St Mary’s Football Club was established in 1996 when a member in the Parish of St Mary’s on the Hill, Frankie Wilson, decided to set up the opportunity for boys in the local Newtownabbey and North Belfast area to play football.
Then Parish Priest, Fr Dan Whyte, was very happy to support the idea and Frankie soon entered a seven-a-side team in the SBYFL mini soccer which was quickly followed by two teams in the Down & Connor Youth Football League. He would never have anticipated though just how big the Club would expand in the coming years. Frankie Wilson is still involved as Honorary President of the Club today and as a valued member of the senior football management team.
As we approach the 25 years anniversary in 2021 we now have:
– 3 x senior football teams (competing in Northern Amateur Football League and Belfast District Football League)
– 30 x boys & girls youth teams (participating in South Belfast Youth Football League / IFA Development Mini Soccer Leagues)
– First Kicks Soccer providing weekly sessions for over 50 boys & girls
The Club is subject to the governance of the Irish Football Association and fully paid associate of the Co Antrim FA & NIBFA. The Club is now catering for over 500 members. It is run on a voluntary basis and does depend very much on the time, generosity and dedication of our Coaches, Committee members, parents and various corporate & personal sponsors.
We have a core Committee to oversee the overall running of the Club and have a formal Club Constitution. Our annual AGM is held in accordance to elect our Committee & Office bearers.
The current posts are:
Chairman John Joe Walsh
Vice Chairman Stephen Turner
Secretary Denise Burns
Treasurer Brian Byrne
Designated Officer Lawrence Hyland
Fixtures Secretary Eamonn Quinn
Group leads rep Michael Pettigrew
Hon President Frankie Wilson
The Committee & Office bearers ensure we have and maintain: – our Child Protection Policy (Lawrence Hyland is Designated Officer) – and Club Development Plan (Denise Burns is Secretary) – St Mary’s FC is also a registered Charity and our Secretary ensures all relevant governance is maintained to meet all Charity Commission requirements. – The Treasurer (Brian Byrne) ensures all income & expenditure is monitored and reported with annual audited financial year end accounts prepared.
The core Committee are also supported by sub-groups covering aspects such as Team / Coaches / Players Development & Social Media. St Mary’s FC sadly does not have a true “home” venue. For over 10 years now we have campaigned with local council and politicians to get a pitch facility in Newtownabbey on which we will have the potential to build a clubhouse and changing facilities but to date this has not been achieved despite our ongoing efforts.
Training facilities are utilised at Valley Leisure Centre, Newtownabbey / St Malachy’s College, Belfast / Trinity College, Belfast / Edmund Rice College, Glengormley. Training nights are held across every night of the week. Payment for all facilities is invoiced by each provider to Treasurer who settles by electronic banking.
Match facilities for our youth teams are utilised when possible at Valley Leisure Centre and at various park and school pitch venues allocated by the SBYFL / BDFL. Matches are generally played on Saturday’s but also can be on midweek nights and Sunday’s for certain sections.
V36 is registered ground for all home senior NAFL team matches and Edmund Rice College is similarly used by our BDFL senior teams for all home matches. Payment for all facilities is invoiced by each provider to Treasurer who settles directly.
All League / Competition registration and ongoing fees are sent by relevant bodies to Treasurer who ensures relevant payment by electronic banking is administered. Referees require payment by cash every week. To facilitate the process our Treasurer will transfer necessary funds to a representative of every team to cover the cash requirements.
Club equipment and uniform playing / training gear is sourced from Clubsport NI who are our supplier partner. Payment for all orders is invoiced to Treasurer who settles by electronic banking. Club subscriptions are collected automatically by Team Fee Pay on monthly basis via electronic banking (Stripe) and credited to Club Bank current account. Some exceptions are accepted for payment in full by cheque / bank transfer or cash (non-preferred).
St Mary’s FC also encourages teams to participate in pre-season / end of season tournaments and / or trips to other Ireland / mainland UK events / tournaments. In addition the Club has organised tournaments itself to which Clubs from other areas of the country are encouraged to join. These are part funded by parental contributions / fund-raising / sponsorships / local grants as available.
Some examples over recent years:
– Foyle Cup
– Glasgow Cup
– Cork Cup
– Celtic training camps through our partnership with Celtic FC
– Partnership developed with St John’s FC Manchester through which teams have travelled over to stay / play and vice versa
– V36 Cup organised at Valley Leisure Centre We are very proud of what has been achieved within our Club at St Mary’s FC over the years and do try to encourage very much a feeling of it being family. There is still of course much for us to do and we will continue to give our best efforts to progressing the development and well-being of all our members.
“Once a Saint, always a Saint!”