The Story of one of
Glentoran's greatest achievements
|It all began with a telephone
call from the BBC TV Commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme.
"Can you get an Irish team to play in a tournament
next summer in the United States".
|Wolstenholme a great
friend of Northern Ireland football had an idea that Shamrock
Rovers and an Irish League team should combine; he suggested,
perhaps, Shamrock Rovers and Linfield. Linfield, however,
rejected the proposal for various reasons but primarily
because their rules then prohibited Sunday football either
in N.Ireland or out of it. So too those of the Irish F.A.
|Then the organisers decided
to have two Irish teams. Shamrock Rovers immediately accepted
but Linfield put off the decision for a number of other
weeks until they finally declined. Wolstenholm rang again,
"We need a reply within ten days if any team is going
to take up the offer," he stated.
|Then on Boxing Day 1966
Malcolm Brodie, the then Sports Editor of the Belfast
Telegraph and Irelands Saturday Night went to the Oval
to cover a match. In the Boardroom, sat the chairman Harry
McNeely and vice-chairman Jack Dornan. "if you got
an invitation to play for two months in the United States
this summer, would you accept?" I asked them both.
"Yes" both replied. "Even if it means playing
Sunday football?" "Yes", they said again.
side, under charismatic player/manager John Colrain was
one of the finest ever in Irish League football as the
tour results indicated. It included players of quality
in all positions, adequate reserve strength, unsurpassed
back up with the expertise and motivation of Colrain,
the Scot who had a first-class knowledge of football,
and by a highly professional administration led by the
Board and secretary Billy Ferguson.
So on May 23, 1967 Glentoran, as champions,
left Belfast to play their part in help establishing
fledgling soccer as a major North American sport. When
the coach pulled away from the Oval and travelled along
Mersey Street, Dee Street and over the bridge, local
residents came to their doors to wish them Bon Voyage.
So too did hundreds of workers about to start their
morning shift at Harland and Wolff and Short Brothers
|They arrived to a red
carpet reception at town hall with
representatives of Ford, and the United Soccer Association.
But it was the first match against Shamrock Rovers that
Colrain was thinking of.