Malachians Football Club was established in April 1963.The three men responsible were Father John O’Sullivan, a teacher in St.Malachy’s College, Jimmy Donnelly, a former Belfast Celtic player and Eddie Comerton.
They decided that there should be a soccer team representative of past pupils of St. Malachy’s (hence the name Malachians) and they approached St. Malachy’s Old Boys’ Association for approval and funding. Soccer was not a predominant sport at the college at that time. The Old Boys’ provided a small grant, but not enough to cover expenses, and a dance was organised in Fruithill Club, Andersonstown to bolster the coffers. Four hundred and twenty people attended that first function and the club made a profit of £30 (big money in those days).
The club colours, green, white and black, were also taken from the school’s colours and were worn in the first ever Malachians match, a draw against Belfast Foods in the West Belfast League. The team’s first home ground was a farmer’s field near Belfast airport before moving to a pitch at Arthur Avenue,Whitewell. In the 1963/64 season they finished runners up in the League and won the club’s first trophy – the West Belfast League Cup, beating Trench Celtic 3-2 at the famous Celtic Park on the Donegall Road, where the Park Centre now stands.
That first trophy win was celebrated at a Club Dinner in the Wellington Park Hotel.The Cup and medals were presented by Mr PJ McGrory (Solicitor) the then President of the St. Malachy’s Old Boys’Association.
The 1964/65 season saw the club reach the final of the West Belfast Cup again at Celtic Park but were beaten 3-2 by Cromac Albion, who also pipped Malachians for the League title.
The club then spent one year in the Belfast Minor League before being accepted into the Amateur League in 1966.The club acquired Strangford Avenue after negotiations with RoyWilliams (ex-Linfield) at Belfast Education offices. In the early years the team more than held their own under the management of Jimmy Donnelly and Jimmy continued in charge until the early 70s when Billy Briggs, who had played since the mid-sixties, took up the reins.
On Boxing Day 1968 Malachians F.C. organised a charity game between a Belfast Celtic XI and an Irish League Select. The proceeds of the game held at Celtic Park went towards the Johnny Campbell benefit and St. Malachy’s College building fund. For the record the Celtic team won 7-4 with the famous Jimmy Jones scoring all seven goals.Afterwards a discussion took place at the Brown Horse Bar involving the late Sam Casey,Malcolm Brodie and Jimmy Donnelly, about the possibility of building a team from Malachians to fill the void left by Belfast Celtic’s departure from Irish football. Malcolm Brodie suggested that perhaps a side should be entered in the Scottish League Division 2.Jimmy Donnelly suggested entry into the League of Ireland and this was later discussed with the late Fran Fields, then Chairman of the League of Ireland who welcomed the idea. Some initial work was done regarding the matter in the knowledge that Paradise (Celtic Park) was available as the headquarters.The outbreak of the troubles, however, the following year, 1969, meant that a great chance of putting a professional team back into Belfast had to be deferred for the forseeable future.
Another interesting fact that many club members are not aware of is that the current Leicester City manager, Martin O’Neill, played for Malachians in the late sixties while he was still at St. Malachy’s College. Unfortunately Martin had another engagement and couldn’t join us for the reunion but sends his best wishes to Malachians for the future.