BRAY WANDERERS SEASON 50/51
This was not one of Wanderers most auspicious starts to a campaign. The team had hardly settled down after the retirement of several of the old reliables, John Vance in goal, George Spencer (right full back), T Murphy (centre half), Billy Keogh (a great left full). The replacements including Owen Carroll (starting a long career with Wanderers), Jackie Noonan from Whitehall Rangers, Dick Grimes (from Tolka Rovers), Jackie Smith (from Highfield), Roy Grey (Highfield), Jody McClure (Merrion Rovers), Tommy Dalton (the old Bray Unknowns stalwart centre half), Eddie Earle (Greystones), Joe Sharkey (Dunleary), Shay Ryan.
All of these players plus many still to come helped to carry on the tradition of Bray Wanderers though not in a challenging position in the League were still battling through the many rounds of the FAI and Leinster Junior Cup.
Having defeated Glebe North away in a very tough quarter final tie Wanderers being the underdogs on this occasion owed much to the brilliance of Noel Dunne, a three goal hero. A thunderous goal from Jim Lowe, just out of hospital after an appendectomy, and a brave display by reserve keeper Christy Grant saw Wanderers through.
The team on that occasion was
The dream of all junior footballers is to win the FAI Junior Cup and Wanderers had at last reached the Final. In the Semi-Final Wanderers had sweet revenge on Harmerne to the tune of 6-1, a great team display with Billy (jewman) Devlin the star.
The Final turned out to be a rather dour affair on a damp day at Dalymount. Wanderers were the more skilful team but found goals hard to get. Drogheda United were brilliantly served by centre-half Kelly. A goal in each half, one by Noel Dunne and a typical Billy Devlin solo, earned Wanderers the spoils after Kelly had equalised for Drogheda.
The team for the FAI final was;
There was a very large attendance at the Final and the supporters and friends of the team did them proud by travelling in great numbers to cheer them on.
A wonderful double was then in prospect as we had also qualified to meet old rivals Rathfarnham in the Leinster Cup Final on the following Sunday.
Once again it was Dalymount in the rain and Rathfarnham led at half time by one goal to nil. Putting on fierce pressure
Wanderers scored twice through Dunne and Devlin. Wanderers held on until the last minute when Rathfarnham equalised in the goalmouth melee.
The reply was fixed for Richmond Park on a mid-week date.
The venue and state of the pitch did not suit Wanderers who went down by 4 goals to l. Some enforced changes did not help.
BRAY WANDERERS SEASON 51-52
This season saw the introduction of Peadar McKenna, Sean
Tobin, Gerry Murphy, and George Harold. It was a Season in which they scored a lot of goals without every threatening to do well in the League. Wanderers were eliminated from the FAI Cup the previous year. In the Bradmola Cup Wanderers once more reached the final and after some extraordinary refereeing decisions lost by a goal to nil, a goal scored as the linesman waved his flag for offside. Once again the Bradmola Cup had eluded Bray under odd circumstances.
At the end of this season 1951-52 Peadar McKenna was transferred to Shamrock Rovers and Mick Troy went on a month's trial to Ipswich. Peadar never settled down at Milltown and unfortunately did not return to Wanderers.
Mick Troy was to return for the new season after his month’s trial.
BRADMOLA CUP FINAL TEAM
Seven or eight of the Bray Wanderers team were selected to represent Wicklow against Offaly in the Inter-Counties Cup.
In the second round the Wanderers strengthened the Wicklow team lost to Dublin where some strange refereeing decisions necessitated the hasty departure of the ref.
BRAY WANDERERS SEASON 1952 - 1953
The new season brought new changes in personnel. Bill Harrington (St Colmcilles), Tommy Carey (Highfield), Hughie Lynch (East Wall), Bob Duffy ex Shamrock Rovers. The team which regularly lined out was as follows
J. Sharkey; O Carroll, D Hannon (c), W Harrington, J Deveney,
T Carey, J Tobin, M Lynch, B Devlin, R Duffy, M Troy.
The team proved to be a very strong combination. Lynch, a new signing turned out at inside left. Tobin partnered Devlin on the right. Three players also signed this season, Harry Hill, Christy Boggan and Paddy Bennett, a 16-year-old local lad, also joined the club and made some very promising appearance during the season.
In the Leinster Cup Wanderers made great progress playing some fine football. However, in the Semi-Final they played disappointingly losing to Pearse Rangers at Tolka Park in extra time.
There were some terrific battles in the FAI Junior Cup, particularly between Wanderers and Home Farm. The first game at Bray despite inclement weather was a real ding-dong affair. Bray scored first through Tobin. Home Farm then went ahead with goals by Gibbons and Donovan. Midway through the second half Troy equalised for Bray. The thrilling game continued to enthral a very large attendance through extra time but there was no further score. Home Farm’s best player was Liam Whelan, soon to become the great Manchester United and Ireland International forward. The replay was fixed for Whitehall
the following Sunday and after another tremendous game Wanderers were described in press reports as the cleverer and more progressive side.
Devlin was most impressive on the right wing. Troy scored both goals in a 2-nil win. O Carroll, D Hannon, J Deveney and Carey also shone.
Bray Wanderers qualified once again for the semi-final of the FAI Junior Cup by defeating a strong Falcon Wanderers team by 4 goals (Duffy 2, Troy 2) to one.
The semi-final between Wanderers and Swilly Rovers was fixed for Ramelton in Co Donegal, a very disappointing venue for the Bray supporters travel wise and as it turned out a very strange ground for such an important game. Bray Wanderers were never really impressive in this game and though taking the lead through Duffy, allowed Swilly to score twice before half time. Wanderers managed to equalise before the break through Devlin (a grand diving header). Just after half time a speculative centre by a Swilly Player landed in the goal-mouth and squeezed into the net for what proved to be the winning score. Though Wanderers attacked all through the second half they didn’t seem to have the old penetration and the match fizzled out in a most disappointing manner. Wanderers had beaten such strong opposition in the earlier rounds that it was most disappointing to be defeated by a team of lesser ability than the Dublin teams of the earlier rounds. This defeat shattered the morale of the team for the remainder of the season, this may be an exaggeration of the position but it took some time for the disappointment to lessen.
Wanderers had been progressing very steadily in the Leinster Junior Cup and reached the semi-final against the doughty Pearse Rangers losing by 2 goals to 1 after extra time. This was revenge for Pearse Rangers and the first time they had ever beaten Wanderers. At the end of a disappointing season Wanderers were defeated in the Bradmola Cup and the League which had looked a very tangible prospect all season was frittered away by some lacklustre displays. Thus we bade good-bye to Season 1952-53 with regret and disappointment.
BRAY WANDERERS SEASON 1953/54
Several new players appeared in the line-up for 53/54. Shay Ryan took over in goal, Mick O’Brien and Gerry Allen were in contention for the Right half position. Jim Byrne who had gained an Amateur International Cap. Christy Cullen eventually graduated from the under 21 side. Bren Monaghan (Belgrove) was the new Right Winger, Duggan (ex Transport) was the new centre forward (to set a new scoring record this season). Tobin and Troy completed the forward line representing some of the old guard. P Kelly (Merrion Rovers) played one game and scored. It turned out to be a tremendous season of high scoring and famous victories. Belgrove, Pearse Rangers Rathfarnham, Home Farm: the strongest teams were all brushed aside as Wanderers clinched the League Championship. An outstanding victory was the defeat of nearest challengers Pearse Rangers by 8 goals to l. The point needed to win the title was gained at Baldoyle in a 3 all draw, scorers Monaghan 2 and Tobin l.
In the Bradmola Cup Wanderers went out in the late stages beaten by Windsor after a replay. Two goals from breakaways in the last six minutes against a howling wind beat the Wanderers.
In the Quarter Final of the FAI Cup, Wanderers travelled to Drogheda and beat the local team after a fierce struggle by 3 goals to l. Monahan (2) and Duggan (1) were the scorers for Bray.
In the Semi-Final played at Bray, Wanderers defeated Waterford Bohemians by 4 goals (Duggan 2, J Carroll and Monaghan) to l. The attendance was a record for the ground and Wanderers were through to the final.
The FAI Junior Cup Final played at Dalymount Park was a great occasion. The chance of bringing the Cup to Bray for the second time was a tremendous prospect. An early goal by Jim Carroll which should have settled Wanderers down seemed instead to bring a feeling of complacency. Once again Wanderers though obviously the more skilful team allowed themselves to be tied down by a strong tackling team. The flair shown by the team during the season was not as evident as Wanderers would like it to have been. However the Cup was won and that was the object of the exercise.
And so the big double had been accomplished - The FAI Junior Cup and the AUL Division l Championship. At this point the men behind the scenes, who looked after the Team through all the seasons, provided smart and fresh togs and put up with the disappointments and vagaries of form and temperament of players, should never be forgotten.
The 1953-54 team was as follows;
S Ryan, O Carroll, D Hannon, G Allen/M O’Brien, J Byrne, C Cullen, J Carroll, J Tobin, B Monaghan, J Duggan, M Troy.
During the year P Barnet, P Doyle and P Kelly substituted.
BRAY WANDERERS SEASON 1954-55
A new season starts and supporters wonder what is in store as do the committee because obviously a successful team is necessary to keep the turnstiles clicking over. Bray started the League campaign quite successfully with new players in Alan Kelly, John May, John Bennett, Mannix (ex Windsor), O’Reilly (ex Rathfarnham). A new Rule was introduced in the FAI Junior Cup which weakened the Bray challenge. Belgrove took full advantage of the weakened Bray team with a 4 nil victory thus the holders were out. There was some speculation about the change in the Cup Rules. The impression given was that the Rule was aimed by Bray Wanderers success in this competition.
Bray were defeated by TEK in the semi-final of the Bradmola Cup once again in extra time. However Bray protested against TEK and were successful. The inquiry dragged on and it was decided that the Final would not be played but would be held over until the next Season.
The Leinster Cup campaign was a short one, as several of the Wanderers team were ineligible on account of winning the FAI Cup the previous year. Due to the change in the FAI Cup Rule the management decided to leave the AUL League and join the Leinster League. There was a great deal of regret at the decision to leave the AUL. However Wanderers left with pride in fact and runners up position in the league. A tragic knee injury to Jim Carroll in a game against TEK ended the career of this very promising player at 23 years of age. In the last couple of seasons Alan Kelly had emerged as the very fine goalie he had always threatened to be.
The team which represented Wanderers for most of the season was;
A.Kelly, O’Reilly, O Carroll, D Hannon, J McGill, C Cullen,
J Byrne, J Carroll, J Tobin, J Bennett, J Duggan & J May.
BRAY WANDERERS SEASON 1956-56
Another milestone in the Wanderers football journey was reached in this season. The first game played by Wanderers was verus Ormeau at Collinstown. The first goal in the Leinster League was scored by Tobin, a second goal by Cross was not enough for success as Ormeau won 3-2
Wanderers was represented by;
A Kelly, O Carroll, E Whelan, J McGill, R Ryan, J Byrne, A Guildea, D Cross, W Williams, J Duggan, T Tobin.
The season thus started shakily, though Wanderers won their second game 2-1 beating UCD whose centrehalf Willie Brown was outstanding and obviously a player with a future. He was later to have a distinguished career with Bohemians and Ireland. A tentative inquiry regarding a move to Wanderers was not carried through and no further effort was made. Wanderers by degrees strengthened their team and became quite successful.
Players who represented the team during the season were centre forward Guildea (Glebe North) Rory Dwyer (Shelbourne), however Duggan emerged finally as the most permanent holder of the position. Rory Dwyer a very good player was unfortunate enough to sustain torn ligaments in a game at Bray and never played again. Eventually Bray gained the Runners-up position in the League a very good performance in their first season. They also qualified to meet Shamrock Rovers who were at their greatest at this time. Bray lost 3-0 under the lights at Tolka Park on a wet and windy night.
Team Vs. Rovers
A Kelly, O Carroll, C Whelan, J McGill, B Ryan, J Byrne, A Guildea, D Cross, P Williams, J Duggan, J Tobin.
Wanderers made their presence felt once more by beating Workmans Club by 2 goals to 1 in the Intermediate Cup Final.
BRAY WANDERERS SEASON l956-57
This was a Season in which Wanderers failed to make any great impression in. They held their own in the League and finished in third position. Their performances in the Cups were undistinguished. It turned out to be a quite season. Players in the club that year were the old reliables plus Jimmy Perry, Archbold, Brendan Lennon, Sherry. The team generally during the season was;
Alan Kelly, O Carroll, E Whelan, W Wall, B Ryan, J Byrne, P.Williams, D Cross, P Barnett, J Duggan, R O’Toole.
BRAY WANDERERS SEASON 57-58
Quite a few players had already appeared for Wanderers even in the first two years in the Leinster League. Brian Hall, ex Shelbourne, wing half or inside forward. Brian was to give great service to Wanderers for the next three years. Wanderers had a very successful season winning the Leinster League for the first time and also annexed the Intermediate Cup for the second time. Wanderers came back from 2 goal deficit for Eddie Seery to score the winner in the last minute of extra time. The Bray followers showed their continuing loyalty to the team by turning up at Tolka Park in great numbers. The opposition was Chapelizod and they came very close to winning. The team which had such a successful season was;
S. Ryan, O Carroll, E Whelan, W Wall, D Byrne, J Byrne, B Hall, J May, J Brennett, B McKay, E Seery.
BRAY WANDERERS SEASON 1958-59
Was a season full of goals for Wandereres but also a disappointing one in many ways. Although they eventually broke the record the goals scored in a season by a Wanderers team, and the record for goals scored by any team ever in the Leinster League there were defeats hard to explain.
The League title was captured for the second time – a great achievement, but that old bogey of Wanderers the latter part of the season saw them defeated by Albert Rovers (Cork) in the Intermediate Cup Final and by Jacobs in the Metropolitan Cup Final. This whole sequence of League Wins and two Cup defeats was to be repeated in Season l959-60.
The Bray team of that season in which McKay (50) was the top scorer but did not reach Duggan’s record (55) score of 53-54
The team for that season was:
K Turner, O Carroll, E Whelan, B Hall, “Stykie” Connor, L Doran (c), J Mooney, F Daly, J Bennett, B McKay, McGee.
BRAY WANDERERS SEASON 59-60
The team which represented Wanderers for this season which was to prove Bray’s last season in the Leinster League was:
D Meagher, O Carroll, D Hannon, T Downey, M McCauley, L Doran, J Mooney, F Daly, J Bennett, P Clarke, J Dodrill.
The transfer of Billy McKay to “Drums” had looked a potential disaster but Frank Daly stepped into the centre-forward spot with great success-his speed being a great asset with skilful players around him. Some great displays in the League put Wanderers in a very strong position and they certainly looked a most impressive team. They were a very happy team and trained very conscientiously. They kept their form in the Cups and reached the finals of the Intermediate and Metropolitan Cups.
An injury to centre-forward Frank Daly was a set-back but Pat Clarke stepped in to the breach and gave some sterling displays.
The Intermediate Cup Semi-final versus Cobh Ramblers at Cobh was abandoned after 80 mins. The match refixed for the next week-end at Cobh was won by Wanderers, one goal to nil. Daly, returning to the tem after a long lay-off, scored the winner. In the intermediate Cup Final Wanderers played disappointingly losing by 2 goals to nil to Longford whom they had defeated twice in the League.
A week later Longford repeated the dose by defeating Wanderers by three goals to onel in the Metropolitan Cup Final. It was an unbelievable slump in form for such an outstanding team. The team for both games was:
D Meagher, O Carroll, D Hannon, T Downey, M McCauley, L Doran, J Mooney, B Hall, J Bennett, F Daly, J Dodrill.
Wanderers, having qualified, were drawn against Sligo Rovers at Sligo in the FAI Cup. On a wet day and a very muddy pitch Wanderers' neat and constructive football was not as effective as Sligo’s robust methods. Early goals by Sligo’s Kevin McGarry, signed just for the Cup from Belfast, upset Bray’s usual composure as they went down by four goals to two. Bray settled down better in the second half and fought bravely. Two penalty goals conceded by Sligo and scored by Johnny Bennett showed Sligo’s defence. A tremendous shot by Tommy Downey crashed against the crossbar and the game ended with Wanderers attacking fiercely.
In the League Wanderers faltered somewhat losing to Shamrock Rovers “B” and very surprisingly away to St Pauls. Needing a point to clinch the Championship they travelled to Whitehall where Willie Humphries, a local boy, scored two goals in the two all draw. This guaranteed the third Championship in a row for Wanderers though as it turned out Longford dropped a point the same day so the tension was after all unnecessary.
Before the start of the next season, Wanderers withdrew from the Leinster League, the reasons being financial and a growing discontent with conditions in the League.
As Wanderers had a second team operating in the AUL during 59-60 it facilitated the transfer of all energies into the lst team which was to compete in the AUL the following season.