Belfast Telegraph

How bitter rivals were united by war effort

By Jason Burke

It was the greatest rivalry in Ulster football, two teams at opposite sides of Belfast's Donegall Road.

The hostility between Linfield and Belfast Celtic had infamously erupted in 1912 when sectarian violence at a league game left 60 people injured.

However, the centenary of the Great War has brought back memories of how the clubs set aside their differences to hold a 'Great Benefit Match' in 1915 for the Wounded Soldiers & Sailors Fund

A Belfast Celtic and Linfield combination XI took on a Rest of The Irish League XI on Saturday, May 15 with a 3.30pm kick- off at Grosvenor Park in Belfast.

A crowd of around 10,000 came to show their support for the teams and for the charity.

According to the Belfast Evening Telegraph, they were treated to a 'good, fast and attractive game' in which both sides did not hold back.

The combined Celtic/Linfield side ran out 4-2 winners on the day and around £200 was raised. The winning side were presented with a set of gold scarf-pins by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Crawford McCullagh.

It is thought as many as eight then current and former players of Linfield FC served in the First World War.

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