|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 reached the final of the League’s major challenge cup – the Elvery Cup. 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 1988/89, 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.
2004-2005: Well what a season! Our first trophies in 12 years with each of our 3 teams taking silverware. 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.
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.
2008-2009: At last! In our 35th season, with Dave Spring and Noel Ryan at the helm, we won the Premier Division title pipping Trinity Corinthians (who had won the title on 7 occasions in the previous 10 years) by 1 point to complete a remarkable season.
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. 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 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. 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.
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. Having reached the 6th Round of the FAI Junior Cup on three previous occasions, we reached the last-16 for the first time in the Club’s history. 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.
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 but unfortunately went down 3-2.
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.
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 finals) beating Drumcondra AFC 6-3 in the final with Aidan Hyland scoring the first 4 VEC goals. We lost 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: 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! We succumbed to South William Street Celtic on 15th August losing 2-0 in Ringsend and relinquished our league title, finishing as Premier Division runners-up. We also won the Premier Division Shield after a penalty shoot-out with Coolock Village in our final game of the season (on 29th August 2020).
Upending all areas of life, the COVID-19 pandemic made no exception for sports, creating turmoil worldwide as well as in our league and our club of course. For months we had Level 5 Government restrictions which prevented us playing. As such, the 2020/2021 season was effectively a washout. Eventually we resumed training on 11th May 2021.
Of extraordinary interest was VEC player Jack McKnight playing a full world cup qualifying match at left back for the Turks and Caicos Islands national football team against Nicaragua in March 2021. Unfortunately, the team lost 7-0 in this CONCACAF first round Group E qualifier match. Jack also played a full game in the next match on 30th March 2021 against Belize.
The 2021-2022 season got underway on 28th August 2021. Once again we reaped a silver medal in the Premier Division just as we did against SWSC in our last full season in 2020. This time, we were pipped by Tallaght Utd. But we atoned for that somewhat meeting them in the final of both the Challenge Cup and the Richard Knight Cup, deservedly winning both matches on 1-0 scorelines. We unluckily exited early from the FAI Junior Cup after a gripping 3-3 game played out against a very strong Booth Road Celtic on a Friday night in Ballyowen Astro, eventually losing on penalties. VEC 2nds had a great MMI Cup run resulting in the team reaching the Final of that cup. It was the first time that a VEC team had reached the MMI Cup Final and it was played in Home Farm against Division 2 runners-up Coolock Village – bizarrely on the same evening that the 1sts were playing in the Richard Knight Cup Final. Unfortunately, the team lost 2-0 after conceding two late goals to a strong Coolock Village side.
By our own standards, the 2022-2023 season was a disappointing season overall, as we failed for the first time in 8 years to collect any trophies or medals. Considering our great runs in the external cups over the years, early exits in all three were hard to take. Then, losing out in Round 2 of the Challenge Cup (on penalties) to Division 2 side Fairview Celtic was even more disconcerting; as was the first-round exit to Malahide Utd. in the Richard Knight Cup! We had plenty of ups-and-downs in the Premier Division, finishing 5th but importantly retaining our place in the UCFL’s top division for the 49th year – a remarkable achievement in itself! Meanwhile the second team finished a very respectable 3rd in Division 2 behind the runaway aforementioned Fairview Celtic (who were far too strong for that division) and Beech Park FC, who we beat twice in the league!