Ashfield Boys’ celebrate 30 years of top competition
Ashfield Boys’ High School last week celebrated its 30th year hosting a seven-a-side primary school football tournament.
The invitational event was first proposed in 1980 by head of PE Peter Leathem after being approached by the then headmaster Rab Dunn to come up with a sporting tournament which would involve local primary schools and help boost the profile of Ashfield in Belfast.
Mr Leathem decided to use the newly built sportshall as a focal point for the new tournament which would host local primary schools from across the city.
He said: “In the first year of this tournament, which was then five-a-side, we had 10 teams participating.
“This year, on our 30th anniversary, we had 18 teams coming to our school and over the last couple of years the tournament has been moved from our sportshall to our new third generation field turf football pitch.
“This has created the opportunity for an even bigger seven-a-side tournament.”
Over the past 30 years many of the pupils who have participated in the tournament are now recognisable local and international football stars. These include Stuart Elliott, Andrew Kirk, Warren Feeney and Paul Leeman.
As well as recognisable players, famous names from Ashfield’s long and rich football history have come back to the school to hand out prizes and medals such as former Northern Ireland managers Bryan Hamilton and Sammy McIlroy.
Among the schools to have taken part over the past 30 years include: Strandtown, Beechfield, Avoneil, Redburn, Holywood, Euston Street, Nettlefield, Tullycarnet, Dundonald, Brooklands, Cavehill, Glencraig, Gilnahirk, Elmgrove, Orangefield, Cabin Hill, St Joseph’s, Harding Memorial, Cregagh, Knocknagoney, and Knockbreda.
Last week’s guests at the special 30th anniversary event were Glentoran scout Billy Spence and BBC football commentator Jackie Fullerton.
Billy has worked closely with the school over the past number of years as Ashfield is the main feeder club for the Glens.
Jackie, meanwhile, handed out a winner’s trophy to last week’s eventual champions Orangefield.