University College Dublin, or UCD as they are more commonly known were formed as the Catholic University Medical School Football Club in 1895.
The team started off playing games against other universities and became founder members of the Leinster Junior League in 1896. In 1908 the club became UCD when the new university annexed the medical school.
In 1922 the club were invited to join the League of Ireland, but they had to decline owing the academic term not beginning until October. From the 1930's UCD competed in the FAI Cup.
In the 1970's 'The Students' embarked on some landmark tours overseas and in 1979 they became members of the League of Ireland when they replaced Cork Celtic who were suffering financially.
The side initially struggled but things changed from 1983 when the club became semi professional and players from outside the university were permitted to play for the club. In 1984 UCD lifted the FAI Cup, defeating Shamrock Rovers after a replay. This led to football in the European Cup Winners Cup, where they draw gave them a dream match up against Everton.
Over 9,000 fans packed into Tolka Park to see a superb performance in a scoreless draw. In the second leg at Goodison Park a solitary Graham Sharp goal sent the Merseysiders through in a competition they went on to win. Late on in the game UCD's Joe Hanrahan skimmed the crossbar. If the effort had gone in the Students would have gone through on away goals.
'College' finished fourth in the league but had to release several players owing to financial difficulties. The team were relegated in 1986 and didn't return to the Premier Division until 1995.
In 2000 a late league run saw UCD qualifying for the Intertoto Cup. They were pitched against the Bulgarian side PFC Velbazhd Kyustendil and drew the first leg 3-3 at their home Belfield Park home before bowing out on away goals after drawing 0-0 in the away leg.
In 2003 another relegation was suffered but the side were promoted at the first time of asking, but they their top flight term lasted just four years. By the time UCD were back in the Premier League they had moved to the UCD Bowl under the management of former Manchester United, Leicester City, Scarborough, Middlesbrough and Portadown star Martin Russell.
The club also introduced a highly praised scholarship scheme which allows students to combine football with the opportunity to earn a university degree.
In the 2013 season, UCD will play in the League of Ireland Premier Division.
Thursday 14th October 2010
I was in Dublin to see some football and visit stadium while enjoying the exceptional hospitality.
A few weeks earlier I managed to find the email address of the UCD manager Martin Russell. He was a hero of mine from his days at Scarborough FC, with his greatest moment probably coming when his winning penalty knocked Chelsea out of the League Cup. I had contacted him to see if it would be possible for me to have a look inside the UCD Bowl and catch up so I could do an interview for the Scarborough Athletic fanzine, Abandon Chip.
Martin was kind enough to send me his mobile number and told me to give him a shout on arrival on the Wednesday night. He told me to pop along to the Belfield Campus at lunchtime the following day.
I went on a tour of the newly completed Aviva Stadium and then decided to have a walk down to the university. I passed the RDS Showground which had been a temporary home for Shamrock Rovers and held a couple of recent international matches as well as Donnybrook rugby stadium before trekking down Stillorgan Road. It was a lot further than I thought, but I arrived just about on time.
|The legend, Martin Russell becomes a joint owner |
of Scarborough Athletic FC.
Martin gave me directions to the canteen in the University Sports Centre. I walked through the vast campus and eventually found my way to my destination. The facilities for everything were really outstanding.
I sat in the canteen and before long Martin joined me for a lovely chat over a cuppa. It makes it so nice when a hero turns out to be an absolute gent as well. This was certainly the case on this occasion. I had let Martin know about the death of his old club and the birth and development of Scarborough Athletic. He joined up as a new member, which was greatly appreciated. He gave up his time to patiently answer questions for an interview and then gave me the lowdown on his role and the club. He was filled with a lot of pride when I mentioned that I had read that his son had made his UCD debut.
He then took me past the huge training fields round to The Bowl. It was a fine venue with grass banking shielding it in from any winds with a cantilever stand on one side. It was shared for matches with the University Rugby Club. It was as well Martin did meet me as the ground was locked and I doubt if I would have been able to find it anyway!
I thanked my hero for his time and tour and apologised that I wouldn't be attending his teams' match against Dundalk as I wanted to go to the Bohemian versus Sligo Rovers FAI Cup semi final as I figured that Dalymount Park's days may have been numbered.
I went back out onto the main road and took a bus back into the city before heading off to discover a couple more venues so that I could build up a thirst for that evenings festivities. Any old excuse!