|THE FOOTBALL MEMORIES|
The V.E.C. football club was founded in April 1974 by members of the administrative staff working in the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. In June 1974 the Club applied to the United Churches Football League of Ireland and was immediately accepted for the top division. In those days the League was quite small and confined with only two divisions. When it was decided to open up the League “to any suitable club”, the first two to enter were V.E.C. and D.S.B.We were granted the use of the VEC Sportsgrounds in Terenure.
In our second season (1975-1976) we surpassed all expectations in reaching the final of the League’s major challenge cup – the Elvery Cup. Having beaten St.Canice’s United in the quarter final and St. Mary’s in the semi-final, we played Dublin University (later to become Trinity Corinthians) in their own back yard in Santry on the 22nd May 1976 but unfortunately lost 1-2.
In the 1980’s, the club reached seven finals, winning the Elvery Cup in 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1988 and losing in 1987. In addition, we won the Barton Shield for the second time in 1988 (the first was in 1979) having lost the 1982 final. In the same period, we were runners-up in the Premier Division of the League on four occasions – 1981, 1987, 1988 and 1989. Unfortunately we never got our hands on the title during that period.V.E.C. has always had a team in the U.C.L.’s top flight, except in the 1982/83 season, when the club entered its first team in the Major section of the Leinster Senior League. The club’s second team were assigned by the League to the old second division, and won the league title after a play-off game against Harcourt Rovers. Remarkably, this was the only team over the first 34 years to have won a league and it was this same (second) team which went on to beat St. Mary’s in the Elvery Cup Final at Tolka Park in 1984.
For four seasons, the first team had played in the Leinster Senior League, achieving promotion in 1983/84. Returning to U.C.F.L. in 1986, V.E.C. had one of its most successful seasons, and while only finishing runners-up in both the premier division and the Elvery Cup, a wonderful run in the F.A.I. Junior Cup saw the club reach the 6th round, only to be knocked out by top A.U.L. side Glenmore Celtic. Two seasons later, another great season and a brilliant run in the same competition, saw the club win its 5th round game against Beggsboro (who were runners-up in the previous year’s final), before losing out 3-0 in the 6th round to the top junior side in the country at the time, Tolka Rovers, who went on to win the trophy.It was 1993 before the club reached its next final. On the 22nd April 1993 we beat Dublin University (later to become Trinity Corinthians) on penalties in Tolka Park.In May 2002, nine years since our previous appearance in the U.C.L’s. ‘blue-ribboned’ final, we played Trinity Corinthians in the Irish Life Challenge Cup Final in Tolka Park on 11th May, hoping to win our sixth premier cup. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Despite a brave performance, we lost 2-0 to an excellent Trinity team who had two Junior Internationals in their side.
It was a honour for our Club at this time that our Hon. Secretary Seamus Doherty joined the Executive Committee of the United Churches Football League.
2003-2004: We lifted the Willie Kissane Memorial Boot for the first time since the competition was re-vamped into an 8-team tournament, beating Leinster Senior League outfits Templeogue Utd. in the semi-final and Knocklyon Utd. 2-0 in the final.2004-2005: Well what a season! Our first trophies in 12 years with each of our 3 teams taking silverware under the guidance of Dave Spring, Fergal Nolan and Karl McCafferty respectively. A club record broken for the most goals scored in a season with Joey Byrne, scoring 36 goals in 36 games. His co-striker Brian Ward’s 26 goals was also amazing. For only the third time, we reached the 6th round of the FAI Junior Cup, beating St. Mochtas, Whitehall Rangers, Workmans Dunlaoire and Maymount Celtic (from Cork) before losing 0-1 to top Tipperary outfit Peakevilla. We won the Premier Shield, 2nd division shield and were runners up in the Richard Knight final. Another 1st for the club was the UCFL’s Merit award received by the 3rd team, for their performance on and off the field, a very notable trophy for the club to be awarded. The firsts won the Shield final 3-2 against Clontarf Athletic while the 2nd division shield was won by defeating runners up in the league Rail PSV 2-1 in the final.
The VEC FC Web site www.vecfc.ie developed by Neil Spring was launched.
2005-2006: We reached the 6th round of the FAI Junior Cup before losing only 1-0 on a Sunday to arguably the best Junior soccer club in the country at the time Killester Utd. who went on to win the Trophy.
2006-2007: The Club is very proud that Paul Hutchinson was selected as the UCFL Manager for the year and he asked Dave Spring – who was still VEC’s first team manager – to assist him. Considering that this was Hutch’s first year, it was very successful, as the league team qualified for the knock-out stages of the Oscar Treanor Trophy, before losing out to the eventual winners AFL in the quarter-final. He was re-selected as the UCFL Manager for a second year and Dave Spring assisted him once again.
2008-2009: At last! In our 35th season, with Dave Spring and Noel Ryan at the helm, we won the Premier Division title. It came down to the final premier league game of the season, when VEC had to beat Trinity Corinthians (who had won the title on 7 occasions in the previous 10 years) in Terenure to win the title. We won 3-1 pipping them by 1 point to complete a remarkable season. [Team].Our Chairman Dave Spring was invited by the F.A.I. to participate on the F.A.I. Appeals Panel and has been actively involved ever since.2010-2011: We won the Challenge Cup on a wet evening in Home Farm’s ground in Whitehall, beating our old rivals Stedfast Utd. 2-0 with goals from Joey Byrne and Brian Ward. This was Dave Spring’s 6th Challenge Cup medal, although this time only as manager! This followed our Shield Final win against Clontarf Athletic on the previous Monday, when we won 1-0 after extra time. We also won the Willie Kissane Trophy for the first time in five years, when we beat Leicester Celtic 7-6 on penalties in August 2010, after the final had finished at 1-1.
In January 2012, Andy Myler came out of retirement and signed with VEC FC. He retired from Bray Wanderers at the end of the 2008 season having scored a total of 133 League of Ireland career goals. He began his professional career at UCD. He also played for Newry Town, Monaghan United, Athlone Town, Waterford United, Drogheda United and Longford Town, before he was signed by Shamrock Rovers in July 2006, where he scored 20 goals in his two seasons there.
They say that everyone has a book in them. Well Paul Hutchinson – long-time member of VEC FC sat down and put pen to paper publishing his own book in September 2012. See The Soccer Hutch.
In May 2014, for the first time in our 23 years of trying, VEC 3rds won the Sidney Bedlow Cup on a memorable evening in our own grounds beating Riverside Utd. 8-7 on penalties after both sides had finished 2-2 after extra time. John Dingle was the manager. It was our 40th season. It was 5 years after winning the Premier Division title and we nearly did it again. VEC 1sts achieved runners-up spot to old rivals Clontarf Athletic and obviously stayed in the premier/top UCFL Division for the 40th consecutive season – a remarkable feat in itself.
On the social side, there was a special function to celebrate our 40th season. Our very successful 40th Anniversary B-B-Q was held in the Morrison Hotel on Ormond Quay on 11th October 2014 and there were nearly 80 in attendance. Our guests included the current Chairman of the UCFL Barney Blood and Barney’s brother – a good friend to the Club over many years and a former President of the Football Association of Ireland – David Blood. The Chief Executive of the Football Association of Ireland John Delaney graciously accepted our invitation and attended together with his partner and friends, including a certain Jane Seymour, who achieved international fame in her role as Bond girl Solitaire in the James Bond film Live and Let Die.
The 2015-2016 season surpassed everything VEC ever achieved in any one season! Reaching the 5th Round of the FAI Junior Cup where we met one of the favourites (and subsequently losing finalists) Pike Rovers in Limerick was an achievement, but although we gave a good account of ourselves, we eventually succumbed to a 2-0 loss. Having won the Premier Division (Barton) Shield on the May Bank-holiday Monday by beating AGP FC 4-3 on penalties, we then added the UCFL Challenge Cup by beating South William Street Celtic 4-1 on Saturday 21st May in Home Farm and then the Richard Knight Cup by beating FC Sportslink Ailesbury 5-1 0n 31st May. On top of all that, we clinched the Premier Division title for only the second time in our 42 years. Joint-managers Dave Spring and Kevin O’Hanlon were at the helm for this remarkable and historic season where VEC were quadruple winners!In 2016-2017, for the third time in 7 years, we won the Premier Division title by retaining the Trophy which we won in 2016 and in 2009. Moreover, we were the only team throughout all the divisions to go undefeated for the season.As UCFL Premier Division Champions, VEC FC was entered in the Leinster SENIOR Cup. In Round 1 we met Kildare side Liffey Celtic whom we beat 8-4 at home. Next up was a trip to Kilkenny where we were unfortunate to lose 0-1 to Thomastown Utd. after extra time. However, having reached the 6th Round of the FAI Junior Cup on three previous occasions, we have this season, for the first time in the Club’s history, we reached the last-16. Having received a bye in round 1 – we beat Inchicore Athletic 3-1, Sacred Heart 2-0, Columbas Rovers 3-1, Clara Town 4-0 and Buttevant AFC 2-0. Unfortunately we lost 2-0 to Boyle Celtic away on 5th February, to end a magnificent run in this prestigious cup.
On 19th October 2016, the UCFL announced that “The management of VEC FC, led by David Spring, has accepted the UCFL’s request to manage the UCFL Team for this season’s Oscar Traynor games with assistance from referee Paul Hutchinson, who is himself a former UCFL League Team manager”. In those three games, it was an honour and an achievement for 11 VEC players who represented the League. While Anthony Dunne, Joey Byrne, Mick Kinsella and Aidan Hyland had previously represented the UCFL, it was a first for Neal Breslin, Gav Murphy, Ray Jaudzems, Séamus Staunton, Pat Meghen, Killian Finlay and Richie Hannify.In March, VEC Football Club accepted an invitation to represent the Leinster Football Association in an annual fixture for the John Bagster Cup against a Mid-Ulster team. What an honour! We played Hill Street FC. on 22nd April 2017 in Kilkeel, Co. Down and despite losing 3-0 at half time, we dominated the second half with a great display and pulled two goals back before running out of time when an equaliser seemed a real possibility after constant pressure.
Aidan Hyland was again the Club’s top goal-scorer – with 37 goals, thus beating Joey Byrne’s 12-year old Club record of 36 goals in a season.
The 2017/2018 season reaped a silver medal in the Premier Division for the second time in recent years along with a Richard Knight Cup Final appearance in FAI HQ at Abbotstown, which we were unlucky to lose after extra time. Unfortunately, we could not complete the hat-trick of Premier Division Champions having topped the League in the previous two seasons, finishing runners-up to Harding IF FC.On a slightly sentimental day in August, the 20th and final Annual Willie Kissane Tournament took place: unfortunately VEC lost out in the final to CYM Beechwood.Former VEC player and manager Paul Hutchinson accepted the position as the League team manager and asked Dave Spring to assist him (a reversal of the previous season’s arrangement). Neal Breslin was appointed UCFL captain. Other VEC players selected were Gavin Murphy, Aidan Hyland, Pat Meghen, and new signing Andrew Kilmartin. The reserve goalkeeper was Alan Keane. Congratulations to those 6 VEC players on this honour and achievement.
The 2018/2019 season: What an exceptional effort was put in once again by an incredible bunch of players in an effort to emulate the 2015-2016 season. We achieved our main start-of-season target by regaining the Premier Division title, pipping Coolock Village by 2 points. We also won our 8th Challenge Cup (out of 11) beating Drumcondra AFC 6-3 in the final with Aidan Hyland scoring the first 4 VEC goals. Despite the tremendous effort put in by all, we lost our Richard Knight semi-final to Coolock Village and the Shield final through a very late Harding IF goal.Once again we reached the 7th round (last 16) of the FAI Junior Cup for the 2nd time in three years, unfortunately losing 1-3 to Kilkenny outfit Evergreen FC on 3rd February 2019 after beating Pegasus St. James 4-3, Balscadden FC (away) 3-1, Glebe North 2-0, Castleisland AFC (away) 3-0 and Glin Rovers from the Desmond League (Limerick) 4-0 at home in January 2019 in the 6th round.
This was another remarkable season for VEC FC with Manager Kevin O’Hanlon at the helm, assisted by Dave Spring and Simon Roche, resulting in VEC winning the Premier Division for the third time in four seasons, and also completing a fantastic double by regaining the (O’Neill’s.com) Challenge Cup!
The 2019-2020 Season: Lost on penalties to Rosemount Mulvey FC in the 4th Round of the FAI Junior Cup.
Lost on penalties to Clontarf FC in the Leinster Senior Cup.
COVID-19 outbreak: The Football Association of Ireland announced on March 12th 2020, the cessation of all football under its jurisdiction with immediate effect, following directives from Government, the Department of Health and UEFA. This meant that no fixtures were set until further notice.
When football resumed some 4 months later, unfortunately things did not go according to plan! While we duly won our next 5 premier division matches, we succumbed to South William Street Celtic on 15th August losing 2-0 in Ringsend and relinquishing our league title. To make matters worse, we exited both the Knight Cup and the Challenge Cup on penalties on both occasions. At least we atoned for this by winning the Premier Division Shield after a penalty shoot-out with Coolock Village in our final game of the season (on 29th August 2020).