Belfast Celtic F.C.

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Belfast Celtic
Full name Belfast Celtic Football Club
Nickname(s) The Celts; The Grand Old Team
Founded 1891
Dissolved 1949
Ground Celtic Park
League Irish League

Belfast Celtic Football Club was a football club in Northern Ireland that was founded in 1891,[1] and was one of the most successful teams in Ireland until it withdrew from the Irish League in 1949.


The club, formed in 1891 simply as Celtic, was named after Celtic Football Club of Glasgow. Upon incorporation as a limited company in 1901, however, the club adopted the name Belfast Celtic, the title "Celtic Football Club Ltd" already being registered by the Glasgow club.[2] Their home from the same year was Celtic Park on Donegall Road in west Belfast, known to the fans as Paradise.[1] Celtic won their first league title in 1900 after beating fierce rivals Linfield by a single goal.

The political violence that engulfed Ireland in the 1920s spilled onto the terraces of the Irish League and Celtic was forced to withdraw in 1920 despite winning the title that season, and did not rejoin until 1924. Celtic's support base was strongly Irish nationalist.

Despite this, the club went from strength to strength and the inter-war years proved to be Celtic's strongest: they were league champions four years running after their return. The club also produced some of the greatest players of their generation and at one stage had five international goalkeepers in their squad. Charlie Tully of Celtic, learned how to kick a ball with Belfast Celtic.

The end came on Boxing Day 1948 at the annual Linfield-Celtic game at Windsor Park. Celtic were winning for most of the match but Linfield equalised in the last minute. Linfield fans invaded the pitch and attacked several Celtic players including centre-forward Jimmy Jones who suffered a broken leg.[3] Soon after the club decided to withdraw from the league.

After the 1948-49 season Belfast Celtic went on a tour of America from which they returned amidst internal wrangling over flags and financial issues.[citation needed] At a meeting of the board it was decided that Celtic would temporarily leave the league until such matters had been resolved.[citation needed] They were not resolved and the internal wrangling at boardroom level continued until Celtic Park was sold to developers.[citation needed] The club would never again play a competitive match but played several friendlies, including an historic victory over Scotland in the United States in 1949 and a match at home to Celtic on May 17, 1952, when a team of ex-Belfast Celtic players took the field under the name of 'Newry FC' in aid of De La Salle Boys' Home in County Down. A final match - a testimonial - was played at Coleraine on June 24, 1960.

The ground continued to function as a greyhound stadium until the 1980s when it was bulldozed and replaced by the Park Centre, a small shopping centre.[1] Today, a small plaque reminds shoppers a football team played here. A small museum has since been opened in the Park Centre. Belfast Celtic were one of four clubs that made the biggest crowds in the Irish League, the other three being Linfield, Distillery (now Lisburn Distillery), and Glentoran.


Senior honours[edit]

Intermediate honours[edit]

† Won by Belfast Celtic II

Selected former players[edit]

Selected former managers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Belfast Celtic". Groundtastic. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  2. ^ Belfast Celtic F.C. – Souvenir History 1891-1939 (1939) (unknown author) (unknown publisher). Available at: The Grand Old Team. Accessed 12-12-14.
  3. ^ "The History of the Grand Old Team". Belfast Celtic Society. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Mark Tuohy, Belfast Celtic, 1978 ISBN 0-85640-139-0
  • Flynn, Barry, "Political Football: The Life and Death of Belfast Celtic", 2009, Nonsuch Publishing
  • Padraig Coyle, Paradise Lost & Found: The Story of Belfast Celtic, Mainstream Publishing 1999
  • Padraig Coyle, Alex Moore's Almanac: A Young Man's Diary of a Sporting Farewell, Marine Media 2005

External links[edit]