Roesiders History

One of the founding members of the Irish Football Association, provider of seven Irish internationals, and famously conqueror of mighty Everton on their home ground, Limavady was a pioneering football club in Ireland during the latter half of the 19th century.

When local cricket club Alexander decided to embrace the new sport in 1880 as a winter training method, little did the members know that they were sowing the seeds of a club that was to make a mark on the sport far beyond the small County Londonderry town. 

Alexander merged with another local club, Wanderers, in 1884 to form Limavady F.C. Club historian David Brewster, however, dates the current Limavady club’s formation to 1955

After an initially spectacular decade of success, the club declined to near oblivion before the long slow ascent to Premiership status in 2003.

In three centuries, the name of Limavady has been known and respected in local sporting circles, appearing in two Irish Cup finals and numerous intermediate and junior finals. Along the way, there have been tales of courage and skill, triumph and tragedy, and not a little violence and skullduggery, but the team has always instilled a fierce pride in the town and community from which so many players have been drawn.

After a long time as a junior team, the club joined the senior Irish Football League in 1997–98, and reached its first Irish Cup semi-final in over a century in 2003–04. In 2008, the club lost its senior status when it failed to gain admission to the new IFA Premiership. Since then, the club played in the IFA Championship until relegation in May 2019.

In April 2013, three players received suspensions after being found guilty of breaching IFA betting rules on one of the club’s league matches.

The club won the NIFL Championship 2 in the 2015-2016 season but was denied promotion to NIFL Championship 1 as they were unsuccessful in applying for a licence. However, they were promoted as winners of the Premier Intermediate League in 2016-2017

Club Honourås

Senior honours

County Londonderry Cup/North West Senior Cup: 6

  • 1993–94, 1998–99, 2003–04, 2005–06, 2015–16, 2018–19

Intermediate honours

  • Irish League B Division: 2
    • 1983–84, 1992–93
  • NIFL Championship 2: 1
    • 2015–16
  • NIFL Premier Intermediate League: 1
    • 2016–17
  • Irish Intermediate Cup: 3
    • 1973–74, 1995–96 , 2016–17
  • George Wilson Cup: 1
    • 1975–76
  • Craig Memorial Cup: 9
    • 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17
  • B Division Knock-out Cup: 2
    • 1992–93, 1995–96

Junior honours

  • Irish Junior Cup: 1
    • 1963–64
  • North West City Cup: 2
    • 1960–61, 1966–67
  • North West Junior League: 1
    • 1968–69

Limavady’s Irish Internationals

Limavady United has a long and distinguished history stretching back over 125 years, and in the early years of the game, the club was a leading light in the local game. In fact, no fewer than seven players from the club represented Ireland in the 1880s. With the passage of time, the club has lost track of most of these men. As part of the ongoing research into their careers, the club is now appealing to the Limavady public in the hope that photographs, caps, or even details of their lasting places might be located so that a proper tribute can be made to them. Only Joe Sherrard’s details and grave can now be located of the seven. Details of the other six, known by the club, are given below.

The seven are:

1. James Allen

v. England (a) 0-7 ~1887 (1 cap)
Born: 12 May 1859, Limavady
Position: Back
Co. Londonderry Representative: 1887/88, 1888/89 and 1889/90
Club Honours: Irish Cup Runner-Up: 1884/85, 1885/86
North West Cup Winner:1887, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1893

Jim “Bummer” Allen was recognised for his strong play and heading ability. He combined his football with cricket and when Limavady Wanderers Cricket Club members formed a football club in 1882 it was Allen who became the club’s representative at the Irish F.A.. In 1883 he joined local rivals Alexander and continued to play for Limavady following the formation by the amalgamation of Alexander and Wanderers in 1884.

2. Nathaniel McAulay Brown

v. England (a) 0-7 ~1887 (1 cap)
Born: 21 October 1867, Limavady
Position: Outside-Left

Brown was the son of a local Presbyterian minister, and he went on to become a solicitor in Portadown. An athlete from the start of his academic career at Coleraine Inst., he won many competitions throughout Ulster. He was the mainstay of the early association, running it almost single handedly for the first four years. His career included captaining County Derry for three years, and playing for Ulster and Leinster, as well as organising and captaining a “North of Ireland” eleven (drawn from the County Derry F.A. teams with two guests from Distillery) that toured to the Glasgow Exhibition on the 27th October 1888, losing 4-1 to Scottish side Battlefield. The team also included Bob Gault, Mat Douglas, Jim Allen, and one of the Sherrards, as well as former “Lim” George Forbes, who was now at Distillery. Brown played two seasons for County Dublin, and captained an Ireland team that played Celtic and Hibernian at about this time.

3. Oliver Devine

v. England (h) 1-6, Scotland (h) 2-7~ 1886, Wales (h) 4-1 ~1887, Wales (a) 0-11 ~1888 (4 caps){Record senior cap holder}
Position: back

4-George Forbes

v. Wales (a) 0-11 ~1888 (1 cap)

Born in Canada in 1869, George Forbes settled in Londonderry and began his football career with Limavady. A strong, reliable full-back (either left or right), he tasted North-West Cup success and played the Irish Cup semi-final, and also won the first of three caps, while with the club. Transferred to Distillery in the spring of 1889, he made his debut on the 22nd April – after the Irish Cup and Co. Antrim Shield had already been won. In 1891-92 he was the club captain. The profile in the “Ulster Football and Cycling News” issue of 19th February 1892 also claims that he played for St. Columb’s Court but makes no mention of his spell with Limavady. He regained his place in the Ireland side during the 1891 British Championship campaign, slotting in at right-back and left-back against England and Scotland respectively. He held a runners’ up medal in the Belfast Charity Cup defeat to Linfield in May1892. Transferred to Glentoran in November that year, Forbes helped his new club to the Co. Down Cup final.

5. Tom McLean

v. Scotland (a) 2-8 ~1885 (1 cap)

Originally a cricketer with the Alexander Cricket Club, Tom McLean took to football with some success. He played in the two Irish Cup Final defeats by Distillery and played for Ireland against Scotland in March 1885 in the same forward-line as Limavady team mate, Joe Sherrard. Having spent the first-half on the back-foot the Irish found themselves 4-0 down at the break. In the second-half however the Irish rallied and made two dents in the Hampden net, though the Scots still finished 8-2 winners.

6. James Rankin

v. England (a) 0-7, Wales (h) 1-1 ~1883 (2 caps)
Position: Goalkeeper

7-Joe Sherrard

v. Scotland(a) 2-8 ~1885, Wales (h) 4-1[1 goal]~1887, Wales (a) 0-11 ~1888 (3 caps)
Born: 13 July 1863
Died: 17 February 1926
Position: Forward

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