History

Football in Loughgall dates back to the late 1800s, but the establishment of the club, as we know it today, began in the late ’60s. Loughgall FC entered, and won at the first time of asking, the Greystone (Co Tyrone) Summer League. In the years that followed Loughgall FC completely dominated both the Armagh (Lonsdale) and Tyrone (Greystone) leagues, winning virtually everything they entered.

During the early 70s Loughgall FC applied for and joined the Mid Ulster League Second Division, taking runners-up spot in the Championship and winning the competitive Foster Cup in their first season (1973). This was to be the start of the virtual monopoly of the Mid Ulster League as the team was promoted to the First Division and went on to win the Championship title on four successive seasons between 1976 and 1980.

The early 80s were lean years in terms of on the field success, as the development of facilities became a priority. Premises were acquired in 1979 and following extensive refurbishment, the Clubhouse and the new pitch were opened in August 1981. In May 1987 those Clubrooms were destroyed by an IRA bomb attack on the nearby RUC Station, however Loughgall FC officials and the local business community pulled together and in October 1988 new purpose built Clubrooms were opened. With these superb new facilities in place it was time to build a team capable of winning silverware, and following the appointment of Alfie Wylie in 1986, Loughgall FC joined the Mid Ulster Intermediate League. Wylie brought in new faces and with them success, leading the team to runners up spot in their inaugural season, achieving League and Cup double in 1988/89, winning the Premier Cup in 89/90 and landing the Bass Bowl in 90/91.

With the team so successful and the excellent facilities at the club, it was decided to increase the pressure for membership of the Irish Football League ‘B’ Division Section 1. In 1991, following their twelfth successive bid, the Loughgall FC application was accepted, so adding another chapter in the club’s history.

The Loughgall FC achievements, since entering the ‘B’ Division, have been phenomenal finishing runners up in only their third season (93/94) and then in season 1994/95 becoming the first Mid Ulster side in over 40 years to win the Championship. That season saw Loughgall announce their Cup pedigree taking Linfield to the 119th minute of a replay before the teams could be seperated. Many thought the team could not sustain their rapid rise to fame but in 1995/96, defying all doubters and proving they were a real force in intermediate football, they successfully retained their hold on the Championship title. Then, with the Bob Radcliffe Memorial Trophy already sitting proudly in the Clubrooms, they went on to make it a hat trick of league successes in 1996/7, a feat only achieved once before. They also took the scalp of Cliftonville in the League Cup before going on to reach the Bass Irish Cup semi-final, ironically against Cliftonville after beating Coleraine FC away from home, in the quarter-final replay, along the way. The marvellous run continued as they made it ‘Four in a Row’ in terms of championship successes, creating a never to be beaten record, as well as lifting the coveted IFA Intermediate Cup, proving the pedigree of the Club and Management.

During this period of Irish League ‘B’ Division domination Loughgall FC have also continued to develop their Lakeview Park complex. With the help of £190,000 Sports Lottery funding from the NI Sports Council, a floodlit all-weather training area, covered and uncovered terracing, and floodlighting of the main playing area were all completed in 1996. In late 1999 new changing rooms, public toilet facilities, a viewing lounge and press box for local and national media use were built. When completed it will have brought the spending figure at Lakeview Park to well over £300,000.

With the partial break-up of the team, the club had, by their own very high standards, a disappointing season finishing fifth in the league in 1999, but with the prestigious Bob Radcliffe Cup in the trophy cabinet. At the end of the 1999 season Wylie resigned, bringing to an end his very successful twelve-year reign as manager of the Loughgall FC team.

The club moved quickly to appoint former Glenavon and Ballymena United manager Alan Frazer during the closed season, unfortunately he only remained in charge for two months before Bangor came knocking at the door at the end of September 1999. Loughgall FC were steadied through the announcement that a new management duo of Ronnie Cromie and Gary McCullough had been appointed to undertake the job.

In season 1999/2000, Loughgall FC retained the Bob Radcliffe Cup and also picked up the Windsor Cup, as runners-up in the 2nd Division of the Irish League. Under the new management team of Cromie and McCullough, Loughgall FC went on to finish third the following year and take the scalp of Coleraine after a penalty shootout in two highly entertaining Irish Cup games.

Season 2001/2002 saw the appointment of striker and former Glenavon reserves manager Jimmy Gardiner to the managers post with Gary McCullough remaining his assistant, after Cromie had moved on to Distillery. Loughgall invested heavily in youth with only three of the squad over 25. The twice postponed Bob Radcliffe Cup final was won in emphatic style with a 3-0 victory over Lurgan Celtic.

The following season Loughgall earned promotion to the First Division thanks to a seventh place finish. Along with this success the Villagers won the Bob Radcliffe Cup thanks to a strong second half performance to overturn a one goal deficit into a 2 – 1 victory over Coagh United.

Season 2003/04 was a glorious success for Loughgall with Jim Gardiner’s men winning the treble to earn promotion to the Premier League. To accompany the First Division title the Villagers were crowned Bob Radcliffe Cup champions after defeating near rivals Armagh City 2 – 0 in the Boxing Day Final. The third trophy was won when Premier Division outfit Newry Town were beaten on penalties in April. There was also success at reserve and under 18 level to bring a combined total of seven trophies back to Lakeview.

Loughgall’s first season with the elite saw them place twelfth out of sixteen teams saving them from relegation. The Villagers earned their first league win at home to Ballymena United when Ally Wilson’s strike from outside the penalty area found the bottom corner of the net. Loughgall were beaten in the final of the Mid – Ulster Cup by a strong Glenavon side in April.

The Villagers again won their fight with relegation as they improved on their previous position to finish eleventh. One of the highlights of the season was when Stevie Coulter earned Loughgall a draw at Windsor Park against Linfield to force a replay in the Irish Cup which the Blue won 3 – 1.

Season 2006/07 saw Loughgall crash out of the Premier Division finishing bottom of the table. This season also saw the departure of Jim Gardiner in November and then his predecessor Shane Reddish towards the latter stages of the season.

Loughgall regrouped under Niall Currie’s stewardship and began a spell of unparalleled success. The Villagers won a clean sweep of five trophies in 2007/08 – Championship league, Carnegie League Cup, Bob Radcliffe Cup, Mid-Ulster Cup, Intermediate Cup – before a credible 3rd place league finish the following season to accompany the Bob Radcliffe Cup trophy.

Season 2009/10 saw Loughgall win their second Championship title in three years as well as their third Bob Radcliffe Cup success in a row. The following season saw Niall Currie depart Lakeview Park as the Villagers struggled to a 10th place finish.

Colin Malone took over the Lakeview Park reigns in the summer of 2011 building a brand new side that has won Loughgall’s 11th Bob Radcliffe Cup during his two seasons in charge. His replacement Gary McKinstry spent five months in charge of Loughgall at the beginning of the 2013/14 season however he was forced to step down due to work commitments.

Ex-player Brian Adair returned to Lakeview Park as manager and began to overhaul the playing staff as he led Loughgall to an 8th place finish in the 2013/14 season.

healthlibr.com