Though Saturday’s inaugural meeting will see Rathfriland Rangers become the 154th different team Cliftonville have faced in competitive action, the Clubs actually have more in common than might be immediately obvious.
The Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Sixth Round tie will not only pit former team-mates against one another on the sidelines, it will also herald the return of a former Reds striker as well as a player whose very name still strikes fear into the hearts of the Solitude faithful.
Of all the connections between Cliftonville and the Northern Amateur Premier Division side, the oldest harks back 30 years.
Stanley Weir – brother of Rathfriland Secretary, Trevor – scored two goals in seven appearances for the Reds between April and November 1990, while Manager Aaron Black played alongside Paddy McLaughlin at Coleraine and was also part of the Crusaders team that defeated the Reds in the 2009 Irish Cup Final – before being one of five players sent off in the infamous festive derby at Seaview later that same year!
His team, meanwhile, boasts a number of names familiar to Cliftonville, none more so than Peter Telford (below), who found the net four times in 20 outings for the Club in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons.
Fellow veteran Stephen Hughes is the older brother of ex-Reds striker Daniel, while even midfielder Andy Kilmartin carries an admittedly tenuous link to Cliftonville – who were one of four Clubs awarded and subsequently deducted three points when Glentoran were incorrectly sanctioned for failing to register him properly back in 2002.
It is, however, goalkeeper Jonny Parr (below) who carries perhaps the most ominous association of all, for it was he who saved two penalties when Warrenpoint Town famously dispatched the Reds from the Irish Cup in a Fifth Round shoot-out nine years ago.
He likewise made two spot-kick stops when Rathfriland got the better of Dungannon Swifts Reserves in last month’s Bob Radcliffe Cup Final, which Cliftonville fans will hope is not a forewarning of things to come as they continue their countdown to kick-off in Saturday’s clash.