Match: Finn Harps v Drogheda
Competition: League of Ireland Championship
Date: Sunday 25th January 1970
Programme description: Programme cover, which remained standard for nearly all home games, was split into half blue / half white by a diagonal line from the top right hand corner to the bottom left half corner. Inside there was an editorial, a welcome to the visitors and a look ahead to the FAI Cup game against Dundalk. Amazingly, when one thinks of programmes of the present day, there was no page dedicated to the Manager, Patsy McGowan, which was similar in a lot of the issues that season.
Programme size: 22cm (H) x 14cm (W)
Number of pages: 16
1969/70 Season Programmes
Match: Finn Harps v Drogheda
Paddy McGrory - One of the Originals
Paddy McGrory who passed away on 28 December 2006 was one of a number of men from Derry who helped to establish Finn Harps as a force in the League of Ireland. Paddy scored Harps second goal in League of Ireland football and was one of only two players who played in both the first game and the 1974 FAI Cup Final victory. The following article dates from February 2004 and was conducted by Bartley Ramsay.
Brendan Bradley - The Goalscorer Supreme
Brendan Bradley, the top scorer ever in the League of Ireland, the man who has scored the most goals for Finn Harps not only in a season but in total, confesses “Never in a hundred years, when I was starting out did I dream that I would end up setting the record. I knew I was scoring a lot of goals season after season, but it was one of the other players who bought a newspaper on the way to the game V Limerick in 1982 who saw an article that told me I was one away from two hundred goals.” Brendan continues on “To be honest with you I would rarely think about it these days, only when somebody else mentions it to me in a conversation”.
View Larger Map
From Sligo/Donegal Town
Pass Road House Bar on the right, Maxol on the right and follow this road on until you come into Ballybofey town. On your left will be the China Tower on the left. Across from this, adjacent to Cheers Bar, is Navenny Street. Turn down Navenny Street and Finn Park is on your left, just past the Navenny Grill takeaway.
Go through Stranorlar and go over the bridge into Ballybofey. Take the first left after you cross the bridge (Chestnut Road). Go to the end of this road and take a left. Finn Park is about 100yrds away.
History of the Harps
Finn Harps Football Club - A Potted History
by Bartley Ramsay and Rodney Dullaghan
Finn Harps was formed in 1954 as a junior club. They first came to national prominence by winning the FAI Junior Cup in 1968. This then enabled them to play in the FAI Intermediate Cup in 1969.
After they were knocked out of that competition, local men Fran Fields and Patsy McGowan took the decision to apply to the League of Ireland for membership. The club was admitted into the senior ranks in May of 1969 and Harps were due to play their first senior game on 17th August 1969.
Harps were beaten by ten goals to two in that match by the mighty Shamrock Rovers and there was much comment in the following week by the national press, that the club were not up to the task and it had been a foolish decision by the League to accept a team from Donegal. However, during the seventies Finn Harps went on to become one of the most consistent and top sides in the country.
Harps won their first senior trophy, the Dublin City Cup in 1971/2, when a Brendan Bradley goal defeated Cork Hibernians in Dalymount Park. Two years later Dalymount Park was again the scene of Harps' first and to date only FAI Cup Final victory. Two goals from the legendary Brendan Bradley and one by Charlie Ferry seeing off the challenge of St Patricks Athletic by three goals to one. Click Here for Cup Winning Team pic
Four times during the 1970s Harps played European football. Three times as runners up in the League Championship, playing in the UEFA Cup against Aberdeen, Derby County and Everton. Once in the European Cup Winners Cup when they appeared against Turkish Cup winners Bursaspor.
Harps also finished runners up in the League Cup finals of 1974 and 1975 to Waterford and Bohemians respectively. Throughout the seventies Harps never once finished in the bottom half of the table and were widely respected for their attractive and attacking football style.
Sadly the eighties saw a gradual decline of the club in terms of competing with the best in Ireland. An FAI Cup semi final in 1981, a Shield final defeat by EMFA (now Kilkenny City) and a League Cup Final defeat away to Waterford were the highlights of the decade and by 1985 the club had been relegated to the newly formed first division. A series of managerial changes were effected over the next few years in an attempt to raise the club but it wasn’t until the early 90s that Harps once again began to become a force to be reckoned with.
Patsy McGowan stepped in as manager for the third time at the start of the 1992/93 season. The next three seasons saw Harps finish in the play off position twice. Sadly, Harps were beaten both times, once by Cobh Ramblers and once by Athlone Town. Patsy was let go by the club half way through the 1995/96 season before the job could be completed, but Harps went on to win promotion with Dermot Keely at the helm. Thus ending eleven seasons in the dreaded First Division.
During that summer a consortium of business men attempted to take control at Finn Park, and when this offer was finally rejected it lead to resignations of the manager and certain members of the club committee. Charlie McGeever was appointed manager and despite time being against him, he managed to assemble a squad for the opening of the season and by the seasons end he ensured that Harps Premier Division status was retained.
Off the field the remaining committee members, set the club up as a Co-Operative Society, selling shares to the ordinary supporters, to ensure that the Club would be owned and run by the people who truly cared about it. A blueprint for the future was put in place that included a school of excellence for the young Donegal footballers and major plans for the renovation of Finn Park.
In their third season in the Premier Division Harps finished in fourth position, one point behind Shelbourne in third, just missing out on Europe. More notably however they made the FAI Cup final against Bray Wanderers. After a marathon series of matches Bray won leaving Finn Harps with nothing to show for one of their best seasons in over 20 years but the Irish News Cup.
After a very disappointing start to their fourth season having only one point from a possible twenty one Charlie Mc Geever resigned. Gavin Dykes was installed as manager. Once again Harps retained their Premiership status but the club was forced to go public with their financial difficulties which made it known that they were around £280,000 in debt.
Dykes resigned after an absymal run of games and fan's favourite Jonathan Speak took over as first team manager. New financial structures were put in place and and a newly appointed fundraising committee with numerous supporter clubs set up around the country. After a run of 14 games undefeated and an amazing fightback from Harps they were still relegated to Division One on the last day of the season after 5 years in the top flight.
'Speakie's' first full season in charge saw Harps finish runners-up in Division One to Drogheda United and they were then beaten on penalties by Longford Town in the playoffs. The following season was much the same with Waterford United running away with the league and third placed Harps were dumped out of the playoffs at the semi-final stage by Galway United.
Speak managed to hold most of the squad together despite interest from a number of Premier clubs including top scorer Kevin McHugh as they prepared for another assault on Division One where they were installed as the bookie's favourites to lift the title.
After a good start from Harps they fell into a mini-slump in August and mid-way through September having failed to win in a month, including a loss at home to Sligo Rovers, Harps fell to fourth in the league. When leaders Dublin City came to Finn Park five points ahead of Harps, Speak's troops could only manage a draw in what was billed as a must-win game. Despite having only lost two games all season, the nine draws was the Sion manager’s downfall and he was sacked two days later.
Speak's assistant, Sean 'Wizard' McGowan took temporary charge until a suitable placement was found and steadied the ship with two wins from two. Noel King was then appointed as the new manager going into the final third of the season and Harps were temporairaily rejuvinated, storming back to the top of the First Divsion table with a club record equalling six wins on the trot. With only four games remaining, Harps led the pack by a point but losses away to Bray Wanderers and Dublin City handed the title to Dublin and left Harps in the dreaded playoffs once again.
They confidently disposed of Bray Wanderers in the semi-finals on an aggregate score of 3-1 to set-up an unbelievably tense derby final against neighbours Derry City.
The first leg with a capacity crowd in Finn Park finished scoreless and another sell-out crowd watched Derry nick it with a winner in extra-time to win 2-1.
The fall-out from what was termed in the press as 'The Battle of The Brandywell' carried on into the new season with the Harps manager and two players suspended from their sending-offs missing the start of the 2004 campaign.
Noel King lasted six games into that season (2004) and left the club by mutual consent with the amount of travelling the Dubliner had to endure being cited as one of the main reasons for his departure. His assistant, Sean 'The Wizard' McGowan took charge for two games but within ten days a shock replacement was announced.
The new manager was ex-Derry City legend, Felix Healy. The Derryman had won all the domestic major honours with his hometown club. Healy had two spells in the Brandywell, one as a player and one as a manager. It was seen as a bold move by the Harps board of directors to give someone with such a history with Harps greatest rivals the manager’s job, but it paid off beautifully.
Healy not only delivered the promotion that had eluded so many other Harps managers but done so in style with the Finn Park side winning their first ever league title. It was the club's golden jubilee year and one that Harps fans will never forget.
The following season saw Harps struggle badly in the Premier Division and in July Healy paid the price with Anthony Gorman, a former Harps, Linfield, Portadown, Coleraine and Sligo Rovers player agreeing to become player-manager until the end of the season. At season's end with Harps relegated again, Gorman agreed to take the position on a full-time basis.
His tenure unfortunately lasted one season. His cause was not helped by the loss of Harps star-striker and so often saviour Kevin McHugh to rivals Derry City.
Harps were highly fancied to make a swift return to the top flight but struggled badly throughout the season and finished a lowly sixth. It was one of their lowest positions in years and it cost Gorman his job.
The departure of Paul Hegarty as assistant manager of Derry coincided with Gorman's and the Harps board wasted no time in offering their ex-captain the reins of the club. Hegarty started the 2007 season by bringing in experienced players the calibre of Stephen Parkhouse, Shaun Holmes and Tony Shields. Together with existing players the likes of Jonathan Minnock, Declan Boyle and Conor Gethins who chimed in with a personal tally of 21 goals, Hegarty took Harps back into the top flight at the first time of asking. Pipped for the First Division title by Cobh Ramblers, Harps dispersed of both Dundalk and Waterford in the playoffs.
Prior to the start of the 2008 season, Harps made the massive decision to go full time and started the Premier Division with 18 professional players on the books. It was a gamble that was to end badly with Harps being one of the three teams to be relegated at the end of the season to make way for what was a new-look 10 team Premier Division.
Coupled with a national recession and world-wide financial melt-down, Harps started the 2009 season in the First Division with considerable debts and many of the previous year’s stars made way for young, locally based players. Half way through the season, Hegarty resigned due to personal reasons and his assistant, ex-Harps keeper James Gallagher took over the reins in a caretaker capacity.
With a very young and inexperienced local squad, Harps finished the season in eighth position and the board seen enough in Gallagher to give him the manager’s job full-time for 2010. Gallagher pulled off a major coup by re-signing Harps legend Kevin McHugh from Irish League side Linfield and convincing the clubs most capped player Jonathan Minnock to re-join after a year sabbatical from the League of Ireland scene.
He also wasted no time in bringing back other local players like Davitt Walsh, Matthew Crossan and James Doherty to the club, leaving the supporters to look forward to the 2010 season with a renewed optimism that has been missing for some time.
With many talented young local players also making the step up to the squad, Harps are determined to make a marked improvement on last year.
Off the field, work also continues on the new stadium project in Stranolar which is being carried out by local building contractors McMenamin & Sons. Given the current economic climate, the club have fortunately the full backing and financial support from both the government and the FAI.
Another significant change in landscape at Harps over 2009 was the implementation of a review report which had made a number of recommendations including reducing the current maximum number of Board members from 15 to 7, with each position having a clear role description.
The Review Committee had been set up earlier in the year and involved input from ex-directors, supporters, the media and various other bodies throughout the county. The report recommended significant changes in relation to the manner in which the Club is run, and outlined various issues to be tackled. The recommendations were voted on at an EGM and was passed with 85% of shareholders present supporting the changes.
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