5 January 2008

Matt “Gunner” Reilly

Name: Matthew Michael Reilly
Born: 22 March 1874, Donnybrook, Dublin
Died: 9 December 1954, Dublin
Height: 5.11 ft
Weight: 13.09 st
Position: Goalkeeper

Representative Honours: Ireland: 2 Full Caps (1900-1902); Army representative.
Honours: (with Royal Artillery) FA Amateur Cup Runner-Up 1895/96; Southern League Division Two Champion 1897/98 (promoted after Test Match series); (with Portsmouth) Southern League Champion 1901/02; (with Shelbourne) Irish Cup Runner-Up 1907/08.

Club Career:
Teams
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA Cup
Other
Benburn (Glasgow)
-
-
-
-
(Scottish Junior)
Royal Artillery (Portsmouth)
97/98-98/99
-
-
42/0
(Southern League)
Southampton St Mary's
95/96
Dec-1895
Loan
2/0
(Southern League)
Freemantle
-
Sep-1896
Loan
-
(Southern League)
Portsmouth
99/00-03801
May-1899
Free
*138/0
(Southern League)
Dundee
04/05
c/s-1904
-
3/0
-
-
Notts County
05/06
Jun-1905
-
16/0
-
-
Tottenham Hotspur
06/07
Oct-1906
£100
19/0
(Southern League)
Shelbourne
07/08-08/09
Aug-1907
-
-
(Irish League)
TOTALS
-
£-
220/0
-
-
* in addition to 138 games in the Southern League for Portsmouth, Reilly played 58 Western League, 15 Southern District Combination, 21 cup and 31 friendly games.

Biography:
Matt Reilly, more usually known by the nicknames “Gunner”, "Ginger" or “Ginge”, had only played Gaelic football before leaving Ireland behind to serve in the army. He took to the association game while in Glasgow, playing as goalkeeper with Junior side, Benburb, but it was while playing with the Royal Artillery (based in Portsmouth) that he really came to prominence, playing in their 1896 1-0 Amateur Cup final defeat by Bishop Auckland as well as two Army Cup finals.

He represented the Army, Hampshire and Forfarshire before leaving the services and taking to the professional game with the fledgling Portsmouth. Pompey quickly grew to become one of the dominant forces of the Southern League, finishing third, second, first, third and fourth from 1900 to 1904. Reilly was recognised for his form with selection for Ireland on two occasions, both narrow defeats by England in 1900 and 1902. During a match against Swindon on 30th January 1904 he was hit by a projectile thrown from the crowd and punched a spectator, subsequently he served a two week suspension.

Reilly played the only Football League matches of his career with Notts County in the 1905/06 season. He made an inauspicious start in a 3-0 defeat at Stoke and lost his place mid-season to Albert Iremonger (who at 6’ 5½“ was to become a Magpies legend). Still, Reilly was recognised as a valuable asset and it took a £100 bid from Spurs to take him back to the Southern League.

In 1907 Reilly returned to Dublin to play for Shelbourne. He played for the Shels in 1908 Irish Cup Final, but finished on the losing side to Dublin rivals, Bohemians.

On retiring as a player he became a publican, a job with which he had also dabbled while still a player. He remained fondly remembered at Fratton Park and was amongst the guests who celebrated Portsmouth’s fiftieth anniversary in 1948.

There is a (tenuous) link between Reilly and Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle played as an amateur goalkeeper for Portsmouth AFC, the town's first club, while Reilly was the first 'keeper for the professional Portsmouth FC.

Ireland Cap Details:
17-03-1900 England H L 0-2 BC
22-03-1902 England H L 0-1 BC

Summary: 2/0. Won 0, Drew 0, Lost 2.

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