ONE hundred and twenty five years ago, Rev. Turner, Mr WN Brown and L. Jackson Holmes watched a game of Association Football between Distillery, and the Black Watch Regiment of the army. Inspired by what they had seen, they organised a public meeting which took place on 14 October 1889. Twenty six people attended the meeting, a committee was formed and Larne Football Club was born.
 
In the early days, the fledging club played against clubs against Ballyclare and the Fisherwick club from Doagh with home matches played at Sandy Bay. However, the club moved to Laharna Park when they couldn’t afford to build a perimeter wall at Sandy Bay required for the lease.

Interest in football in the town soared, and a second club, Larne Olympic was formed and new East Antrim Junior League was established. Larne’s first major trophy success came when they won the IFA Junior Cup in 1901. Before the First World War, they added a Steel & Sons Cup and an Intemediate Cup to the roll of honour.

The Great War caused a football hiatus, with the club ceasing activities until the war was over. The end of the war brought about a new start and a new home ground. They moved to public park grounds which had been owned by the British Legion and had passed to Larne Urban Council. These grounds were colloquially known as ‘The Legion’ but now goes by the name Inver Park.
 
Larne entered Senior football for the first time in 1923, during this period they lost two Irish Cup Finals, in 1928 and 1935. The Second World War resulted in Larne being left out of Senior League made up of Belfast clubs. Larne Olympic dropped the name Olympic and then became the town’s foremost club and won two Steel & Sons Cups in the 40s.
 
Larne entered the new Intermediate League, which sparked two decades of success for the club. The club won their first ever Senior trophy by winning the Ulster Cup in 1950. They were B Division Champions twice, and won two Steel & Sons Cups and an Intermediate Cup in the 50s.
 
The Inver Reds dominated Intermediate football in the sixties, winning the B Division eight times in nine years between 1963 and 1972, and bringing the Steel and Sons Cup home five times in the same period. The Intermediate Cup completed the set in 1970.
 
As a result of Derry City’s exit from Irish League football, Larne were admitted to Senior football once again in 1972. Larne made a number of Irish Cup Semi Final appearances without ever reaching a final.
 
It wasn’t until Paul Malone was appointed player/manager in 1984 that the Inver Reds began to make an impression, finishing as high as fourth in the league. It was in the cup competitions where Larne made progress, reaching a host of finals and semi finals including losing Irish Cup Finals in 87 and 89. The crowning glory of this period came in 1987, when captain Paul Carland lifted Larne’s second Ulster Cup following a 2-1 win over Coleraine.
 
Malone left the club in 1991 and Larne gradually slipped into decline, culminating in relegation to the new First Division in 1995. The club struggled to be competitive and to make ends meet in the late 90s until Tommy Kincaid took the reigns in 2001.
 
Kincaid’s team won promotion in 2003 and reached a League Cup Final later that year, losing to Cliftonville on penalties. An Irish Cup Final appearance followed in 2005 during Jimmy McGeough’s reign, resulting in another defeat. However, Larne continued to go through a succession of managers and narrowly avoiding relegation in this period until a restructuring of the league eventually relegated Larne back down to Intermediate football, where they remain today.
 
Under Paul Millar, Larne narrowly missed adding to their haul of Steel and Sons Cup triumphs when they lost the Christmas showpiece against Bangor in 2011 in front of a capacity crowd at Seaview.
 
Tommy Kincaid and Graham McConnell had brief spells after this, but stability was restored when David McAlinden took charge of the club in November 2013.
 
He was the latest man entrusted with the task of taking Larne back to the top of Irish League football, and came within Goal Difference of securing a promotion play-off place, as well being just minutes away from a County Antrim Shield final appearance against Linfield.
 
Tiernan Lynch was appointed manager in the summer of September 2017 and interest from outside the club grew with the investment of Kenny Bruce.
 
Kenny, a highly successful businessman from the town who helped to establish worldwide estate agency business Purple Bricks, began investing on and off the pitch which, at time of writing, has included a new state-of-the-art artificial surface, floodlights and ground renovation, as well as a number of top class full-time signings.
 
Kenny’s motivation has been for the benefit of the town as a whole, and he is already seeing the fruits of this, with gates increasing 10 fold in some cases. The Invermen are currently embarking on an exciting journey, which everyone at the club hopes will culminate in a period of sustained sucess at the top end of Irish League football.
 
Time will tell what can be achieved on the pitch, but there is no doubting the club’s ambition to write what could possibly be the most exciting chapter in club’s long history.

News

5th December 2020

Herron scoops NIFWA Player of the Month award

LARNE midfielder John Herron is November’s NIFWA Danske Bank Premiership . .

4th December 2020

Mathday Guide: Larne v Glenavon, Saturday 5th Dec

The Inver Reds are back in league action this Saturday . .

3rd December 2020

Hughes nets winning penalty as Larne end trophy drought

Larne’s first trophy triumph in more than three decades will . .

Video

5th December 2020

CAS FINAL | Behind The Scenes

𝗕𝗘𝗛𝗜𝗡𝗗 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗦𝗖𝗘𝗡𝗘𝗦 👀 Take a look at our behind . .

3rd December 2020

HIGHLIGHTS | County Antrim Shield Final

Watch the key moments from last night as Larne defeat . .

3rd December 2020

REACTION | Donnelly on CAS Final victory

Martin Donnelly speaks to Ian Cahoon following the Inver Reds . .

3rd December 2020

REACTION | Larne win the County Antrim Shield

Tiernan Lynch speaks to Ian Cahoon after becoming the first . .