Regular readers of our Matchday Magazine will know all the facts and figures behind each new week at Cliftonville Football Club, while our Twitter followers are regaled with daily delves into the archives – and today marks the anniversary of a poignant occasion at Solitude.
For it was on May 19, 1915, that the Club hosted Linfield in a Benefit Game for the family of Reds centre-half Stewart Melville, who was killed in a motor accident the previous month.
The 26-year-old – who lived in Ada Street in Belfast and was twice selected for the Irish Junior International Team – had been journeying to a dance in Bangor on the evening of April 5 when the car he and his friends were travelling in lurched suddenly, throwing Melville out of the vehicle. Contemporary newspaper reports record that “the occupants felt a bump and, when the car was pulled up – which was promptly done – the unfortunate young man was discovered lying unconscious on the road”.
He was then rushed to the home of a nearby doctor, who advised that he be taken to hospital but, despite the medical staff’s best efforts, Melville died of his injuries the following morning.
The Club sought to support his widow and three young children by hosting a game against Linfield on this date 108 years ago.
A “fairly large attendance” – understood to have been impacted by a downpour in the hour before kick-off – descended upon Solitude for the match which, despite the “Cliftonians having nearly as much of the play”, the Blues emerged on top by a 2-0 scoreline, courtesy of goals from Hamilton and Young.