16 December 2007

Bert Mehaffy

Name: Joseph Alexander Cuthbert Mehaffy
Born: 16 April 1895, Belfast
Died: 1970
Position: Goalkeeper

Representative Honours: Ireland: 1 Full Cap (1922); Irish League: 2 Caps (1921).
Club Honours: (with Belfast Celtic) Irish League Champion 1914/15, 1919/20; Irish Cup Runner-Up 1914/15; (with Glenavon) Irish Cup Runner-Up 1920/21; City Cup Winner 1919/20.

Club Career:
Clubs............ --Seasons-- League FA Cup
Queen’s Park
(Lurgan)
Belfast Celtic
Queen’s Island..
(Intermediate League)
Belfast Celtic
Everton.......... 19/20 Trial ..0/ 0
Celtic........... ......Trial ..0/ 0
Glenavon......... 20/21
Queen’s Island... 21/22
Tottenham Hotspur 22/23 Trial ..0/ 0
Woodburn.........
(Intermediate League)
New Brighton..... 23/24-28/29 218/ 1 16/ 0
Belfast Celtic

Biography:

The Mehaffy family could lay claim to dominance of the Irish League goalkeeping scene during the 1920s. Bertie and younger brother John between them played four times for the Irish League, with the elder sibling also claiming full international honours. Add to that the fact that Billy and Elisha Scott were their cousins and another Mehaffy, Sam, had played in goal for Distillery and the Irish League in 1911/12 and the clan have some legacy. A fourth brother, Hugh, also played for Linfield.

Bertie Mehaffy had been playing in the Irish Junior Alliance with Lurgan-based Queen’s Park before being pitched into the heat of the Irish League with Belfast Celtic while still a teenager. The pressure didn’t wear to heavy on the youngster as he claimed a Championship medal in 1915 with the best defensive record in the League. With the Irish League suspended due to the First World War, Celtic dropped down into the Intermediate League, and Mehaffy was replaced as first-choice ‘keeper by Elisha Scott who had returned from Liverpool to “guest” for his hometown club.
After the War Mehaffy, having spent some time with another Junior club, Queen’s Island, returned to the Celtic first eleven. He was in goal, with his brother John at the other end, for the infamous riot at the Belfast Celtic-Glentoran Irish Cup semi-final replay of 1920 that led to Celtic’s expulsion from the Cup and eventual voluntary suspension from the Irish League. With Celtic in exile from senior football, Mehaffy joined Glenavon. Once again the Mehaffy brothers found each other in opposition for a big match, this time in the Irish Cup Final, and once again it was a match marred in violence and controversy with the Belfast Glens overcoming the Lurgan Glens, who had a player sent-off, 2-0.

For the 1921/22 season Bertie Mehaffy re-joined Queen’s Island, who had been elected to the Irish League to fill the void left by Belfast Celtic and the departure of the Dublin clubs for the new Free State League. Island spent big on building a team to challenge for the top honours. As part of that team, Mehaffy was recognised as the outstanding ‘keeper in the Irish League, displacing his own brother for the inter-League matches against the Football League and the Scottish League in October 1921. In April 1922 he was awarded an Ireland cap in a 1-1 draw with Wales at Windsor Park.

Mehaffy’s ambitions meant that he was not to stay long enough at the Island to claim the big honours, instead he sought a move to across the water. He had previously had trials with Everton and Glasgow Celtic, before trying his luck with Tottenham Hotspur in 1922. Nothing came of that trial and he was forced to turn out for Carrick-based Woodburn in the Intermediate League on his return to Ireland.

Finally his efforts to make it in English football came to fruition in 1923. He signed for New Brighton, who had just been elected to Division Three (North) where he was actually joined by his brother John – the two had not been at the same club since their teenage days at Belfast Celtic. Bert was undoubtedly number one goalkeeper, playing 37 (and scoring from the penalty spot) times to John’s five. John moved on to Rotherham after just a season, leaving Bert as virtually undisputed custodian for another six seasons as New Brighton battled manfully to keep away from the dreaded re-election places. In 1929 Mehaffy, on leaving Merseyside behind, returned to Belfast Celtic for a third brief spell.

Ireland Cap Details:
01-04-1922 Wales... H D 1-1 BC

Summary: 1/0. Won 0, Drew 1, Lost 0.


With thanks to Bert's grand-daughter Margaret for her corrections.

William Mehaffy forwarded the scan of the card shown above. It purports to be a picture of Bertie, however it has been identified as his brother, Jack, by Jack's son.

6 comments:

Pauline Dimmick said...

Great to read the story of my Grandad, but I was told there was 5brothers who all played in Goals for various Irish teams, it would be nice to find out about the others.

Pauline Dimmick

A.C.Mehaffy said...

Bert Mehaffy was born on 16 April 1895.
Brothers
Hugh Played for Linfield
Samuel Played for Distillery & Cliftonville
David Played for Linfield
John played for Glentoran

They where all GOALKEEPERS
I am Bertie’s son

Anonymous said...

Ignes Mehaffy (samuels wife) is my great grandmother. Her daughter Eileen Mehaffy who married Vernon Pugh is my grandmother. My mother Ann is Eileens Daughter. Just reading through history and I came across this. :D

Nichola

nicholamcfet@hotmail.com

Margaret said...

I am Bertie's grandaughter Margaret and am gradually piecing together the family history with the help of my uncle AC Mehaffy above. What an asset they were to the Irish League in the 1920.

Anonymous said...

I am Bert's great granddaughter and I used some of this information to do my school project on someone FAMOUS from Northern Ireland - MY GREAT GRAND FATHER.
MEGAN MEHAFFY

Anonymous said...

Agnes and Samuel had a son Norman Samuel who is my father.my son is 8years and is training with Distillery,fingers crossed


Norman

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