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THE FOOTBALL MEMORIES

[for a brief version - click here]

The V.E.C. football club was founded in April 1974 by members of the administrative staff working in the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. In May 1974, following five friendly matches, the club purchased its first set of jerseys for 25 and in June applied to the United Churches Football League of Ireland and was immediately accepted for the top division. In those days the League was quite small and confined with only two divisions. When it was decided to open up the League to any suitable club, the first two to enter were V.E.C. and D.S.B.

Then on the 7th September 1974, the club played its first official game. It was a Barton Shield match played in Terenure against St. Maelruan's from Tallaght, and unfortunately the game was lost 1-3. The first league match was played on the 5th October 1974 in Terenure against St. Canice's United and that game was lost 2-5 with Canice's going on to win the league. The following week, we had our first win. It was a Leinster Junior Cup match in the Phoenix Park against Cashel Rangers. We won 3-1 and John Loughman scored a hat-trick. A week later we secured our first league point against Harding in a 2-2 draw and then on the 26th October we achieved our first league win. It was in the VEC Sportsgrounds in Terenure: it was 4-1: and it was against St. Mary's. Our final game of our first season was also against St. Mary's, played in Terenure; the goal-keeper was unable to travel because of the petrol situation, but we drew 3-3 and Dave Spring managed a hat-trick with three headed goals!

In our second season, we surpassed all expectations in reaching the final of the League's major challenge cup - the Elvery Cup. Having beaten the eventual league champions, St.Canice's United in the quarter final with goals from Dave Spring and Ken Ryan (2); and St. Mary's with the same score of 3-2 (after extra time) in the semi-final with goals from Dave Hughes and Pat Gleeson (2), we played Dublin University (later to become Trinity Corinthians) in their own back yard in Santry on the 22nd May 1976 and despite leading by a Ken Ryan goal at half-time, Dublin University's tactical changes brought them two goals late in the game to win a very memorable match.

It was three years later when we reached our next final: this time in the Barton Shield when we beat Dublin Savings Bank on penalties.

In the 1980's, the club reached seven finals, winning the Elvery Cup in 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1988 and losing in 1987. In addition, we won the Barton Shield again in 1988 having lost the 1982 final. In the same period, we were runners-up in the Premier Division of the League on four occasions - 1981, 1987, 1988 and 1989. Unfortunately we never got our hands on the title.

V.E.C. has always had a team in the U.C.L.'s top flight, except in the 1982/83 season, when the club entered its first team in the Major section of the Leinster Senior League. The club's second team with Dave Spring as player/manager - although wanting to stay in the U.C.L.'s top flight - were assigned by the League to the old second division, and won the league title after a play-off game against Harcourt Rovers. Remarkably, this was the only team over the first 34 years to have won a league and it was this same (second) team which went on to beat St. Mary's in the Elvery Cup Final at Tolka Park in 1984 with goals from Joe O'Hanlon (later to become a top class referee in the UCFL and the AUL) and Noel Ryan.

For four seasons, the first team had played in the Leinster Senior League, achieving promotion in 1983/84. Returning to U.C.F.L. in 1986, V.E.C. had one of its most successful seasons, and while only finishing runners-up in both the premier division and the Elvery Cup, a wonderful run in the F.A.I. Junior Cup saw the club reach the 6th round, only to be knocked out by top A.U.L. side Glenmore Celtic. Two seasons later, another great season and a brilliant run in the same competition, saw the club win its 5th round game against Beggsboro (who were runners-up in the previous year's final), before losing out 3-0 in the 6th round to the top junior side in the country at the time, Tolka Rovers, who went on to win the trophy.

It was 1993 before the club reached its next final. Having being consigned to the history books as the last winners of the Elvery Cup in 1988, we became the fifth winners of the new challenge cup, the Prudential Life Cup on the 22nd April 1993 when we beat Dublin University (later to become Trinity Corinthians) on penalties in Tolka Park. That same season, the second team - operating in division 2 - lost the Byrne Shield Final to Stedfast who had two current league players in their team!

The following season, we entered our third team in division 3 of the Leinster Senior League. This was the first and only time that we played in a Sunday league and while it proved to be very enjoyable, there were some logistical problems, like getting players up early on a Sunday morning!

It was quite extraordinary when the second team and the third team were drawn to play each other in the quarter final of the Leslie Reynolds Cup in 1995. On an eventful Saturday - ironically on the 1st April - in Whitehall with more than fifty interested spectators, in what was a very exciting game, it took just one sweet strike from player/manager Dermot Sharkey mid way through the second half to secure the win for the seconds over Robbie Ebbs's very valiant third-team squad.

In the 1996/97 season, the three V.E.C. teams were top of their respective divisions - Premier, Division 2A and Division 3A - in March. Unfortunately, the first and the third teams faltered somewhat, but the seconds had an epic battle for the league title with the result only being decided in the last game of the season at home to Clontarf Athletic. In a truly marvellous game that could have gone either way, Clontarf came from behind to win the game and the league in the final moments after an epic 4-3 encounter. A notable achievement was John Griffith scoring in 7 consecutive games between January and March 1997.

In June 1998, the second team met Balally Celtic in the Shield Final in the A.U.L. Complex. Despite a brave showing in the torrential rain, unfortunately we lost 2-0 to a stronger team who had just secured promotion to the top division. A remarkable achievement that season was David Spring playing 28 games (both for the 1sts and 2nds) and scoring 5 goals - at the age of 46!

Then it happened again! This time in the challenge cup ( Progressive Cup) - match on the 19th December 1998, the first team beat the second team by 3 goals to 2 after another memorable match played in a truly sporting spirit. With John Griffith on form scoring two goals for the seconds, the first team took some time to settle before Garrett Brennan responded with two goals and Noel Ryan with one. Unfortunately in April 1999 - in our Jubilee year - the team lost out at the semi-final stage on penalties to Strand United, when a win seemed to be on the cards right up to the 90th minute.

November 1999: Brian Ward was on the UCFL team that lost 0-2 to the Kildare League in the Oscar Traynor Trophy.

In May 2002, nine years since our previous appearance in the U.C.L's. 'blue-ribboned' final, we played Trinity Corinthians in the Irish Life Challenge Cup Final in Tolka Park on 11th May, hoping to win our sixth premier cup. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Despite a brave performance, we lost 2-0 to an excellent Trinity team who had two Junior Internationals in their side: Aaron Shearer and David Battigan. Interestingly, along the way - in the second round - the first team had to dispose of the second team once again, winning comfortably 6-2 with goals from Peter Bull, Eamon Kirk, Paul Little, Brian Ward, Derek O'Neill and Captain Glenn Morrissey. Conor MacArtain and Paul Hutchinson responded for the 2nds. It was a honour for our Club that our Hon. Secretary Seamus Doherty joined the Executive Committee of the United Churches Football League.

2003-2004: Unusually, the leading goal-scorer played for the 3rd team - Brian Feehan - scoring 17 playing goals . Goalkeeper Marty Mannion, Andy Byrne and Simon Roche joined the first team, while Anto O'Callaghan left to concentrate on his studies, Andy Soye headed off to Oz, Dave Collins played his last game after a nasty knee injury, and John Duffy and Mark Noonan left. We lifted the Willie Kissane Memorial Boot for the first time since the competition was re-vamped into an 8-team tournament, beating Templeogue Utd. in the semi-final and Knocklyon Utd. 2-0 in the final.

2004-2005: Well what a season! Our first trophies in 12 years with each of our 3 teams taking silverware under the guidance of Dave Spring, Fergal Nolan and Karl McCafferty respectively. A club record broken for the most goals scored in a season with Joey Byrne, scoring 36 goals in 36 games. His co-striker Brian Ward's 26 goals was also amazing. Reaching the 6th round of the FAI Junior Cup, winning the Premier Shield, 2nd division shield and runners up in the Richard Knight final. Another 1st for the club was the UCFL's Merit award received by the 3rd team, for their performance on and off the field, a very notable trophy for the club to be awarded. This award was run on a points system where the team that had a good disciplinary record (minimum yellow and red cards), pitches and kits in order, good referees reports etc. was awarded this trophy along with a football kit for the club. The firsts won the shield final 3-2 against Clontarf Athletic while the 2nd division shield was won by defeating runners up in the league Rail PSV 2-1 in the final. Web site www.vecfc.ie developed by Neil Spring was launched.

2005-2006: The club record for scoring in consecutive games was broken by Joey Byrne during the season - he scored in 9 consecutive games. The previous best was scoring in 7 consecutive games by Ken Ryan in 1980/81 and John Griffith in 1996/97. We reached the 6th round of the Leinster Junior Cup before losing only 1-0 on a Sunday to arguably the best Junior soccer club in the country at the time Killester Utd. who went on to win the Trophy. We also should and could have taken runners-up spot in the Premier Division, had we beaten Clontarf Ath. in the last game! Our league form was consistent and we ended up third, losing twice to Trinity and once to Clontarf Ath. and to Ailesbury FC. Stumpy's second team finished third in Division 2 of the league. First team players Tom Kerwick and Derek Glennon retired. One new player to make the first team was Cormac 'Rav' Jennings, while others returned such as Simon Roche, Jonathan McClean, John Duffy, Cian Allen and Stephen Van Loon.

2006-2007: Three notable players from the previous season were not involved: Glenn Morrissey and Shane Spring through injury; and Simon Roche who moved on to play Intermediate football. The Club is very proud that Paul Hutchinson was selected as the UCFL Manager for the year and he asked Dave Spring - who was still VEC's first team manager - to assist him. Considering that this was Hutch's first year, it was very successful, as the league team qualified for the knock-out stages of the Oscar Treanor Trophy, before losing out to the eventual winners AFL in the quarter-final. It was an honour too for Paul O'Sullivan who played in all the competitive games for the league team, and to Joey Byrne, Anthony Dunne and Peter Morrissey who were also selected, as were the Doherty brothers Dara and Marc in the final game of the season for the league team, against the Northern Amateur League.

2007-2008: The first team played an amazing 13 cup games - actually losing only 1 of them - to Fairview CYM in the FAI Junior Cup, but being knocked out on penalties in the other 3 cup competitions - firstly to Forth Celtic in Wexford in the last 16 of the Leinster Junior Cup; then in the semi-final of the UCL Challenge Cup to Sportslink FC and finally to Brayzil 2nds in the Richard Knight Cup. The second team reaching the final of their Shield was notable - but unfortunately they lost on the day to Terenure FC. Darragh McGinley, Mick Keating, Marc Doherty, Nicky Perry, Rory O'Dwyer joined the Club and played for the first team, while the 1st team lost Andy Soye and goalkeeper Dave Carroll due to injury; Joe O'Connell returned to Mayo; and Paddy Flanagan returned to Eindhoven. Paul Hutchinson was re-selected as the UCFL Manager for a second year. Dave Spring assisted Hutch once again. It was an honour too for VEC club members Paul O'Sullivan, Joey Byrne, Darragh McGinley and Mark Doherty who were selected to represent the league team during the season.

2008-2009: At last! In our 35th season, with Dave Spring and Noel Ryan at the helm, we won the Premier Division title. Having beaten UCFL 'kingpins' Trinity Corinthians in the league for the first time in Santry early in the season, it came down to the final premier league game of the season, when VEC had to beat Trinity in Terenure to win the title. From being a goal down after 50 minutes, Brian Ward (x2) and Simon Roche got the important goals, ensuring that we pipped Trinity (who had won the title on 7 occasions in the previous 10 years) by 1 point to complete a remarkable season. [Team] Unfortunately, for the second year in succession, we exited the Challenge Cup at the semi-final stage, when we lost 0-3 to Terenure FC. Although Joey Byrne suffered a bad injury in September, keeping him out of action for 6 months, and Dara Doherty left in January to work in Norway, Simon Roche's and Rav's return from travels added greatly to the squad, as did appearances from Hygo Cesar (from Brazil) in the latter stages of the season.

Our Chairman Dave Spring was invited by the F.A.I. to participate on the F.A.I. Appeals Panel and has been actively involved ever since.

2009-2010: Having won the Premier Division title last season, it was not going to be easy to retain it – and so it proved!  Beating both Trinity Corinthians and the new champions Orchard Celtic 3-0 in Terenure, and Sportslink and Brayzil away certainly helped: however, dropping points to some of the lower teams diminished our chances of retaining the title, and Orchard pushed on losing only that league game, to top the Premier Division.  We eventually finished a very credible third, just three points behind Sportslink FC. – but it could have been better! The second and third teams finished 4th and 3rd respectively in Division 2 and 3B, with Paul Hutchinson adding huge experience to the third team's midfield at the grand old age of 50! Some of the new players signed: Robbie McGrane; Gerard Dunne; Stephen Kiely; Desar Hysa (Albania); Azat Nipsisian (Armenia); Jacek Iwanek (Poland); Joe Mrema (Nigeria); Stephen Quin (son of former VEC great, Pat Quin). Nicky Perry returned to his homeland in Scotland.  Hygo Cesar (Brazil) did not re-sign, going on to play Futsal with Sporting Fingal who as Champions, went further in the UEFA Futsal Cup than any other Irish side before them.

Remarkably, no VEC players were selected by the new UCFL manager to represent the league team during the season, despite VEC winning the Premier Division in the previous season!

2010-2011: Having been knocked out of the Challenge Cup at the semi-final stage twice in the previous three seasons, we won the Cup (now sponsored by Nivea-for-Men) on a wet evening in Home Farm's ground in Whitehall, beating our old rivals Stedfast Utd. 2-0 with goals from Joey Byrne and Brian Ward. This was Dave Spring's 6th Challenge Cup medal, although this time only as manager! Goalkeeper Darragh McGinley deservedly won the Man-of-the-Match award and later Player-of-the-Year award. This followed our Shield Final win against Clontarf Athletic on the previous Monday, when we won 1-0 after extra time. We also won the Willie Kissane Trophy for the first time in five years, when we beat Leicester Celtic 7-6 on penalties in August 2010, after the final had finished at 1-1.  The 2nd and 3rd teams - managed by Dave Carroll (Jayo) and Julien Dingle respectively - also had great seasons, both finishing runners-up in Divisions 2 and 3A. Anthony Dunne was selected and played for the UCFL league team which was well deserved and he did the Club proud. Darragh McGinley was also in the squad. Dave Fox (son of former VEC defender – also Dave) was the second team's Player-of-the-Year and scored 11 goals in this his first season with the Club, making him the 2nd team leading scorer.

The 3rds also had a great run in the Leinster Junior Shield, eventually missing out on a quarter-final spot (in a game they should have won) to Banagher Utd. from Offaly. Some of the new players signed: Tom Delaney (Wexford); Seán Kerr (Down); Patrick Meghan (Tipperary); Ian O’Neill; Ron Doyle; Dave Fox; Simon Hughes; Darragh Murphy.  Brian Quinn retired.

Summer 2011 and Urbana University in Ohio in the USA announced 4 international signings, focusing first on the keeper position.  The Blue Knights' 2010 starting goalkeepers are not returning in 2011, leaving an immediate need at the position. "This left us with a huge hole to fill in 2011," explained coach Roberts.  "The need to find two quality goalkeepers became our biggest priority.  Thankfully, we have just completed signing a very talented goalkeeper from Dublin, Ireland.  Darragh McGinley, a 6'1 goalkeeper, is a graduate student from the Institute of Art and Design in Dublin.  McGinley provides another credible and talented player to the Blue Knights' roster in 2011-12".

"McGinley is an accomplished goalkeeper and a great addition to our University and team," said Roberts. McGinley was signed from VEC FC in Dublin, Ireland.

In January 2012, Andy Myler came out of retirement and signed with VEC FC. He retired from Bray Wanderers at the end of the 2008 season having scored a total of 133 League of Ireland career goals. He began his professional career at UCD. He also played for Newry Town, Monaghan United, Athlone Town, Waterford United, Drogheda United and Longford Town, before he was signed by Shamrock Rovers in July 2006, where he scored 20 goals in his two seasons there. He made his debut on 14th January in the UCFL's Premier Division game against Strand Utd. in VEC Terenure.

They say that everyone has a book in them. Well Paul Hutchinson - long-time member of VEC FC sat down and put pen to paper publishing his own book in September 2012.
See The Soccer Hutch.

Then in 2012-2013, VEC 1sts received the very notable UCFL's Merit award for their performance on and off the field.  It was a nice surprise for another VEC team (VEC 2nds) to receive this award the following season (2013-2014) – completing the treble – as VEC 3rds had won it in 2005.

In May 2014, for the first time in our 23 years of trying, VEC 3rds won the Sidney Bedlow Cup on a memorable evening in our own grounds beating Riverside Utd. 8-7 on penalties after both sides had finished 2-2 after extra time.  John Dingle was the manager. It was our 40th season. It was 5 years after winning the Premier Division title and we nearly did it again. VEC 1sts achieved runners-up spot to old rivals Clontarf Athletic and obviously stayed in the premier/top UCFL Division for the 40th consecutive season – a remarkable feat in itself.

In May 2014, having reached the sem-final stage of both the UCFL Challenge Cup and the Richard Knight Cup, we lost out in both to the new Premier Division champions FC Sportslink Ailesbury - losing the first on penalties. To compound matters, we also lost out on penalties to San Marino FC at the quarter-final stage of the Premier Shield.  So near and yet so far!

After 21 consecutive years, unfortunately the 3rd team disbanded before the start of the season, due to shortage of numbers.  In effect, the 2nds and 3rds from the previous season amalgamated.

Having finished the previous season very strongly with 7 goals in the final 5 games, Aidan Hyland scored 12 goals in his first 7 games of this season (including a remarkable 5 goals* in August against Arthur Griffith Park FC), thus scoring in 12 consecutive games and smashing the previous record of scoring in 9 consecutive games set by Joey Byrne in 2005-2006. *John Gleeson scoring six goals in a cup game in the Phoenix Park in 1980 is still a Club record.

On the social side, there was a special function to celebrate our 40th season.  Our very successful 40th Anniversary B-B-Q was held in the Morrison Hotel on Ormond Quay on 11th October 2014 and there were nearly 80 in attendance. Our guests included the current Chairman of the UCFL Barney Blood and Barney’s brother – a good friend to the Club over many years and a former President of the Football Association of Ireland – David Blood.  Our Groundsman Nicky Fanning couldn’t make it but his assistant Ken Carpenter did. The Chief Executive of the Football Association of Ireland John Delaney graciously accepted our invitation and attended together with his partner and friends.

The 2015-2016 season surpassed everything VEC ever achieved in any one season! Reaching the 5th Round of the FAI Junior Cup where we met one of the favourites (and subsequently losing finalists) Pike Rovers in Limerick was an achievement, but although we gave a good account of ourselves, we eventually succumbed to a 2-0 loss. Having won the Premier Division (Barton) Shield on the May Bank-holiday Monday by beating AGP FC 4-3 on penalties, we then added the UCFL Challenge Cup by beating South William Street Celtic 4-1 on Saturday 21st May in Home Farm and then the Richard Knight Cup by beating FC Sportslink Ailesbury 5-1 0n 31st May. On top of all that, we clinched the Premier Division title for only the second time in our 42 years. Joint-managers Dave Spring and Kevin O'Hanlon were at the helm for this remarkable and historic season.

And now in the 2016-2017 season, we have won our first 7 league games, ensuring that both VEC teams top their respective league tables going into the Christmas break, as VEC 2nds remain unbeaten in Division 2 after 14 games. Unfortunately we have been knocked out of the Challenge Cup in the second round to AGP FC. However, having reached the 6th Round of the FAI Junior Cup on three previous occasions, we have this season, for the first time in the Club's history, reached the last-16. [In 1987 we lost to top AUL outfit Glenmore Celtic; in 1989 having received a bye in the first round, we beat Greystones, Chapelizod, Ashbourne and the previous season's runners-up Beggsboro, before losing to the holders and eventual winners Tolka Rovers. In 2005 having received a bye in the first round, we beat St. Mochtas, Whitehall Rangers, Workmans Dunlaoire and Maymount Celtic (from Cork) before losing 0-1 to top Tipperary outfit Peakevilla]. This season - again having received a bye in round 1 - we beat Inchicore Athletic 3-1, Sacred Heart 2-0, Columbas Rovers 3-1, Clara Town 4-0 and Buttevant AFC 2-0. Unfortunately we lost 2-0 to Boyle Celtic away on 5th February, to end a magnificent run in this prestigious cup.