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Crosshaven AFC celebrates its 125th year

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

This year, Crosshaven AFC celebrated its 125th anniversary. Much more than a football club, they have played a vital role in the community over the years. Writes Tara Maher

Crosshaven AFC was founded in 1898 by British Army soldiers stationed in Fort Camden. Its first AGM was held on the 15th of September in The Gresham Hotel, which we now know as The Drake and the original committee was formed with W. Donegan as Captain. Frank Gresham, a local publican, was announced as Vice-Captain and Honorary Treasurer. The original committee's composition first appeared in the Cork Constitution newspaper, which the Club now holds a reprinted copy.

Crosshaven AFC togged out for the first time on New Year's Eve 1889 on a pitch loaned to them by Mr. Kennefick. Crosshaven won their first game, beating the Hampshire Regiment 4-2.

Throughout the years, the Club played in various colours, a deep blue with yellow chevron, black blue, and white hoops before settling on a royal blue, inspired by the Club's close proximity to the sea.

The Club's early years saw them live a nomadic lifestyle as they travelled from one farmer's field to another before eventually settling down in an area nicknamed locally as 'the bog .'The bog became infamous among Cork footballing circles, where local knowledge of the pitches, humps, and hollows gave the home team a distinct advantage.

Donie Kelly, a former player for the Club, recalled 23 pitches where the Club had played and remembered how, on numerous occasions, the team would turn up for matches, and the goalposts would be cut down!

Crosshaven celebrates its 125th year this year.

The '50s, '60s, and '70s were memorable periods in Crosshaven AFC's long and rich history. They won the first-ever AOH Cup in the 1950-51 season and again the following year. They also won multiple Beamish and League Cups and went unbeaten for two seasons between 1973 and 1975 in the Munster Senior League Senior Premier Division. Incredibly, this sequence of results yielded just the won title in 1975. In addition to their success, the Club also won the Munster Youths Cup & County Cup (Junior) this year.

1986 Crosshaven AFC made their first and only appearance in the FAI Senior Cup. They secured a home tie, which saw the entire village turn up and support them! Unfortunately, it was not Crosshaven's day as they were beaten 3-0 by Newcastle West from Limerick.

In the 80's, the Club made the big move from the bog to Camden, which is only a stone's throw away from where its founders lived. The committee at the time, under the supervision of Club Chairman Noel Condon, purchased an area of land on Camden Road. Camden has been the home to Crosshaven AFC ever since.

The Club originally had one pitch and a portacabin for changing. As the schoolboy's division began to prosper, the area below the pitch was leveled, creating another full-size pitch.

A few years later, work began on the building of a clubhouse. The Club was built with the help of a lottery grant, donations, and some ingenious fundraising ideas such as 'buy a block' and Carnival Week. However, the building of the clubhouse was only possible because of local tradesmen helping out where they could. Anyone who didn't have a trade helped with the labouring. The voluntary effort highlighted the sense of community within the Club since it was founded 125 years ago and continues to this day.

Following the massive success of the clubhouse, the committee took on its next big project in 1991. They wanted to provide the Club with a state-of-the-art training area and a 7-a-side all-weather pitch. The committee applied for approved planning and grants and organised many fundraising events.

In the club's recent history, one of their proudest days came in November 2011 when they won the Aviva FAI Club of the Month and were nominated for the Club of The Year Awards. Camden turned in Los Angeles one Friday afternoon as camera crews came to see the Club in action. Members of the Club travelled to Donegal for the awards ceremony but lost out to fellow Cork club Middleton FC.

For Crosshaven AFC, what happens off the pitch is just as important as what happens on it.

Volunteerism plays a central role, and the Club would not be where it is today without the local community's dedication. In 2007, members designed and maintained the official Crosshaven AFC website. Again, in 2012, a group of local volunteers consisting of members and ex-players came together to build a shed for the lawn mower and other equipment; they also spent three weeks renovating the all-weather pitch and the clubhouse. Not to forget the managers, coaches, and committee that work week in and week out training teams, coaching players, doing the lotto, and the work that goes on behind the scenes.

Similarly, a club like Crosshaven AFC also plays a vital role within the community. For individuals, sport teaches life skills such as teamwork, cooperation, discipline, and confidence. For the community they are known for their vigorous fundraising and have organised and been involved in several charity tournaments and matches.

Over the years, they have hosted a seven-a-side in aid of the Mercy Hospital Foundation, participated in the Crosshaven Triathlon, and numerous charity games. Last summer, they took on local rivals Carrigaline United in a charity game to raise money for Alzheimer's and Dementia Ireland.

In 2015, Crosshaven Legends hosted the Republic of Ireland Masters team. Packie Bonner, Cascarino, Mark Kinsella, Ray Houghton & Ronnie Whelan made the trip to Camden to take part. The Crosshaven team comprised mainly of the 1992 Senior 1st Division Champions, including Curly, John & Jim Mulcahy (Cork City's keeper), the 1992 Youths Cup winning team, and the 1998 Junior Super Cup winning side. Dave Barry, Cork City Legend, guested the Crosshaven Legends, as did Greg O'Halloran, who played Schoolboys with them. The game raised over 15k for the Club, with 2,500 people in attendance. They raised awareness of prostate cancer at the event while the Irish Guide Dogs was their charity partner, and 5k was raised for them. Mark Kingston & Beezer O'Connell were Crosshaven's goal scorers that day, but the team lost 4-2.

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