Armoy re-United

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THEY secured their status in north Antrim folklore for their legendary performances in the 1970s and 80s and now the players from the all-conquering Armoy United sides of yesteryear are set to pull on their boots once again, writes Chris Kilpatrick.

In their heyday they swept all before them, lighting up the Coleraine and Ballymena leagues and boasted an enviable trophy haul.

Indeed so outstanding was the calibre of players turning out each week for the village at Limepark, they are still talked about decades later.

At the height of their success they were the undoubted jewel in the crown of north Antrim football, often proving themselves to be more than a match for so-called bigger clubs across the province.

Armoy captured the hearts of the local community too, crossing the religious and political divide, and regularly drawing several hundred supporters to their home games.

A generation on, hordes of fans are set to relive the Armoy glory days this summer with plans afoot to reunite all the past greats in a one-off charity match.

Michelle Hartin is staging the special game between the players on Saturday 23 July at Limepark in order to raise funds for the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children.

Michelle said the charity is very close to her heart and she believed bringing back all the old Armoy faces was a fantastic way of boosting its coffers.

“It’s for a really, really good cause,” Michelle told the Times.

“I have a five-year-old girl and it is reassuring to know those facilities are there should you ever need them.”

“I remember when I was young going to the matches all the time.

She continued: “Football was a way of life in Armoy back them and it was a real shame when the team folded.

“Maybe this game will go some way to getting a team formed in the village again, who knows?”

Among those who have already agreed to dust the boots off for the match are Martin McGarry, Olcan McFetridge, James Christie, Bobby Adams, Gareth Elder, Trevor Magee and Eugene Laverty.

As well as the match, refreshments and other entertainment is being put on for what promises to be a fantastic day for all the family.

Armoy United was set up in 1968. Local man Bobby Adams at that time got a team together to play friendly games with their neighbours, Drones, the matches taking place as often as three times a week in the summer evenings.

These games led to the formation of the Drones League, which Armoy promptly won.

Encouraged by this success, Bobby entered his champions in the Coleraine Morning League with their home pitch a field kindly donated by local farmer Brooke Craig.

In Armoy’s second season the league and cup double was achieved.

They went on to lift the Moyle Cup five times, the McClenaghan Cup on four occasions and even lifted seven pieces of silverware in one glorious season.

Jamie Falconer then took the reins, entering the team in the Ballymena Premier League.

The team rose to the challenge by winning the league title and the McReynolds Knockout Cup at the first attempt.

More trophies followed and Armoy were subsequently accepted into the prestigious Intermediate League.

A licensed social club was opened and the club built their own changing rooms, complete with showers.

As well as fielding the Armoy United team in the Intermediate League, a second string, known as Armoy Swifts, continued playing in the Ballymena Premier League.

A youth team was formed under the guidance of Sammy McMullan and Joe Kane, playing in the Coleraine Under-15 League as Armoy Colts.

In their initial year, United came third in the Intermediate League and established themselves as a team to mix it with the best of them.

They went on to beat Chimney Corner and Ballymoney United in the Bass Irish Cup and gave Belfast giants Glentoran a massive fright in one of Armoy’s biggest games in their history.

For more details on the charity match contact Chris at the Times.