Moyola Park Association Football Club was formed during season 1879 / 1880 under the patronage of Lord Spencer Chichester, the landlord of the Moyola Park estate. The club’s pitch has been in the grounds of the estate ever since. The first recorded match was a friendly at home against Cliftonville FC, Belfast, on 14th February 1880, in which the visitors recorded a 3-0 victory.
Lord Spencer Chicester was the inaugural president of the fledgling Irish Football Association, which was formed in November 1880. On 9th April 1881, Moyola Park became the inaugural winners of the Football Association’s Challenge Cup, defeold bridge to Moyola Parkating Cliftonville 1-0 in the final, from an initial entry of seven clubs, the founder members of the Association. The gate receipts on that day were £8. Four of the players in the squad, William Morrow, William Hueston, George Hewison and Arthur Gaussen, between them earned thirteen international caps, and Morrow had the distinction of scoring Ireland’s goal against Wales in a 1-1 draw played in March 1882, the first occasion on which Ireland managed to avoid defeat in an international.
After those prestigious days the club had a much more mundane existence, choosing not to enter the Irish League which was formed in 1890. The club continued to play friendly games as well as cup matches. In the early years of the twentieth century the club played in a local league in South Derry and it continued to do so until World War Two, with the exception of season 1929/1930 during which the club participated in the Belfast based, Minor League. After World War Two, Moyola Park successfully competed in the newly formed Ballymena and District Junior League, from its inception in season 1948/1949 through to season 1977/1978, with the exception of season 1950/1951, when the club participated in the now defunct Irish Football Alliance. During the Ballymena Junior League era, the club won the league championship outright on five occasions, 1948/1949, 1949/1950, 1973/1974, 1976/1977, 1977/1978 and shared the championship in 1959/1960 with Ballymoney United. During this period Moyola Park managed by Billy Lennox, won the prestigious Irish Football Association’s Junior Cup in successive seasons, 1972/1973 and 1973/1974.
With the formation of the Northern Ireland Intermediate Football League in 1978/1979 the club embarked upon a new era, participating in intermediate football. The club gained admission to the Irish Football League ‘B’ Division, now known as the Second Division, in season 1991/1992. This is the league in which the club currently competes. Managed by former club player Kenny Shiels, from January 1999 to December 2000, the club enjoyed one of its most successful ever spells. Kenny guided the team to victory in the Second Division’s prestigious Smirnoff Cup towards the end of last season, and the Craig Memorial North West Intermediate Cup on Boxing Day 2000, and as a result of his input the club is, at the time of writing, at the top of the division. Two players, Oran Kearney and Mark McNicholl, recently represented the Irish Football Association in the UEFA Regions Cup in a four nation preliminary tournament played in Luxembourg.
crowdIn the year 2000, just as been the case down through the years of the club’s long history, pride is taken in the fact that the club is represenative of all sections of the community. As far as Moyola Park Football Club is concerned, the only criterion used to select players to represent the club, is that of ability to play the game at a level required to make the club able to compete successfully on the field of play. Similarly as far as the club committee is concerned, an interest in the welfare of Moyola Park Football Club and the game in general, are the only criteria required for membership.
It is one of the club’s ambitions to move from the present pitch, in the Moyola Park estate, to a ground that can be developed into a modern small football stadium more appropriate to the needs of the gameMP Vs Welders (6-0) in the twenty first century. With this in mind, negotiations have taken place to enable the club to purchase some six acres of land near the town of Castledawson and planning permission is currently being sought to develop this land as a football ground. An application has also been made to the Sports Lottery Fund for grant aid. The club itself will have to raise a substantial amount to enable the project to go ahead and it is with that in mind, that we are seeking community support to assist with our endeavours. It is hoped that the project can be completed by 2005 to enable us to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the formation of Moyola Park Football Club in style.