“Class of 71” Shirt
One-off match shirt to remember “The class of 71”.
1971 was a special year for Distillery Football Club notwithstanding “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland and the loss of our ground, our home, Grosvenor Park.
On 3rd April, Distillery captain Peter Rafferty held the Irish Cup aloft at Windsor Park after our victory over Derry City in the Irish Cup Final. A few months later, on 15th September, he led a proud Distillery side out at the same venue, this time it was to play the mighty Barcelona in the European Cup Winners Cup.
To mark the year, the achievements and a special team in our history, the team will wear a one-off commemorative retro-style shirt in a competitive match in September. These shirts are available to supporters to purchase.
David Hunter, who has been behind the project,writes: “It’s frightening to think that fifty years have passed since we had “The class of 71”, superbly talented sides under a wonderful manager, the late Jimmy McAlinden.
The project began over a year ago, there were a few set-backs along the way but we are almost there now. Originally the plan was to include both opponents badges on the shirt. Derry City replied very quickly; like us back then, they had used the city coat of arms on occasions, as we had done on a blazer badge for the return leg in Barcelona although it was never an official club badge. Unfortunately we got no response from Barcelona, so we have to take that into account on the pitch the next time we play them!
Apart from the manufacturers logo, the shirt is plain white and in keeping with the shirts of that time it is long-sleeved and bears the cup final shirt letters “DFC” along with a simple inscription. The accompanying image shows a made-up cloth sample inscription and the actual shirt will vary slightly from that.
I have many happy memories as a child growing up and being able to watch the team and players around this time. They were truly a special bunch of players on and off the park, with a wonderful camaraderie that exists to this day; they remain fully supportive of the club and attend events etc at New Grosvenor when they can, they are part of our family and history. Time though waits for no-one, and sadly Allan (McCarroll), Mervyn (Law) and Raymond (White) are no longer with us from those special games.
The shirt will be worn in a game close to the date of the Barcelona game and details of pricing and how to apply are set out below.
Our history is important, our friendships enduring and our future more vital – as I write we do not know what games we will actually have around that date other than a league game against Newington YC on 6th September, that down to the fact that we are now a Premier Intermediate League club playing mainly third tier football and intermediate cup and divisional association competitions. We have slipped a long way in just under a decade but there is a huge affinity and number of connections for this club that have lapsed since we had to leave Grosvenor Park, and in more recent times. If you are in that category but do consider yourself a “supporter” then we would be delighted to see you re-involved with “The Whites” and backing Johnny Clapham and the players in the 2021-22 season. New supporters too are also warmly welcomed – there are new chapters waiting to be written in our history.
This shirt is unique, it will not be reproduced and 16 shirts will be available – a yellow goalkeeper’s shirt and 15 outfield shirts. Along with support and help from Terry Thompson and Gary Gressey I am pleased we will be able to commemorate a special year, a special group of players and also support the club financially.”
Each shirt costs £71.50 and is part of a package that includes;
An exclusive black and white photo-print with a picture of the Irish Cup winning team players at a reunion dinner, the cup final line-up and facsimile autographs (print size 9×6 in and the shirt purchasers name will be added to the print as proof of shirt ownership)
A colour photo-print of the Distillery v Barcelona programme cover (8×6 in), and
A souvenir metal button pin badge (25 mm/1in) marking the “50 year” anniversary
To apply for the shirt package please email David Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that applications for shirts will close on the day before the relevant match (the date will be announced as soon as we know more about September fixtures) and whilst we will try to accommodate requests for specific shirt numbers that cannot be guaranteed. Once all applications have been received the club reserves the right to determine actual shirt allocation in the most appropriate manner.
The team line-ups in those game were;
03/04/1971-Irish Cup Final at Windsor Park, Belfast – Derry City 0 Distillery 3
Roy McDonald, Derek Meldrum, Allan McCarroll, Peter Rafferty, Martin Donnelly, Mervyn Law, Tommy Brannigan, George Lennox, Martin O’Neill, Peter Watson, Jim Savage, and Joe Patterson.
15/09/1971-European Cup Winners Cup at Windsor Park, Belfast – Distillery 1 Barcelona 3
29/09/1971-European Cup Winners Cup at the Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona – Barcelona 4 Distillery 0
Roy McDonald, Ray White, Derek Meldrum, Tommy Brannigan, Peter Rafferty, Martin Donnelly, Mervyn Law, Peter Watson, Jim Savage, Martin O’Neill, Sean Quinn and Allan McCarroll.