Bray Wanderers A.F.C.
|Full name||Bray Wanderers Association Football Club|
|Ground||Carlisle Grounds, Bray,
|League||League of Ireland
|Website||Club home page|
Bray Wanderers A.F.C. (Irish: Cumann Peile Fánaithe Bhré) are an Irish football club playing in the Premier Division of the League of Ireland. The club, founded in 1942 and elected to the League in 1985, hails from Bray and play their home matches at the Carlisle Grounds. Club colours are Green and White, and it goes by the nickname Seagulls. The current manager is Alan Mathews. The general manager is Jack O'Neill.
In 1922, some members of St Kevin's Gaelic football club in Bray left the club as a result of a dispute and formed a soccer club called Bray Wanderers. They won the Miller Cup, which at the time was one of the most prestigious junior cups in the country, in 1927/28. Through the 1930s and 1940s, however, Bray Unknowns were the leading team in the town, playing in the National League from 1924 until the mid-1940s. Bray Wanderers went into decline in the mid-thirties but was reformed in 1942/43 and entered the Athletic Union League (AUL) Division 3 for the 1943/44 season. By the 1948/49 season Wanderers had reached Division 1 of the AUL but the period in between did not pass without controversy. In 1944 the club reached the Leinster Football Association Shield final but was disqualified for fielding an illegal player in the semi-final. When in Division 2 of the AUL in 1946/47 the club was expelled from the league due to the B team not fulfilling a league fixture, although the club was reinstated the following season. In 1950/51 Wanderers won the FAI Junior Cup, defeating Drogheda United 2–1. Wanderers also reached the Leinster Junior Final that season, but were defeated by Rathfarnham in the final. Wanderers won the Junior Cup again in 1953–54, defeating Ierne 1–0 in the Final. The following season Wanderers left the AUL and joined the Leinster Senior league (LSL).
In 1955/56 Wanderers won the Intermediate Cup, defeating Workmens Club 2–1 in the final. There was also a first appearance in the FAI Cup against Longford Town in 1956. They won it (Intermediate Cup) again two years later, defeating Chapelizod 2–1 in the final. In 1958/59, Wanderers clinched the Leinster Senior League, setting a new club and LSL record for the highest number of goals scored in a season. They went on to win three League titles in a row. In 1960–61 Wanderers withdrew from the LSL and returned to the AUL. From 1963, however, they once again went into decline.
By 1973, Bray Unknowns were playing in the LSL and the management changed the name to Bray Wanderers in a partially successful effort to amalgamate the two. In 1975/76 the new Wanderers won the Metropolitan Cup for the first time since 1924.
League of Ireland
Bray Wanderers were elected to the League of Ireland when it was expanded to two Divisions for the 1985/86 season. They played their first game as a League of Ireland club on 8 September 1985 in a FAI League Cup match against Dundalk F.C. with Jim Mahon having the honour of notching the Seagulls' first goal at senior level. The Wanderers' secured promotion to the Premier Division by winning the League of Ireland First Division Championship that year. They were relegated back down to the First Division in the 1987/88 season. Wanderers did not regain Premier Division status until the 1990/91 season but had their first major success during their spell in the First Division. They won the FAI Cup in 1990 beating St. Francis 3–0 in the first Lansdowne Road final with John Ryan (footballer) becoming only the second player to score a hat trick in a FAI Cup final. They made history by becoming the first ever First Division side to win the trophy. Due to this success, Wanderers competed in European competition for the first time in their history in the 1990/91 season. They were defeated, however, by Trabzonspor in the European Cup Winners' Cup preliminary round.
Bray continued to have difficulty achieving success in the league. After two seasons in the Premier Division the club was once again relegated to the First Division where they remained for three seasons. In 1995/96 season Wanderers were promoted back to the Premier Division as First Division champions, but were relegated back down in the following season. The next two seasons followed the same script as they went back up and came straight back down. In 1998/99, a season they got relegated again, Wanderers won their second FAI Cup, defeating Finn Harps after two replays which earned them a spot in the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup against a Roy Hodgson led Grasshopper Club Zürich.
In 1999/00 the club won promotion back to the Premier Division and in 2000/01 Wanderers achieved their highest ever league finish of 4th place in the Premier Division. The club could not build on this as they were relegated back down in 2002/03 but were once again promoted in 2004. The club was relegated at the end of the 2009 season, but the demise of Cork City meant they were reinstated to the Premier Division. Finishing in a Promotion/Relegation play-off in 2010, the club maintained its Premier status following a penalty shoot-out with Monaghan United.
The following season, finishing sixth in the Premier Division, the club gained a place in the all-Ireland Setanta Cup, but early in 2012 conceded home and away matches to Glentoran FC in the first round of the competition (2–4 & 0–3).
On 10 January 2014 it was announced that Alan Mathews would be the new manager with Barry O'Connor as his assistant.
Bray Wanderers have a small but loyal fanbase, with regular attendances generally around the 1,000 mark. For away matches the Bray Wanderers Supporters Club organises a bus to run direct to the relevant ground.
In March 2008, the Ultra group of Bray Wanderers fans "Na Fánaithe" was formed by five Supporters Club members. Unlike Ultra groups in Dublin such as "Briogáid Dearg", "SRFC Ultras", "Shed End Invincibles" and "Notorious Boo Boys", Na Fánaithe is a much smaller group, compared to the hundreds involved in those Ultra groups.
|1990/91||Cup Winners Cup Qualifying Match||Trabzonspor||1–1, 0–2 (1–3 agg.)|
|1999/00||UEFA Cup Qualifying round||Grasshopper Club Zürich||0–4, 0–4 (0–8 agg.)|
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|1986–1990||Pat Devlin||League of Ireland First Division Champions 1985-86, FAI Cup Champions 1990|
|1990–1995||John Holmes||Football League First Division Runner-up 1990-91|
|1995–2006||Pat Devlin||League of Ireland First Division Champions 1995-96, 1999-2000,|
|2014–||Alan Mathews||Current manager|
- FAI Cup
- 1990, 1999
- League of Ireland First Division
- Record Victory: 7–0 v Cobh Ramblers 17 October 1997, 7–0 v St. Mochta's (2007 FAI Cup 17 June 2007
- Record League Defeat: 0–7 v Shamrock Rovers 12 April 2013
- Most Points in a Season: 72 in 1999-00
- Most League Goals in a Season: 19, Eamon Zayed, 2003
- Most League Goals: 72, Jason Byrne 1998–2003, 2012–2013
- Bray Wanderers A.F.C. – a brief history, compiled by Michael Duffy incorporating material by Jim Tobin; updated 2006 by Mícheál Ó hUanacháin
- Club profile on Airtricity League site
- Republic of Ireland historical League Tables 1921/2-2006 by Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation