Just over a fortnight remains until Cliftonville face FC Nordsjælland in the first leg of our Europa League First Qualifying Round tie – and the Red Army are looking forward to welcoming our Danish visitors to Solitude.
Supporters travelling from Farum are guaranteed a traditionally warm greeting at the home of Ireland’s Oldest Football Club, who are pleased to do everything possible to make their visit to Belfast as enjoyable and memorable as we can (on the strict understanding that such hospitality may not necessarily extend to the pitch on July 12) and present a brief guide to everything you need to know about your upcoming trip.
Ireland’s Oldest Football Club, Cliftonville were founded on September 20, 1879 and the upcoming fixtures with Nordsjælland will raise the curtain on our milestone 140th season. As you can imagine, ours is a story rich in drama, intrigue and innovation and, though the Club History section of our website remains under construction, you can cast your eye over some of our landmark moments by clicking here.
After suffering defeat in the Irish Cup Final, Cliftonville qualified for the Europa League via the European Play-Offs. Having finished fifth in the Danske Bank Premiership (yes, that really is the name of our League), the Reds defeated Ballymena United 4-0 in the Semi Finals before recording a dramatic 3-2 win over Glentoran to secure our place in the First Qualifying Round draw.
One of the oldest football grounds in the world, Solitude was officially opened in 1890 and has played host to a number of sporting firsts in the 128 years since. The first ever penalty kick in international football was taken (and missed!) at Solitude, which was home to the Ireland teams of the 1890s and 1900s.
Though Cliftonville have faced opposition from Denmark before, none of the games were played at Solitude. In 1996, our one-off InterToto Cup fixture with Aalborg took place at Aalborg Stadion while, in 2008, redevelopment work at Solitude saw the first leg of our UEFA Cup tie against FC Copenhagen staged at Mourneview Park in Lurgan (home of Glenavon FC) – meaning that Nordsjælland will be our first ever Danish guests.
This will be Cliftonville’s 13th appearance in European competition and, though our first came in a Cup Winners’ Cup fixture against FC Nantes of France in 1879 (coincidentally played on our 100th birthday), it was not until as recently as 2007 that we enjoyed our first win in Europe, when FC Dinaburg of Latvia were eliminated from the InterToto Cup. Since then, we have recorded Europa League progress against HNK Cibalia (Croatia) and FC Differdange (Luxembourg), as well as earning a first leg win over Kalmar (Sweden) en route to exiting the tournament in 2012 – with further details of our Euro record available here.
Though we would usually direct visiting supporters towards this guide to finding Solitude, Nordsjælland fans are advised that July 12 is a public holiday in Belfast and that bus timetables are subject to significant change. Cliftonville FC Partners fonaCAB will, however, be pleased to provide a taxi service at an affordable price.
Any Nordsjælland fans who require additional information are welcome to email Cliftonville’s Supporters Liaison Officer, Michael Hegney, at firstname.lastname@example.org, while anyone who has any questions about Belfast, hotel reservations and the easiest way to find Solitude can contact email@example.com with any queries you may have about your upcoming visit to our city.