League was introduced for the 1915/1916 season. David remained in Ulster for the majority of the conflict and December 1915, there was a unique piece of club history as three Reid brothers (David, Max and John) all lined out for Distillery against Glenavon, whilst their other brother Jimmy played for fellow league club Belfast United on the same day to bring the representation to four. The Distillery trio of siblings would play 25 times together for the club.
David won the Belfast Charities Cup in 1915/1916 but was on the losing side in the finals of both the Gold Cup (to Linfield) and County Antrim Shield (to Glentoran) in the same season. Distillery finished second in the six team league during 1916/1917 with David Reid an ever-present at Grosvenor Park as the versatile forward entered his twenties.
Despite the ravages of war costing the lives of a number of Reid’s team-mates, Distillery managed to become a prominent success story in the league, winning the County Antrim Shield back-to-back in 1919 & 1920 and also the Gold Cup in 1920, in what proved to be one of David’s last games for the club. As in the previous Autumn, his first inclusions in the Irish League representative panel in games against Scotland (lost 2-0) and England (drew 2-2) would have a substantial bearing on his football career. Representatives from Everton in the 20,000 strong crowd at Anfield for the latter game (in which Reid scored) would trigger a £1,500 move to Merseyside in May 1920, ending his time at Distillery with 213 and 39 goals over seven seasons.
Manager Thomas McIntosh gave Reid his debut for Everton in August 1920, in a 3-3 draw against Bradford Park Avenue in the First Division and made 21 appearances for the club in a variety of forward positions, he had to wait until November for the first of his five goals as Everton finished seventh come the conclusion of the 1920/1921 campaign. Everton narrowly avoided relegation by a single league placing in Reid’s second season (1921/1922) and the first time he moved back into the middle line as a half-back.
David Reid may have made his 50th club appearance during the 1922/1923 campaign but he struggled to become a first choice selection at the club’s first eleven. The 27-year-old Scot was appointed as captain of the Reserves in August 1923, in a season whereby he was limited to just six first-team appearances. It had been rumoured that by now selectors of the Irish international team had been rebuffed in their attempts recruit Davy for potential cap, unaware of his Scottish heritage.
A trusted and popular deputy, Reid returned to the fore in in 1924/1925 with a personal high of 26 appearances across five different positions, it was a season that also marked the arrival of legendary goalscorer Dixie Dean to Goodison Park from Tranmere Rovers. The half-back proved a true fans’ favourite as multiple letters to the Liverpool newspapers called for a greater inclusion the team throughout the 1925/1926 season, as appearances once again became harder to come by come Saturday afternoon.
In March 1926, Everton requested benefit games for Reid and team-mate Sam Chedgzoy, which was accepted by the Football League.
Unable to get into the Blues’ panel as they suddenly started to challenge for the First Division title, for the first time speculation grew that Reid would leave Merseyside, with strong links to a move to Portsmouth in November 1927. The 31-year-old eventually parted ways with his employers of eight years in February 1928 and was permitted to return home to Belfast to rejoin his former club Distillery, he made 101 appearances, scoring 10 goals during his time in England. A few months later Everton clinched the title, with Dixie Dean scoring a record 60 league goals (which still stands to this day).
- loan spell at Distillery
In June 1928, he made the shock move to league entrants Ballymena FC for the newly formed club’s first season in senior football. Reid had been heavily touted to remain with Distillery but joined the Braid club as in a role of player coach and captain. He was joined a week later by his younger brother John, who had returned home from New Brighton.
Davy led the Ballymena Babes out for the first ever Irish League game in the history of the town in August 1928 against Belfast Celtic at the Showgrounds. He also had the honour of securing the club’s first point of league football, scoring a late equaliser against Larne from the penalty spot to set the Light Blues on their way in the 1928/1929 season. It proved to be a memorable debut season for the club, as inspired by their 32-year-old captain – they astounded all onlookers to claim the Irish Cup at Solitude in March 1929 in front of 15,000 fans. One of the first names on the team list, Reid scored six goals as Ballymena finished a sixth in the table and also were runners-up in the City Cup competition.
Expectations naturally rose in local football circles that Ballymena were the real deal going into the 1929/1930 season. Reid continued his stewardship of a largely unchanged team, with the except of the departure of his brother who was replaced by experienced English defender Alf Bassnett. Despite finishing one place higher in the Irish League table (fifth) and progressing to the Irish Cup final again, they could not go as far as to retain the trophy – with Reid scoring Ballymena’s first goal in a 4-3 defeat to Linfield at Celtic Park. It was also the season his performances in blue were rewarded with a return to the Irish League representative team after a ten year absence, winning two caps in the Autumn of 1929 against the English and Scottish Leagues, respectively.
(1913) Distillery; (May 1920) Everton; (Feb 1928) Distillery; (Jun 1928) Ballymena; (1931) Drumcondra)
Gold Cup: (winner) 1913/1914, 1919/1920; (finalist) 1915/1916
County Antrim Shield: (winner) 1914/1915, 1918/1919, 1919/1920; (finalist) 1915/1916
Belfast Charities Cup: (winner) 1915/1916; (finalist) 1919/1920
Irish League; (runner-up) 1916/1917
Irish Cup: (winner) 1928/1929; (finalist) 1929/1930, 1930/1931
City Cup: (runner-up) 1928/1929
Irish League Representative (4 caps – 1919-1929)
Last updated: 15 June 2021
Scottish international forward ‘Trooper’ Joe Cassidy was a high profile signing for Ballymena midway through their debut season and proved a key part of the 1929 Irish Cup winning team.
Having started his career with Vale of Clyde, Cassidy’s ascent into professional football was meteoric. Following a trial match for Glasgow giants Celtic shortly after his sixteenth birthday in October 1912, he signed on at Celtic Park the following month – making his competitive debut against Motherwell in March 1913 (in a 1-0 defeat). It was one of three appearances for the Celtic first team during the talented teenager’s debut season.
The following season, Celtic utilised the fluid nature of player registrations of the time to gift Joe first team experience at a variety of clubs throughout the 1913/1914 campaign. No less than four loan spells were arranged during the season; short one game cameos for Vale of Atholl (Perthshire League), Kilmarnock (First Division), Abercorn (Second Division) all before Christmas proved successful, this was then followed by a move to Ayr United in December 1913 for the remainder of the club’s debut top flight campaign. Joe only managed one appearance for his parent club, as Celtic won the Scottish League for the eleventh time.
A further spell at Ayr United at the start of the 1914/1915 season allowed the diminutive forward to continue making his name in the game, even scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win against Celtic in October 1914. Following the outbreak of the First World War in the early stages of the season, Cassidy enlisted with the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) 1/7th Fife Battalion where picked up the nickname ‘Trooper Joe’ and also earning a military medal during his service. Still only 19 years old and well thought of at Parkhead, a trio of early season appearances for Celtic were his only action in a hooped shirt, as much of the 1915/1916 season was spent representing the Black Horse army team. There were further loan appearances either side of the border, firstly with Clydebank in September 1915 and then a first foray into English football in January 1916 with struggling Reading – who were propping up the war-time London Combination league.
Football took a back seat for Joe during the 1916/1917 & 1917/1918 seasons at the height of the conflict, as the talented forward was restricted to making a handful of appearances for Celtic during periods of leave in his native Glasgow. He unexpectedly returned for good to Scottish shores on Hogmanay 1918 and was drafted straight into the Celtic team for the New Year’s Day draw against Rangers at Ibrox in front of 65,000 fans. His landmark first goal in Celtic colours followed a few weeks later in a win against Clydebank, as Joe chalked up half a dozen appearances during the second half of the 1918/1919 season but fell short of accumulating enough games for a league winners’ medal, as Willie Maley’s men won their fourth Scottish League title in five years.
Joe’s breakthrough season at Parkhead finally arrived during the 1919/1920 campaign at the age of 23, he picked up a first winners’ medal following the narrow Glasgow Cup victory over Partick Thistle in October 1919. From October onwards, he retained his place as a regular on the team-sheet making 32 appearances, albeit with a disappointing return of only six goals as Celtic finished runners-up to Rangers in the league. Cassidy’s industrious style of play made him a massive favourite in the Celtic support as although diminutive in stature and displayed wonderful attacking skills and was an impressive header of the ball. The goals began to flow come the 1920/1921 season as Joe won plaudits for a 1921 New Years’ Day derby against Rangers, scoring both goals against bitter rivals Rangers, the new talisman would eventually bag a personal best to date of 20 goals and another Glasgow Cup winners medal despite eventually trailing Rangers by ten points in the league table come May.
International recognition came Joe’s way during the successful 1920/1921 season, firstly a debut for the Scottish League representative team in January 1921 against the Irish League (in which he scored in the 3-0 win) was quickly followed by the honour senior selection for British Home Championship clashes against Wales (at Pittodrie) and then Ireland (at Windsor Park). Scotland won both games with Cassidy scoring his first international goal in the latter game, en route to the Scots winning the Championship outright. The league winners’ medal which had eluded Joe since he signed for Celtic almost ten years ago finally arrived at the end of the 1921/1922 season, as Celtic eclipsed Rangers by a single point in the standings. Cassidy’s contribution was again impressive, finishing as the club’s top goalscorer with 20 goals.
Cassidy wrote his way into Celtic folklore the next season as he (almost singlehandedly) brought the Scottish Cup back to Parkhead after a nine year absence. He scored 11 of Celtic’s 13 goals throughout the 1923 tournament, including heading home the decisive winning goal against Hibernian in front of 82.000 fans at Hampden Park. Their cup exploits were the highlight of the campaign as Celtic dropped finished third in the Scottish League, but Cassidy’s career best 34 goal haul merited a return to the Scotland side for a third cap against Ireland in March 1923.
The Cup final heroics were to prove the pinnacle for Cassidy’s Celtic career, as despite finishing top goalscorer at the club during the 1923/1924 season and winning a fourth (and final) Scotland cap along with selection for the Scottish League side – Joe was made the scapegoat for the collective failings at Parkhead. Celtic again finished third (behind Rangers and Airdrieonians) and were knocked out of the Scottish Cup at the first hurdle of their defence of the trophy. There was a sea of change at the club and the club’s main forward was allowed to leave, which began a culture of selling key assets at the club which lasted until their return to prominence in the 1960’s. Joe Cassidy finished his Celtic career with 212 appearances & 108 goals between 1912 and 1924 and will be noted as an all-time great at the Glasgow club.
In August 1924, Cassidy (now 28) secured a move to top English First Division side Bolton Wanderers for £4,500, a major money move at the time, to join a full suite of international forwards at the Lancashire club. The forward ultimately failed to settle at Burnden Park, after an indifferent start his progress was halted by a serious dose of influenza midway through the season, which also resulted in a 22lbs weight loss and an impact on his stamina levels thereafter. In March 1925, he sought a place on the transfer-list from the Bolton officials citing that the ‘climate didn’t agree with him’ and was angling for a move back to Scotland. There had been press speculation of a move to Rangers, but the desire for Bolton to recoup any transfer fee would rule out move back North. Cassidy made 22 appearances, scoring 7 goals for the Wanderers during the 1924/1925 season.
The transfer saga rumbled on until October 1925, as once Bolton finally granted the transfer there was several suitors interested but a deal was struck with First Division rivals Cardiff City who paid £3,500 for Joe’s services. It proved a similar unfortunate story for the talented striker with his new club with only half a dozen goals returned for the club (in 24 games), he continued to struggle to return to past glories physically and was eventually dropped by the Welsh club in March 1926.
Despite offers from English clubs Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, Cassidy completed his desired move back to Scotland in August 1926 with Dundee, as part of an exchange deal which seen half-back Sam Irving move to the Welsh capital. Despite an injury plagued campaign Cassidy brought moderate success to Dens Park, as the team finished in fifth in the table in his first season (1926/1927) but fell away to 14th during his second season (1927/1928).
Joe was on the move again across the division to Clyde in June 1928 for £500 after his stay at Dundee turned sour, but his nomadic journey through football wouldn’t even last a full season this time. It was in late January 1929 that Cassidy crossed the Irish Sea to join Ballymena; the Braidmen were enjoying a fine debut season in Irish League football and the Scotland international was a huge coup as they went in search of silverware. A debut goal in the 7-0 thrashing of Queen’s Island in February 1929 was the perfect start to life in Ireland for Joe, who could now lay claim to playing professional football in all four home nations. Cassidy would form part of the legendary Ballymena side that lifted the Irish Cup a month later – defeating league champions Belfast Celtic 2-1 at Solitude to stun local football. Joe settled quickly into life at the club with his efforts appreciated by the enthusiastic Ballymena support.
His second season was distributed by an internal suspension at the start and illness at end of the campaign, but Cassidy made 29 appearances (scoring 15 goals) as the Braidmen navigated through the expectation of their second season with another Irish Cup final appearance, this time losing 4-3 to Linfield at Celtic Park with Joe the star performer from Ballymena’s forward line. Joe also notably scored the winning goal against English First Division side Everton in a friendly and made his debut for the Irish League representative side against the League of Ireland in March 1930. Speculation mounted of a move to Shelbourne towards the end of the season but he eventually agreed terms to stay with Ballymena for a further season.
Now the veteran 34-year-old of the Ballymena side, Joe’s third and final season (1930/1931) at the Showgrounds ended disappointingly. Despite adding two more Irish League representative caps to his name in the Autumn of 1930, his season was marred by the sudden accidental death of his seven year old son in Scotland, Joe had raced back to Paisley to assist with a blood transfusion to no avail in January 1931. He didn’t miss a game for the Braidmen during this time and in one of his final appearances, lost out in his third consecutive Irish Cup final to Linfield. Two weeks later, following a dispute with club officials he requested his papers to leave the club and immediately returned to Scotland. An unceremonious exit for one of the Sky Blues’ earliest heroes, having finished up with 84 appearances and 29 goals in his two and a half seasons at the club.
With one eye on coaching, Cassidy was a reported front runner for the role as trainer of the Turkish national team in the summer of 1931 but despite appearances in trial matches for Montrose, Joe signed for Morton in August 1931 on a month’s trial. After just five appearances without any goals – he returned back to Ireland, this time with Dundalk in the Free State League in September 1930. Joe rolled back the years during a short spell at the Louth club during the 1931/1932, winning the Presidents Cup in his second game for the club in a 7-3 win over Shamrock Rovers. In January 1932 he left the club to return to Scotland once again after 19 appearances and 5 goals for the Lilywhites.
Dundalk proved to be the end of the road for Joe in football. He failed to find a club for the remainder of the 1931/1932 season and subsequently failed in a bid to become player/manager of Peterhead in June 1932. By the following summer (1933) he was sentenced to four months in prison for his role in a burglary in Scotland.
Cassidy passed away in July 1949 in Glasgow aged 52, following complications from stomach surgery to remove cancer.
Vale of Clyde; (Nov 1912) Celtic; (Oct 1913) Vale of Athnoll - loan; (Nov 1913) Kilmarnock - loan; (Dec 1913) Abercorn - loan; (Dec 1913) Ayr United - loan; (Aug 1914) Ayr United - loan; (Sep 1915) Clydebank - loan; (Jan 1916) Reading - loan; (Aug 1924) Bolton Wanderers; (Oct 1925) Cardiff City; (Aug 1926) Dundee; (Jun 1928) Clyde; (Jan 1929) Ballymena; (Aug 1931) Morton; (Sep 1931) Dundalk
British Home Championship: (winner) 1920/1921
Scottish League: (winner) 1921/1922; (runner-up) 1919/1920, 1920/1921
Scottish Cup: (winner) 1922/1923
Glasgow Cup: (winner) 1919/1920, 1920/1921; (finalist) 1921/1922
Irish Cup: (winner) 1928/1929 (finalist) 1929/1930, 1930/1931
City Cup: (runner-up) 1928/1929
Presidents Cup (winner) 1931/1932
Scotland (3 caps, 1 goal - 1921-1924)
Scottish League Representative (3 caps, 1 goal - 1921-1923)
Irish League Representative (3 caps, 0 goals - 1930)
Last updated: 15 June 2021
Fourth in the club's all-time goalscorers chart, Shiels was one of the original idols of the Ballymena team across two spells in the formative years of senior football in the town.
Born in Longford in 1909, Shiels swapped Leinster for Ulster ' beginning his footballing career with Ballymoney in the Intermediate Leagues. After breaking through towards the end of the 1926/1927 season, the 18-year-old came to life the following year, scoring with regularity for Ballymoney as they finished fourth in the Intermediate League Second Division in the 1927/1928 season.
Shiels' performances at centre-forward were beginning to attract the attentions of senior clubs, with Portadown showing serious interest, but it was league newcomers Ballymena who sealed the teenager's signature in July 1928 for their debut campaign in the Irish League. Departing with the blessings of Ballymoney, he started the Sky Blues' first competitive game against Belfast Celtic the following month, and his first senior goals in his third game ' a brace in a 3-3 draw against Coleraine at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
The goals simply didn't stop flowing for Shiels in a remarkable debut season at the Braid ' 42 goals in 37 games during the 1928/1929 season as the 'Ballymena Babes' impressed many onlookers, particularly with their triumph in the Irish Cup final against Belfast Celtic in March 1929, a game in which Jamie had opened the scoring in a 2-1 victory over the Irish League champions. Shiels also picked up a runners-up medal in the City Cup competition, as Ballymena finished sixth in the standings.
He proved not to be a one season wonder, as a further 30 goals in the 1929/1930 campaign fired Ballymena to another Irish Cup final, but despite two goals against Linfield ' the team fell to a 4-3 defeat at Celtic Park. Remarkably despite 74 goals in two seasons in senior football, both International and League representative honours alluded Shiels who watched on as forward-line partner 'Hoody' McCambridge was transferred to Everton in February 1930. A series of niggling injuries hampered the 1930/1931 season as he shared the central forward berth with Jamie Murphy and eventually contributed just 14 goals ' his lowest total to date. A third consecutive Irish Cup final ended in defeat to Linfield once again, this time without a goal in the showpiece as the Light Blues were defeated 3-0 at The Oval.
Scouted by Mr. Arthur Dixon, he joined Dublin based club, Dolphin in July 1931 after failing to agree terms with Ballymena for a fourth season. Despite having his professional registration retained by the club, he joined star performers David Reid and Jamie Murphy in an exodus to the Free State League. Shiels flourished in his new surroundings, as Dolphin performed well in their first season in the top division after having won the Leinster Senior League previously. Having formed a prolific partnership with Jonny Summers ' the club narrowly lost the final of the FAI Cup to Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park in April 1932 in front of 32,000 spectators.
After less than a year in the Free State League, Shiels returned back North to rejoin the Light Blues. Ballymena's much changed team now included two team-mates from the inaugural 1929 season as the club tried valiantly to recapture those glories without success in the 1932/1933 season. A brace on his second debut against Newry in August 1931 bode well for the season, but it proved a major disappointment as the club finished in their lowest league position to date (eighth) and exited the Irish Cup at the first hurdle. The 23-year-old forward returned only 16 goals in total, and yet despite strong overtures of a swift return to the League of Ireland, he committed to Ballymena once again in the summer of 1933.
Optimism was high going into the 1933/1934 season following Ballymena's summer recruitment which included the Ireland international trio of Gerry Morgan and the Mahood brothers, Jack and Stanley. Shiels as the leader of the Braid attack returned to form with 26 goals throughout the campaign, and whilst a title-charge looked like a possibility at the mid-point of the season, Ballymena eventually fell away to fifth in the standings. Both the season and the club unravelled following the drama surrounding the Ballymena club's suspension from football over alleged illegal payments to their amateur players. This sadly ended in the withdrawal of Ballymena FC from the Irish League and subsequent liquidation of the town's first senior football club after just six seasons.
Left in limbo, Shiels and his professional peers had their registrations held and offered to the new Ballymena United club that emerged from the ashes. Given the uncertainty, many of the players sought pastures new ' including Jamie who, although had been touted to stay at the Showgrounds, eventually signed for Belfast Celtic in June 1934. This transfer ended a proud association with the club and a fine goalscoring record of 125 goals in 183 appearances, across his two spells.
With his expectations, Shiels made his debut for hoops in August 1934 in a 8-0 rout of Newry Town at Celtic Park, his early season performances caught the attention of Derby County who were touted to be keen on the forward that Autumn. Shiels bagged his first winners' medal in five seasons when he won the Gold Cup in December 1934, following a 4-0 win over Linfield. It proved an indifferent season as Shiels struggled for consistent form and games, as Celtic eventually finished third in the table ' but he did manage a goal-glut on his return to the Showgrounds, scoring four times against Ballymena United in one game.
Ballymoney; (Jul 1928) Ballymena; (Jul 1931) Dolphin; (May 1932) Ballymena; (Jun 1934) Belfast Celtic; (Jul 1936) New Brighton; (Jun 1938) Coleraine; (Aug 1939) Solihull Town
Irish Cup: (winner) 1928/1929; (finalist) 1929/1930, 1930/1931
City Cup: (runner-up) 1928/1929
Free State (FAI) Cup: (finalist) 1931/1932
(with Belfast Celtic)
Gold Cup: (winner) 1934/1935
Last updated: 9 March 2021
Last updated: 9 March 2021
Immortalised by featuring in the club's first ever game, journeyman forward James Woodrow made four appearances during the Ballymena's debut 1928/1929 season.
Having initially began his career with Belfast based Junior side Sandown Park and then Leoxonians in the early 1920's, Woodrow's progression to senior football was slow and steady. He started a busy 1924/1925 season with Ards II, but had greater success returning to Lexonians (of the Northern Amateur League) in the second half of the season, before guesting for his old club Sandown Park in the final months of the season as they won the Beattie Cup and were beaten finalists in the Firth Cup.
A new challenge with newly elected Alliance First Division club Albion Rovers started in the summer of 1925, but within a month of the new season he was on the move to Cliftonville. Having initially been signed for the club's Olympic (reserve) team, it took only one game to gain promotion into the senior ranks of the North Belfast club. Woodrow was an instant success at Solitude, chipping in with nine goals and was part of team which won the County Antrim Shield for the first time in 28 years, following a 5-1 win over Glentoran. He was described in the Northern Whig as 'one of the best inside lefts in the league'.
His impressive season for Cliftonville caught the attention of Linfield across the city, who moved to secure the signature of James in May 1926. His debut for the Blues came ironically against Cliftonville in a 4-0 win in the opening game of the 1926/1927 season, and his first goal for his new club came followed the next week against Larne. Having initially started the season as regular selection in the starting eleven at Windsor Park, his appearances became more sporadic throughout the campaign and missed out on winners medals in the Gold Cup, City Cup and Charity Cup. Whilst remaining a registered Linfield player, Woodrow sat out the entirety of the 1927/1928 season.
One of the club's early recruitments in June 1928, Woodrow started the maiden bow for senior football in Ballymena against Belfast Celtic in August 1928, he would feature in the next handful of early season fixtures before losing his place in the team when future international James 'Hoody' McCambridge moved up the field from half-back to the forward line with great success. Whilst Woodrow remained on the periphery of the Light Blues team during their remarkable debut season, he managed just four appearances in total (without a goal) and failed to make the team for the Irish Cup final success.
In September 1929, James dropped down to Intermediate football with Dundela but managed only a few early season appearances before disappearing from the game completely. At just 28-years-old the inside forward's career was over through causes unknown.
Sandown Park; Lexonians; (August 1924) Ards II, Lexonians, (May 1925) Sandown Park; (Aug 1925) Albion Rovers; (Oct 1925) Cliftonville; (May 1926) Linfield; (Jun 1928) Ballymena; (Sep 1929) Dundela
County Antrim Shield (winner) 1925/1926
Last updated: 4 December 2020
Last updated: 4 December 2020
Decorated Irish League goalkeeper with an International cap to his name, John Gough kept goal for the Braidmen for the historic 1929 Irish Cup final and in retirement even ended up on the club's committee!
Born and raised in Belfast, like many of his peers ' John spent his formative adult years in the military representing the Royal Irish Rifles between 1914-1918; honing his talents as a goalkeeper playing Army football during the First World War. It was not until the 1919/2020 season in which Gough started to build his football career at club level ' appearing for local side Brantwood in the Steel and Sons Cup final defeat against Dunmurry in December 1919. There was also disappointment as the North Belfast club lost out to Glentoran in the semi-final of the Irish Cup in the same season.
Gough and his Brantwood team-mates bounced back in style the following season as they romped to the Intermediate League title for the first time in the club's history and also avenged their Steel & Sons Cup final defeat the previous year, by winning the 1920/1921 Christmas Day clash against Bangor in front of 20,000 spectators. Off the pitch the club had moved into their new grounds at Alexandra Park Avenue during the summer of 1921 with speculation a move into senior football could be imminent, but they failed to maintain their dominance of Intermediate football as a poor start to the 1921/1922 season gave the club too big a margin to claw back ' eventually finishing runners-up and also beaten finalists to Dundela in the Clements Lyttle Cup in April 1922.
For John, his stock had risen considerably during Brantwood's successes (he was even called upon to play outfield on occasion) and was selected to represent the Intermediate League team to face their Glasgow counterparts in a 1-1 draw in March 1922. Interest from further afield grew in the 26-year-old custodian, as he was invited to trial with Everton of the English top-flight. Despite the Liverpool Daily Post (31 August 1922) noting his performance in a trial match as â€œGough looks like developing into a class goalkeeper, and one who will lend some enjoyment to the game, with his mannerisms.â€ ' he was not offered terms with the Merseyside club.
Upon his return to Belfast, speculation in the press hinted of a return to Brantwood ' however in November 1922 he stepped up into senior ranks with new side Queen's Island. It proved a good fit for player and club, as in only their second season in the Irish League ' finished runners-up during the 1922/1923 campaign. Gough made his debut against Glentoran in the opening game of the City Cup competition (which Queen's Island won 3-2) shortly after signing ' within two months the goalkeeper was pocketing his first senior medal as the club eventually won the 10-game City Cup series to much acclaim. In March 1923, John fortuitously secured his first Irish League representative cap, owing to a sudden illness of Glentoran goalkeeper McClure ' he was drafted in to face Wales at Solitude in a game which was drawn 2-2.
The following season at Queen's Island (1923/1924) proved to be nothing short of sensational as the team, led by captain Joe Gowdy, secured a remarkable quadruple haul of trophies. The Irish League championship was the first of the four trophies secured with games to spare by Gough and co. on Christmas Day 1923 against Ards, despite having been deducted two points earlier in the season. The Irish Cup followed in March with John keeping a clean sheet in the narrow 1-0 victory over Willowfield at Windsor Park, and the goalkeeper repeated the feat in the County Antrim Shield decider, as Queen's Island scored three without reply against Distillery the following month. Despite an elbow injury late in the season, Gough was on hand to complete the set of four medals ' by securing the Belfast City Cup to cap a memorable season.
Off the back of his trophy laden campaign, Gough was rewarded for his performances with a call up to the Ireland team for his solitary international cap against a touring South African side. The Irish team was made up of only locally based players (and included Queen's team-mate Tom Croft) lost 2-1 at Solitude in September 1924. He was back at the same venue a month later to earn a second (and final) Irish League representative cap against the English League, a game in which the home side lost 5-0.
Domestically, Queen's Island were not as formidable a force as the season past, but still managed to finish as runners-up in the 1924/1925 Irish League standings. Defeat in the replayed final of the Gold Cup in April 1925 followed, but there was some trophy success with a third successive City Cup triumph ' but only after a four month saga which saw two drawn test matches against Glentoran with the third (and final) attempt held over until September 1925 when the new season was already underway, which Queen's Island and Gough won 3-2 at Solitude.
Despite the early season silverware, the 1925/1926 promised much but delivered little for the East Belfast club. The wheels fell of their push for a second Gibson Cup, as they dropped from second place at Christmas to eventually finish sixth in the league table. Queen's Island fell a point short of retaining the City Cup once again, finishing as runners-up to Belfast Celtic in the final table in May 1926. John remained a constant figure in the side, as the Shipyard men rebuilt and went in search of glory again the following season ' eventually pipping Distillery into second place in the Irish League in their final league outing, having failed to keep the pace with champions Belfast Celtic's relentless pace throughout the campaign.
It was to mark the beginning of the end for the Island's golden era, as in April 1927 the club had requested financial assistance from the Irish Football Association ' as they struggled to meet the demands of staying competitive in the league on such a small, albeit loyal, fanbase. A number of the team's key players began an exodus out of Pirrie Park in the summer of 1927, and speculation grew into August that John may be another, having failed to agree terms until November with the season well underway, having also being strongly linked with a transfer to league newcomers, Coleraine. Veteran campaigner Gough was a stand-out performer in an otherwise difficult season for the club, who finished twelfth (from 14) in the Irish League and narrowly avoided having to apply for re-election.
After six successful seasons with Queen's Island, the 32-year-old goalkeeper left for a new challenge with the Irish League's newcomers, Ballymena in August 1928. Gough game in for the club's third game, replacing William Clarke between the sticks for his debut in the 3-3 draw with Coleraine on 1 September. John retained his jersey for the remaining 44 consecutive games of the landmark 1928/1929 as the 'Ballymena Babes' stunned local football by defeating League Champions Belfast Celtic to win the Irish Cup final in March 1929 to huge acclaim. The Braidmen also finished sixth in the league standings and runners-up in the City Cup competition.
The following 1929/1930 season, Ballymena continued to build on their early success with the veteran custodian the first choice as the team went one place better by finishing fifth in the table. Ballymena failed to retain the Irish Cup, losing in the showpiece final 4-3 to a Linfield team inspired by Joe Bambrick. In the summer of 1930, John was retained as a professional by the club for a prospective third season but failed to agree terms with the Showgrounds club. Despite interest from other senior clubs, the club committee held firm on desired the Â£25 transfer fee for the 34 year-old for the majority of the 1930/1931 season ' effectively keeping him out of football during that time.
Club and player agreed a release from his registration in March 1931 and despite speculation that he would join up with Summerfield, the renowned Intermediate side from Ballymena of the time ' John had played his last competitive game in the Irish League. Despite the unceremonious exit from the club, Gough was fondly remembered as a key part of the famous 1929 Irish Cup winning side, who made a total of 83 appearances for Ballymena.
John's association with the town was far from over. In 1932 he was appointed the manager of the Ballymena branch of coal merchants J. Milligan & Co. and two years later during the formation of the new Ballymena United club, he was duly elected onto the committee and subsequently formed part of the team's selection committee during the 1934/1935 season.
John Gough passed away in Canada in late 1960, just short of his 65th birthday.
(1919) Brantwood; (Aug 1922) Everton - Trial; (Nov 1922) Queen's Island; (Aug 1928) Ballymena
Intermediate League: (winner) 1920/1921; (runner-up) 1921/1922
Steel & Sons Cup: (winner) 1920/1921; (finalist) 1919/1920
R. Clements Lyttle Cup: (runner-up) 1921/1922
(with Queen's Island)
Irish League: (winner) 1923/1924; (runner-up) 1922/1923, 1924/1925, 1926/1927
Irish Cup: (winner) 1923/1924
City Cup: (winner) 1922/1923, 1923/1924, 1924/1925; (runner-up) 1925/1926
County Antrim Shield: (winner) 1923/1924
Gold Cup: (finalist) 1924/1925
Irish Cup: (winner) 1928/1929; (runner-up) 1929/1930
City Cup: (runner-up) 1928/1929
Ireland (1 cap - 1924)
Irish League Representative (2 caps - 1921-1924)
Last updated: 25 May 2020
Last updated: 18 October 2020
An Irish Amateur international, winger Richard 'Dickie' Shaw formed part of the first ever senior Ballymena football team during the historic 1928/1929 season.
Born and reared in Belfast, his football career took flight with local junior club St. Nicholas winning the North of Ireland Combination Third Division league during the 1926/1927 campaign at the age of just 17. In the summer of 1927, a move up to Intermediate football with Willowfield proved hugely successful as the East Belfast club shocked local football with a remarkable trophy laden 1927/1928 season. With Shaw a prominent figure on the left wing the club became the first Intermediate club to lift the Irish Cup following a replay victory against Larne, despite the winger personally missing a penalty in the game.
The Irish Cup triumph was to form the centre-piece of a quadruple of trophy wins, alongside the Steel and Sons Cup (Richard scored in the replayed final against Ormiston), the Intermediate League and the Intermediate Cup. The stock of Richard and his teammates had naturally risen throughout the season, with star attraction Tommy Willighan leading the exodus even before the Irish Cup final, with a move to Burnley.
In September 1928, with the new season only a few games old, the recruiters of the new Ballymena FC club sought improvements on their forward line after a tepid start to the first season in senior football and moved to sign the 20-year-old on amateur terms. Two months later he became the first player in the short history of the Braid club to win international honours, after being capped by the Ireland Amateur side in a 2-0 defeat to England in Belfast.
Shaw became an ever present (with 28 appearances and 5 goals) in the Light Blues' team as they finished sixth in the Irish League and progressed to the final of the Irish Cup. However, the arrival of Scotland international veteran Joe Cassidy in January 1929 denied Richard an opportunity to win a second Irish Cup in succession, as he effectively found his season curtailed with his team-mates also finishing runners-up in the end of season City Cup competition.
By the start of the 1929/1930 season, Shaw had returned back to Gibson Park to sign for former club Willowfield.
He returned for a second spell at Ballymena in August 1930 but found game time in senior football harder to come by, as Richard played deputy to leading marksman John Murphy throughout the majority of the 1930/1931 season in which the Braidmen finished the campaign in fifth position and were Irish Cup finalists, however much like two years previous ' Shaw did not make the eleven for the showpiece defeat to Linfield. His spell at the club ended with a combination of 43 appearances and nine goals in his two seasons.
Upon leaving Ballymena in August 1931, Richard Shaw got the opportunity to prove himself at one of the top clubs, with a short term deal at Belfast Celtic.
St. Nicholas; (1927) Willowfield (1928, September) Ballymena; (1929, August) Willowfield; (1930, August) Ballymena; (1931, August) Belfast Celtic; Dunmurry; (1932, Sep) Ballyclare Comrades
Irish Cup: (winner) 1927/1928
Steel and Sons Cup: (winner) 1927/1928
Intermediate League: (winner) 1927/1928
Intermediate Cup: (winner) 1927/1928
Ireland Amateur (1 cap ' 1928)
Last updated: 25 April 2021
Last updated: 25 April 2021