The first newspaper reports of organised football in Dundalk appeared in the Dundalk Democrat on 17 December 1892, when an article about a match that had occurred nine days previously involving a club named Dundalk featured. The sport gradually took a foothold in the developing town, which held strong ties to both the military and the railway infrastructure given its location between Dublin and Belfast, as well as links to local ports.
Affiliated to the Leinster Football Association before the turn of the century, a team from Dundalk, commonly known as the "Rovers", took their place in the Leinster Senior League in 1900/01 for the first time. The club continued to exist (as the town's most established club) until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
However, other clubs also began to make their presence felt in the locality. One in particular, the Great Northern Railway Association Club, otherwise known as the Dundalk GNR, founded in September 1903, spawned the modern-day Dundalk Football Club. The Dundalk GNR were located at the Athletic Grounds and competed in the Dundalk and District League from 1905 until 1914.
The club were re-named Dundalk F.C. in 1930 and became the first provincial team to win the Irish Free State Senior league title in 1932/33. The club has an unbroken membership of the League of Ireland, a record shared with only two other members from that time; Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers. The club moved to their current home venue, Oriel Park, in 1936.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the club had an impressive record in European competition at home, going undefeated for five years, playing against top opposition in the form of PSV Eindhoven, Hajduk Split, Celtic, Porto and Tottenham Hotspur. With almost fifty trophy-wins, including nine league titles, one First Division title and having contested fourteen FAI Cup finals, the club has one of the most successful histories in League of Ieland football. Almost one hundred of the club's players have gained representative honours for Ireland and the League of Ireland.
Since 1999 in conjunction with Irish League side Linfield of Belfast, the club has been engaged in a peace and reconciliation programme, known as the Dunfield Project, which through the medium of football is facilitating the coming together of young people from the Dundalk and Belfast communities. The club operated as a co-operative, with teams competing from school-boy level in Dublin-based leagues to girls and ladies teams. The first-team however was taken over in August 2006 by local business man Gerry Mathews. Dundalk F.C. celebrated their 2,000th league game against Finn Harps on Thursday 8 March 2007 in Oriel Park in front of a large crowd of 2,500.
Dundalk's traditional colours are white jerseys (from which they get their nickname; the Lillywhites) and black shorts. However, this has not always been the case. Whilst playing under the auspices of the Great Northern Railway the club played in a black and amber-striped kit
The club's crest features three mythical marlets. According to heraldry website Heraldica:
"A martlet is a small bird, usually depicted without feet and (in some cases) without beak. There is some dispute as to what kind of bird it is. In English heraldry, it is a swallow; in French heraldry, it looks very much like a duckling. In German heraldry, it is said to be a lark. It was originally a small blackbird, then became a generic small bird, then a bird without feet and even later without beak, the species of the bird interpreted variously depending on the country."
Dundalk F.C.'s design is an adaptation of the heraldic symbols of Dundalk Town's (shown above) coat of arms, which also depict red marlets on a predominantly white shield. The club's former crest shown above left was of the same basic design albeit it with a white shield and the inclusion of a ribbon with the club's name on it.
Thanks to Kenneth Ross, at Dundalk F.C. for the above crest and information.
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