Belfast Telegraph

Television pair Gilmour and Fullerton help Carrick mark 75 years

By Keith Bailie

SKY Sports News reporter Paul Gilmour returned to his native Carrickfergus this weekend, to help his home town club celebrate their 75th anniversary.

Carrick Rangers took over the Clarion Hotel on Saturday evening for a night of nostalgia as the Taylor's Avenue club celebrated seven-and-a-half decades of football.

Gilmour presented the proceedings alongside his old BBC Northern Ireland colleague Jackie Fullerton.

Gilmour said: “I was around eight years old when I went to my first Carrick Rangers match with my Dad, so they're a club that means an awful lot to me. Unfortunately, I've been working in the media since I was 17 so I very rarely get to see them play nowadays.

“It was an honour to return to Carrick to help out with the celebrations. Carrick Rangers aren't the biggest club in the Irish League but they've a very proud history with many fantastic players gracing the amber jersey over the years, and it was great to see some of the club's old faces.”

Carrick Rangers were founded back in the summer of 1939, becoming one of the most powerful forces in the Amateur League before joining the old Irish League B Division in the 1950s. The Taylor's Avenue outfit were a dominate force in the old intermediate division, winning six B Division titles, three Steel & Sons Cups, two Intermediate Cups and most famously the 1976 Irish Cup.

Against all the odds, Jimmy Brown's Carrick Rangers beat the mighty Linfield in the final of the 1976 Irish Cup. They still remain the last team to win the famous old competition from outside the top division. Indeed, no other second tier team has even reached the final since Carrick's incredible success.

After knocking on the door for over a decade, Carrick eventually joined the senior ranks of the Irish League in 1983 were they were a permanent fixture until they were relegated in 1995. In that era, they won the County Antrim Shield in 1993 and reached their second Irish Cup final in 1995, this time losing to Linfield at The Oval.

Since then, Carrick have only enjoyed one season in the top division. In 2011, they won an impressive Championship One and Intermediate Cup double under Stephen Small, but unfortunately they were relegated after just one season in the top flight.

Now under the guidance of Gary Haveron, Carrick will be aiming to claim promotion back to the top flight this season.

Gilmour said: “It would be fantastic for Carrick to win promotion in their anniversary year, but I know there are some other good teams in the division.

“On Saturday night we met and celebrated some of the club's most legendary players. Hopefully some of the current crop will join those ranks in the future."

Carrick fans have also picked their Greatest Ever Carrick Rangers XI. The team is as follows: Reggie Hillen; Don Johnston, George Matchett, Ronnie McCullough, Colin Crawford; Stevie Conville, Eddie Connor, Glen Taggart, Paul Heatley; Jimmy Crimble, Gary Prenter.

Jimmy Brown has been selected as the club's greatest ever manager, with an honourable mention to County Antrim Shield winning boss Kenny Shiels.

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