Glentoran Legends XI
Glentoran Legends XI
In the summer of 2008, Growsport, a local sports promotion company announced that they would be hosting a Legends tournament at the Oval, consisting of Legends teams from Glentoran, Linfield, Manchester United and Liverpool. The Glentoran Legends XI was entrusted into the hands of Billy Caskey, who in turn enlisted the help of Philip Stevenson to bring together a squad of ex-Glentoran players to represent the club in what would be known as the Belfast Cup.
The squad on that July day consisted of many illustrious names from Glentoran's recent history such as Jim Cleary, Johnny Jameson, Barney Bowers, Liam Coyle, Gary Blackledge, Chris Walker and Gary Smyth. Sadly, they lost their opening match to Liverpool and in turn lost in the third/fourth place play-off to Linfield but it sowed the seeds for a Glentoran Legends XI to come together to play on a regular basis.
For the Belfast Cup, Growsport had organised sponsorship for each team, with the Hilton Hotel sponsoring Liverpool, Mascott Construction sponsoring Manchester United and the Belfast Telegraph sponsoring the shirts of both Linfield and the Glentoran Legends XI's.
With the momentum gained from playing together again, the Legends decided that they would continue to come together on a regular basis and play matches preferably in support of local charities.
Later that summer and thanks to the support of the 1923 Glentoran Supporters Committee, they had a new kit designed with the Glentoran Gazette as the shirt sponsor. A new dedicated badge designed by Clifford Logan was also added. The Glentoran Legends XI was born!
Since that summer of 2008 the Glentoran Legends XI have came together regularly playing football all around the country and helping many worthy causes along the way. Around the same time a Derry City Legends XI was formed and it was only natural that they would face each other. That game happened in the summer of 2009 when the Glentoran Legends XI travelled up to the Brandywell to face their Maiden City counterparts. Many of the Glentoran Legends would be playing at the Brandywell for the first time, whilst some were renewing acquaintances after over thirty years. A 4-4 draw may have been the final result on the day but that was the sideshow as over £3000 was raised in aid of the local Pink Ladies Cancer Support Charity. They may have been the only winners on the day but a great bond was formed between the two sets of Legends, one that has grew stronger over the last two years.
A real good news story!
In the last three years the Glentoran Legends have played around thirty times with many Legends lending their support and donning their boots again in that time. In those games they have faced sides from Donegal Celtic, Crusaders, Portadown and Linfield along with many local junior sides. They can also claim the scalp of beating Manchester United Legends at the Oval in the 2009 Belfast Cup before losing to a Liverpool XI in the final, on penalties.
The most important thing is the fundraising which has seen over £30,000 raised in those three years for charities such as the N.I.C.F.C, Huntington’s disease, Barnados and most recently the Meningitis Research Foundation.
Many have donned the Legends shirt in those three years, with guys who had played for the shirt throughout the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and even the noughties. The legs might not be able to do the things of old but the skill and ability still remains and above all the pride in wearing the Green, Red and Black will always be there. Long may it continue.