Though Cliftonville’s forthcoming Europa League encounters with Barry Town United will be the sides’ first ever meetings, the Clubs do share some notable history on the continental stage.
For both teams’ first ever European victories came against the same opposition – and by the same 2-1 scoreline.
In 2007, the Reds’ InterToto Cup defeat of FC Dinaburg marked the Club’s maiden triumph in UEFA competition some 11 years after Barry had eliminated the Latvian outfit from the UEFA Cup and, though our iconic win at the Celtnieks Stadium will soon be detailed in the forthcoming return of our European anniversaries series, we must turn the clock back some 129 years to find Cliftonville’s first scheduled tie with a team from Wales.
However, Rhosllanerchrugog’s withdrawal from an 1890 FA Cup contest meant that it was, in fact, Cardiff City who provided our first Welsh opposition; the Reds winning 1-0 at Ninian Park courtesy of an unknown goalscorer in April 1924.
In 1995, Marty Tabb was on the scoresheet in a 3-1 friendly defeat by Bangor City at Farrar Road, with a further 11 years passing until Cliftonville drew 0-0 with Wrexham in Newcastle, County Down.
The same venue would stage another contest between the sides exactly 12 months later, when The Red Dragons recovered from an early Francis Murphy strike to record a 2-1 win.
Our next encounter with a Welsh representative would come in a 2011 friendly with The New Saints at Park Hall, where a stunning injury-time effort from new signing Joe Gormley secured a 2-1 success – and where Cliftonville would return on Europa League duty just 12 days later; drawing 1-1 courtesy of an eye-catching Barry Johnston equaliser.
TNS, who sealed an aggregate success with a 1-0 win at Solitude the following week, would become regular foes in the years that followed, however Swansea City – with Rory Donnelly in their line-up – were Wales’ next visitors to north Belfast, going down to a solitary Liam Boyce goal in August 2012.
The following year, TNS banked another 1-0 victory at Solitude and repeated the feat twice inside three days during the summer of 2014.
Cliftonville ended that particular sequence in a 0-0 draw at Park Hall the following season before Daniel Hughes registered the only goal of a 2016 friendly with Connah’s Quay Nomads, with whom the Club will renew acquaintances in Broughton next weekend.
The Reds’ most recent tangle with Welsh opposition came two years ago, when Swansea were once again overcome at Solitude, where Jay Donnelly and Garry Breen found the net after the visitors had taken an early lead.
The next few weeks will, of course, further add to Cliftonville’s links with the country, with the English locale of TNS’s home ground rendering the June 27 battle with Barry as the Reds’ first ever competitive fixture in Wales.
History with Welsh opposition
October 25, 1890: FA Cup: Cliftonville v Rhosllanerchrugog [opposition withdrew]
April 22, 1924: Friendly: Cardiff City 0-1 Cliftonville (Scorer unknown)
July 29, 1995: Friendly: Bangor City 3-1 Cliftonville (Marty Tabb)
July 25 2006: Friendly: Cliftonville 0-0 Wrexham
July 25, 2007: Friendly: Cliftonville 1-2 Wrexham (Francis Murphy)
June 18, 2011: Friendly: The New Saints 1-2 Cliftonville (Martin Donnelly, Joe Gormley)
June 30, 2011: Europa League: The New Saints 1-1 Cliftonville (Barry Johnston)
July 7, 2011: Europa League: Cliftonville 0-1 The New Saints
August 8, 2012: Friendly: Cliftonville 1-0 Swansea City (Liam Boyce)
July 6, 2013: Friendly: Cliftonville 0-1 The New Saints
July 5, 2014: Friendly: Cliftonville 0-1 The New Saints
July 8, 2014: Friendly: Cliftonville 0-1 The New Saints
August 1, 2015: Friendly: The New Saints 0-0 Cliftonville
June 24, 2016: Friendly: Cliftonville 1-0 Connah’s Quay Nomads (Daniel Hughes)
July 15, 2017: Friendly: Cliftonville 2-1 Swansea City (Jay Donnelly, Garry Breen)