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 recaptured his form of old in the Intermediate League and made the division’s representative team as the club won the Clement Lyttle Cup with a 5-3 win over Broadway United at Solitude.
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. Despite early promise at Celtic Park, his football career suddenly dissipated from over the next two seasons. He joined Dunmurry in the summer of 1932 to team up with former Willowfield and Ballymena team-mate William Kimlin but lasted only until September before a move to Ballyclare Comrades for the remainder of the 1932/1933 campaign.
No further information is readily available on ‘Dick’ Shaw’s football career after his spell with the Comrades. Shaw passed away in Toronto, Canada in 1982, aged 76.
St. Nicholas; (1927) Willowfield (1928, September) Ballymena; (1929, August) Willowfield; (1930, August) Ballymena; (1931, August) Belfast Celtic; Dunmurry; (1932, Sep) Ballyclare Comrades
(with St. Nicholas)
North of Ireland Combination Third Division: (winner) 1926/1927
Irish Cup: (winner) 1927/1928
Steel and Sons Cup: (winner) 1927/1928
Intermediate League: (winner) 1927/1928
Intermediate Cup: (winner) 1927/1928
Clement Lyttle Cup: (winner) 1929/1930
Ireland Amateur (1 cap – 1928)
Last updated: 12 October 2021