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The Knock FC Connection

The legend goes that when John McAlery couldn't find anyone for his new football club, Cliftonville, to play he turned to Knock Lacrosse Club and suggested they form a football wing. Knock also seem to have fielded a rugby team around this time. Thence, Knock FC reportedly became Ireland's second football club and a match-up between Cliftonville and Knock was the first match on Irish soil between Irish teams.

Founder members of the Irish Football Association in 1880, Knock moved into their new Bloomfield Ground in 1881. The following year were given the honour of hosting Ireland's first international, no doubt aided by the IFA's chairman, Jack Sinclair, also a player for Knock. Indeed, knock supplied five players for each of Ireland's first two internationals, more than any other club.

Knock quickly began to fade from prominence. They enjoyed their last Irish Cup win in 1881/82, 4-0 over Malone. The following season they changed their name to Down Athletics and they exited the competition in the first round either through defeat or by "scratching". Their last entry was in the 1890/91 when they failed to field a team in the first round against Distillery Rovers.

  • Founded: 1879 (founder members of Irish FA in 1880)
  • Folded: 1891
  • Name History: Knock FC (1879-1882); Down Athletics (1882-1891)
  • Ground: Knock Ground, Bloomfield, Belfast (from 1881)


Irish Cup semi-finalists 1880/81

Irish Cup Seasons: 

Alex Dill won international honours
at lacrosse and football with Knock

  • 1880/81 SF
  • 1881/82 QF
  • 1882/83 scratch 1R
  • 1883/84 1R
  • 1884/85 scratch 1R
  • 1885/86 1R
  • 1886/87 1R
  • no recorded entries 1887/88-1889/90
  • 1890/91 scratch 1R

Ireland Players (caps)

  • John "Fox" Sinclair (2)
  • Billy McWha (2)
  • John Hastings (2)
  • James Hamilton (2)
  • Alex Dill (2)
(some sources Donald Martin as having been a Knock player for the February 1883 match vs England)

Uncapped Trialists:
  • King (1882)
Inter-County Representatives:
  • J.W. Chapman (1882)
  • John "Fox" Sinclair (1882)
  • Billy McWha (1882)
  • Alex Dill (1882-1883)
  • Sammy Sinclair (1882-1883)
Ireland Junior Internationals:
  • D. Brown (1891)
  • Emerson (1891)