1990 - 1995
Unfortunately, the first five years of the nineties very much reflected the first half of the eighties and silverware continued to be elusive. Nonetheless, there were certain achievements to which the club can point. In 1991/1992 two of our players were selected for the SBBL representative side to play the Craigavon Youth League. The representative sides are a bit like childrens’ league internationals. Consequently, it is a great honour for a player to be selected, and for his club.
Similarly, the nineties saw a considerable expansion in the club’s membership. Despite the absence of league or cup success, the club could approach its twenty-fifth anniversary with a significant degree of pride. From humble beginnings, it had grown into one of the largest childrens’ football clubs in Belfast. A large degree of credit for this must go to Des Brennan.
Des had returned to the club in 1992 as manager of the new team coming through from the younger section. Not long after that he was persuaded to accept the chair of the club. From this position, he set about reorganising the management structure and put in place a programme of expansion which, in effect, increased the club to the size that it currently is. It was also under Des Brennan’s guidance that the club day, now a regular feature the first Saturday in June, was instituted, as were the annual player awards.
From this period on, the club now regularly entered teams in all of the SBBL’s age groups, i.e. from Under 10 to Under 16, and indeed was, and continues to be, one of the few clubs to be in a position to do that. In fact, in the 1994/1995 season the club was able to enter two teams at Under 10 in a summer XI-a-side league. One of the teams, the Aquinas Grasshoppers, managed by Tony O’Neill and Stevie Martin, reached the final play off, but, unfortunately, in a thrilling match at Cherryvale, lost 5-3 to Doyle.
Similarly, the club had by this stage, also a thriving minisoccer section, watched over with unabating enthusiasm by John Cassidy. During this period, John was instrumental in obtaining Ashleigh Hall for indoor winter training for the younger members of the club.