A year to the day since Paddy McLaughlin signed a new contract as Cliftonville Manager, cliftonvillefc.net is pleased to invite supporters on a trip through the archives of all 28 full-time occupants, seven caretaker bosses and one man who took charge of the Reds on three separate occasions.
Though the title of ‘Manager’ did not enter the Club’s lexicon until 1938, the first man to assume the position of ‘Head Trainer’ was Hugh McAteer, who was appointed in 1897 and remained in situ for an incredible 33 years.
During his incumbency, and indeed the tenures of a number of subsequent Trainers and Coaches, it’s understood that the team was picked in collaboration with a Team Committee that endured right through to the late 1960s.
McAteer – who helped the Reds to their first outright title in 1910 after sharing the honour with Distillery in 1906 – was replaced by Scotsman James Sharp in 1930 but just a few months passed before the arrival of George Ferrett, who made way for Cliftonville’s first ever recognised Manager when former England right-half Len Oliver took charge at Solitude.
Mr Ferrett would return in 1930 and, following brief occupancies by Tommy Sloan, ex-Barnsley goalkeeper Jack Breedon and Tommy Edwards, was back for a third spell at the helm between 1949 until 1954, leaving the Reds for the final time shortly before his death early the following year.
Arthur Woodruff, the former Barnsley defender, took over from 1955-57 and, when he moved on to Tranmere Rovers, handed the reins over to Johnny Deakin.
In 1959, Ernie McCleary began his 17-month spell with a 2-2 draw against Coleraine, before Norman Kernaghan’s appointment in January 1961. Five years later, Coleraine also provided the opposition for Jackie Cumming’s managerial bow and, when he moved on in 1969, legendary goalscorer Dr Kevin McGarry took over.
The Manager’s ill health necessitated Kenny McKeague overseeing affairs for a number of months during McGarry’s five-year tenure before, in October 1974, the Club’s first ever recognised Caretaker Manager, Jim Rea, took charge of six consecutive defeats prior to Brian Halliday’s appointment. He would last for two seasons until the arrival of the great Jackie Hutton, who may only have been at the helm for a relatively short three years, but nevertheless oversaw a Solitude revolution that delivered County Antrim Shield success in addition to the Reds’ famous 1979 Irish Cup triumph.
Hutton’s resignation led to Jimmy Brown becoming the first Manager to lead Cliftonville into Europe as well as a Gold Cup triumph and, when he departed in March 1981, Ronnie McQuillan commenced his own three year stint in the Solitude dugout.
Billy Sinclair would take over in 1985 but, in between times, Freddie Jardine joined Albert Macklin in assuming the role on an interim basis, winning four and drawing two of their six games in charge.
Sinclair left following a Budweiser Cup quarter-final defeat to Ards in November 1992, with former Linfield defender Frankie Parkes next in line for the job.
Though frustrated in his attempts to end Cliftonville’s barren run without a trophy, Parkes is widely credited with raising standards throughout the Football Club and laid certain foundations that Marty Quinn – the assistant boss who replaced him in 1994, initially temporarily – built upon to deliver the Coca Cola Floodlit Cup (1996), County Antrim Shield (1997) and Premier League title in 1998.
When Quinn moved to Coleraine, his own assistant Rory O’Boyle oversaw two matches in a caretaker capacity before Laurence Stitt began a three-year run with an injury-time defeat at home to Glentoran.
Ex-Reds skipper Marty Tabb landed the job in 2002 and, though the team diced with relegation during his two seasons as boss, he was proud to deliver the Club’s first ever League Cup success on a memorable November night in 2003 prior to his resignation heralding the appointment of Liam Beckett. Just a year later, however, the Ballymoney man had stepped down to be replaced by his assistant Eddie Patterson who, like Quinn some 11 years earlier, was originally entrusted with the role on a caretaker basis.
Cliftonville’s first ever success in European competition would come under Patterson’s tutelage when FC Dinaburg of Latvia were dismissed from the 2007 InterToto Cup, however this was usurped by the Europa League defeat of Croatia’s HNK Cibalia at the start of a 2010/11 campaign that would end with another Assistant Manager, Tommy Breslin this time, stepping into the role.
Breslin’s official appointment was confirmed that summer to commence a residency that would deliver the most successful era in the history of the Club; back-to-back Premiership titles in 2012/13 and 2013/14 the obvious stand-out triumphs of a period when silverware was never in short supply in BT14.
Though Breslin would resign in September 2015, he returned for a two-match spell when his replacement, Gerard Lyttle, moved to Sligo Rovers less than two years later, with Mal Donaghy and George McMullan bridging a one-game gap in between.
The summer of 2017 saw Barry Gray appointed the 27th Manager (or associated title) in the history of Ireland’s Oldest Football Club, with former Cliftonville Olympic boss Michael Press overseeing one fixture prior to Paddy McLaughlin’s arrival in February 2019, since when the Reds have enjoyed County Antrim Shield and League Cup successes alongside three qualifications for European competition.
1897-1930: Hugh McAteer (Head Trainer)
1930-1931: James Sharp (Coach)
1931-1938: George Ferrett (Trainer-Coach)
1938-1939: Len Oliver
1939-1945: George Ferrett (Head Coach)
1945-1946: Tommy Sloan
1946-1947: Jack Breedon
1947-1949: Tommy Edwards
1949-1954: George Ferrett
1954-1957: Arthur Woodruff
1957-1959: Johnny Deakin
1959-1961: Ernie McCleary
1961-1966: Norman Kernaghan
1966-1969: Jackie Cummings
1969-1974: Kevin McGarry (replaced by Kenny McKeague during illness)
1974: Jim Rea (Caretaker)
1974-1976: Brian Halliday
1976-1979: Jackie Hutton
1979-1981: Jimmy Brown
1981-1984: Ronnie McQuillan
1984-1985: Freddie Jardine and Albert Macklin (Caretakers)
1985-1992: Billy Sinclair
1992-1994: Frankie Parkes
1994-1999: Marty Quinn
1999: Rory O’Boyle (Caretaker)
1999-2002: Laurence Stitt
2002-2004: Marty Tabb
2004-2005: Liam Beckett
2005-2011: Eddie Patterson
2011-2015: Tommy Breslin
2015-2017: Gerard Lyttle
2017: Mal Donaghy and George McMullan (Caretakers)
2017: Tommy Breslin (Caretaker)
2017-2019: Barry Gray
2019: Michael Press (Caretaker)
2019-Present: Paddy McLaughlin