History and Origins

History and Origins

In 1970 some local enthusiasts, prompted by Roy Tarbotton, thought that the Enniskillen Area needed another club to take its place alongside the Corinthians and Rangers.

Along with Joe Campbell and John McTernan they approached John Reihill of the County Bar and managed to persuade him to allow the club to use his premises as a base. Now that the HQ was established the inaugural meeting was held in June of that year and the newest club in Enniskillen was born. One of the first key decisions of the committee was to name the club and after considering Enniskillen Town and Enniskillen United, Kenny Breen suggested Enniskillen Town United as a compromise. Through the years however the club became known as simply “The Town”.

Of the original founders who formed the club it would be remiss of me not to mention the contribution of such people as the Campbell brothers, Phil Nolan, Sean Hoy, Michael Cassidy and our present day Secretary/Treasurer, Gerard Connolly. Without the blood, sweat and tears of these men “Town” may not have existed, certainly not as we know it now! Too great of praise cannot be bestowed upon these men and the young players coming through our ranks today owe a great deal of gratitude to these people just as much as the present day coaches.

The clubs’ first office bearers were, for the record, Roy Tarbotton (Chairman Treasurer) and Joe Campbell (Secretary). Committee members included Kenny Breen, Gerard Connolly and Tom Campbell. Their first official act was to make an application for entry into the Fermanagh & Western Football Association. On 02/07/1970 “Town” were accepted into Division 1 after the AGM of the Association. It must be noted that new teams usually take their place in the lower reaches of the leagues and this is still the norm today. Another first for “The Town”! The club then applied to use Celtic Park as its home pitch. Unfortunately at that time it wasn’t possible to secure possession immediately and the club were forced to use a pitch in Lisnarick for its earlier games.

So “Town” made its debut on 22/08/70 against Maguiresbridge under the guidance of caretaker manager, Joe Campbell, (who deputising for Roy Tarbotton) and succumbed to a 4-1 defeat. Kevin Tapster having the distinction of scoring the clubs first competitive goal. Indeed Kevin’s son John continued the family’s connection with the club by representing each team. For the record the names of the first “Town” team were as follows; Sean Hoy, Kevin Tapster, Gabriel Morris, Phil Nolan, Tom Campbell, Joe Campbell, Stephen McBride, Vinny Smith, Gerard Connolly and Gerry Campbell.

It took the club 20 seasons to win its first major local honour (the Mulhern Cup) and this was added to with the reserve equivalent (the Reihill Cup) in 1989/90. Indeed the reserves continued their winning ways with 5 successful defences of the Reihill and to top that they also won Division 2 under the direction of Kieran Judge and Brian Keenan. A feat more considerable considering they were up against the first teams of some clubs. In those first 20 years we could be best described as inconsistent. In only the clubs second appearance in the Mulhern Cup final (having lost the first one 1-0 to Lisbellaw in 1979/80) they overcame a much-fancied Shelbourne side after a replay to win 2-0 courtesy of a Damian Love brace. Tab McClintock lifting the first of many trophy’s as captain of “The Town”. It took the club four more seasons to record its second win in the Mulhern cup after a particularly satisfying 1-0 win against local rivals Enniskillen Rangers. This was of course pre-dated by that now unforgettable date in May 1994 when the club won its first Junior Challenge Cup against perennial kingpins, Oxford United in Loughgall. It took two games but after coming back from two goals down thanks, to goals from Paul Neill and Damian Love’s exquisite lob “Town” forced a replay. The team were invigorated and the momentum was now with them and they didn’t disappoint with a thoroughly deserved 1-0 win.

Instead of spurring the club onto more success they managed to win two more Mulherns in 1996 & 2000 before succumbing to relegation to Division 2 for the 4th time in 2001/02. In hindsight playing in the second tier of the F&W provided the club with the reality check they needed and under the guidance of club stalwart, Mark Connolly, a swift return to the top table ensued.This was to prove to be the beginning of “Town’s” current domination of the F&W and beyond. After combining both playing and managing at a relatively young age Mark unselfishly decided stepping down was in the best interests of the club. So at Christmas 2003 Gerry Love was appointed first team manager and so began an incredible turnaround in the clubs fortunes. After a forgettable opening to the 2003/04 season the club not only escaped what seemed an inevitable 5th drop to Division 2 but they also won a fifth Mulhern Cup at the expense of newly crowned Irish Junior Cup champions Irvinestown Wanderers in a pulsating 2-1 triumph at Ballinamallard. After many abortive attempts in the past to follow cup success with a league championship, could “Town” finally annex their very first Mercer Cup this time?

With undoubted playing ability the club never seemed to be able to grasp the concept of consistency and were known to many as a good cup team. This assessment hounded the club for many years after that and it wasn’t until the 2004/05 season that the club finally shook off the cup team tag. On a cold, wet and dark Tuesday evening in Killen, “Town” belatedly became acquainted with the Mercer league and entered the record books. And like Kevin Tapsters’ milestone goal it was the turn of Ronan McCabe to notch the first league-winning goal (if there can be one!). A fact more pleasing given that he was home grown like the majority of the side that night.Fast forward to the present day and the club has since successfully defended the Mercer 3 times won a 6th Mulhern in May 2008 (after another heroic comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 after extra time) and renewed its love affair with a second junior cup final success against Bessbrook at Dungannon in May 2007, winning 2-1. For good measure Rory Judge repeated his achievement of scoring the winning goal in the 1994 Final by scoring a late penalty winner and thus doing emulated the great Tab McClintock in lifting the blue ribbon trophy.

The future looks bright.