Though players moving directly between Cliftonville and Crusaders is a rare phenomenon, Rory Hale is by no means the first to cross the North Belfast Derby divide.
On the day the Clubs should have locked horns in the traditional St Stephen’s Day dust-up, cliftonvillefc.net reflects on the facts and figures behind some of the names who made the short journey between Solitude and Seaview.
Gold Cup winner Ronnie McAteer swapped Red & Black for Red & White in 1979, scoring 10 goals in 35 appearances, and helped Cliftonville secure the Gold Cup for the first time in 48 years when Linfield were beaten 3-1 in the 1980 Final.
Players who made direct derby moves
Fellow Gold Cup winner Albert Holden, meanwhile, played for the Reds either side of stints with Crusaders. On the books at Solitude from 1977 until 1984, he swapped BT14 for BT15 before returning to Solitude in 1987, staying for a further three years and bringing his overall stats up to 40 goals in 188 outings.
In 2001, defender Ciaran Donaghy – whose father Mal was Laurence Stitt’s Assistant Manager at Cliftonville – joined from the Crues and stayed for two seasons. Spells with Ballymena United and Donegal Celtic would follow before Donaghy rejoined the Reds for a further five-years between 2008-13, departing with seven goals in 188 games.
Winger Martin Donnelly, meanwhile, scored 35 times in 278 appearances for the Reds after moving from Seaview in 2011 and, though he would depart with two Danske Bank Premiership medals to his name, his Cliftonville team-mate Diarmuid O’Carroll doubled that tally when (after 14 goals in 91 games between 2011-14) he plundered a further two Gibson Cup crowns on the other side of North Belfast.
Players who played for both Clubs
A number of players have, of course, represented both Cliftonville and Crusaders without making the move directly from one Club to the other.
The likes of John Flanagan, Jackie Fullerton, David McAlinden, Mark O’Neill, Ian Hill, Michael Collins, Peter Withnell, Kevin McKeown, Roddy Collins, Vincent Sweeney and Anthony Crawford did just that – as indeed did a certain Danny Hale.
After finding the net 20 times in 52 appearances (one of which saw him fill in as goalkeeper due to an injury) for the Reds from 1959-1961, Rory’s grandfather spent a year with Glentoran before arriving at Seaview, where he would score 143 goals in just four seasons.