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Saturday Stepback: 1906

Though the 2019/20 season was scheduled to have concluded by now, we are nevertheless continuing to fill the void left by Cliftonville-free Saturdays with the latest chapter of our weekly series transporting us back to a game played on this day in yesteryear.

Thanks to the help of the Club’s Heritage Development Officer, Paul Treanor, every Saturday during football’s downtime, will revisit a match from the past via the medium of contemporary newspaper reports – with today’s spotlight falling on a significant 1906 clash with Distillery.

With the teams having finished level at the top of the Irish League table (and goal difference, which would have favoured the Reds, not yet introduced as a means of classification), a Play-Off – or ‘Test’ – match was arranged to determine the Champions.

It, however, finished goalless, meaning a second title shoot-out was required…

Replayed League Test Match

These teams met at Grosvenor Park in their replayed League test match.

The winners of the match become League champions for the season and the game has created much interest, with the resuly that there was a large attendance of spectators. The following players lined up under the charge of Mr Deane, Dalkeith:-

Distillery – Whitton; Watson and McMillan; J Hunter, Hamilton and Ferguson; A Hunter, Hall, McAlpine, Burnison and Donnelly.

Cliftonville – McKee; Seymour and McIlroy; Wright, Martin and McClure; Blair, Robertson, Waddell, Beattie and Thompson.

Having lost the toss, Distillery started operations but Cliftonville soon settled down. The forwards got off in a bunch and Waddell, taking a pass from the left, sent the ball into the net.

The Whites retaliated and Andy Hunter tried hard to secure the equaliser, but without success.

After a spell of midfield play the Reds visited Whitton, who was called upon to negotiate a number of difficult shots.

Cliftonville for a time had the better of the exchanges, but at length Hunter got off and sent over a good shot. McKee was beaten all the way and only the timely intervention of Seymour saved the goal from downfall.

The Whites gradually asserted themselves and Hunter troubled McKee with a number of ticklish shots but Cliftonville were not long in reasserting themselves. But weakness in front of goal lost them several good chances of adding to their score.

On the other hand Distillery, chiefly through the agency of the right wing, put in repeated strong attacks. There was, however, no further scoring up to the interval and the teams crossed over with the score-

Cliftonville……….1 goal.

Distillery resumed minutes McMillen, who in the first period had shown signs of lameness.

The Reds at once pressed and Waddell just grazed the bar with a good shot.

A minute later, from a pass by Thompson, a swift shot was sent in by Robertson which Whitton deftly turned aside.

Distillery kept pegging away and at last their efforts were rewarded, Donnelly sending the leather home amid cheers.

Matters for a time were all in favour of the Whites but the Reds kept them at bay.

A mistake by McIlroy gave McAlpine an opening, from which he added a second goal for Distillery.

Cliftonville played up strongly and, after a spell of attacking, Robertson got through and equalised.

The concluding stages were evenly contested but neither team secured the lead. Result-

Cliftonville……….2 goals.
Distillery…………..2 goals.